Our trip to Portland OR on Amtrak was cancelled due to mud slides. So I cannot tell you about the opening, and show you works in the “Build” show. Bummer.
But Busy Hands here has another small book to show you.
Since moving to the Northern Olympic Peninsula I have been captivated by its natural beauty. I find myself fascinated by river rocks, and I see that many of my neighbors have collections of their favorites too. River rocks are reminders to me of the beauty in small common objects. I find visual and verbal poetry there.
No new journeys yet, but Oola and I are planning to brave the traffic in THE BIG CITY in two weeks to visit and/or volunteer in the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair, then on to the Sammamish Library in Sammamish WA for an artist book show-and-tell. Both adventures will be as a member of the Book Arts Guild in Seattle.
In the meantime, I have not been twiddling my thumbs. Having become intimidated by a large project which I embarked on early last year, I have been trying out stuff on a smaller scale and thinking of the work as “studies”. Here are three:
You can enlarge any image by clicking on it.
The finished sizes of these studies are about 18″ x 26″ x 4″. They are developed from my electronically drawn figures, digital photos, and rubbings of street features, all in Photoshop. They are then pigment printed on Habotai silk on an Epson 9900. I sew the borders on to the central image, then attach the small stones using iridescent fly fishing thread. I embroider slashes in the silk with cotton thread and “suture” them with binder’s waxed black linen thread. Other materials include transparent film, silk-wrapped branches, silk-wrapped coil, copper wire, telephone wire, lead fishing weights wrapped in waxed cotton thread.
This time the journey was to Dove Studio in Port Angeles where a group of us played around with marbleizing paper and cloth. This is a technique I learned from Joan Flasch (the best) in art school years ago. This technique is like the Fourth of July, full of oohs and aahs.
Marbleizing is a way to put pattern on paper, or fabric (or fingernails or car parts or tennis raquets…). We limited ourselves to paper and fabric. What you do is get yourself some thick water and float some paints on the surface. Mess with it and then drop your item on top of it – gently.
Here is Pamela placing drops of acrylic paint on the surface.
Then she makes patterns in the paint.
The room sucks in its collective breath.
You can see the images enlarged by clicking on them.
Diana and Katie experiment with ways to drop fabric on the paint to avoid the dreaded air bubble.
After a couple of hours of too much fun:
Everything a girl (or a cat) could want (notice the wine which Diane thought we might need) in the Wildcard’s Picking Parlour.
When everybody went home, Oola and I gathered up the leftover materials and played into the very small hours.
In addition to experimenting with translucencies, photographer Victoria gave an impromptu demonstration of Image Transfer using Purell.
Shari Weatherby cutting the balsa for tiny shoji-like screens, and the same Shari experimenting with her eye catching binding.
Lily contemplates the possibilities of weaving and translucency, exacto at the ready.
Linda and I both ran afoul of Google map directions. But we were not deterred. WashsiArts.com is Linda’s brainchild/project/adventure and the home of beautiful Japanese papers.
My favorite technique was this flexible hinge, a little like a Jacob’s Ladder, which makes it possible to present as an accordion screen or as a container. You just have to keep your wits about you while you do the gluing. It is for sure I will use this on a larger project.
Beautiful variants on the inflatible balloon technique. Oola says I have to get my act together and try this again!
There is city park in Port Angeles where HWY 101 (under the guise of Front St.) runs by Wildcard Guitars and Dove Studio. Each evening for the past couple of weeks I have been checking in on Mother Killdeer — much to her consternation I must admit — just to see how she and her 4 eggs are doing. She and her mate have chosen this spot next to the gravel parking lot and next to this water sprinkler for a nest. What an eye they have for protective coloration! She stays so still, you would think the sprinkler would move first. And the eggs are so big. (and every mother out there says, Ouch! that must have hurt.)
But it is time to go to the SF Bay Area to visit family and do a couple of art errands. Oola and I will travel on HWY 101 (mostly). So we say goodby to the Killdeers and head out early on the next adventure.
On the first morning in the Olympic National Park it looks like
the lake is having as much trouble waking up as we are.
The wind picks up, and soon we are on the Pacific Coast. We make a stop at rugged Ruby Beach where abundant wildflowers are whipped about on the bluff.
A few hours later we are in Cape Disappointment State Park. It is located where the Columbia River meets at the Pacific Ocean. And you will remember from your history, this is where Lewis and Clark and company completed their contract. I wanted to camp where they camped. And, if signs can be believed, I did.
It was named Cape Disappointment by an English fur trader/merchant of dubious reputation, John Meares. There is a wicked sandbar at the mouth of the river. It looks like the waves are breaking way out in the ocean. Because of this dangerous feature, Captain Mears could not enter the Columbia River and gave the area this name. A lighthouse was built on the 200ft bluff to warn other seamen of the danger entering the River.
In 1805 Lewis and Clark showed up and wondered how the peaceful Pacific could be so wild. They camped here, but the weather was so miserable they relocated to the south side of the River.
Artist Maya Lin started her Confluence Project here. I stood here
to try to understand the geography of the place and to take photos, not realizing the importance of the art I was standing on.
Of course, people come to Cape Disappointment for many reasons.
This one looked pretty cold and dangerous to me!
Being keen to see family, I decided to cross over to Interstate 5 where we passed this magnificent site:
On into California participating in fun-and-death with impatient 18wheelers. The time saved was much too stressful.
After good family visits it was time to do the errands. BUY ART SUPPLIES! One of the places on my list was
the place to find everything needed to add color to fiber. In my case I needed to pick up a large roll of paper-backed silk for inkjet printing. When the warp and weft are straight it makes wonderful hangings. New project in the works…. printing some of my “discovered figures”, photos, and street rubbings on this luscious fabric. Then doing everything possible to contrast its beauty with violence. Don’t ask why. I don’t know yet.
Up the California coast on 101 this time. Precious stops in Coastal Redwood groves. I don’t know of anything more quieting than just BEING in a grove of these trees, tallest on the planet. Something in their bark just seems to neutralize all the poisons.
My sources tell me that Lewis and Clark and Co. did not like fresh fish, like salmon. Sick of the weather on the north side of the Columbia and sick of being hungry and sick, they took the advice of local Indians who told them that there were elk on the southern shore of the River. When the weather cleared enough for the company to trust their boats to the waters they came upon herds of this.
In Crescent City I had to stop the car for this 40 ton concrete work of sculpture. I had to find out about it. As it turns out, these “dolosse” are used all over the world to to strengthen breakwaters. Who knew? (Mr. Wildcard did.)
Their name means something like “knuckle bones” in Afrikaans. They were developed South Africa in the 1960s to protect jetties by dissipating the energy of incoming water rather than blocking it. Genius. Does Life imitate Art or what?!
Another “arresting” sight on the side of the road!
Getting close to home, where it almost always smells like summer camp.
Finally home, and after a hunny smooch, a trip over to check on Ms. Killdeer. As I suspected might happen, the eggs have hatched. Three nestlings running about catching bugs, but it seems that a crow made a meal of the fourth.
All through the Northwest cold weather I worked on this collection of drawings, photos and assemblages about, to, and for the humble river stone. Like most humans they are abundant and self effacing (with a few notable exceptions!) and their beauty can be quite profound when one takes the energy to really look.
Here are some of my “rock people”. You can click on the small images to inspect them more closely.
photo: Randy Powell
Each of the eleven sub-volumes opens in the manner of a stone rolling downhill and contains a part of my poem “Conversation with Stones” on its last page. Each has a photo of a stone behind a screen of cut paper. Each screen reflects something about the four drawings (prismacolor and graphite on black Arches). Each sub-volume is hand bound in a style which someone may have done somewhere before me, but I suspect I made it up.
photo: Randy Powell
Each cover contains a sheet of Mica to look through. Mica is a rock that separates into thin transparent sheets and breaks into sparkly bits. In the research for this project I read that mass burials of local Native Americans from the period of epidemics–brought on by collision with European cultures–are notable for their lack of Mica powder which was sprinkled over individual bodies of the dead in earlier times.
Printed on Asuka paper using an Epson Stylus Pro 9900 and Ultrachrome inks.
The book cloth is an artist-made layering of a loose weave linen on Arches Black (IIYEEEEE! Hair pulling time!)
Special thanks to Randy Powell — artist, neighbor and a fellow graduate of School of the Art Institute of Chicago — for help with the documentation of this project.
Text of the poem, a slightly condensed version of the poem used in a previous artist book.
you are both the memory of a brook and
a message from the stellar stream.
the life of mountains,
firm, solid air,
you are resistant to authorization.
as unquestionable as wild apples,
as verifiable as the mocking bird,
as indisputable as the moon,
you are undeniably obscure.
You are a history of torrents substantiated by passion,
you are the intent of small nows.
I am heavily seeking your eyes in my dreams.
You are adamantine laughter,
the strong, stony scent of earth
and the unyielding hooves of dreams.
You are a formidable condensation of lizards, grim swallows,
and difficulties of praise.
You are the austerity of stubborn of distance.
the solidified lives of dragonflies,
a density of stars,
compressed stirrings of fury.
you are heavily verified
a painfully proven crusher of ships.
inflexible dust and impenetrable musings.
You are thunder from the sierra,
the clatter of the daily grind and the hiss of gradual loss.
Joy … and pain,
you are the waterfall and the river bed,
and the record of a marriage.
You need not speak of past difficulties. They are written on you.
Your language is long and slow. It takes two rocks and a river to say “clack”.
Your language is communal and patient. It takes many rocks and an ocean to say “clatter…hiss”.
I am an impediment to your sequence.
You have journeyed from the center of the earth.
YOU are between the rock and the hard place.
You are all that is durable of dreams.
You are worn out, rounded energy,
You are the crumpler of ecclesiastics
and the one who grinds away the fiction of time.
the sermon of abrasion,
the exhaustion of permissions,
and the diminishment of uniforms.
You say to me,
“I used to be a boulder but now I am a color singing in the river.”
I am the survivor stone,
You say, “The rock that was rejected by the builder has become the cornerstone.”
You sing how
you once destroyed a monster with a loaf of your bread,
and how you fed a village with a bowl of your soup.
You teach me how to prop open a door.
Music of the commune, you are the cloister stone – river stones and water.
You are a lessening of mountains,
the moments and the ruins of a search.
You cause the loss of rough edges.
“Noli te bastardes carborundorum” say the young. “It has happened” say the rest.
Heavily verified and
you are a labor of lessening and profoundly wild.
You are the history of friction,
a cascade of attrition,
an abrasion of assurities.
You are the dwindling of certitudes,
the decrease of truisms.
You are the geography of erosion.
You grind down the hard nut.
Wear it down.
Wear it away.
You weather the choices.
You are a distillation of lessons
and a tutor to endurance.
You are the bones of the ridge.
There are two old stones in the shallows. Together they watch over the new generation of salmon.
Return to the universe.
We bought a “delux press clamp” from Grizzly Industrial for $70. The Wildcard scrounged up the off-fall from a maple butcher block counter top and some scrap walnut which he had stored and moved for the past several years. I found the perfect breadboard of Black Acacia at our local big box store for $20. Some nuts and bolts. Y voila! A press for the book construction process, something I had always wanted but not put high on the list because I thought them too expensive.
He found he had to make a couple of small modifications: 1) sand the oil off the breadboard, and 2) add a cross piece near the center of the breadboard to keep it from spinning.
No more “heavy” art books to weigh down projects. Maybe I can jettison Janson.