Monday, September 29, 2008

Here's Some Sunshine!

Last week was just like a summer. Sunny everyday, in the 70s or 80s. Just beautiful! Today the sun is hiding behind the clouds and rain is on the way but this piece called Morning Sun is a good reminder of what was.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paul Robbert

Sadly, the gentleman I mentioned in my "I am an Artist" post dated September 15 died only a few days later. He was a private person and many, including myself, didn't even know he was so ill. Since I didn't get to offer my appreciation in person at the end, I will take comfort in knowing that I've been feeling very grateful lately of the opportunity he gave me when he asked if I would like to help put his papermaking studio to use. "Oh yes, please!," I think I replied. I felt like it was such an honor to work with him in that space. He had so much to share: his enthusiam, his knowledge, his insight and his vision. Paul was a great teacher and mentor. Thanks Paul, you will be missed!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Girl Scout Project

The local Girl Scout council built an incredible building last year. After years in a tiny, outdated house-turned-office they raised the money to take their organization to another level. The girls benefit directly as the new space offers a much-welcomed area for indoor and outdoor activities. They offered grants to local artists to help decorate this amazing space. One caveat was that the artists must include Girl Scouts in the creative effort. The space will feature the work of glass, paper, fiber, and mixed media artists.

Another area papermaker, Barb Stewart, and I applied and were fortunate enough win one of the grants. In our proposal we suggested that we create a handmade paper quilt entitled “Celebrating Similarities/Embracing Differences”. Our intentions were to celebrate the art of papermaking and the camaraderie that is encouraged when creativity blossoms. With 9 to 12 year olds we made hundreds of sheets of paper with the same pulp, the same tools, the same equipment, and the same materials; yet, the results of each sheet was quite different. Some papers were very colorful, while others featured botanicals gathered from a garden. Each sheet is beautiful in its own way.

We then worked with older girls, ages 12-18, to turn the handmade paper into beautiful, 12" x 12", quilt blocks. Each block was finished using a spiraling pattern and four different handmade papers. This pattern becomes almost three-dimensional, as the eye seems to spin toward the center. All the girls had a great time with this project and were amazed with the results. We had many begging for directions on how they might do this sort of thing at home.

The work with the girls is completed. Now Barb and I are working hard to get the quilt blocks mounted and hung. More on this later, but for now here is one of the 24 quilt blocks that is completed. Sorry, this isn't a great picture but, believe me, we're off to a great start!


Monday, September 15, 2008

I am an Artist!

For the past several years I've been fortunate enough to have had a shared studio situation in downtown Kalamazoo. The gentleman who gave me, and several other area papermakers, this incredible opportunity was no longer using the space and equipment as much as he would have liked. He opened his space and his arms to several of us struggling to work. Papermaking is not a messy art but it is sloppy and does require a lot of room, water and drainage. Sure, it can be done in the kitchen. A garage works too. However, neither spot is ideal. When I got the call that I was to be included in The Kalamazoo Paper Collaborative it truly was a dream come true. Everytime I went down there I felt so "cool". I finally had a place to work, I worked regularly, I got better. More importantly, it gave me "permission" to call myself an artist. When asked "what do you do?", I now could confidently and proudly say "I am an artist". For some that mental barrier comes down with the first commission check, for others it might be the day of graduation from art school. I suppose for others it might not be a barrier at all. All I know is that it felt great!

This summer the studio was dismantled, moved and turned into the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center. It is an even larger space that has printmaking and bookbinding equipment, in addition to all the papermaking equipment that was moved. They offer great classes too. The opportunity for even more people to use this space is now possible.

Maybe now there will be more "artists" in our midst. I hope so.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Fish Guts

This past weekend my daughter and I drove four hours north to Petoskey, Michigan for a soccer tournament. I hadn't been to Petoskey since I was a kid and was happy to explore the area. So, while the reason to go north was soccer (and that part was fun), we got some bonuses from the trip: Claire got to have a ball with her soccer buddies, I got to know the parents a bit better, we saw incredible vintage (1870 - 1930) cottage architecture, we ate good ice cream, we enjoyed the view of Little Traverse Bay from multiple vistas, we visited ultra-chic Harbor Springs, and we watched Chinook Salmon trying to make it back into their home stream.

We were driving near the waterfront when we came upon a small group of people standing on a bridge over a creek. Thinking it might be worth a stop, we stopped. The attraction was a "fish ladder". We watched those fish, fascinated, for almost an hour. In that time, we saw at least seven of these giants caught by skillful fishermen and only one make the huge leap necessary to crest the waterfall. They flung themselves into the air and failed repeatedly. It couldn't have felt good to keep hitting the wall and the water so hard that many times but those fish kept trying and trying.

I've made a lot of handmade paper fish over the years but they are more tropical-looking than the species of fish found in Michigan. I've always been drawn to the tropical fish because of their colors. I now have a new appreciation of the fish we have in Michigan. They might not be as colorful but they sure have guts.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

New Beginnings

Here I am, finally ready to start blogging. I hope I have something interesting to say!

I've had a long dry spell -- much too long. So, let's start with the most basic of beginnings: I will make art, I will make art, I will make art and then I will show it to people, I will show it to people, I will show it to people. I say this using the rhythm of "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can". Now that I've told you, you can hold me to it!

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