september shifu

early september mama nature encroaching on wake robin. not much autumn showing, but the light show is beginning.
this is all that's left of the milkweed paper i made years and years ago, in the days of frequent job changes and unemployment. it was made in winter, from field retted milkweed fiber. i remember stripping the fiber in my kitchen, cooking, then taking it out and preparing it in a blender, adding tororo aoi, and making the thinnest sheets. these are strong despite being thin. and so i sacrificed a poorly formed one to the shifu goddess.
and made several short lengths of spun paper.
this little ball of paper was spun from a variously thick and thin sheet, and the resulting thread is quite irregular. 
i am growing weary of struggling with unevenness, however, and may take a more deliberate approach to my thread making. it looks like i may travel to toronto's japanese paper place to hear hiroko karuno speak about her work. this is for me an amazing opportunity, and i am quietly excited. 
oh, and my student's book: he said guess who i gave my book to? and i, thinking only that he was unhappy with it, said you didn't keep it? and he said no, i gave it to my brother in law. (who is a soldier, heading back to afghanistan) why? i asked. so he can use it to write while he's there and he'll have a special book to bring back to the family. that's perfect, i said. this soldier is my student's hero. how beautiful is this?


on the way to work this morning there was a rainbow arching over the school. only either end was visable, but it was a big one. rainbows are about light shining through darkness. that was what happened today.
i witnessed a student learn to sew, increase his skill base, make a book, and most importantly learn that he can make things. things good enough to be proud of.
he made a long stitch binding with a button closure. he used a natural flaw in the leather for his buttonhole.
this isn't a particularly difficult binding, and the book is all made of hand-me-downs. but this is what he said: i've never sewed before. this is too hard. i'll never get this. i made this and it's good. and he worked diligently because he now trusts me and when i told him it would work, he tried to make it work. it did. he is fully aware that he has believed a story about his own incompetence. he's now rethinking that tale. 

gary frost wrties about the haptics of books, and this student, who used to hate to read and write, is writing despite his poor spelling, and telling his story. now he has a book he designed and built. i hope he will use this book and, perhaps, bring it back to show me. he gladly let me take photos.