Friday, June 29, 2012

Five Ways to Fun

on the ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo
In Oslo, in June, the days are long with light. Even the rainy days. I can't get used to it. Instead, I just think of it as a great chance to do things. Like walk around the Botanical Gardens. Or take a ferry to the Viking Ship Museum in the rain. No swimming and I don't have photos yet from Oslo so I will spend today's extra daylight catching up.
I only made it to one museum in Barcelona, the Joan Miro Institute. The audio guide drowned out the tour groups and I spent a while looking at fun colorful abstracted art. And I mailed Keep Writing number 42. I need to post images of the last two postcards and these are the last ones sent from Europe. I'm on real vacation now (with some worrying about the future for good measure)so I am taking next month off. Expect number 43 when I get home in August. Before I move again.
I wish I had photos of the smoke machines at Hellfest watching my friends on stage under strobe lights but we barely slept and suddenly Andy and I were in Paris, 8 floors up looking at the spires of Notre Dame. We walked circles around cafes, ate fancy vegan food, drank expensive drinks and left to meet up with other friends.
Berlin, again was a quiet whirl of leisurely meals, long talks over drinks and bike rides. Our last day, we went to Templehof Park, a former airport. I meant to go last time I visited and never made it. We sat the garden spaces there and watched windsurfers leap into the air.
don't do it lil bird!
North! To Copenhagen, diverse city of fancy old buildings and elaborate squats. Also, I realized there is little I know about Danish history and could not refute a tour guide's claims that Denmark brought fear and terror to the shores of Europe. What do I really know about the Vikings? Nothing like a totally foreign place to remind you of all the things there are to know. Like not to eat boxes labelled "corrosive". Oh little birdy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

This One's for the Printmakers

I told Alyssa that when I don't want to sound foolish around other papermakers, I tell them I am a printmaker. And when I don't want to sound foolish around printmakers, I tell them I am a papermaker.  Around Roberto Mannino I had to settle for sometimes sounding foolish. 

However, I have some photos of the printshop exhibit in Capellades,  including the best description I've seen breaking down the different types of printmaking.  Again, I will just let the photos do most of the talking.  Tomorrow night I get on a train to France, meet up with Thou at the end of their tour and maybe will have a chance to post from a country that doesn't mess with my formatting.  Maybe not.

Monday, June 11, 2012

How Many Words Is This Worth?

Spanish internet and my computer are not friends. Even on facebook.  so only photos for you. Barcelona, taking the Gaudi walking tour, self-created with many stops for snacks.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Alyssa, You Were Right...

The photographs I have taken in the past few days seem dimly inadequate for the things I have seen. But I will try and fill it in. I arrived in Barcelona late in the day after a boat ride from Italy, a bizarrely surreal experience itself. I got to my hostel, sweaty and hungry, only to feel like I was squatting someone's mold farm. And paying for it. I can deal with cockroaches and leaky sinks and curious plumbing, anti-social types who play computer games in the dark and humidity. But not all at once. In the morning, after sleeping in a greasy cocoon, I headed to the train station to visit the Museu Moli Paperer de Capellades paper drying in the attic

Though I arrived at lunch, I was shown around by the current resident artist, Alyssa Casey, who is in Capelledes for three months before heading to Rome to work with Roberto Mannino, whose studio I visited two weeks ago. This was the start of three days of saying "yes" to all suggestions, sometimes to the frustration of Victoria was trying to offer me a choice. All options seemed great all the time. Late lunch. Drinks with unfamiliar names.  Driving to see abandoned paper mills in the area.   The river valley once supported at least 17 mills. Victoria's son is researching and cataloging the state of the abandoned mills and was an excellent guide. One was huge but also overgrown with large fig trees in the middle of rooms. All the wood--floors and ceilings had been long gone, leaving the mud and brick walls open to nature.
in the corner, abandoned mill

 The second mill was better preserved and stood along the river near a group of pine trees, the largest in Spain of that type. The sun was setting behind the red cliffs, birds sang and though it was 9 o'clock and we had not yet thought about dinner, I felt very good about where I was with these moments-ago-strangers.
giant spanish pines

The next morning, I helped cast a larger-than-life mold of a nose in paper, and appreciated the smoothing properties of formation aid.  Then the tour groups began. Though Capellades is in a small town, an hour from Barcelona, every kid who grows up in the area remembers a school trip to the museum. They are given a tour of the mill, complete with examples of materials used to make paper, and demonstrations of the historic process. The tour ends in a workshop room where the guide gives them a short demo on how they can make a sheet of paper with the vats of pulp, molds and deckles provided. Off they go. Alyssa and I helped, making sure the kids used the right side of the mold, removed the deckle before they couched. It was magic. They have an amazing set-up for the workshops, streamlined with so many helpful details. Like having the kids couch onto a stack placed in a tray to minimize mess. I could go on. Also, I mentioned that Catalan is the primary language here. Which means, apart from gestures, I couldn't communicate. The best I could do if they asked me a question was so tell them, in their second language, that I could not speak that language. It was hilarious and fast and very very fun.

  18th century papermaking

 Lunch starts late in Spain. Around three, after the tour groups and some cleaning up, we met Victoria at her house for lunch on her porch, leisurely talking in three languages, until we decided finally, at five, to load up the car and heard to Barcelona. Which is a whole other adventure. But, if you are in Barcelona and have any interest in paper, Capellades is beautiful, interesting, and the best longest 24 hours I've had in a while. Their website is available in English, too.

 p.s. Three people I love are having surgery this week, for minor to serious problems with a range of potential results. Much love to my sister, my mom and Jeremy S. while all y'all appreciate the good things and people in your lives, ok?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

While You Were Out

somewhere in Sicily where I probably should've been looking at the map
My sister took  ten days away from a job she likes to visit me in Rome and then drive me around Sicily while I made up stories about places I knew nothing about. She was a good sport. And a natural Italian driver. Also she makes the best pizzelle I've had. Now she's home and I am in a hostel in Barcelona trying to make up for being at sea for a few days and out of touch. Here is our whirlwind tour.
palatine hill. old bricks, new flowers

First we looked at old stuff in Rome. That was easy. You can take the subway there.
mt. etna

Then my sister tried out driving on tiny roads up hills while I got carsick. Luckily, the road ended at the base of Mt.Etna.
just below the summit
Which my sister climbed to the top of twice. First, while I laid on the lava and took this photo. I was resting, unsure if I could make it.  Then she came back for me. It turns out I  gave up about ten minutes away from the top. I made it.
chocolate filled pastries in Modica

 Then we drove around a lot more curvy roads, up and down, stopped and started. And finished with refreshments in Modica. That's our trip boiled down. Now I am in Barcelona. I don't understand most of what is being said around me. And there is a lot of talking. More as the night goes on. But I'll tell you about that later.