day has been windy, the sort that bends the trees, limbs and leaves
like hair on a woman in a convertible'd car. There's something freeing
about this point past the equinox, where the leaves are just flashing
colors, brief head-craning as something brilliant slips by.
Winter will be long here. It always is.
and tell: silk worm cocoons. The creatures rattled inside; gifts
inside an egg. Sorrow at knowing they'd boil to unskein.
We discuss the questions that have arisen since last week: Would autumn leaves make vibrant paper?
Likely to turn brown. But using some slurry to affix an undivided leaf
might maintain its color. One instructor of the instructor used
lilies--the flowers, the stalks, the pollen still clinging--and
developed an allergy so strong, she could not even touch the paper when
it was done. How does one make paper in one's own home? Buckets and supplies from a hardware store. A solid drill. I'm thinking of collecting, setting up a mobile studio.
Tonight: sheets of paper and paint in a pan.
must wake the paint. Acrylic dries so fast. Drop color into water,
watch it unravel. It grows and reaches; a second layer and you are
gazing at an x-ray film, organs on varicose display. [Recommended:
Golden Fluid Acrylic.]
the paper, let it dry while you work. Each color holds the paint
differently--the darker the paper, the darker the hold. We use white to
start; my purple print is pinked.
There is: the stone. It's beautiful alone, untouched. One uses a dropper to plunk the paint onto the size. One uses a whisk
for smaller splotches. The magic number--four to six colors mingle.
Consider the product; consider the book binding, the wrapping paper, the
There is: Spanish wave.
One wave is a mistake, a distortion. One can also start on one side of
the paper and galumph it down, rocking the paint, creating an illusion
of fabric folding.
is: Gel get. Get gel. (Get pronounced the same as one might expect;
gel with the guh-sound, as opposed to the juh.) Turkish: back and forth. These gel-gets are feathered; one can also keep a straight arm and find chevrons arising.
are ghost prints. Sometimes more lovely than the initial. There is a
space in the center where a paper once was. And the paint circles that
have sunk to the bottom of the tray won't change the tenor of your
is: snail. Small singular loops with a dowel or use the comb. My own
hands spasmed, the snails a confused, crushed shell.
There is also: non-pareil, peacock. There is try and fail and try and find some other unique meeting of ink on paper.
of the night, there is attempting color combinations that might appeal
to those I love--and left on my fingers, there is a stubborn royal
gold-and-purple, on another the red I do not care for but know belongs
in the pages of a beloved's scrapbook.
There is the
evening bath you take with your daughter, the soapy residue from last
night's bubble bath rising up, swirling and spinning beneath the tap,
and there is imaging drifting a sheet of paper on top and slipping it
away, coming up with the imprint of bodies from before, of patterns upon
Stop. Reverse. Begin again, from the beginning. The fifth in a
string of pearls, but this is the one that lives in the sky. An
overview of it all, an introduction.
classes at MCBA before: binding to letterpress to platen press to
layout. I've decided to restart, with the idea of a core certificate in mind. Maybe one day a mentorship. Right now, their poet is my girl M.]
twin mounds of cotton remind me of lungs. So soft, like little
lambs. Sarah passes them around: abaca, flax, cotton, papers made at
various lengths of beater times.
We apron. We rubber boot. I fantasize about Wellies. I think of puddles and yellow ducks.
We watch the abaca get beat. A open-top funnel. A fiber in rotational pull.
learn the discarded has a home here: peanut butter jars let us examine
the density of fiber. She holds it to the light and the abaca worms
What makes a good fiber? Cotton, linen, bamboo. Sarah
tells us of how she blistered her fingers cutting jeans into
appropriate pieces. These are pancakes. I will show you three more.
does not make a good fiber? Wool. Wool, when agitated, becomes felt.
It does not sift but binds to itself. Plants can be integrated.
Cellulose is key.
pulp must be pinched slowly, dropped into the water. One pound of dry
weight; add water to the fill line. (Imagine it.) Drain with a bucket
yogurt cup is another essential throw-away. Scoop two cups slurry into
the vat. Stir with your hands. Reminds you of: high school art
class, pottery unit. (I couldn't keep my hands out of the ice cream
pails of slip.) All night, you could trail your hands in this water.
is the mould and the deckle. One sweeps the matching components into
the slurry, into the vat, and shimmies, as if panning for gold. I
twitch; my hands stutter. My paper is smoother, the twitchier I get. I
shake before rising. I learn the warp of the mould can crumple the
paper on the felt. I learn to not shift so violently, or the paper can
warp on the mould. I envy the mistakes of my classmates--the hills that
are declared cells, the lines that resemble veins. I think of my
(in)fertility poems, my patient-on-an-examining-table poems, my
definition-of-a-cyst poems. I would press them right next to those
throbbing, pulsing failures.
paper loses its shine as it dries. Here it is: wettest in its form. I
cannot help but make, over and over, the smaller size, the one that is
closest to the trade paperback. Others make the larger sheets, varying
according to whim. I am looking ahead, though to what, I do not know.
is also pigmentation. Sarah tests the water; the water should run
clear when the dye has been absorbed (one uses the slippery retention
agent for aid), but this dye is the pigment of her pigment. Declared
close enough, the cotton is called: salmon, dusty rose,
insulation-pink. I add: tangerine. I think of palms.
paper is pressed, boards and water. And after all of this, the best
system, besides the drying racks or the window pressings, is the
restraint dryer, which is little more than corrugated cardboard,
blotters, and a linted fan.
are there, sleeping. Peeled away from felt. In the basement of the
center for book arts, the security guard leaning over a newspaper.
Traffic has slowed outside; the sun is setting earlier and earlier every
day. Equinox has passed.
promised three pancakes. And there they are, free for students to
slurry again. Blue cotton, red cotton, white abaca. Patriotic.
Linger at the installation. Think of the moon. Your thoughts will batter tonight; you've been energized.