Sunday, July 28, 2013

In Brazil and Bolivia for the month of July

Hi friends and family!

The hiatus on this blog has been due to my travels during this month.  I was in Brazil for a couple weeks, traveling from Sao Paolo to Rio, then up to coast to Salvador de Bahia. Now I am in Bolivia going south back towards Santiago.

It has been beautiful, full of interesting people, generous hosts, long bus rides, swimming in lakes and the Pacific Ocean, new adventurous foods like quinoa apple juice or chicken hearts, bustling markets, endless dancing and peaceful sunrises.

I will post some full updates in the first week of August once I am out of Internet Cafe land.

Love to all,

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

June Hiking

Last week I went on an unexpectedly gorgeous day hike near Santiago in Caj√≥n del Maipo.  These are the foothills of the Andes around Santiago - just two hours away!  My housemates and I went to a reservoir called Embalse el Yeso, which was created by damming the Yeso River.  In the wintertime here, we were hiking in a bit of snow, but its was still nice and warm.

Embalse el Yeso is at about 2,500 meters.  It provides a large portion of Santiago's drinking water.  We hiked all around the water, then ended up in the dry lake bed at the base of the river.  It was a huge landscape of clay!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Van Gogh... Alive

I recently went to a fun art exhibit on Van Gogh to review it for the magazine.  It is called Van Gogh Alive, and is a multi-media art experience that was shipped over from Australia for a few months.  There are no original Van Gogh pieces.  Rather, the exhibit uses high-def projectors, surround sound and music to create an interactive experience inside a huge, dark room.  It's the first time that something like this has com to Chile on such a large scale.  It was fun!  If there's one near you, I'd recommend it.

Here's my article, which has a lot more details:

Monday, June 10, 2013

Chile's Only Traditional Paper Studio

My paper making class went on a field trip to an artisan paper studio called Donoso Papel, the only one in Chile that makes paper by hand the traditional way.  It is a one-man business, and the studio is in a garage!  However, the owner named Julio has a large-scale press and other custom-made tools for paper-making.  It was so special to see and participate in the process.  The visit also made me really happy that it is still possible to make a living off of a traditional art like paper-making.  The care and attention to detail put into each sheet and project is amazing.

The studio

When we went, Julio was making paper out of cotton fibers.  He had previously soaked and processed the cotton to make a pulp:

 To test the fiber, you can see whether or not it is translucent when put in water and held up to the light:

This is the machine that breaks down the fibers.  You generally let it run for hours while the spikes in the wheel turn the pulp.  It is called a pila holandesa.  We have one at my school for our own paper-making!

Sheet formation:

My turn:

We pressed each sheet onto layers of felt:

And sprayed each new layer of felt with water to moisten it for the next sheet:

Then, Julio put the stack into the press to squeeze all the water out:

Even when moist, paper made form plant fibers is strong enough to pick up (unlike recycled paper that will crumble apart).  This is because the fibers weave and lock into each other.

We let them dry and I got my sheet back the next week!

Samples of Julio's paper. He makes paper for custom cards, menus, books, etc.:

Amate paper from Mexico.  This "paper" is not formed with a pulp and a screen. Fibers from a tree are criss-crossed then pounded out by hand.  Sometimes it is made as full sheets, without leaving the holes.