Thursday, January 22, 2015

Shameless Self Promotion

That's right, I'm breaking my three month radio silence to shamelessly self-promote. I currently have work on display in two different locations. The first is the Graduate Biennial show at Kent State in the School of Art Gallery. The show will be up until February 13th. 

The other exhibition is on the first floor of the Mandel School of Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. I have a dozen pieces on display and they'll be up until February 20th. If you find yourself on the Case campus anytime soon, go take a peek. 

There are a couple of upcoming shows I'm cautiously hoping to get into. I'm applying to the third annual juried show at the Morgan, as well as the Student Annual at Kent. For the Student Annual I plan to submit work that I did last semester for my Surface Design class. It's really different than any of the work I've done in the past but I'm excited about it..

Work is going well. I'm in the process of scheduling all the summer workshops. After that, it's sending out contracts, writing class descriptions, and getting the catalog together. It's the most responsibility I've ever had at any job and I admit it's a little stressful at times. That being said, it's also the most rewarding work I've ever done. I can't wait for it to be summer, when all the Morgan Magic happens. 

As far as school goes, I'm taking nothing but independent study hours this semester, giving me more freedom in terms of being able to work on what I choose instead of being forced to fulfill arbitrary assignments. I think it will prepare me more for when I'm in thesis. Admittedly, it's a long way off, but I'm chipping away at it. That's how I get most things done. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Dream Job

It's official. After seven years at Lakewood Public Library, I've put in my resignation. It'll be hard to leave all of the amazing co-workers and friends I've made in that time, but I'm moving on to what I can only describe as my dream job. The Morgan's current Program Manager has accepted another position and I am happy to report that I will be officially joining the Morgan team as her replacement. I've got big shoes to fill, for sure, but I feel up to the challenge. To be able to work for an organization that you love and feel passionate about is something that a lot of people never get to do and I feel so fortunate and excited to be given the opportunity. I start the new job later this month and I'm sure my arrival there will feel a lot like coming home.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rust, Bleach, Burn, and Stain

 Over Labor Day weekend I took my last Morgan workshop of the season. It was a two day class taught by artist Clare Murray Adams, who instructed the class on using rusting, bleaching, burning, and staining as a means to mark-making. The nice thing about the workshop was how accessible and common all of the materials we used were, and how easily the techniques Clare taught us were applied. I madly experimented during the two days the workshop took place, and went home with a ton of samples and so many new ideas.

This was actually the perfect workshop to take right now because I just started a surface design class this semester with Rebecca Cross. We're mainly learning fabric dyeing techniques, but the things I learned in Clare's workshop can be applied to the work I'm doing in school, and I look forward to exploring the similarities and differences between paper and fabric as I further explore surface design.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Epic Road Trip

I've been attempting to write this post for an entire month now, but I keep getting distracted. Things are crazy again, schedule-wise, with classes in full-swing and I just got a part-time job to supplement my other part-time job, so it's now or never as far as filling you in on my past few weeks. Here goes...

The husband and I took a much-needed vacation. I had just a couple of weeks between my Morgan apprenticeship and the Fall semester, so we set out on a glorious, nine day road trip to Colorado and back. Although it was tempting to share pictures and blog about all the great things I was seeing, doing, and eating, I decided before leaving on this trip to take a complete social media break. And I used a real camera to take pictures instead of just my phone.  I think it's so important to get away for a while, take a break from reality and stress. Technology can be a big part of that stress and, more than anything, causes you to be distracted from what's real and important. Vacations just force you to simplify, rely only on the contents of your suitcase. Be in the moment. Live. 

Brian and I love to travel and it's our goal to hit all 50 states by the time we turn 50, so this was a great opportunity to knock a bunch of states off our list. We headed from Cleveland through Indianapolis and then on to St. Louis for the night. There we visited The Arch and went up to the top in these tiny, egg-like elevators. In the morning we went to the City Museum, which is the most fun and inspiring museum I have ever been to. It's like a giant fun house, with slides and caves, and there's even a giant ferris wheel on the roof. . When we left St. Louis we headed through Arkansas on our way to Tulsa to visit family and spend the night before making the long drive through Kansas to Denver. 

We had four amazing days in Colorado and we got to stay with my sister in law, who took us on the hike of our lives. We managed a nine mile trek up through the mountains in the Rocky Mountain National Park. The goal was Sky Pond, a small body of water located at 10,900 ft elevation. The hike was rough for me. I'm not in the best shape of my life and the elevation didn't make it any easier. It was hot out, probably close to 90 degrees in the sun and I'd worn long pants because it had snowed the day before when we visited a higher peak. I was sweating and cranky and was having a hard time keeping up with everyone. But the further we got on the path, the higher we climbed, the more determined I became. And the natural beauty of the landscape began to spur me on. As we meandered on the winding path, a stream would appear alongside us, its gentle trickle a wonderful soundtrack to our hike. Here and there the scent of pine would penetrate the senses, enlivening our spirits, a sort of aromatherapy for the wilderness. 

When we got several hundred yards within Sky Pond, our path was blocked by a family of wild elk. We couldn't make it all the way to Sky Pond because the elk weren't moving and we didn't want to disturb them, but it didn't matter to me. The feat of getting to the top of that mountain and seeing those beautiful animals in their natural habitat was enough. I was completely in awe. We were so close to them that I could actually hear the female elk crunching on grass. I had fought my way up that mountain, huffing and puffing. I had faced my fear of heights to scale a small waterfall on the edge of a cliff, and I tested my physical ability. I felt accomplished and exhilarated and awed. To look out into that much vast space you have no choice but to feel gratitude for being able to experience so much natural beauty and wonder and be a part of it all.

We left Denver and headed through Nebraska on our way to Iowa City, where we had the pleasure of spending the night at Julie and Mike's place. Julie was kind enough to take us on a tour of the Iowa Center for the Book, the library's conservation lab, and introduce us to Tim Barrett, papermaker extraordinaire, who was so kind and told me I could contact him any time if I had any questions. Truly, it was a papermaking nerd dream come true for me.

After a nice dinner, Brian and I set out on the last leg of our journey, making it home around 4:30am. We had a great trip, but it's always nice to come home again.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Revive and Renew

Friday night the Morgan had an opening for Revive and Renew, their show featuring thirteen contemporary artists working with Eastern papers. I helped Mason hang some of the pieces on Thursday, but seeing everything in the daylight, not quite finished, is very different than coming in on opening night, with all the gallery lights on, everyone full of wine and good cheer. It's like magic. There are so many wonderful and talented artists represented in the show. If you're in the Cleveland area, it's definitely worth seeing. The exhibit runs until September 20th, so make sure to get in and check it out. 

The show was a sort of grande finale to the Eastern Paper Apprenticeship that has been my life for the last half year. It's officially over for Ivey and I, although we've both agreed to stay on into this week, just to wrap things up. It's hard to believe that six months have passed already since I first began scraping kozo and beating fiber by hand in the bitter February cold. I've been in denial about its conclusion as it approached over the past few weeks. Lately, I've been asked a lot about how I feel about the apprenticeship being over, and to be honest, I feel a little heartbroken. I've come to feel like the Morgan is my home, where I belong, and I care about the work I do there. To say it's hard to walk away from it is a vast understatement. I've had so many positive experiences during my time there. Not only did I learn to be a proficient Eastern Papermaker and have the opportunity to immerse myself in a wide variety of workshops taught by some of the best artists working in the field, but I got to meet and work with so many amazing, kind people, too many to list here.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in this truly gratifying, inspiring, and once in a lifetime experience. I am incredibly lucky to have learned from and worked side by side with Aimee Lee and Tom Balbo at the Morgan, one of the best places in Cleveland. My gratitude knows no bounds. I'm not good at saying goodbye, Morgan, so instead, I'll see you later. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


A rainy Sunday evening is the perfect backdrop for reflection. I just spent another wonderful weekend workshopping at the Morgan. This time around I took Ecoprinting with Velma Bolyard. I didn't really know what to expect going into it, but I am astounded by all of the things I was able to create in just two days, and I wasn't even the most prolific artist in the group.

The process itself is easy, loose, and instantly satisfyingly. We began by roaming the alley behind the Morgan, clipping bits of bushes and flowers, picking up any random piece of metal that might be lying on the ground. We then folded these bits of leaves and petals, found objects and ephemera into bundles of paper. We secured the packages with bits of string and wire, metal clips and scraps of fabric. The bundles were then covered with water and cooked in a large metal pot. A lliquor of botanical juices was produced for the bundles to marinate in and the smell enveloped us as we worked, earthy and aromatic.

The prints that resulted are both gritty and breathtakingly beautiful. I think what's so magical about the process is that it's more than the sum of its parts. You combine these simple, organic materials and wind up with something that is malleable, growing, alive. I thought my ecoprints were impressive when I first undid the ties of my freshly cooked bundles, but just a few short hours later, when I unpacked the weekend's stash of prints at home, I was amazed by how much they had changed. The printed shapes were more defined and the colors had continued to develop, like a photograph. I'm sure they will only get better with time. 

Naginata Beater

Last week, the Morgan got a much anticipated addition the beater room: the naginata beater, custom built for the Morgan's Eastern Paper Studio by David Reina in Brooklyn. It's only the second beater of its kind in the United States and the only one made of stainless steel. the other naginata beater lives at the University of Iowa's Center for the Book.

Beaters of this design are used in both Japan and Korea, and they are ideal for use with Eastern fibers because, rather than cut the fibers, the curved blades tease them apart, leaving the fibers as long as possible, which makes for stronger paper.  The impressive stainless blades on our machine were cut with a water jet and it can beat up to five pounds at a time. As far as beaters go, this thing is sexy. Although Aimee got to test the machine out a couple of weeks ago in David's studio, the rest of us were dying with anticipation of its arrival.

The naginata came in a huge, wooden crate, lowered in the alley off the back of a truck. The crate was held together with about a million screws and the only way to get the beater out of the box was to unscrew all of them. Kirsten and I were so excited to get the thing out of there that we both took to the power drills with enthusiasm.

After all the build up, I couldn't miss our naginata's maiden voyage at the Morgan. I don't normally go to the Morgan on Fridays but this was one event not to miss, so I came in just to see her off.

I'vey and I drained the gampi we cooked yesterday and watched as Aimee filled the beater's steel drum with the fiber and water. In just fifteen minutes, the gampi was sufficiently beaten and I can't wait to make paper out of it. Without a doubt, the naginata is a game changer.