Sunday, July 26, 2015

Piecing myself back together?

Last Monday, I picked Gillian Travis and her husband up from the station and the three of us went to Freising together, to meet with Barbara Lange, another member of our joint group International Threads. As the members of the group live pretty far apart, it is always a good occasion when at least three are somewhere in the same area, to arrange for a get-together. We had an intensive two-hour work-meeting to clarify some issues of the group, which was very helpful. 

After that I went back home to what I though would be a week of dyeing, longarm-quilting and stitching on my quilt for the SAQA Diaspora Show.
But in fact, this past week has been taken over by issues of the refugees, and I am beginning to think it is simply getting too much. Although I really like them and want to be helpful with issues of little every-day problems, integration, and teaching some of them German, I have been a bit overwhelmed lately. A couple is having severe marriage problems which has just now led to separation – but this is really nothing I should have to deal with. Social workers, who are the ones who should be dealing with it, took the woman and 2-yr-old child away, but left the husband completely on his own, who, of course, is now entirely besides himself with grief and incomprehension.
One young man, who is applying to go to computer school, is trying to get his High School Diploma acknowledged. First his letter got stuck and delayed in the recent strike of the German postal service. And now the authorities in Munich returned everything because the verified translation of the report card had a note saying “translated from photocopy” instead of “translated from verified photocopy”, and they need to have either the original or a verified copy of the report card, AND a statement from an institution of learning that he actually needs this translation now and isn’t only trying to get one for the fun of having one just in case he might need one, quickly, later. And please include postage stamps for the return mail. So I was telephoning around to get the necessary alterations on the translation, luckily my husband could take care of verifying the photocopy of the report card, and when he fills out the application form (title ‘re-entry’, as they have returned the original application form as well) we should have everything together now. Sometimes I wonder why bureaucracy ever was invented to begin with. Is this really necessary?
Yesterday I had meant to do only things for my own work, and my family, except for a planned one hour German lesson with the Syrians only.  I ended up minding an African baby and her six year old brother for almost two hours while the mother was looking at another possible accomodation, because right now she is living in quarters that are much too small for the three of them, and then after the German lesson I spent yet another hour attending a crisis-talk between the desolate husband and a male social worker whom, I admit, I had called in myself to get out of this. I can understand that the woman is trying to make the most of opportunities for her in this country which are different than those she would have had in her home environment, but I don’t want to be the target of the husband’s wrath, who has so far not been very eager to learn German, or integrate himself in any way.
It’s been an intense week indeed! I’m way behind in my attendance of the Pixeladies’ second part of the online class on Photoshop Elements. And I wonder whether I will be able to catch up in the remaining week that the classroom is open...
Come to think of it, though – I did manage to get four of the six colours dyed and ironed for the next fabric by yesterday evening, the last two colours are seeping in the bucket downstairs just now, and I did not even forget to do the threads. But you can see: the numbers of buckets is increasing as I have had a satisfying number of new sign-ups during the first half of the year.

And I have indeed started (hand-)piecing the ‘migration’ quilt. Although you can't really see much of what is going on yet. It will be 'text messages', I think number 8.

But I do want a bit more of my own life back for my family and myself. So we went to the City Square Festival yesterday evening – the African refugees have started a drumming group after we received a donation  of several drumming instruments, and gave a fabulous first public appearance together with a local drummer, and some children.

What an enrichment of cultural life in this town!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Reflections of the day

The last two days we had Gillian Travis and her husband Mark visit us from England, on their way to a short vacation in the German Alps. Yesterday we took a trip to nearby Landshut, and as the weather was gorgeous and obviously everybody had just cleaned their windows I could take a lot of photos of reflections.

Some nice reflections on water, too.

And it's hot hot hot...

Friday, July 10, 2015

106 pieces plus

Life for me as a quilter who frequently works with templates has become considerably easier a little while ago, just about around Christmas time. That’s when I discovered that our local copy and computer shop prints documents up to sizes A0. That’s a pretty decent size for a quilt! And if you split up the document in two, or more, size options increase considerably. And you don’t have to draw with an overhead projector anymore, which so far has been my outdated mode of working. That was quite a revelation indeed.
Add to that my slowly increasing knowledge and sort-of-aptitude with Photoshop, and you can probably imagine that my techniques of working out a design are in evolution.
Currently I am making use of these developments. After all, I don’t want to give up making quilts of my own just because I have begun longarming. I do plan to enter a quilt for SAQA’s “Diaspora/migration” exhibition, as this is a topic that is pretty high on my list of concerns right now. At first I had not planned to enter, because it seemed as if I had to turn my experiences with the Syrians into a quilt. Because of my personal and emotional involvement it was not easy to come up with a design that did not exploit their plight. But it did not feel right to use their stories in my art, and if there is one thing I don’t want to do, it is to turn the persons I have got to know and even become friends with in some cases into an object of study and artistic interpretation. But about three weeks ago an idea began to take shape, and in the course of exercises for my class with the Pixeladies I began experimenting, and by now I have come quite a way with it all.
Most importantly, I have checked size restrictions and the date of deadline, my two weak spots in entering processes lately. A0 is a possible size - although preference seems to be given to free-standing and three-dimensional objects, whereas I am simply planning a wall-hanging - and end of October is just right for my limited brain capacities in remembering exact dates – I now have taken down that entry needs to be finished and done with before I get onto the plane to New Zealand. That’s easy enough to remember!
So I have used a photo which I got from the internet, taken it through various stages of abstraction, and highlighted the outlines.

Not to forget: a decent grid on the back, with additional matching points where seams need to come together.

Here you can see me as I am cutting out the template pieces,

Old-fashioned 'selfie', done by timer

and these are the pieces slowly being assembled on the design wall.

It’s a total of 106 pieces – with I think two or three pieces extra that have “number plus a” as I realized during cutting the template that some corners might be too tricky.

All of this is only going to be the background for overlaid text, done in stitching. 
I guess I have a load of work ahead of me. And I’m afraid the part with all the small pieces better be pieced by hand. What have I got myself into, ...?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Rejected, accepted, labelled, featured – a day of notifications!

Yesterday was a day of notifications. The first one I read – as it had somehow ended up in the spam-folder – was the one informing me of the fact that my quilt “Reflections on War and Peace” had been rejected in the Alsace competition. That’s quite ok, as it really was the one I had made for last year, when I missed the deadline, and I had only entered it as a second entry. Actually, I had changed the title to make it a bit more fitting into this year’s challenge topic, but now I will enter it in other contests with its original title. 
Then - because I know that Ste. Marie-aux-Mines always only accepts one quilt from each entrant - I checked my other e-mails, and the general mail folder held the message informing me that my quilt “Reflections on ‘reflection’” had been accepted.And I was indeed glad about that. There had been a few difficulties with the online entry, I had received a funny notice about my credit card credentials and wasn’t quite sure whether everything had worked out alright. And I did not want to miss out on participation a second year in a row, after last year's mishap... But obviously it had all worked out well, now I am going to send it to France – though not with German Mail, which is still on strike after several weeks, but another carrier – and then we’ll see how this one fares in the competition. I will be going to Alsace again this year, although it is during my son’s first week in secondary school. He’ll have to deal with this with only his father at home...
I also received the label for my entry at FoQ Birmingham and will send that one off this week as well.
And I received notice from SAQA that I am one of the featured artists this month. You can see the profile here:

So that was a good Saturday after all the turmoil on Friday afternoon!

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Chaos of the Day

In January, in a moment of weakness and complete naiveté, I let myself be talked into being the manager of my son’s tennis team for this summer season. Except for the fact that the first inquiry for a rescheduling of a match came two months before the season even started, and the dire situation that I had to work with a team of only four players to play six matches – in which we always need four players – everything has been surprisingly easy going so far.
Until today. It is the hottest day of the year, over 35 degrees centigrade. We were scheduled to leave for a match in a town approx. one hour’s drive away at 2:30 p.m. I had stocked up on cold water to be prepared, and was going to take two buckets and towels to cool off  the children during their matches.

At 2:05 p.m. I received a call from the other mother who was also going to drive, she had been contacted by “the other team” because my phone supposedly had not been working, the match was cancelled because one of their players was sick and they could not put a complete team together. But I should call the other team leader back for re-scheduling. First thing I did after sending notice to the other team members by message service was to send my son to the pool, he was off within three minutes. Then I called the other team leader. He did not know that the match had been cancelled, nor that anybody was sick in their team, but he had only just got back from work, could he call me back. Ten minutes later he called back, nobody on their team is sick, nobody called anybody, and they are ready for the match, waiting for us.
I was almost tempted to suspect a conspiracy – but our team is next to last, the other team is ranked second, we did not really constitute a severe danger to them with three other teams between us in the ranking. So I called the other mother who had passed on the cancellation, could she retrieve the number of the caller who had issued the cancellation in the first place? Yes, and I called that number which had a significantly different area code than the area we had been supposed to go to. Yes, they had cancelled the match with our club, because of sickness, yes, they had not been able to get the team leader. It turns out this was a club which was supposed to play against the girls’ team, no, she did not know why she called the other lady (who has a boy) or where she got that number...
By then it was decidedly later than we should have left to get there on time. One of the four boys – who has the furthest way to come to the meeting point – had left home and his mother, who was at work, did not know where he went and could not get in touch with him or the father. Three different possible substitute players did not answer the phone, were on the train to go away for the weekend or had a soccer match coming up in two hours. The third boy was getting completely fed up with this back and forth, he had only agreed to playing in the first place after a lot of coaxing as he had to miss out on a bike trip which he would have preferred and had now seen a last chance for. The tennis coach was a bit annoyed that we were thinking about cancelling altogether because then the club has to pay a fine. I was getting fed up at telephoning around for over an hour trying to figure out how to make this work.
In the end an attempt at rescheduling was abandoned because the other team could only offer us days during the week, which would make it very stressful for our team to get there after school, with extracurricular activities always being an issue in trying to get several children together.
The unexpected plus was that the rest of my afternoon was at my very own disposal and I mounted the first ‘real’ quilt on my longarm.

Mounting the backside fabric

Starting off large right away!

Ready to go!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

High Noon Abstract in June






























It seems that the deadline for the challenge in Alsace with 'reflection' as topic has tilted my bias towards reflections even more this month! I'll try to do fewer reflections in July...