I’m at the Whiteley Center for almost two weeks working on a huge block for the Big Ink Project at Hatch Show Print in September. I’m very excited about participating, and I’m working hard to get the block done in time. It’s been a while since I carved anything this big and although I knew what I was getting myself into, I’m realizing that this is going to take a lot of work and dedication! Back and neck ache? Sore wrist? Scraped knuckles? Yup, Advil may be needed.
I was nervous about opening my home/studio to the public last weekend, but I have to say, whenever I put myself out into the world, the experience turns out to be a good one. Again, this was the case. Thank you to everyone who made the effort to visit. I had many great conversations, new visitors, and ones I hadn’t seen in a long time. I even sold a few pieces of art. All in all a great experience that I plan to do every year!
I continue to create ocean and sealife from earth, and I’m finally beginning to feel some satisfaction. The whale is my favorite by far, and on my third try I finally have a large stingray tray. I’ll have to sell it before I break the tail! It was a challenge to get all these pieces home on the el train. I had visions of lurching trains and stingray tail stabbings.
In the Midwest. I have been working on a stingray platter, trying to perfect the process. Below is the first one, which I’m quite happy with, but the top layer of the head came off in the bisque firing process. I had to rejoin the pieces with glaze and you can still see the cracks. I’m thinking of filling the cracks with epoxy and attaching gold to highIight them, like the Japanese Kintsugi technique. On my second try the head blew up into tiny pieces in the kiln, so I’m now on my ‘third try is a charm’, as my mother would say.
Mum told me that her happy place is Craigville Beach on Cape Cod. In her mind, she walks down to the end of the beach, lies down in the sand and listens to the waves. She is now 90, and it’s unlikely that she will walk the beach again, but thankfully she has her happy memories and this one gives her peace.
The Humpback Whale tray is in the green ware stage, awaiting bisque firing. Sometimes I think all is going well and what could possibly go wrong, but then it does. I’m crossing my fingers on this one!
The Plankton book (remember Tinkaminks?) is finished, and I made a drop spine box with a raised circle in the center to keep the key chain from shifting around. I printed the title on my old Vandercook press that now resides in Ben Blount’s new studio. He has generously let me use it when needed. This one is on its way to Vamp and Tramp Booksellers at this very moment.
The wide array of forms in the sea are endlessly inspiring. I feel I could keep going forever – and I will continue to dream of living on the coast once again. The lake is beautiful, but as I’ve said before, it’s a poor substitute for the ocean!
Skin, feathers, nails,
Hair, hooves, scales.
A girl can stitch,
Sewing as meditation.
She protected me,
Like skin, enveloped,
Enclosed, wrapped, contained.
Broken, cut, sewn,
The skin mends,
She is my wrapper.
What I show to the world,
Not my choice, but mine nonetheless.
This is what I am given,
Pain, pressure, sensation, temperature,
Light exposure – Protection.
Well, it’s an old story and a new one. Some may remember my book based on the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Gules. I printed this book in 2005 for an edition of ten, and over the years I’ve only bound five. The pages and some of the materials have been sitting for the last ten plus years for me to finish. Now I really need to finish this edition, so I went to work preparing the boards and making boxes. This isn’t a perfect Instagram moment. I had exactly enough wood and leather for two more books, which seemed like it was meant to be. I planed the edges of the wood and attached the beautiful crimson red leather. I was almost ready to sew the binding, when one day I was driving my son home from school and it occurred to me…oh my god I planed all the boards and I’m supposed to plane only the outside boards! The inner boards for my dos-i-dos book need to remain flat so I can hinge them together.
All is not lost (I think). I know where I bought the leather and wood long ago and now I have enough planed boards for the outer covers of all five remaining books. I’ll just buy the matching materials and make the inner boards for all the books. Wow, maybe I’m way ahead of the game!
So I go shopping.
Well, Leo G. Stein has moved to the suburbs and they no longer have the beautiful crimson leather I once used, so I won’t be able to match the inner boards to the old ones. I find another leather that will work well and I buy a huge skin. Then I’m off to one of my favorite places on earth, Owl Hardwoods in Des Plaines. I look for my quarter sawn wood in 9 1/8″ width or more. I need 1/4″ planks cut to size for me, but they don’t have anything in this width except a 5/4 piece of rift sawn wood. It’s a beauty but such a waste when you only need 1/4″! Anyway, I went back and forth but this was the ONLY piece that was going to work for me. I’m told that quarter sawn oak in wider widths is becoming harder and harder to get. Oh dear. Finally, Mo, helped me out. He had the guy in the wood shop rip it down to two planks for me and we crossed our fingers that it wouldn’t warp too badly. It worked beautifully and now there’s enough to make three new books from scratch. I am feeling sick about the waste of the old boards and having to start over. I feel like a total idiot and I’m so mad at myself.
So I start over. I have to make some lemonade out of these lemons!I use one pair of boards and some handmade paper (that I made for end sheets on Gules but never used) to make a new book. Then I cut down some very old banner sheets with bird prints to make the pages of the new book. These 12 foot scrolls have been rolled up for fifteen years and I don’t intend to show this piece again – I love re-using old pieces to make new ones. I intended to make a new copy of an old book, with stories about each bird, but then re-reading the stories they seemed so old and I just couldn’t write them again. Things had changed too much, so I had to come up with something new. All told, the whole book concept came together in a day and I spent another day printing the wood type in Ben Blount’s new print shop, then stitched the binding that night. It still needed something, so I decided to do some more sewing on the pages. This was the most intuitive process I have been through in a while and I am very happy with the results. I’m really enjoying the sewing process, this is something I have been thinking about for a while and it is very gratifying to do. I feel it ties in with my mother, and learning to embroider when I was a girl, yet it makes nice abstract shapes on the pages.
Well the Polar Vortex has reached Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago is shut down for two days, so I don’t have to go to work. I’m spending my days holed up inside my home, cooking good food and catching up on lots of small things that I rarely have the time to do. This seems like a good time to take photos of my new work in the light of mid-morning.
I have gone in a slightly different direction for my Plankton (nickname Tinkamink) project. I decided to make a limited edition artist book before working on the wall installation. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, I have had some work accepted by Vamp and Tramp, and they are interested in the Plankton book, so I quickly finished in order to ship to them. Secondly, I have applied to the Whitely Foundation for an artist residency at Friday Harbor Labs on San Juan Island. It is there that I hope to focus, and complete the wall installation of Plankton. Wish me luck!
I have also taken photos of some of my recent pottery. I’m getting a bit better at predicting the outcome of some glazes at the Pot Shop Evanston and I feel I’m beginning to develop a personal style.