Jentel Sojourn

Packed for departure

Once again, the car is packed and ready to drive 1000 miles.

In August-September I was among the fortunate recipients of a spot at the Jentel Foundation’s artist residency in north central Wyoming. There is always something that surprises me in every residency I attend – the pleasure of writers reading works-in-progress at Vermont Studio Center; extraordinary modern classical music at The Banff Centre, and so on. Here, I didn’t expect to find pockets of the British Empire among the sage hills of the Big Horn Mountains. In the 19th century a number of English second/third/fourth sons left the mother country and bought cattle ranches. The Big Horn polo club was established in 1898. One local family married back into the Queen’s retinue, so on her 1984 visit, she stopped in Sheridan, community of ~17,000 in north central Wyoming.

My other discovery was the banded-gneiss hard-rock core of the Big Horn Mountains. It’s 3 billion years old – two-thirds the age of the planet – and a billion years older than the Vishnu schists at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The cirques near the divide offer massive faces. Besides rock glacier obstacles to easy hiking (in some cases I made less than a mile an hour), its high elevation (for West-Coaster used to sea-level), this age alone seems worthy of respect.

Second Lost Twin Lake (751x1024)

Second Lost Twin Lake (watercolor on paper, 15″x 11″)

My four fellow visual artists and two writers were good company when I wasn’t off working or walking. The studio spaces are large and cool – important when you’re there in the hot summer months; in our case we also endured many days of thick smoke from Montana and Canada wildfires. I pursued my usual strategy of hiking a day, drawing and painting on location, then “resting” by painting or book-binding all day.

Suze in Jentel studio (2)

In my Jentel studio (Steve Price photo)

I worked very hard on a beetle book inspired by beautiful slabs of Alaska yellow cedar bored by Buprestid beetles. But after the 80 hours or so it took to finish my interior pages – I just didn’t think they were commensurate with the beauty of the wood. After creating the files to get mat board laser-cut, tracing the beetle galleries I’d seen in the 1988 Lost Fire area of the Big Horns, tea-dying 22 pieces of fragile antique rice paper (with a pattern that looks a bit like wood grain), applying Scotch 568 adhesive, gluing the rice paper to the mat board and dissolving the adhesive in the gallery areas, using a wood-burning tool to outline the galleries… It was very depressing. It took several weeks before I could face scraping off the rice paper and starting over.


Bark beetle book Volume XIII, page binding in progress. Maybe Thirteen is jinxed?

In the meantime, because I was in Wyoming surrounded by cowboy culture, and because I’d visited Kings Saddlery on our weekly forays into Sheridan, it occurred to me to try making the pages out of debossed leather. As usual in my book projects, this required learning about processes and skills entirely new to me, and multiple tests of methods.

Buprestid Katakana 5 (970x1024)

Front cover, Buprestid Kanakata (Cedar, leather, linen thread; 9″ x 7″ x 4″)

Buprestid Katakana 6 (1024x602)

Bottom edge

Buprestid Katakana 2 (1024x785)

Last page

All this effort reminds me that the more I follow the many paths my obsessions take me, the closer I think artwork is to science and engineering. I wish all these years I’d been keeping a lab book – preferably searchable – of all the tests of materials and methods I’ve made. It would be easier than pawing through my boxes and boxes of samples with barely readable notes scratched on them.


3 comments on “Jentel Sojourn

  1. ceartquilts says:

    Hi Suze,
    I saw ‘Goodell Fire Instance’ at the BAM yesterday-so impressed that I thought I’d look up your website. I thought you should know that I get errors/ cant see it using my iPhone. It works on my iPad and PC. As an artist myself, I know it’s hard to keep up with changes in technology, and I’m a retired website developer/designer! So many people are just looking at their phones these days. I recently changed over to a WordPress website (not just a blog) because it handles changing the format to properly display on different devices.

    Accessing on iPad or PC, when I tried to use your website form, I got two contradictory messages:
    The mail() function has been disabled and the mail cannot be sent.
    Email sent. Thank you for your message.

    I’m also getting the following error (on my PC and iPad too) when I click on any one of your artworks to see it more closely:
    This site can’t be reached
    index.php’s server DNS address could not be found.
    Search Google for index php galleries numbers portangeles400
    It looks to me like there is a coding error there with the links so that it is going to: http://index.php/galleries/thenumbers/33-portangeles400

    I tried replacing the index.php with both and http://www.suzewoolf-fineart.php but it still didn’t work.

    I couldn’t figure out any other way to contact you than through a comment on your blog. I hope this is helpful.


    Christina Fairley Erickson
    Fiber & Mixed Media Artist
    IG: @christinaerickson

    • Suze Woolf says:

      It’s truly wonderful when someone wants to know more about your work, and really embarrassing when they can’t get to it. You’ve done me a great service. I very much appreciate hearing about technical problems with my site(s). I shall try to get this fixed as soon as possible.


    Loved seeing this post after last Wednesday when we saw the results.


    “There is more than one way to do everything!” Sent from my iPad


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.