Saturday, August 31, 2013

Colour of the Day: the eighth selection

red - August 18
orange - August 31
yellow - August 14 (not my car!)
green - August 27
blue - August 28
purple - August 17

Friday, August 30, 2013

SAQA Benefit Auction coming up - my personal Dream Collection

For the past few years I have annually donated a mini-quilt towards the SAQA Benefit Auction, one of the most important fund-raisers for this America-based international organization dedicated to the promotion of the Art Quilt. This year I was really early in sending in my contribution, and accordingly „Dreams of Fields“ will be up for auction starting on September 9, in the first round. Here is a description of how the auction works
Each year, SAQA invites its members to select their six piece “Dream Collections“ out of all the quilts up for auction, and I am proud that mine is included in the Dream Collection  "Greenglorious"curated by Olga Norris.
My own little Dream Collection was only chosen today, too late to be included on the official SAQA website, but I will show it here. It is called „Joy of Colour“ – all photo rights are with SAQA:

Please take a look at the entire collection, and perhaps you will like one or two or more of the quilts enough to bid for them when they are up for auction after September 9. SAQA will appreciate your support!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Little escap(ad)e: Art Immersion, part 2

My next station on my trip of art immersion was the International Centre for Light Artin Unna. I had been wanting to go there since I first heard about it, and certainly since I did not make it there when I had my solo exhibition at the German Patchwork Guild’s AGM in – was it 2009 or 2010?
As a matter of fact, this leg of the journey was slightly less intensively immersed than I had originally planned for, but nevertheless very impressive and exciting indeed. Less intensively immersed because I had managed to not register the fact that this isn’t a museum where you can go in during what any slightly experienced museum visitor would consider ‘regular’ opening hours. I had dreamed of spending the whole day walking from one of the light installations to the other, and going back to the beginning once I had finished with the round. Instead, access is limited to three daily public tours, the first starting at 2 p.m. in the afternoon.
So when I arrived at the front door just before 10 a.m., all eager to go in, after getting up just after six and having left my hotel in Oberhausen at half past seven to get to Unna ‘on time’ I was a bit on the disappointed side. Luckily, there were lockers in the building, and after I had bought my ticket (which was possible at 10.30) I left my luggage and set off to see Unna. Small town in Westphalia, and, in the shop assistant’s words, there isn’t really anthing to see except for the former brewery that now houses the light museum, the public library and the city’s community college.
It has some very nice old streets with half-timbered houses and "Butzenscheiben", though, and a protestant church in gothic style, in which I saw one of the Bosna Quilts hanging by itself, ‘in the wild’ so to say (meaning: not in the context of one of the many exhibitions that I have seen already), for the first time.

"Butzenscheiben" make for nice warped reflections -
but I have always wondered how the world looks when
you live inside one of these houses. Does everything
get warped when looking from the inside, too?

A Bosna Quilt in the church, unfortunately the bad lighting
made it impossible to get any of the impression that this work
could have given visitors.

And I did treat myself to a really nice plate of waffles and white tea, sitting outside in beautiful weather (and basking in the fact that I knew people at home were sitting in the rain…)

When I went back to the museum, time for the tour was finally approaching, and there were about 12 people on it. In the building, but outside the former brewery cellars which are the location for the museum itself I saw a (non-lighted) installation by Brigitte Kowanz. On the tour, we were explicitly not allowed to take any pictures. The tour was only a tour of the permanent collection as a new temporary exhibition will open on September 14 and was not yet accessible to the public. Currently, the permanent collection includes pieces by

While in the cellar, I think I was most impressed by Kubisch’s combination of light and sound in the brewers’s former fermentation tanks, and Eliasson’s installation of pulsating light and water. But as I was googling all these names in order to be able to supple the links I realized that perhaps it is obnoxious to talk of favorites in such an outstanding exhibition containing works of only top artists, and truth is that I liked all of them a lot.
As I did not spend the night I did not get to see Mario Merz’s “Fibonacci sequence” on the outside of the brewery’s former chimney:

Mario Merz, Fibonacci sequence,
Picture taken from here

The Centre is part of a Light Path that extends through quite a distance in the Ruhr Industrial Area, which, of course, I did not get to see this time either. It seems like I will have to go back and do a serious tour of art museums and sites in the Ruhr Industrail Area! Their having been European Cultural Region three years ago has definitely given the region quite a boost, and there is a lot out there to see!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Little escap(ad)e: Art Immersion, part 1

My first day of art immersin consisted of a visit to the current installation by Christo, “Big Air Packege” in the Gasometer in Oberhausen. I had never yet seen a ‘live’ Christo.
When Jean-Claude and Christo wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin eighteen years ago I had really wanted to go, but let myself be talked out of taking a night train to Berlin, spending the day and taking another night train back by my then Greek boyfriend. He considered this whole event total nonsense, my idea a complete idiocy, and I was too unawares of what he was doing with me that I did not understand this was the first clear sign which should have told me that we were not well-fitted with each other. But that’s another story.
When Jeanne-Claude and Christo wrapped the trees at Basel, I had made all the necessary arrangements to go visit my friend who lives just opposite the valley from the Fondation Beyeler, she even has a view of the park. I wanted see it on the last weekend of the event. But the foliage came down prematurely, putting extreme strain on the branches in their wrapping, the whole thing was dismantled a few days early – and I did not get to see it except on postcards and a few pictures my friend had taken.
I did once catch an exhibition in Rostock that gave an overview over various Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects, and my husband has been a very attentive gift-giver regarding books and DVDs on their work, so I am sufficiently well-informed, I would claim. But I still hadn’t seen anything ‘live’ – couldn’t go and see The Gates in New York as I was 7 months pregnant at that time, and the covering of that river in the US still hasn’t taken all the various objective hurdles yet…
So when I heard this March that Christo was doing this  "Big Air Package" in Oberhausen, I knew I would have to make sure I would get to see it. And this week's trip to the Netherlands was a good enough start.
When I got to the Gasometer, I took the ‘long way’ in – first I went up the staris on the outside of the construction, to the viewing platform at the top.

There were a few more metres of stairs left after this sign -
and I walked up all of them, from the ground!
Then I took the lift down, and a good view around the exhibition about Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s various projects, the ones that have been realized, and the ones that are still waiting to become real.

View into the exhibition on the floor below the Big Air Package
This is a table that shows the time frames with which some of the projects  faced or still are facing. For example, I hand’t known that the wrapping of the Reichstag had been turned down three times. I only remembered that there had been a hefty debate about it all in the German Bundestag whether this should be allowed before the beginning of the renovation of the historic building, when parliament was moving from Bonn to Berlin.

And then I finally went inside the big air-filled sculpture.

a look up

a look around

The signs kept saying that it would be filled with awe-inspiring silence, giving you a feeling of… However, lots of people, though talking relatively quietely, and some little kids who just couldn’t resist trying out the echo effect in the package, and the Gasometer as such made sure that silence wasn’t what you could find inside. But that’s ok, I didn’t really go in there for an experience of silence.
I loved the whiteness of the interior and spent quite some time just sitting down, watching people, looking up. I even managed to catch one of the pleather pillows on the floor where you can lie down and look up into the sky.

others looking up and around

So I, too, became a part of this projection of the visitors’ movements that is filmed by a camera at the very top of the bubble/package and then and can be seen outside in the exhibition part. At first I thought it was insects caught under some meshing, until I realized what it really was.

looking at others looking up, from up top

And I also managed to find two of the air holes which are used to blow the air into the whole construction. (On the picture just above you can see them as little black dots in the upper left segment of the darker white segment.)

So if you find yourself somewhere near Oberhausen (not too far from Cologne, not too far from Dortmund) before December 30th of this year, it's well worth going to experience this feeling of being inside a huge package...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Getting ready for Art Immersion

My fabric supplier in the Netherlands has an annual house fair on the last Sunday and Monday of August. So far I had never been there, but this time they were also offering a workshop on how to employ social media for the enhancement of one’s business. As I have been a more or less reluctant user of social media so far, but had been told I need to be more active on that field, I thought it  would be interesting to participate. A few conferences with my husband and my son regarding the possibilities of organizing such a trip in the middle of school vacation while my husband has to work, and we came up with a special arrangement.
On Sunday I took my son to visit his grandparents for a few days, hopped on the train and went up to Holland to take part in the workshop. And thanks to my husband’s suggestion “but you are not just going up there to do this one workshop!” I will add two more days up there and do some interesting art stops.
I was lucky to have chosen the quiet day of the house fair to be there, and could leisurely stroll through the stacks and stacks of bolts of fabrics. No longer am I tempted by these, as I do not employ commercially printed fabrics in my quilts any more. But it is still breathtaking for any fabric lover to have this abundance of supplies lieing in front of you.

I did fill a shopping cart with lots of other items, though - batting, pins, two bolts of black fabric for the classes in Amish Quilting that I will be teaching in the fall, and everything will be shipped home.
The workshop was interesting, and I do feel that I know a bit more about facebook now. Not nearly enough to feel as if I am a competent user, but… Being a data-sceptical German, however, and especially in the midst of the current and heated debate about spying out of online communication by various secret services, I still don’t feel like I will ever come to love facebook. But I blog (and I like doing that!) – I use the internet for other things – so I guess there is no way out, one has to howl with the pack.
I was never expecting to boost my self-consciousness through being a member (which a recently published study says doesn’t work anyway), rather I had joined to find a few lost friends. And it worked indeed. I do enjoy reading pabout activities of my friends that I might not have heard of otherwise – Annie posted a list of desserts she was making for ‘a few friends’ that sounded like she was hosting a batallion of football players. But I wonder why people feel the need to share cutesy images of kittens rolled up in a tulip, and would rather live without some of the wise sayings that are being shared all over the place… Fills up one’s screen and feels a bit like spam mail in your e-mail in-box.
So after this workshop I know it is time to really figure out how to use facebook to promote my fabrics and my art.
But today and tomorrow I will dedicate myself to museums, totally.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Flint-effect

By nature, I am not a mender at heart. But Kathleen Loomis’ repeated reports on hermending, and my son’s pant-knees-straining-activities have impressed and led me to do some of the usual mending such as ironing and stitching patches onto a pair of Jeans. 
Two of the most interesting and inspiring books that I read last year have also contributed to this development, but in a different. India Flint’s „Second Skin“ and „Eco Color“ were so rewarding to read, that I can only recommend anybody who is interested in textiles, dyeing and anything to do with fabric and who doesn’t own them yet to put these titles on your Christmas wishing list. Judith Mundwiler, too, has reported on her inspiration from India Flint in a blog entry hereUnfortunately, I was not able to go to Scotland and participate in the workshops India Flint has just been teaching there. But my fascination with her processes of dyeing with natural materials had already led me to begin a collection of protein by freezing any residue from rinsing milk bottles, cream bottles and yoghurt containers in a plastic bottle. I had been planning to do some experimenting this summer, and the reservoir had become substantial enough. Unfortunately, my son managed to not completely close the freezer door when he took out ice-cream a couple of months ago, which ruined a large part of the contents of the freezer, including my protein. So as long as the remainders in the freezer haven’t been depleted in total and the freezer de-thawed to put it back into good working condition, I am not starting on a new collection, and the experiments have to wait until next summer, I am afraid. 
In any case, the effects and results of dyeing that India shows on her blog and in the books speak to me much more than collecting onion skins for weeks and weeks on end. We’ll see how I like this kind of natural dyeing.
But to get back to the original topic, India’s books have changed my mending habits. Not that I usually have a whole lot of things that need mending in my own wardrobe. But I have decided to take those chances in a more daring approach. I won’t do the mending-so-you-don’t-see-that-it-has-been-mended anymore. Instead, I will use this as a pep-up. And I have recently completed my first two tasks. The first was a summer top that had started fraying at the seams. I covered those spots with fabric remnants from my scrap box.
Fraying edges were...

covered up in the back...

and in the front.

When I was wearing the mended top for the first time, my husband looked at me a little skewed and asked in a certain kind of voice whether this was intentional or not. Apart from that, none of the other people around said a word. And there were quite a few around.
The second item was a light jacket that could also be worn as a blouse which had a hole that I don’t quite remember how it got in there. If I recall correctly, the piece got caught in my bike brakes or something, there is a large stain on the front, too.

A rip on the upper part of a sleeve.

This hole has been covered in a creative manner. 

As this was completed only a few days ago, I haven’t yet worn it in public, so haven’t received any comments either. Not even my husband has seen it yet... And I still have to decide what to do with the stain on the front, right now it is being covered by a decorative pin.
India Flint herself mentioned on her blog that one of her books that is currently out of print is being offered on that large book-seller’s pages for an outrageous price. If you don’t want to or can’t spend that much money, she also told us that a reprint is in preparation. So that Christmas wish of yours might still be fulfilled...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Welcome back, Baby Oak!

Summer is a slower time. My son is home from school, I have to spend quite a bit of time at the public pool with him, and it is not that easy to get many things done. So there isn’t really a whole lot to write about. I could give you a detailed account of my rather troubled relationship with my garden this year, including a lengthy description of my feelings about the slow process of decline that my quince tree is going through. But that is probably far from interesting for anybody but myself.
There are a few positive things about the garden, too, thouhg: we had a good crop of currants this year, and the sunflowers are beginning to bloom nicely.

And – Baby Oak, my Daily Oak’s descendant that I planted in my garden, is back. I have to admit that during a furious attack at weeds I inadvertently mowed it off, although I thought I had been careful enough. I realized that it wasn’t there before we left for our family retreat, and seriously mourned the fact that I myself had been the cause for its untimely death. And of course I told myself that I could never talk about this shameful mistake here...

But imagine my surprise and happiness when I saw it reappearing the other day. It has two sprouts now – so here is a real-time documentation about how trees decide to split up their stems! 

It may be a big and strong oak tree yet, in a hundred years or so to come.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Featured on "Threadnest"

A little while ago Terry Jarard-Dimond  sent me an invitation to contribute a picture of my ‘thread nest’ of embroidery threads to a new blog she was creating. Good for me that she sent an explanation of what she considered a thread nest to be, because that was not an active item in my English vocabulary! But I really liked the idea, sent her my pictures, 

This is the picture I sent to Terry for "The Thread Nest"

and while we were away on our family retreat I was featured on “TheThread Nest”.
In fact, Terry's invitation was what gave me the idea to write the post about  boxes and baskets, although I altered the focus to buttons. Of course, I have other  collections that could also easily count as thread nests, but Terry had requested embroidery threads only, please, and so I abided by her request, of course. The other collections are slightly less ‘nest-like’ anyway.

A view of my drawers with threads

My handquilting threads

Terry is welcoming other participants, so if you have a nice little nest to contribute, you can get in touch with her via her blog.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Summer recreation

It is the summer vacation, my son is out of schook, and we spent last week at a family retreat. We had to play at being “Indians”, which was great fun for the many many kids that were there, and relaxing enough for the adults if you did not get started on how much of a projection it is when pale faces in Germany put up a tipi and talk about “Indians’ wise sayings” and other activities.

The most relaxing part was that the kids were busy all day and in a safe environment, so parents didn’t have to do a whole lot of looking after them. Except for forcing them into taking a shower at the end of the day. If they could still be awakened after falling asleep beside the fire while ‘guarding’ it.

Sleeping like a 'real Indian' - my son on fire duty...

Another rather relaxing part is the fantastic salad bar this place offers at lunch and dinner times (in addition to 'real' meals), certainly a perfect reason to go there no matter what the topic for the family retreat is!

As I can’t well be without fabric for a full week, I had taken a little bit of work with me. No sewing machine, though. Did some stitching on Shapes 8, blue sibling to Shapes 7, which is already on display in Grünstadt.

And as I am very well onto the finishing straight with one of my UFOs, which really only needs putting together now,

Scrappy version of Underground Railroad pattern -
made entirely of (mostly my) handdyed fabrics
it seemed like a good time to start another. So I had also taken a box of fabrics, and started marking pieces for yet another Undergraound Railroad/Jacob’s Ladder quilt. 

Notes to remind me about what I had been thinking while marking -
the new project is supposed to be a little more thought through than
the other one...

I got started on working this pattern for recreational quilting when I saw this quilt in the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh in 2006 - my most favorite quilt ever.

This new UFO of mine will of course again take years to finish, and is still not going to nearly as beautiful as that African American quilt. But it will be good for recreational piecing and quilting...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Buttons, baskets, boxes

I have a weakness for buttons, as I have mentioned before. Right now I try to refrain from new acquisitions, telling me that I need to use some first. But I cannot guarantee that I will be strong when temptation strikes. I keep my buttons in a shoe box. Practical, cheap. But not exactly stylish.
Of course, I have other weaknesses as well. One is for baskets, and this my most beautiful example, a palmwood basket I once acquired on the island of Lanzarote. Originally I had intended it as sleeping place for my cat, but as the cat disappeared a long time ago, it has by now found a new purpose.
The other weakness, far less under control than the one for basekts, is wooden boxes/containers.
This has resulted in me owning three different sized beautiful wooden backgammon games

wine crates being refurbished as additional storage space under my working table

a former cigar box that contains photos of the special people in my life

and this little treasury for postcards.
And of course wooden boxes have entered my attempts at maintaining some kind of order in quilting. This box is the nicest gift I ever received from my younger brother and holds my handquilting threads.

Slightly more prosaic, another former solid wine crate is my treasury of embroidery threads.
And the last annual flea market, a traditional outing for my son and me, has presented me with this little beauty, a bread box, according to the former owner.

Now it is the container for my larger spools of machine quilting thread.

Perhaps some day I’ll be able to find a suitable wooden box for buttons. Let’s find the next flea market!