Thursday, July 17, 2014

I'm in the World!

One weekend in New York, in a few pictures:

I saw the Galaxy at this scale.
Everyone learned about Everything.
We learned about Dinosaurs, maybe...?
I saw the world at this scale.
And also at this scale.
And I saw ALL of New THIS scale.
Here is a tiny Natural History Museum in tiny Central Park.
Tiny Michelle is inside, and her tiny heart is beating fast
looking at the tiny Wooly Mammoth skeletons.
Last weekend, (Friday PM through Monday PM) was my first real trip to New York. I had an outstanding guide, and did all the things one does in New York: I walked and walked and walked, I ate good food,  I rejoiced in the great quantity and variety of people (and how they're all going places and doing things and learning about Natural History too), and I rode on trains and busses, sat in perfectly placed parks and looked at much appreciated trees. Reunited with old friends and made friends with a little boy I have been excited to meet. I picked things up off the ground, like washers and paperclips. I saw bees in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Bees.

It has me thinking with even greater enthusiasm about two things that have been on my mind recently:

One is that I miss living in a place where there is such a variety of things to see and do, and options of what to eat, and sidewalks upon which to walk and walk and walk. I'm not moving to New York, but there is a world of places on the spectrum between Spruce Pine, NC and New York, NY.

Two is just something about the love of learning, and this great big, complicated, beautiful, ridiculous world I live in, and all the things I want to know more about, and learn how to do.

Life-long learning, y'all.

Thanks for reading! 'Til next time.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The "I" in PBI.

Bits, and my Ox-Bow Anchovy Tin.
When I turned on my car earlier today, the Simon and Garfunkel song 'America' was on, and the exact lyric that found me was "Michigan seems like a dream to me now...."

Yeah, so, it has been a minute or two since I last posted anything on my blog. My Kickstarter project was successfully funded (thank you all again!) and I brought my honeybees home at the end of April, and they are happy and busy in my garden.

And then I went to Michigan.

It was two weeks that held a year's worth of learning, bonding, and adventures. Words and pictures are inadequate (or at least really, really difficult!) to capture the experience. So I have to limit this to a few highlights of the very, very full experience.

The Paper and Book Intensive (held at Ox-Bow, on the edge of water in Michigan) is a great event: in scale, in organization, and in the generosity of the participants. There were about 70 of us there, and all manner of bookish artists like me, conservationists, historians, librarians..... It was a workshop experience, but also felt like a conference, because of the specificity and some common interests among the participants. And it was international, with participants from Brazil, Japan, Holland, Germany, and Canada. (I think I got 'em all!)

102+ sheets of handmade paper.

My dad tells me I have paper-maker ancesters on the Moode side of my family. Go fig.

I made paper for the first time ever, and was in the papermaking studio both sessions with Ann Marie Kennedy and Kerri Cushman, two women who I am delighted to know. We worked with many fibers and techniques; honestly, my brain still feels like it might explode when I think of all the things I could (can? will?) do with papermaking. In the extremely full last day in Kerri Cushman's second session class, we did make books out of the paper we had made. Yes, it is thrilling.

Books happened very fast, and I let content crawl into them very quickly and without over-thinking it. I actually have yet to revisit my books since I've been home. I will also be going through my paper more thoroughly soon, and taking photos of individual sheets.

Speaking of content and thinking-on-paper, the first session I was also in Ken Leslie's class exploring toroidal (donut-shaped) book structures. I can't promise I'm going to use this structure in the future, but it was an excellent class for me to think about how format relates to content, and you know....I thought about circles and loops and cycles a lot, which is what I'm usually thinking about anyway. We also had the challenge of drawing on a page of a toroidal book each day we were there, and loving daily projects, I made a delightful record of bits of my experience there.

there. then.

Also, the cupola.
 Cupola of the old inn, where I could have easily spent more time sitting alone and making up stories. If I go back to PBI next year, I wonder if they'd just let me stay up there.

One sunset at the dock, the evening at the end of the first session.
 There was canoeing, hiking, star-gazing, camp-fires, poker games, whisky-drinking, late-night toast, and more laughter than I am used to. I found one deer tick on me. I saw the swans fly, which proved they were real. I walked into a glass door on one of the last days, because I was that tired. I fell in love with everybody, and cried at them all when I said goodbye.

Emma, Marianne, Woody, Michelle, Mary, Austin, Pablo, & Kevin.
 Being a scholarship student was fantastic, and I feel honored to have been included in the group pictured above. The eight of us lived in this little 1890's house, with no indoor plumbing, no insulation, and a charming smoke alarm that went off at 3:40 AM one morning. The coldest night was in the mid-30s. Honestly, it was great.

Happy Michelle on the shore of Lake Michigan.
On my journey home I went antiquing, ate pho, and stayed a night with Bonnie Stahlecker, which was a perfect transition back to real life. I am blessed to have come home to a place as beautiful, but differently so. The feeling of being gone longer than two weeks is amplified by the fact that I came home to a whole different is SUMMER in the mountains of North Carolina, lush, green, the best smell ever, and even fireflies. AND students at Penland! I am in a good mindset coming home from PBI, and am excited for all the mobs of Penland Students who will come through here this summer. 

I pickled radishes yesterday, have a bunch of things I need to get in the ground (it started raining on me today) and am generally in a really, really good frame of mind. 

Thanks for reading about my adventure at introverted-book-nerd-summer-camp.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Don't Make the Bees Angry.

Drawing from my Bee class notes. Don't hit the hive with a hammer.
My Beekeeping class has ended, and today I went out to my teacher's farm for a second time to have some more interaction with real, live bees. It was nice, and a BEAUTIFUL day to be a bee. I dug around in my garden a bit too....I'm mostly waiting on seedlings to get bigger, and for it to be done snowing. It's supposed to be warm this week, but I'm not sure I can trust the weather.

Some great drawings have happened in my beekeeping notebook, as well as some classically absurd conversations with my brother, my best friend Jenni, and 'best fwend' Susie, who is three years old. I'm pretty sure a children's book, or picture book of sorts is taking shape in my mind.

My Kickstarter project is creeping along...I added little journals into the mix as a reward. Take a look and tell your friends!
As always, thank you for reading!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Overthinking Every Thing

Note to Self.
In January I got an iphone. I feel like I was one of the last people on earth with a flip-phone, (a little red one that was literally falling apart) and although I made the switch with some reservations, I've mostly been happy with my new gadget. Particularly for the camera feature, which is the whole reason I am rambling on about my cell phone in this blog post. These pictures were all taken in February up at Penland, when I was working in the Printmaking studio. And there were wonderful walks on cold days that looked like this....

Craft Tracks
Rectangles are so over.
 I've been doing tons of printing of old and new etching plates, several layers in translucent colors, almost all on kitakata paper. Then I've been cutting them into shapes.

My relationship with printmaking has matured and changed so much since I was a student (a full-time student, I mean) and I feel good about what I'm doing. I'm printing material, "stuff," that will become something else...components of installations, elements of a book....I'm excited by the potential of layering the fragments, and making work that is "bookish" and feels more like an object than a picture. I'm exploring ways of making wall-based work that does not feel like it needs to be in a frame.
A bunch.
That was a bit of a ramble. Anyway, that's what I've been working on and thinking about in brief. I'll take some better, non-iphone pictures soon.

My Kickstarter project, Paper Trail, is almost 50% funded, and I want to say THANK YOU again to my supporters! Funding is creeping along, though, and it has occurred to me that this may be a challenging time of year to do a project like this. I'd appreciate your help in spreading the word about it; every little bit counts!

Thank you for reading!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Paper Trail!

California Poppies, etchings printed on kitakata paper.

I'm so excited to be heading to the Paper & Book Intensive in May, at Ox-Bow in Michigan. I received a scholarship, but to help me pay my remaining tuition and to help me get there, I have put together a little Kickstarter campaign which you can find here. Please take a look, and tell your friends!

At PBI I will finally (FINALLY!) learn about papermaking! I love paper, and have been a fan (and hoarder) of handmade paper for a long time. I am interested to see how this will work into my work, and you know....if I will even like making paper. But it doesn't matter; I'm going to be learning new things and meeting lots of people in the book-arts world, and making things in a whole new environment. Yeah!

Saturday, March 22, 2014


My pretend boyfriend, the garden docent at historical Williamsburg.
My parents and I went there a year ago.
Today I planted snow-pea seeds, carrot seeds around the snow-peas, and more radish seeds around the carrots. I never tire of radishes, and hope to have enough at one time to pickle some this year.

I also started seeds for six kinds of tomatoes in a make-shift greenhouse situation (a clear rubbermaid tub, upside-down) and zinnias, and marigolds.

In Murray, Kentucky last weekend I divided and dug up some lemon-balm that I planted there a decade ago. I had forgotten how very heavy clay the soil is there.

Anyway, even though it may very well snow again this coming Tuesday, I am gardening, damnit. My garlic and onions look good, and I have lots of radish, kale, and lettuces on their way.

Not much to look at yet...
I'm living on a dreamy piece of property, where my landlord has a great deal of garden space, apple trees, and four rowdy hens running around. I can't even get into all the sunflowers I'm planning on planting.

A long-time daydream, (like the huge garden, and chickens in my future) is happening this spring. I think I really got decisive about it when I was in Bakersfield in January. Honeybees. Where I'm living would be such a great place for a hive of bees, and I knew my landlord would be excited about it, and she totally is.

And so am I. Like anything I get excited about, in January I began ferociously, obsessively learning all I could about bees. This includes reading four books (so far), taking a continuing ed. class at Mayland Community College, and joining the Toe Cane Beekeepers Association.

And I feel prepared. I am starting with a 'nuc' (nucleus hive...) of bees sometime around the end of April or beginning of May, and I have most of my equipment at the ready, including the hive body, which (I know the bees won't care) is painted a lovely shade of robins egg blue.

I am also planning some of my planting for the bees...lemon balm, bergamot, pollen & nectar-plenty flowers, herbs, and clover seeds wherever I can toss them in blank patches in the garden.

I look forward to sharing how this adventure progresses!
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