Saturday, June 19, 2010

Colors of Cornwall

If you follow the link above for Polstreath Beach, an interactive map will appear of the beach and Mevagissey through Geoeye Getmapping.  If you move the map so that you can see the group of homes  across the street, left of the beach, one of those homes belongs to Peter's sister and brother-in-law, Jo and Paul. What the map doesn't show you is the long, long staircase down ... and up ... to and from the beach - 96 steps from the cliff path if I recall....

Inspired by the colors and textures of flotsom, jetsom and beach pebbles collected from Cornwall, I just finished drying the fourth beater load of 12x16" flax and abaca paper pigmented in the colors of the coastal paths and brightly colored fishing boats.

Inner Harbour at Mevagissey with Fish Market in Distance

If you look closer at the interactive map from the Polstreath link above, you can easily see the Mevagissey inner harbor, fish market and outer quay.

Two batches have been dried and pressed, with the third in the press and the fourth on the line. 

The final beater load will be pigmented with the deep ochres and russets of tumbled tiles and pavers washed ashore along with the black lava carried in the holds of commercial ships as ballast and dumped on the beach at Charlestown.
Charlestown Beach

Peter on Charlestown Beach with Charlestown Harbor in Background

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cornwall Inspirations

Mevagissey, Cornwall
For many summers, Peter and I have returned to his birthplace, Cornwall, England. In the farthest western tip of England, Cornwall is a land of one lane - two way stone hedgerow lanes, open moors, wild ponies, herds of sheep, palm trees, amazing gardens, and two coastlines - the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. Only a few miles apart, each coast has it own personality and its own micro-climate. When we visit, we stay with Peter's younger sister and her husband, Jo and Paul, in Mevagissey. Our sister and brother are very generous with their hospitality and we often return to the States in need of a serious workout to reduce our waistlines.

Peter's older sister and her husband, Wendy and Michael, also have a cottage in Mevagissey that has been in his family for hundreds of years, while their main home is closer to London, in Horsham, W. Sussex. Wendy and Michael, and their daughter, Jackie, are wonderful about sharing their favorite places such as Glyndebourne while making sure we arrive and depart at Gatwick Airport and make our train on time. While in Cornwall, Wendy and Michael also loan us a car which allows us to explore many of the pre-Roman hedgerow lanes and ancient moors guided by ordinance survey maps. When we are not backing up nose-to-nose with a Lorry or pulling in our side mirrors to allow another car to pass, we spend much of our time on foot - on Bodmin Moor or in one of many fishing villages near the sea.
Bodmin Moor
Peter carries his Canon 50D and I pack my acrylic paints, watercolor paper and a sketchbook everywhere we travel. As an illustrator, my paintings were often tight and exact. In 2008, began looking at the abstract landscapes of Peter Lanyon at the Tate in St. Ives.  After many small works that looked like Lanyon knock-offs, I finally began painting in two very different styles - very loose and flowing coastlines, and detailed morphs of possible tidal pools. Eight paintings from these two series will be in the “Elements” exhibition at the Main Street Art Gallery in Edwardsville, IL opening Friday July 23 (6-8pm) thru Saturday August 28, 2010. 

Gorran Haven 2008

Rock Pool 5
Currently I am creating a third series inspired by Cornish Coastlines made from my handmade paper. As I make the new handmade paper work, and as the “Elements” show gets a bit closer, I will continue to post new images.

Cornwall Coastline 1

Cornwall Coastline 1 (detail)

            Cornwall Coastline 1 (detail) 

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Big Reveal

I couldn't wait! Between the storms, high humidity and constant dampness, the restrained dried paper that had been made in the pour vat a few days ago and dried in the sun before it was put next to fans in the wet studio was STILL not completely dry.  So I decided to peek.  To my suprise, not only had the burlap coffee bag fibers and seams embossed the flax paper, the red, green and blue printing on the bag had transferred to the paper.

Handmade Overbeaten Flax Paper Embossed with Burlap (paper on pellon felt on left, burlap on right)

Handmade Overbeaten Flax Paper Embossed with Burlap (detail)

Overbeaten Flax Papers and Abaca Paper Final Drying on Felts

Overbeaten Flax Papers Awaiting Stitching and Dyeing

Overbeaten abaca and flax with burlap bag inclusions

At this point, I am hesitant and a bit skittish about taking the plunge and dyeing the paper.  Maybe I'll only work with one of the sheets and see what happens. Although one flax sheet has both embossing and printing, the other sheet of flax did not have the printed side of the burlap bag facing the wet sheet of paper while drying.  It has wonderful marks, but no color.  I'll start there.

Exploring Indigo & Walnut Dye with Potato Dextrin Resist on Handmade Paper

 I love indigo and walnut dye!  The walnut dye was made from walnuts collected at the home of textile artist, Pat Vivod's, garden a few moons ago when I was working on my research, "Handmade Paper from the Crops of Madison County" at SIUE in 2004-2005. Stored in plastic containers in the basement pantry, the dye has stayed as fresh as the day it was boiled and strained.

Since my indigo vat is set up in my art classroom down in Oakville, MO, I am using the vat at SIUE to dye my paper. The photo (above) was taken during my research of one of the crop fibers alone without sizing.  Since the paper was not strong enough by itself, a screen was used to support the paper during the dyeing process. The abaca and kozo paper that I am currently using is so strong that I can dye, crush, paint with potato dextrin, dye again and wash it multiple times.

Indigo & Walnut Dyed and Embossed Handmade Abaca and Kozo Paper with Ketene Dimmer Sizing Added to Vat When Pulling Sheets of Paper

More Handmade Paper Possibilities with Kozo Amate Layers

Vintage Family Photos Printed on Pellon Soaked in Bubble Jet Set, Dried and Pigmented Before Printing; Flax Pants Paper Beater Test Samples on Left

Walnut Dye and Gelatin Sizing Over Drawings with Potato Dextrin on Vat Sized Abaca & Kozo Paper

Walnut Dye and Gelatin Sizing over Indigo Dyed Paper (top left); Indigo and Gelatin Sizing (bottom left); Walnut Dye and Gelatin Sizing over Dried Potato Dextrin Drawings - All Abaca & Kozo Handmade Paper with Ketene Dimer Sizing Added to Vat

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mourning Has Broken

As I was cleaning and organizing the wet studio on Wednesday for the next three weeks of papermaking, I rediscovered many of the textiles and handmade paper artworks I created and exhibited, then stored while working on my BFA and BS in Art Ed a few years ago.  Although my busy schedule teaching and finishing my MSEd has only allowed me a minimum of time to create new art, I did have snippets of time in the studio creating work for two shows at Main Street Art Gallery in Edwardsville.  Yet, I didn't have it in me to clear off the shelves or dig through the piles of scraps saved just in case they could be used in the future.  What I didn't realize until this week was that each object I had stored still held memory, and with that memory, a power to keep me from moving on.  Most of my artwork during the past decade has focused on people who I have lost, found or abandoned during my life.  One of the pieces created for my BFA show had the same title. 

Lost, Found and Abandoned (2006)

Yet this week was different.  As I unwrapped each piece, I felt the loss of each person's death along with the joy of having loved that person in life.  Package after package, person after person, I allowed myself to grieve and to cry for their absence.  And when it was done, I was free.  The fifteen-year-long process of healing was complete.

For the rest of the day, the muck of the wet studio could not suppress my boundless joy! As I worked, I kept hearing Cat Stevens' song, Morning Has Broken.  What a gift from our Lord!!  Cleaning was pure pleasure. 

Pumped with turtle power (one little step at a time, just like my recovery), the studio was cleaned from the floor drain to the top shelves while the Hollander beater hummed along filled with flax.  In July, Betsy and I will clean the two second floor rooms and turn my little dry studio into her guest room, while moving the studio supplies into her larger old bedroom.  I can hardly wait to open the rest of the boxes and get on with living life!!

Making Paper in a Pour Vat in the Garden

Early this morning, with cup of coffee in hand, I set up a papermaking station in the garden.  I made the pour vat a few years ago out of wood, pipe clamps and Carraige House Heat Shrinking Polypropylene Screening while creating a series of larger handmade paper pieces. 

This pour vat was lined with plastic and filled with overbeated flax fibers beaten in my Critter hollander beater..

Once the fibers were evenly dispersed in the water, I held my breath and prepared to pull.

With much concentration, and a bit of brute strength, the plastic was quickly removed.

Quickly, the vat was gently shaken as the water drained and the fibers settled on the pellon felt.

The pulp was allowed to drain for a few minutes before the deckle was removed.

The color variation in the pulp was created by pouring a second batch of older overbeated flax over the pulp before it drained. The older flax had been stored in my fridge since 2005.

The wet pulp and felt were carefully pulled off the mould and onto an old window screen before a piece of burlap Columbian coffee bag was placed over the pulp for texture. The metal grid was placed over the burlap.

The whole stack was flipped over and the window screen was removed.

Finally, wooden boards and concrete pavers were placed over the stack to restrain dry for the rest of the day.

I pulled three pieces of paper this morning, two overbeaten flax and one overbeaten abaca.  Hopefully they will be dry by tomorrow and ready for the next step - geletin sizing, piecing, sewing, indigo, walnut dye, etc.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pulped Pants

I first wore these linen pants to my daughter, Betsy's, undergrad graduation from Florida Gulf Coast University a few years ago.  Now that I am 14 pounds lighter, the pants were either going to Goodwill or the studio. 

After cutting up the linen with a roto cutter and putting it in the critter (hollander beater), 1/2 pound of abaca was added to get things moving.  Test sheets have been made at 2 and 3 hours.  At 3 hours, the pulp still wants to clump up after moving freely for no more than 10 minutes.  The bottom layer of pulp moves, but there is a top layer that wants to stop and just float.  Looking forward to tomorrow's tests. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Flax in the Critter

Put a load of Type R flax from Carriage House in my critter (hollander beater) at 1:15pm to beat until 7:15.  A critter, handbuilt by Mark Lander in Loburn, New Zealand, is a hollander beater used for processing fiber into pulp for papermaking. Half of the flax was beaten in a vintage Lee McDonald beater at SIUE on Friday. We will compare notes on the flax on Monday.  It feels so good to have the opportunity to have my hands back in a vat of pulp again.  For me, the process of papermaking has always been a cathartic experience that cleanses and pacifies my soul.