Thursday, December 31, 2009

Feeling like a Real Neighborhood around these parts

Happy New Year!

It occurred to me last night that our neighborhood is evolving to feel like a Real Neighborhood here. Just in the last couple of years, we've seen the opening of a skate park (Holly Farm Park) next to the library; it also has all kinds of play structures for the younger set.

And next to that, we now have a pho place (Korean-Vietnamese, painted BRIGHT lime green) and a good vegetarian Chinese place, both opened in the last 6 months or so. Both good additions to the existing Middle Eastern/Mediterranean place.

Across the street, a new coffee shop that serves Stumptown Coffee and Kettleman's bagels (REAL bagels, not the round bread variety, started by a fellow with the name off Jeffery Wang). The Domino's pizza next door to the coffee shop closed, so I'm hoping for something interesting to open there.

So now I'm thinking—somebody should do something with that huge commercial building between the skate park and the pho place. In the almost 20 years we've been here, it has been unoccupied more than it has been occupied, it seems. The last incarnation had a professional yard tools place, but it's been empty for maybe a year now.

Maybe something that can house a yoga/dance/exercise studio, a small exhibition space, and..whatelse? Right now, it's ugly as sin, but it backs up to a lot of trees and has parking. Seems like a great opportunity for the neighborhood.

On other fronts—working hard on Portland Open Studios website update, getting ready for the 2010 application season. We're going to try to have some animators in our mix this year, so look forward to some fresh and new artists in the lineup!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Frosty Christmas of 2009

December 26, Tumalo, Oregon (although it was just like this on December 25 too), my mom's garden:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Washing the dirt

What a strange concept, huh? That you need to wash dirt. But the Sauvie Island soil has a lot of organic materials in it—bits of half composted leaves, needles, roots of weeds, etc. And remember those 2 worms I rescued out of the soil before I baked it?

So that's what you see floating on top there, all the half composted vegetation. As it turns out, I have a serendipitous tale here. When I went to the Vietnamese grocery to get a mortar and pestle set for grinding the soil, I also picked up a set of wire mesh sink drainers. Ours didn't work so well and the Good Prince's solution was simply to not use it. Which of course causes the sink to be all plugged up which then means I get to clean it out when I come along to use the sink next.

So I used the largest drainer in the sink and had 2 small drainers that I had no use for. And of course, today, they were just the perfect tools for scooping out the organic materials that floated to the top!

So here the vegetation had been scooped out. There were several iterations of stirring up the slurry, letting the vegetation and minerals separate, scooping, and repeat.

As it turns out, although I got a huge amount of the Sauvie Island soil, it was so rich in organic materials that, after washing and grinding (and removing small rocks), I only got a little more usable amount than the South Dakota soil, which surprisingly had little organic materials in it. Nor rocks. I wonder if the person who got me the South Dakota soil had already cleaned the soil?

The other surprising thing was how different the two soils feel—the South Dakota soil created a very creamy, very dark paste, rather like a dark chocolate sauce. The Sauvie Island soil resulted in a lighter and grittier paste, which I suppose makes sense, as there's probably a lot more sand in it.

And Helen Hiebert, the artist who's making the papers for me, sent this photo the other day. These are the Pacific Ocean sheets, made using water from the Pacific. Here it looks really bright—the sheets are wet. Once dry, they'll be a much paler blue.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I have some paper samples!

OK, I finished grinding the South Dakota soil and made a nice, smooth mud pie and took it to Helen today. We made 4 paper samples, one with the SD soil and the other 3 w/ just plain water. The purpose today was to find the right combinations of pigments to color each of the paper sets. The “bodies of water” papers will be 3 different shades of pale blue, with the Pacific being a fairly light, pure, turquoise, Willamette being a bit grayer and the Columbia being a bit browner.

We added the SD soil to the pulp and then added some pigments to augment the pulp so that the colors will be a better match to the actual soil itself. We got really close on the hue! It is a bit lighter, which is fine.

And on the science lesson of the day—when you add the pigment to the pulp & water mixture, both the pulp and the water turn that color. Then you add this stuff (and now I've forgotten what it's called) to the mixture and it makes the pigment bind to the pulp. But the magical part of that is that it draws the pigment out of the water and the water actually turns clear again, and only the pulp is colored! Well, I'm sorry, I just thought that was the coolest thing.

I'm also teaching a bookbinding class at PNCA this week. It's for Horatio's printmaking class—they got through their syllabus early so Horatio asked me to come teach a couple of book structures that might be useful for printmakers. So we're doing a Japanese Stab Binding and a Leporello. I have to get on the bus at 6:45am!

Monday, December 07, 2009

More pop-ups

The pop-up cards have been very popular with the seniors that I work with, so we're doing another pop-up tomorrow. And naturally I waited until today to make a model. So this was my model...not as 'gardeny' as I really would like, almost looks more like a fish tank. Maybe that's what I should have them make tomorrow, a fish tank. The individual flowers are attached to a cut and folded base so that they open up when you open the cards.

This came out of a book model that I made years ago but never developed fully. There's way too much tension and the pages do not open fully, neither will they stay open. Here I'm holding it open with my feet while I take a photo. The card above has a similar problem, but maybe because there aren't quite as many flowers pulling the pages closed, it's not quite as bad.

Here it is again, but not fully opened:

"Someday, I'm going to be a REAL book," says the model.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Floating plum blossom...

Well, that's what it looks like to me anyhow. It actually looked a lot better before I had to run off to grab the camera. I had the brita filter turned up side down and was rinsing the outside when I saw the suds on the bottom on the inside. By the time I grabbed the phone camera, I had lost half of the blossoms.

So probably the biggest 'excitement,' if you can call it that, was that I taught my last beginning Gocco class yesterday! At the Atelier Meridian, as a fundraiser for Print Arts Northwest. It was in a giant warehouse style print shop. Lots of large presses of all kinds. It was a cavernous space.

I am actually pretty happy to be finished with teaching beginning Print Gocco—it's hard to teach it when I know the participants will not be going home to make more prints. I used to hand out copious amounts of class notes, templates, etc, but I haven't done that ever since the supplies became harder to get and more expensive.

And today was the all day Portland Open Studios planning retreat, which happen twice a year. So that was a long day.

The other big excitement was that I delivered several pieces to 23 Sandy this week. Laura had had a couple of my artist's books in inventory for a while, but now she has some paintings too!

I'm still slowly grinding dirt for my senior's book. The papermaking isn't going to happen until Jan (as Helen's schedule dictated), so that kind of allowed me to relax a bit too.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Another artist, Nancy Pobanz has been very generously sharing her knowledge of grinding soil for my project. She suggested an Asian grocery store for finding heavy duty mortar & pestle. And yup, I stopped by at an Vietnamese grocery store and found something for $10 cheaper than what I had been looking at. So here's the South Dakota soil. It looks and feels like a very dark, very thick, very creamy chocolate frosting! I find it hard to not lick my fingers when I'm scraping the bowl.

And of course, I got some junk food too. It's the only time I succumb to junk food, when I'm at an Asian grocery store. "Hey, I used to really like that!"