Friday, May 31, 2013

Colour of the day: the fifth selection

red: May 31
orange: May 26
yellow: May 27
green: May 28
blue: May 17

purple: May 24
(this month the only picture taken on purple day
that was not a flower - purple has obviously
gone out of fashion again...)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Entering at FoQ

Life was a zoo after I returned from England, with catching up, getting ready to teach in Karlsruhe for three days, three different classes... After that followed what normally is our family celebration week – my son’s birthday two days before my own, and our wedding anniversary. Though if we had known our son would chose this particular date we probably would have picked a different date for the wedding. Usually it is a tight week by itself. This year we also had to attend a good friend’s fiftieth birthday party on May 1st, my father-in-law was ailing and then passed away – and over all this I missed the deadline for entering a quilt for the Quilt Masters section of FoQ. Which I realized about a week later, when we returned from the funeral.
At first I thought that then I would probably not enter at all. I had not had an inspiration to participate in the “Horizon” challenge to begin with, and was slightly put off by the amount of return postage that you had to pay. Of course, I learned that British postal fares are at a frightening level when I was there in April and wanted to send some things home in order to relieve my overweight suitcase...
But just a few days ago I made up my mind and decided that I would enter after all. Two quilts can be sent back in one parcel, an offer which I took advantage of. Now, of course, we are on holidays, I don’t have a printer with me, so all I could do was work with the downloaded document of the entry form. I managed to transform it to a word-file because I could not write on the Adobe Reader file. I deleted the sections with all the important information, set in bold  everything that was vital information about my quilts and me, and sent them off by e-mail yesterday evening. I also offered to fax a completed form right after we return home on Sunday night – which, however, would be too late if the information I sent would not be acceptable. Luckily, Sara answered quickly, during this morning already, and in the affirmative. The information supplied is sufficient, I don’t have to send in more.
So although I myself can’t make it to Birmingham this year – unfortunately! I would so much love to go! – at least two of my quilts are going to be there.
Play of Lines XXXI will be there with the contemporary quilts. Here is a detail.

Play of Lines, detail
hand- and snow-dyed fabric, 120 x 164 cm
And Euro Blues will be part of the quilt creations section. Here is a detail, which I have shown on the blog before.
Euro Blues, detail
blue scraps, fused, double sided and 3 D, 60 x 184 cm

And I do have an eye on the deadline for entry for Quilt Nihon. And I had an idea for “Distortions” in Ste. Marie-aux-Mines right before we left. So I have to whip that one out right after we get home. Which will be a very tight fit – I am leaving for the textile art Berlin four days after we return, after which I will have only a few days left before the extended deadline... But at least the creative slump seems to have passed. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Inspirational pictures: Play of lines on the water

We are trying to vacation on the lake. The weather (i.e. the temperatures) are not exactly conducive to sailing. But if you look at the boat lines

from a different angle, there is a lot of inspiration dancing on the water. We'll see whether some of these can be turned into quilts...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Being a student again

When I was having a severe creative slump in early March I decided on the spur of the moment to sign up for a class with Pascale Goldenberg that came across my way unexpectedly. Of course, by the time that it actually came around, it didn’t fit in well at all amongst all the things that have been going on – but because it had been paid for I went nevertheless. And I am glad I did.
I had already taken a class with her about ten years ago and knew that she is good for getting one’s creative mind moving in new directions. Ever since that class I have been a hoarder of anything larger than a square inch. (Although a few months ago I did finally throw out the cut offs of threads which I had been sorting by color in jam glasses.) So packing was easy - all my boxes of assorted scraps, with a few strips thrown in as well.

Pascale uses leftovers of all kinds, and she gets them from tailors and various other places. So her work looks decidedly different from any other patchwork, already because she uses other fabrics. Add to that her creativity...

Pascale Goldenberg,
explaining how to treat pieces of fabric
before using them in patchwork weaving

This class that I signed up for is called “Patchwork Weaving”.
We started off with a “straight” weaving exercise - no two pieces were allowed to be alike either in fabric or in ways how they had been treated prior to using.

Then we were supposed to get more complicated by including round or awkwardly cut strips.

And finally we were supposed to weave something which was then meant to be cut up again to be included in another design. I wasn’t allowed to cut this one up, though, I have to repeat the exercise for homework...

It was great to be a student again. And this class may well enter into my attempts at working smaller pieces. I am curious myself to see how.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Working on commission

I always thought working on a commission would be wonderful. Who wouldn’t want that situation: working with the knowledge that you will be selling what you are working on.
But commissions aren’t easy to get, so for a long time I had to be satisfied if I sold a finished quilt. (And it is interesting that the ones that sold all went to places which felt right at the very first instant. The good ones do find their place, eventually.)
Last year in the spring, then, while I was frantically working to prepare for the exhibition in Ste. Marie-aux-Mines, suddenly three commissions came in. Why then – when I was under extreme pressure anyway? I took the risk and told every one of them that I wouldn’t be able to do anything until October. Luckily, all of them said they would wait.
The first was merely the completion of my UFO Storm at Sea, and that was the first to be finished, quickly, in the fall after I returned from France.

Long-time UFO was finished because it has found a home...
The second was a request for two pillow cases in a special size, for a special background. This one I wasn’t too happy about, I admit. I know that the person who commissioned them is an admirer of my quilts. However, she does not have a lot money, and I also know that she lives in a family environment that is not terribly appreciative of art – probably she would not have had a chance to put a quilt on a wall in their house. Nevertheless, I was a bit disappointed that she chose to ask for two pillow cases. But I soon decided to stop whining about that to myself, and merely consider it a small job to be finished, which I did.

The third commission that came along, however, constituted an excursion into a different field. I had been asked to make a stole for a protestant minister as a farewell present upon leaving his congregation. His farewell service was in May, the inquiry came about six weeks before the date – and at first I shied away from the task, wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do that. But after I did a little bit of research into the prices they sold for, borrowed a stole from the local catholic minister to have a closer look at, and figured out how to change the style and design into something well doable, I finally decided that I would certainly be able to make one. Again, the time restriction did not present a difficulty, and then suddenly the donors even decided that there were more of them than would be suitable for a present of one single stole, so they increased the number and ordered four. In October negotiations began with the recipient as to which colors and what designs were to appear on the stoles.
The first three – in the colours white, green, and purple – were a bit of an emotional challenge, because I did feel rather restricted due to the given size – a width of ten centimetres (4 inches) does not leave a whole lot of possibilities. Luckily I had worked a very narrow band for my contribution to “Beyond Comfort” before – “Yellow Band” measures three inches in width. However, for that piece I had a more scrappy approach, using up as many yellow scraps as I could find, and the design part is really in the weave-and-fold-arrangement rather than in the pieced ‘top’. But by number four – red – I had begun to actually like the format and was having fun.

stole no. 2, green

stole no. 4, red
I could well imagine making more. It is a totally different mode of working on design and color choice, and it has taught me a lot about my own approach.

Interestingly, Judy Kirpich has recently written about working on commission, too – I saw her blog post after I had already started writing mine. Judy feels constrained by working on commission, even though she herself made the commitment to contribute a piece of art to a humanitarian cause. And I can well understand her feelings.
But with these experiences of last year, I have developed a liking to working on commission. It does broaden one’s horizon to fulfill somebody else’s wishes and ideas in terms of colors, patterns, size restrictions or even functionality of the piece commissioned. As long as the deadline is not too strict. It might take a while, a gestation period, to develop the right idea.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Found Art

Life has been a zoo lately, I haven't had time to have a coherent thought in several days, nor to put it into written form. So today's post will be on found art from recent excursions.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Café leisure II

Two weeks ago I had hitched a ride with my husband into town to go to a doctor’s appointment, but then had to wait in the café a little while for him to pick me up.
As I was drinking tea and waiting I started thinking. I am member of a quilt group who publishes a calendar every year, and the theme for next year’s calendar is ‘light’. Except for the first time that I participated in the calendar production, the year after I joined the group, I have unfortunatley always had a bit of a problem with the topics that get chosen as a theme. One was ‘recipes’, which seemed to suggest a much more pictorial realization than is my usual approach to quilting. Last year’s theme ‘pairs’ had to be made while I was sewing for Ste. Marie-aux-Mines and left me totally uninspired before that exhibition was over. In the end, I think I did a good job with both of these topics, but they took their time to develop.

This year’s production had to be finished much earlier because the quilts are supposed to be shown in the upcoming exhibition of the group in May. To my surprise, again inspiration failed me, although ‘light’ is a very important topic in my life. Perhaps my negative experiences with ‘Illuminated’ had an influence on my mind, suggesting that this was not a good topic to deal with in quilts for me? I don’t know. (‘Illuminated’ has been removed from Beyond Comfort and is on its way back home, and I am still hoping to be able to revive it, but that’s another story.)
The café, however, helped release a bit of creativity, which had been simmering but not managed a breakthrough yet. A while ago I had bought some reflector fabric, as used in security clothing for outside workers like garbage collectors, or on safety vests for small school children, thinking that I would incorporate it in the quilt.
But how? An enlarged version of historic East German pedestrian traffic lights?

East German pedestrian traffic lights are different...

... and they come in a female version, too.

Not exactly original, really.
Give it another try with an LED-string, so that the lights would be reflected by the fabric? Problematic, because I would have to figure out a way to deal with the LED-string without integrating it too closely with the entire quilt to avoid another mishap like the one with Illuminated, which might be ruined if I have to exchange the entire string of lights.
In the days before the café I had at least got to the point where I had decided that I was going to do something on the saying “Wer als letzter geht, macht das Licht aus” (the last person to leave, turn off the lights).
Should I machine stitch the sentence onto the quilt in the colours of the rainbow? Nice, but how many people would actually associate this with ‘light’?

Finally I decided to cut the letters of the sentence from the reflector fabric and appliqué those onto the black background fabric that I had set my mind on long ago. This already felt like The Fall  – because I usually don’t like or do appliqué. Perhaps it’s the influence from so many people in England doing it? Who knows.
Although I don't usually do appliqué, I had bought
a special foot for the 820 recently - nothing is coincidental in life,
you know.

Alternating between background and foreground letters.

But I also really wanted to have some light source included. The problem was how to integrate light into the quilt without it turning too silly, too tacky, and, especially important, too vulnerable. Of course it would have been fun to have a light switch somewhere on the quilt so that viewers could turn on and off lights which would then be reflected by the reflector fabric. But I didn’t want to invite people to touch the quilt. And a cord would have put even more strain on the quilt or on the hanging. Of course, reflector fabric is most effective if you look at it in a dark situation with a light source directed at it. How could I put the quilt inside a black box and yet give people a chance to look at it, with a light source directed at it? We have two dark blue fabric storage containers in the basement, which I had wanted to throw out repeatedly because we were not using it. Perhaps this is finally the moment of glory that they have been waiting for? Now all I need is one of those flashlights with a turning handle that only light up when you are actually turning the handle, thus producing energy.

What you can't see...
is the 'aus' ('off) in the
lower right hand corner, stitched in black.

The exhibition opens next week Thursday, in the Old Jail in Freising.

Entrance to the former guard's apartment,
where the exhibition will be on display.

Come and have a look, it's pretty close to the Munich airport!