Thursday, December 15, 2016

Black Swallow-wort (Cynanchum louiseae)

I've been a little preoccupied lately, but I did manage to make some black swallow-wort paper. It was made from a batch I collected on the MSU campus - thanks to Frank Telewski. It came out too dark at first, so I lightened it with bleach.

Unfortunately, it's not taking ink transfers, so it won't be making an appearance in the Foreshadowing series. However, it does make beautiful paper!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Fall "To Do" List

The exhibit at Matthaei Botanical Gardens is winding down, but I've still got a lot of paper to make for the show starting in February at Found Gallery in Ann Arbor.

Over the past month, I've been collecting and cutting phragmites,

boiling black swallow wort, 

cutting narrow leaf cattail, 

and reboiling and re-chopping Dame's rocket and spotted knapweed. These last two plants didn't accept image transfers very well, so I'm giving them another round of processing.

Happy fall!

Monday, September 26, 2016

ArtPrize 8!

I am so honored to be a part of the wonderful ArtPrize exhibition at Women's City Club.
Thank you Fred Bivins for putting together such an amazing collection of work! It's located in a beautiful building at 254 East Fulton St.  Open M-Sat 10-8 & Sun 10-6.

My shadow image of cream wild indigo is printed on invasive phragmites paper and framed in reclaimed cherry.

If you've never been to ArtPrize, you definitely need to check it out! A few of my favorites from yesterday's visit are Embrace by Marc Sijan, Museum Anatomy by Chadwick & Spector, Higher Ground by Hillerbrand & Magsamen, Sweepers Clock by Maarten BaasOne Thousand Shacks by Tracey Snelling,

and Swing by Dana Freeman!!! Love it!!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Shows and Invasives

Catch up time! This past week I delivered 30 prints to the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens for my exhibit which runs September 17 - November 13, 2016. Thank you to David Betz and Joseph Mooney for all your help! More information about that exhibit, including an interview, can be viewed on the Matthaei blog.

I also delivered a print of cream wild indigo to the Women's City Club in Grand Rapids for ArtPrize!! Opening day is September 21st!

I was able to sneak in two outings to collect invasive plant species as well. Special thanks to Frank Telewski, professor of Plant Biology and curator of the W. J. Beal Garden and Campus Arboretum, for giving me a permit and helping me collect black swallow-wort (Cynanchum louiseae) on the MSU campus. I haven't made paper from this plant before and I'm anxious to see what happens!

I also collected more reed canarygrass in Washtenaw County. It makes such beautiful paper!
Thank you Matthew H.!

Lastly, I posted on Facebook a few weeks ago my disappointment with how narrow-leaf cattail was not accepting alcohol gel transfers. The plant fibers kept peeling up whenever I lifted the transfer film. However, last week I had a successful transfer! Here is a print of Michigan monkey flower on cattail paper. I'm starting to wonder if the high humidity a few weeks back was affecting the alcohol and ink. Hmmmm..... This print is on exhibit at Matthaei.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Frames, Frames, and MORE Frames!

Thirty, to be exact. That may not sound like a lot, but when they're made by hand with as much attention to detail as my husband puts into them, it becomes a very big job. To date, he's made over 60 frames for this project, and it's not like he doesn't have other things to do! Dan is a professor at Michigan State University with a joint appointment between James Madison College and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. I CAN'T THANK HIM ENOUGH for all the hard work he has done and for being forever supportive of all my crazy photography projects. I couldn't have done any of them without him!

The walnut and cherry frames, some of which I'm still applying tung oil to, will be heading to the University of Michigan's Matthaei Botanical Gardens for my exhibit which runs September 16th -  November 13th.

Friday, August 19, 2016

MSU's Kellogg Biological Station

It never hurts to ask. That's what I told myself as I was writing the letter to KBS asking if I could do an Artist Residency. I'm so very grateful to Katherine Gross and Kara Haas for allowing me to do so! And many thanks to Steve Hamilton, Tyler Bassett, and Dustin Kincaid for helping me locate both invasive and endangered/threatened plant species to use for my project. I can't even begin to imagine this project without all the wonderful people who have helped in so many ways.

Grad student Dustin Kincaid took me out in the canoe to find threatened wild rice.

You can see wild rice in the foreground, then invasive purple loosestrife and invasive phragmites behind that.

Susan Houseman lent me her row boat to get out to horsetail spike rush (special concern).


Steve Hamilton and Joe Simmons arranged for the collection of the invasive aquatic plant Eurasian watermilfoil which I hope to make into paper. 

And I had the honor of giving a workshop on making paper from invasive plants to a wonderful group of K-12 science teachers at the KBS Summer Institute! I hope you'll send me pictures of your projects so I know how they turned out. :)


Monday, August 15, 2016

Plant and Paper Update

The results are in! After much experimentation, I was able to make the different types of paper pictured below. I'll be able to print on all of them with the exception of Japanese knotweed and the green garlic mustard. I also processed purple loosestrife and oriental bittersweet, but I could tell by the color of water during boiling that they'd be too dark, so I stopped there. I might make a few sheets this winter to see how they turn out, but right now I'm busy preparing for my exhibit at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens which opens September 17th. So back to work I go!


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

In Full Gear!

I've been on the go since my last post! Last week at Kent Lake, Rebecca Williams (from MPR's The Environment Report) and I went out in kayaks to photograph the shadow of American Lotus, my first aquatic plant. I've decided that it's my favorite Michigan plant. It sticks up about a foot and a half out of the water and it's absolutely beautiful. I wish I could have taken a good photo to really do it justice, but I could neither change the aperture nor the zoom once I got my camera into its waterproof case. I did, however, get some good shadow images thanks to Rebecca. She held the white board while interviewing me for a segment on her program. I'm so proud of us both for keeping our kayaks upright and not losing any camera/audio equipment to the water! The story will air late July/early August.


 Photo credit: Rebecca Williams, Michigan Public Radio

I've also been busy photographing the shadows of more endangered/threatened plant species: Michigan monkey flower (Mimulus michiganensis) near Sleeping Bear Dunes, Prairie white-fringed orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) at a Michigan Nature Association sanctuary, and two plants at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens - Hairy wild petunia (Ruellia humilis) and Lake Huron tansy (Tanacetum huronense). Special thanks to Laura Mueller, Katie Grzesiak, and Rachel Maranto for helping to make this possible.

prairie white-fringed orchid

Back at home, I've been processing the invasive plants I collected during my Artist in Residency at MSU's Kellogg Biological Station: Oriental bittersweet, Japanese knotweed, spotted knapweed, purple loosestrife, and narrow-leaf cattail. I've never made paper from these plants before, so it's one big experiment. I'll post an update on the outcome soon.

spotted knapweed

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Go Green! (Go White!)

The batch of garlic mustard pulp I processed a few weeks ago came out GREEN! It's so beautiful, but too dark for me to print my images on. So now I'm experimenting with how to lighten the color a bit. All the garlic mustard I've processed in the past has come out brown, so I'm perplexed as to why this batch is so different.

The batch of Dame's rocket I collected at Fenner a few weeks ago also came out funny. It's not holding together at all when I try to make paper. So I went back to Fenner last week to pick more, along with more garlic mustard for round two.

The good news is that on June 13th, I'm headed to MSU's Kellogg Biological Station for three days to begin part one of an artist residency. I'll be collecting as many invasive plant species as I can get my hands on! I'm so excited!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Garlic Mustard Galore!

Uffda! That's what some in my home state of Minnesota would say upon seeing the amount of garlic mustard I received this past weekend. :) Not to mention the smell that is permeating my garage, skin, hair, and clothes. It was collected at Magoon Creek in Filer Township. Thank you Katie Grzesiak at the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network for getting it to me!

On Sunday, I was able to put it out in the sun to start the drying process. I would never have done this if it were at all windy for fear that some pieces would blow away, but it was a very still day. Since then, it's been drying in my garage. I've been making my way through each pile, cutting it into 1 inch pieces. Normally, I don't cut the plants until after they've dried, but there is so much and nowhere else to store it, so I'm trying to speed up the process. I think I'll have enough to make paper for the next five years. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Dame's Rocket - Round 2

Last summer, I tried to make pulp from invasive Dame's Rocket, but it didn't work. It wouldn't break down enough to chop even after boiling it several times. Maybe it's because I picked it while it was blooming. Who knows? However, I'm going to give it another shot. This past weekend I picked new growth Dame's Rocket at Fenner Nature Center during their Earth Day event. There were many volunteers helping to pick invasive plants that day, including a group of students from MSU. I could have hauled away 50+ bags, but I'm going to start with the two I collected and see if it works. Fingers are crossed.

I cut off the roots and will dry them in the sun over the next few weeks. You can see there are a few garlic mustard and motherwort plants tossed in as well.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Step 6: Alcohol Gel Transfers

The last step in making the endangered plant prints is the alcohol gel transfer. This is by far the least reliable part of the whole process as the transfers tend to work only about 50% of the time. I have yet to figure out the perfect amount of gel and the right amount of time to burnish the film as it varies greatly with each type of paper, the temperature and humidity of the room, the temperature of the gel, and how warm my hands are. However, when it does work, it's a beautiful thing.

Supplies: Purell hand sanitizer, Genuine DASS ART Classic Transfer Film, brayer, gloves

Below is a transfer of the shadow image of prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) onto paper made from phragmites.