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March 09, 2010


Is she Mounir's sister? Did you meet her? Is it a woodcut? I won't ask what kozo is, I'll google it..... Love the fact that you are doing this!!! Vivian

I love the fact that you are doing this too. I can smell your hands.

Vivian, Pica: Yes, she is/was Mounir's elder sister. They were always close friends, and she had a similar sense of humor. I met her twice, both times when she was already quite old - she lived almost as long as he did, and never moved from Beirut where she had gone (from Damascus) to live with her husband and raise their family; during the war they had quite a time. The photo from which I worked was probably taken around 1930.

It's not a woodcut, it's lino. Kozo is a fiber used to make certain kinds of Japanese paper. And yes, I'm very happy to be doing this too! There's much to learn; this is the first relief print I've made for more than ten years and I'm approaching it from a different place now. Which is exciting.

"Kozo is the most common of the Japanese papermaking fibers. It comes from the inner bark of shoots of the Kozo (Paper Mulberry) plant, which are harvested annually. Kozo fiber has three layers of bark: the outer black bark, green bark, and the inner white layer. This fiber is strong and very long but must be cooked in a mild caustic solution (soda ash) before using. It is much easier to beat than cotton or linen, in fact, can be beaten by hand."

This must be very satisfying. My seventeen-year-old daughter loves making things with her hands; she always have, and we can't pinpoint where it came from in her lineage. Just watching her at work reminds me that a fast-paced life isn't the only option.

Beth, I can picture you going to your studio and doing these various things. You're really an inspiration for me.

For me too. This is so beatiful and resonant, both the print and the poem.

I like the print, Beth, and it's exciting that you're back into making linocuts.The joys of printmaking are like no other and the more one does the more one wants to do, n'est-ce pas? I see you've used green with the black - did you make a separate block for the green or print it from the same block?

Hi Natalie, thanks, and yes, printmaking is the most fun. I printed the green from a separate block, but it's not the color I really want - I think a light yellowish brown would be better. I'm going to do a companion print of Fadwa's sister, and when I print those I'll do a second edition of these in a different color. But I'm just getting my feet wet again, really. Yesterday I went to the Japanese paper store and bought some more printing paper but I haven't yet found a source of good linoleum in the city at a price I think is reasonable. Maybe I'll have to mail order it. But looking for supplies and getting back into it is such a joy, and feels like reclaiming a very important part of myself.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.