COVID-19 Journal

Pangolin

During my time at home in relative isolation, I created a bound journal from scraps that have been in my studio for up to fifteen years. This Ethiopian binding has quarter sawn wooden covers that were incorrectly made for my edition Gules, and pages of an old atlas that I’ve always thought would come in handy one day. This finally seemed the ideal paper for pages of a journal about a world pandemic.

Eventually, I will fill the book with bats and butterflies cut from maps of China to show the spread of this disease. I began cutting bats and realized pretty quickly that this has to be the last step or it will be very hard to draw on the pages. I want this book to take the form of a travel journal, stuffed with papers or tickets picked up along the way.

My first thoughts began with – where did this begin? A bat, a pangolin?

My next thoughts had to do with what people are doing. I feel there have been so many moments of beauty and thankfulness in the world. This is something I focused on to alleviate the shock and fear. I have been working on linked type, drawn with purely geometrical shapes. I love the negative spaces the letters and numbers create. Even when I was having an off day, I could spend my time drawing text. It felt like a meditation.

I have had some dark moments that couldn’t be denied. I try to keep the politics out of my journal and focus on numbers and facts. Iranians drinking methanol as a cure could not be ignored.

Many hopeful moments include the return of nature. Finding animals in places that are usually occupied by humans and the clearing of smog. These are things that give me great comfort and I hope can continue when the world begins to pick up speed again. I dearly hope that we have evolved in some way from this experience.

Although I am posting the pages in a linear fashion, I haven’t been creating them from beginning to end. I jump from place to place, reflecting on what is happening in a particular area. I date each page so I know when they were finished. There are many pages (and regions) that I have yet to fill.

Working in a random fashion I don’t often get a sense of the whole. It’s nice to see the images all together in this blog to get a feel for what I’m doing.

This is the page that I keep going back to. My home. Where I track the cases and deaths every so often, when I feel like I can face the numbers. The numbers are huge but the individual stories are heartbreaking. The redwing blackbirds are back and active, but this is the strangest spring. Watching and listening to the birds has become a daily pastime.

I’m happy that the last couple of pages are hopeful – blue skies over LA and Hawkbill Turtles migrating to the sea, on a beach that they have all to themselves. One way or another, nature always wins.

Let the Obsession with Earth and Water Continue

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.

I use this tray to hold tomatoes on my kitchen window sill


The tray bottom is a more opaque white because I used porcelain slip under the white glaze.

Cephalopods painted in black underglaze

Tiny stingray brush rests

Dreaming of the Ocean

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.

Tea bowls – urchin, crab, octopus, jellies.

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!