In Year 9 my CDT (craft design and technology) teacher ran an after school environmental club and taught us how to make a mold and deckle for papermaking. We would collect paper scraps from the classrooms to blend into pulp to make new paper. I also did some recycled paper pulp making with my kids back when I was teaching kindergarten but have never made paper from natural plant fibres. I found my mold and deckle cleaning out my classroom in June and knowing I was going to be in Chiang Mai this fall, on my list of to dos during my time here was to learn how to make Saa–mulberry paper.
Natsumi is a friend of Pitchaya, one of the art residency coordinators. She’s on a one year exchange at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University from Japan and we connected at my cyanotype workshop last weekend. She’s been refining her papermaking with mulberry and exploring other natural fibres like coconut. She offered to show me her work and process and let me have a go at making mulberry paper.
first soaking of the bark
sodium carbonate is added to the water and the bark is boiled to further soften it
the inner layers of the bark removed first to use, the outer layers continue soaking
breaking down the fibres with a meat tenderizer mallet
the rubber mallet breaks down the fibres into even shorter pieces
separating fibres and suspending in water
flattening out the surface
pouring the fibre mixture on the mold will create paper similar to sample 2
some of the other paper samples
coconut fibre experimentation
She showed me on her laptop some of the other papermaking equipment/machinery she used in Japan that speeds things up. In Chiang Mai she is making everything by hand. It is a long and laborious process but I found it, like printmaking, to be quite calming and therapeutic.
Will have to see what type of papermaking I can get up to back in Hong Kong.
Both her and Pitchaya are creating site specific installations for doi saket_inter which is opening November 5, 2014 at Nong Buow Lake, Doisaket, Chiang Mai. If you’re in the area, go check out the art festival which coincides with Loi Krathong.
Painting with cyanotype solution, exposing in natural light, developing in water. Quite like how the blues have been turning out.
This is a good read on the cyanotype process from Christopher James.
The highschool workshops took place earlier this week. The students are on term break so I really appreciated them taking the time to come out to Rumpueng to spend with me. The original plan was to do a mapping of place through texture and object collections but because of workshop timing, it would be dark out.
We explored our vision of place instead, contrasting how other people like visitors or tourists perceive our city/home and how we would choose to convey it. As a fan of mail and Chiang Mai being a popular holiday destination, the postcard format was used.
What is it that we value and find meaningful in the place we call home?
We looked at typical Chiang Mai and Thailand postcards depicting wats, monks, tuk-tuks, elephants and developed ideas for our own set of cards sharing what we would like other people to see and know. Here are a few of the pieces.
“smile” …even the statues at the wats smile at you
a place to relax on your own, “…it’s free, you don’t need money in there.”
“The most beautiful night sky is in ‘Loi Krathong Days’ @ Chiang Mai.”
the source of life… “the origin of Chaopraya River”
Our second evening was spent exploring different book structures and how the tetra-tetra flexagon could be used. Ideas ranged from depicting changing feelings to a children’s story to the elements earth, wind, fire, water.
I haven’t learned much Thai yet and English was limited but these two evenings we were still able to share and learn from each other. I’m continually amazed at how people communicate and especially how art can give us a voice in so many ways.
I had my first workshop this week with some young artists who were attending art camp. They came to Rumpueng Community Art Space for the workshop with their teachers. I thought they’d be 8-10 yr olds but the kids ranged from 3-10 which proved for exciting times! Very appreciative of their teachers’ assistance and also help with translation when needed. We started off learning more about each other in smaller groups by creating a collective special friend who would represent them.
On the far left, you can see the little ones had fun tracing Ajarn Tu’s (Professor Supachai) body, colouring in and creating patterns. Some things I found particularly interesting about these new friends is that they are linguistically apt, love to spend time at the Chiang Mai Zoo, and like to eat cheese.
We talked about ideas for our stories and where we could draw inspiration from in our life and experiences. We thought about possible characters, setting and objects to include. One idea from each category was painted onto story stones. These would help us in writing our stories and we could also exchange stones for new story ideas.
After snack time, we learned how to fold and make the “walking pants” book from an A4 sheet of paper and started on our stories.
showing his friend how to get the accordion fold for his pages
adventures in Japan
a story in Spanish
the illustrations for her story
part 4? …waterfalls?
It was a fabulous afternoon together with the kids and definitely felt like the first day of school for me : ). After the red bus came to pick them up, two neighbourhood girls stopped by and we did some bookmaking together. We were able to communicate in limited English + actions + drawings. I found out they are on school break for two weeks and got them to teach me some Thai words. We made two different book structures and even managed to put covers on one before they decided they wanted to play with the cats.
and off they go
a quieter session to make books
I’m spending the month of October here as one of two artists in residence. It’s my first time in Chiang Mai and this place is just beautiful. In the 4 days I’ve been here, I’ve gotten a whirlwind tour of the area around Rumpueng: three wats, the Chiang Mai University’s campus and Faculty of Fine Art buildings (they have stone carving class!), museums, cafes, neighbourhood eateries… and met artists from near and far.
map! and hand drawn too
31st Century Museum of Contemporary Spirit
a peek into part of the printing studio at CMU
rooftop creative space, CMU
lake at CMU that is frequented by Chinese tourists because it may have been the setting in a popular movie…am still doing recon on this
This is my work area before I unpacked all my art materials. Getting used to how much space is available and planning on doing some larger scale pieces.
I was able to sit in on a life drawing class with some second year uni students that took place at Rumpueng. They concluded the session with a class shindig–a Thai bbq. Such a lovely time with them and of course delicious food.
Am also enjoying
waking up to the bantering of roosters
collecting around the neighbourhood
Catch day to day happenings on instagram.