My hands made it through the weekend in pretty good shape.

Saturday early morning they helped to put up tents, move tables and chairs, and fill buckets of water for the Misdummer Fiber Arts Sampler that the Weavers Guild of Greater Cincinnati puts on each summer.

Saturday midmorning till early afternoon they helped to snip the ends off green beans for the St. Al’s Shandon annual parish festival’s chicken dinner. Saturday evening they potted eight whiskey glasses full of spider plant babies for the Country Arts booth.

And Sunday they were plunged continuously into hot soapy water to clean off the utensils used at that same parish festival.

Today, my hands have been repeatedly rubbed with lotion. I know they will most likely flake a lot before the week is over, but for the moment they are doing okay. Just a couple pricks from fork tines and sharp-edged knives. They still manage to work the bilum stitch pretty well.

A papery day

Oh, what fun today!

I was teaching recycled papermaking at the downtown main library this morning. Sunny skies, cool temps, the birds chirping and traffic noise were all a part of the outdoor garden area in which we were working.  About 20 kids showed up for the program (a relief from the zero amount for yesterday’s program and the 60 that we set as maximum!)

Well, I have to tell you, we have some pretty good junior papermakers out there!  Once they got their hands wet, they were unstoppable! I think we used just about every available paper towel in the library (those were the ‘felts’ that the sheets were couched onto so the kids could take them home). We had stacks of paper everywhere. I think some of the kids decided they were in a race with their friends to see who could make the most sheets.

Very well behaved and very few spills. And very little pulp left!

The clean-up was nice, too, as I was able to take my time getting things emptied, strained and dried before heading home. That’s the part I always dread, having to clean it all up when I get home. This afternoon I was able to just bring it all into the house and head it to the studio. Very little needed to be rewiped or redried.  Ah, nice!

Yesterday I had just about the same number of children in a day care center north of Hamilton working with mudcloth. A few of the kids remembered me from last year, which was nice. One boy even remembered that I had my glasses on when we did the mud dance – wish my memory was still that good!

Now that the local classes are over, I can concentrate on packing for the Tampa conference – Convergence 2008 Tampa Bay. And, another pile for the trip to Papua New Guinea almost as soon as I get back from Florida.

I may not be very ‘talkative’ in the next several weeks. I hope to give some updates while in PNG since they have internet access, but I know I’ll be too busy in Florida. Will plan on doing an after-report for that – and before I head off again.

Getting ready

Well, I’ve packed and repacked and the last of the supply and sample boxes have gone out to Tampa for Convergence. I will have one small box in my luggage – sort of as a place holder. For the return trip I’m hoping to be able to pack all the things that have to come home (lots of stuff I am sending will go home with the students) in that piece of luggage so I don’t have to do much, if any, return shipping.  Maybe just the box of gut samples.

I kept getting sidetracked this past week. Every time I started to get the book class materials together, I wound up making a different book. Finally I had to stop myself, get stern, and just go with what I already had.

Now that Convergence is all packed up, I can turn my attention to two kid classes I have coming up this week. The first one is a mudcloth class for daycare kids. Had to clean some more black dirt today so there would be enough to work with.

The second class is a recycled papermaking one at the downtown main library. The librarians had the kids tear up a bunch of library flyers to save me some time and get them involved. Unfortunately they chose to toss all the colors together. I have a feeling the resulting pulp color  will be a bit on the yucky side, but then, I’ve been wrong before.

One thing that I tried to do this week that has been a failure, is to dry some gut. It has rained and been so humid all week, that the gut just became ‘sort of dry’. When I took it off it’s rigid drying form thinking it would be okay, it just all curled up into little spots of membrane.  Maybe if the humidity stays down like it is right now, I’ll be able to do another sample.  I’m hoping to have viable samples of gut dyed with koolaid. What I saw while the pieces were stretched was nice. Now to get some to dry that way…

To the ground

With all the Earth Day celebrations and awareness going on this week, I wasn’t expecting to attend this particular gathering this evening.

My sister’s barn burned down today. They lost a number of animals including newborn piglets and calves and young chicks. The fire was so hot it burned fence posts within 100 feet and melted plastic buckets used for feed as well as rubber tires on two farm vehicles parked in the driveway. The remains of the building are expected to smolder for another week.

No person was injured for which we are truly thankful. And the house got only smoke in the upstairs rooms – which I understand can be a pretty major thing by itself, but not on the magnitude of having the house damaged.

Seeing the torched and scorched raspberry canes near the barn as well as chunks of charcoal lying in the yard from damaged tree branches was sobering.

My sister and her family have been very close to the land for many years, husbanding it well. And the farm has been in my brother-in-law’s family for a long time. This won’t stop them from continuing in their efforts to draw sustenance from the land – they are strong, practical and resilient people. I just hate to see them having to deal with this loss and all that will be required to rebuild.

Day One

Bamako, Mali is sprawling, warm (but a dry heat) and dusty. One major paved road running through it.

The group split up yesterday with some going to the markets and the rest of us to visit a friend of Ginger who is building a cultural center to bring in people from around the world to learn from Mali masters.


Today we head bqck to the culturql center for q pqrty! They promise music qnd dqncing qnd food qll dqy long. Will report tomorrow.