Saturday, November 3, 2018

Entered: Forced to Flee

So I managed to finish my piece for "Forced to Flee" in time - well enough in time to get it to the photographer, and to pick up the CD with the pictures before last weekend because I wanted to get the entry done with over the weekend.
Only on Sunday evening did I see that he had forgotten to put the detail photo onto the CD. At that time of day it was too late to take a decent detail photo myself to add to the entry. But luckily the deadline was only on the 31st, so I could go back to the photographer on Monday and get it. And still be on time. (Then he told me I should have called him, but I would never have dared to call him on the weekend - yet what would I have done had it been a last-minute thing? Besides being really annoyed...?)
On Sunday I had decided that I was going to enter only the new piece, up until then I had thought I would enter two of the older pieces as well. But because I assumed that there are going to be so many entries I then decided to leave the two older ones out. Of course I hope it's going to get in, and of course I am worried it might not, and then I will have to reconsider where to enter it to give it other chances...
On Sunday, however, I also read the prospectus more closely - one of my problems with entering shows, I don't read those things closely until the last minutes - and found out that it says we were encouraged to blog about our work in advance. While I had been holding back from talking about it. Oh well...

So here follow a few pictures from the process of making it.

Dissolving the stabilizer that was behind the lower part, always a scary moment...

Pulling the lower part back into shape-
wondering how much of it would be
falling apart due to insufficient fastening
of open crossings...

Adding some details in hand stitch.

The piece has an upper and a lower part, which required two distinctly different methods of assembly.

Upper part, the sky, being assembled.
Here is the upper part, after the 'background noise'-writing had been added and the necessary stabilizer behind it had been dissolved as well.

And here is a detail of how I transferred some lines onto the piece after the two parts had been put together.

This watersoluble plastic was kind enough to prove rip-out-able, though, and did not require yet another process of dissolving.
I put a piece of heavy linen as the backside fabric, no batting. Stitched and layered, that's what was required. Although in worst case, I could argue that the lower part, which is stitched onto a layer of fabric hidden in the middle, would let it qualify for a three-layers-piece, should the need arise.
I am still going to wait about posting a picture of the entire piece until I hear from the jury whether it got in...

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Changes, and ...

In the beginning of October some parts of my life changed. Since then I have had considerably less time for quilting. And it will remain like that. In fact, I was the one who intentionally changed these parts, and it's not that I was not aware of the consequences for my quilting. Little did I know, however, that now that time is more limited, ideas would start floating at me like clouds in the sky. So here I am, with very little time at hand, and many many ideas buzzing in my head. They might never get out of there, who knows.
But I did manage to work on - and finish! - the quilt I want to enter in the SAQA 'forced to flee' exhibition. It was a design I had contemplating for a while, and this call for entry gave me a good opportunity to work it out. I am not going to show many pictures here, as I haven't sent my entry yet. I can pick up the professional photo in a couple of days, and then will have to wait for the notification.

text messages 19 - as a work in progress

It wasn't always easy because the topic, of course, has been so intensively with me for the last few years. And in a way I was making the quilt for my refugee friends because I could not do a single stitch without having their stories in mind as I was working on the various parts of the quilt, and waiting for the ideas that kept coming in. The days when I could not spend much, sometime not even any time on it these past few weeks were sometimes disconcerting as I kept fearing I might not get finished in time. But it seems it needed those days of additional ripening time, because some more ideas could how up and get incorporated. I am very pleased with the result, and not matter whether it gets into the show or not, it was very good to make this particular piece.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

How to deal with your yellow scraps, or progress report....

1. Look at your collection of yellow scraps in the box of bags with scraps assorted by colors.
2. Realize that you have quite a few of yellow scraps.
3. Decide that you are going to do something about it – a whole year’s worth of a project using up yellow scraps. Set yourself a few rules – such as ‘use as they are’, ‘don’t cut additional ones’, ‘embroider them to a foundation, only using a machine in extremely dire situations’, ‘at least one a day’…
4. Start attaching them to some other fabric for which it was hard to find a suitable use.
5. Happily stitch along for a few weeks, thinking the numbers are dwindling, until you reach a minor moment of panic thinking there might not be enough yellow scraps to last you through the year.  This is the critical moment – because then you start searching for other projects that will produce additional scraps that fit the rules. Of course, not only yellow ones, but you will find that you will be particularly pleased to see yellow ones turning up.
6. Find interesting things such as ties from presents that have a tinge of yellow in them.
7. When given the slightest chance, grab anything textile that is yellow.
8. On the occasion of a heap of textile remnants being dismantled, spend a good half an hour searching for anything yellow in that heap…

And by about two thirds of the year over you will realize: despite the fact that you have been using scraps diligently, 

that you have made progress on the project, 

that you even have decided on a venue where you want to enter the result (i.e. adding a strong urge to keep working on the thing to get it finished) you will realize that your stash of yellow scraps seems to have multiplied instead of dwindled. 

You can start sorting out those scraps that are 'too straight', 'too strippy', for some other project.


Still - your supply of yellow scraps will have increased over time.

Not only that. Other color scraps have increased as well. Which will make you look at your collection of blue or red scraps for next year …

Monday, October 1, 2018

Getting them out there...

Over the past two or three years my approach to quilting has slightly changed.
For one thing, due to the fact that I was teaching there wasn't quite as much time to make quilts as I'd had before.
On the other hand, getting in touch with the refugees and finding out about their lives and problems gave me a totally different perspective. I still dearly love making quilts. I just like sitting at the sewing machine (or hand-stitching), feeling the fabric, handling different colors and patterns and touching tiny bits and sorting them by shade and size and potential partners... it is a perfect way to stay out of the world. And I still want to enter calls for entry, perhaps sell a quilt every once in a while, if possible. It was a really nice feeling to be working during the textile art symposium in May and know that the result of that week's work would be paid for, and displayed at a prominet place in town. So making quilts is still a  favorite activity of mine. But I may not be making as many art quilts any more as I have been. Yes, they are fun to make. Yet I have very much enjoyed making the 'traditional' blanket (traditional as in functional, something to snuggle up and stay warm with) as well, and when I gave them as presents the appreciation sometimes seemed much higher than when I put something on the wall. So somehow it has become more important to me to get my quilts out there, to have them seen AND used rather than trying to sell them because they are art. A different kind of self-evaluation, I guess.
For several years I have been donating small quilts for the SAQA Benefit auction - this year's is currently still on in its third section - and I also had donated one this year. However, I was so early in sending it off, and then so many other things happened, that I did not get around to participating in the "Dream Collections", and I completely missed out on advertising for the auction. When a few days after the auction opened I finally started looking for my quilt to find out in which section it was up for auction I couldn't even remember what it looked like and didn't find it at first. I had to search by my name, I am embarassed to say. And then it sold pretty quickly, the highest price my donated quilt has so far sold for.

All my donated quilts have sold - but of course that is money that I never get to see myself because it is meant as support for SAQA. It means getting my pieces out there, and perhaps it means that I am getting more 'known'. But I am not receiving any immediate 'revenue'. And I have found that my feelings about knowing that quilts are out there, and they are being seen, is more important to me now than that I actually got paid for them.
Which has led to the fact that I already know how the small quilt for next year's donation is going to look like.
And I have decided to donate other quilts. When I read about Rachel Biel's efforts in Paducah I decided, because I could not donate money for the cause, that I would donate quilts for her to try and sell in that shop. I have picked one bigger and two small ones and will ship them as soon as I have attached sleeves to the tow small ones.
And I have offered one of my text message quilts to my brother-in-law and his wife as a 'loan', because all the time I was making it I had always imagined that it would be on display over their red sofa in their living room. I know they can't afford to pay for it, as they are planning to buy a house, and after all it was I who offered it to them, can't expect to be paid when you say, hey, would you like to put up this quilt over your sofa?

text mesages 10

But I would rather have it out there than it being rolled up on the shelf for years and years to come.
I don't know where this is going to lead me. But it has been an interesting development. Especially in a time when I am working on the quilt that I want to enter in SAQA's 'Forced to Flee' call for entry, and I think this is one of the best quilts that I have made so far...

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

handmade cord, and what you can do with it

Being a very orderly person is not one of my major strengths, although I try, try, try. It results in regular attacks when I try to establish order, and these last a while, then I drift back into creative phases, until another attack hits me. I have been suffering from such an attack lately, so my studio is transforming somewhat. Boxes have disappeared because their contents could be placed in other boxes. Scrap projects that I am consciously aware of seem to have multiplied, because they keep reappaering under some trojanic layer of fabrics and other project, and I could probably be handstitching til the end of my days.  This kind of attack, however, leaves me very vulnerable towards minor weaknesses in orderliness of other people. I have a wonderful husband, whose weaknesses in orderliness are very different from mine, and I don't want to judge them in any way, or talk about them publicly here. One weakness, however, left me screaming the other day - he went away for four days, after asking me to take goood care  of the mail box because the office, which is in the same house as we are, and the mail of which frequently gets deposited in our private mail box, is currently receiving many letters for a certain reason. Fact is, the key to the mailbox is one of those minor weaknesses he has, and usually I don't even try to find it but wait until my husband goes and empties the mail box. Then I don't have to do the search. Now he left, and the key was nowhere to be found. It doesn't make much sense to call him, then, either, because he wouldn't remember where he put it anyway, and his phone was off because he was examining students.
I searched high and low, asked the secretary, went through his desk - nothing. After quite some time I was lucky to find the replacement key. And had an idea.
Handmade cord, which I learned how to make from Kathleen Loomis, which she learned how to make from Dorothy Caldwell, who, supposedly, learned it from Australian indigenuous people, is one thing I like to be making from the narrowest cut-offs when aligning or straightening fabric.

The result has become my standard gift wrapping item, getting rid of wrapping paper, just tyeing a piece of this cord around the present. The production yields much more revenue than I can give gifts, however, this ball is just a small portion.

These stocks came to my mind when I was running around the house, still fuming, after having found the replacement key. And I decided to put that one on the leash.

It's long enough to take the key to the mail box, but it is attached to the balustrade inside our door - with any kind o fluck I will always be able to find a key to the mail box that way.
Sarahcswett has posted a little video on how to make the cord on instagram and her blog. So you can have another scrap project to work on, too.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Scrapping away

Since I returned from Ste. Marie-aux-Mines I have been scrapping away. I had meant to spend the entire week seriously working on my quilt for the SAQA "Forced to Flee", but obviously something still hasn't developed far enough yet, because I keep postponing/stalling...
I have been struck be a cleansing fit and am rummaging through boxes, sorting, throwing out, rearranging. And actually reducing the number of boxes slightly, simply by putting things in a more orderly manner, packing more densely. I had tons of boxes standing around, and there is a bit of a wish there to reduce that number considerably.
But while I am doing that, I am also finding soooooo many WIPs that I am getting overwhelmed. For one thing, with ideas of what I still want to do. And for the other part, with desperation, because after Octover 1 there will be considerably less time to do all these...
For example, these two different-sized Underground Railroad projects I am working on. The upper picture is the Dear-Jane-size - i.e. 4 1/2 inch finished. The lower picture is slightly larger, with 1 inch squares in the four patches.

And there are about 6 or 7 other unfinished scrap projects, those mostly hand stitching.

Today was the last day of openinig hours in our swimming pool. It has now closed for winter, and I am heartbroken. It is the greatest place of entertainment we have here. So now there are 7 dreary months ahead of us. But fall is here, it cannot be denied. The garden is still nice,

and we are still picking tomatoes.

 These were planted rather late, though, they might not make it anymore before the weather gets too cold.

And this plant was sold to me as an aubergine (egg-plant). The first time I was trying to grow one like that - but somehow it does not look like an egg-plant to me. On the other hand, I don't even really like to eat those, so I am not quite sure why I bought the plant to begin with...

While swimming in the pool today during the last hour before it closed, however, I had an idea how to go on with the refugee quilt, so tomorrow I will be back at the machine, not scrapping anymore, and definitely not distracting myself through trying to put things in order. I can very well live in disorder when other things are more pressing.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Ste. Marie-aux-Mines, come and gone

For the tenth time, I think, I have just spent almost a week in Ste. Marie-aux-Mines at the European Patchwork Meeting, or Carrefour Européenne, as it is called now. At least seven or eight of these ten times I came in a row, and it feels like I reall know the place now. I see changes over the years, and I feel comfortable when things are like they used to be. For example the hospitality of Serge and Olga at the Taverne au Mineur, and the delicious food you can get there, right on the corner of the central square and close to the Vendors Hall. I keep finding new instances of Found Art, as I posted on my German Blog, and I know where to go to get to the exhibition places.
The SAQA-meeting was in a different spot this time, though, and that's how I got to see the swimming pool for the first time - we met in a room next to the pool, not in the pool proper...

The first heated pool in Alsace: pool in Ste. Marie-aux-Mines

I met new people, remet some whom I had met before, and I had the most interesting encounter with a couple from the States who started talking to me while I was stewarding the Wide Horizons VI exhibition. They started telling me about Karlsruhe, and I said I had grown up there, and they asked for a specific part of town which they pronounced absolutely correctly, thus showing that they must know this place pretty well, and it was exactly the part of town I grew up in. So I said that I had grown up there, oh where, in one of the highrises, yes, in one of the highrises, and in which one, what house number... It turned out they had lived in the same house as my family moved into, on the 2nd floor, while we lived on the 9th, and we had coincided for almost 2 years there. What a meeting! I will have to ask my parents whether they remember these Americans, or their cat, which they claimed would be the only remarkable thing about them that the neighbors would remember.

I went through the exhibitions pretty systematically, was impressed with some, really liked some pieces very much, and felt a bit over-quilted by Saturday. So Barbara and I skipped half a day of the show and went to the flea market in Sélestat, where I was thrilled to see this little kid enjoying a puddle. That reminded me a lot of my son when he was little.

I saw many many quilts, and I felt inspired by a number of them, in a way it would be great to be sitting down at a sewing machine right now, but I am still in Ste. Marie and will only go back tomorrow. But I do hope to take some of the urge to create back with me, although some things will change and it will be much more difficult to find time to sit down and sew in the next few months.
So before taking down the Wide Horizons VI together with Paolo and Paola Zanda, I took a selfie in front of my quilt that will be traveling for a year now. To remind me of the people I tried to commemorate with it, and the fact that their lives were cut short - and that it is necessary to make as much of one's own as is possible.

Mediterranean Blood Count, 2017.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Three years plus

It's been three years plus a few days since the picture of Alan Kurdi's body rocked world media coverage. It's been three years plus one day since German chancellor Angela Merkel said those famous words "Wir schaffen das!" (translate that as 'We'll manage and get that dealt with.') with which she permitted over twenty-thousand Syrian refugees in the Bukarest train station to travel on to Germany.
A lot has happened since then. For one thing, the sentence is being used to throttle Angela Merkel, and Germany's ugly face of extreme right wing thinking has been rising ever since. Here is a comment on how the statement seemed to be changing the world in a positive manner, only ten weeks after it was spoken. How different something can look with just a little more than two years onward.

I never really liked Angela Merkel before that sentence, but I do love her for that sentence, and the attitude it showed. I am appalled at how this single sentence has been thrown back into her face from various alpha-male-politicians in this country, and how every problem in this country is being tied down to 'the refugee crisis'. Which is simply not true, these are problems that have been building up over years of political inactivity in various areas and that dissatisfied people are now connecting with that once single issue that is by far not the most important question we have in this country right now. I still don't really like Ms Merkel - now more for reasons of her not living up to the potential she showed in that single moment, for her lack of putting those alpha males into their place, for her 'merkeling around' (as the newly-coined verb is being used in the media).
When I look back at what has gone on in these three years I am at a complete loss at how things will or can go on. Somehow it has shattered all my beliefs about the country I gew up and live in. And probably these feelings and beliefs will never be the same again. Not that I ever was a happy German, but I saw justice, I thought equal rights, I wanted this to be a country that had learned from fatal historic events and developments for which our forebears were  responsible. Not so - my discomfort has grown to such a degree that it feels a bit like I have lost what little 'home' I ever had.
In these three years (I had started before, so I was already deeply involved in the matter, but that does not make a difference) I have worked very hard trying to help refugees in this country find a way. At first only a few Syrians, one of whom came for German lessons regularly once or twice a week, has since completed a school degree and has just now finished his second year of vocational training with a large global company, is almost fluent in German and will certainly find his way. He calls me 'aunt', and I am so proud of him! The a few issues brought me close to burn-out, if I wasn't there already, I withdrew a bit and wanted to put more energy into quilting - if I wasn't getting paid for my work, I might as well do something that was pleasant. But when I was approached whether I would like to apply for teaching German as a foreing language to a class of refugees in a special program - getting paid - I could not stay away, got deeply involved again, made wonderful friends amongst the students and was, that's what it felt like, ridiculed twice by the Bavarian government and authorities when they refused to give work permits to a third of each of the two classes I taught. They wanted to take up nursing or taking care of the elderly, an area in the job market where German hospitals and care-homes desperately need personnel.
I decided to quit - I will do something else. I will still be involved with refugees, I will fight for my friends until we achieve what we want to have or until I drop dead. But I won't get paid by an authoritiy that is not permitting to become real what they are paying  me for to do. Probably this doesn't make any sense, but explaining it all would be a bit too difficult and long-winded.
I am working on another quilt on the topic of refugees. There are almost 7 more weeks left to enter this quilt in the SAQA call for entries 'Forced to Flee', which I do want to be a part of. The symposium this year tied up my energy and 'swallowed' one inspiration that I had been pondering as a possible entry for this call. But I have another one in the line, and serious work has started. I will try, even though the time is rather short.

One part of the design and technical execution being stored in a
plastic bag to avoid air humidity to change its state, which
is one thing I have learned during the symposium that
it happens to avalon film when left out in the open...

On the wall, yesterday evening. (Admittedly not much to see, just to proove my words.)
Honestly, more would I wish that it would not be necessary to have such a topic for an exhibition. And I really wish there will be a future where we won't have people crossing oceans on rubber boats, hypocritic judgements on the side of rich nations and this horrible kind of xenophobism that is making the rounds. I wish we would understand that we are all humans, that we have only one world to live on and that it won't be possible to continue like we are doing. In terms of exploitation of resources, climate, human condition. I wish. But do I hope?

Friday, August 31, 2018

Progress Report 'A Scrap a Day'

It's been a while since I have given a report on my daily art project for the year, "A Scrap a Day". Since I have decided where and when I want to enter it next year, I know that I have to keep up to date and get it finished quickly after the year is over (or after I decide that it is done - which might happen, depending on how big it is getting).

 I have already shown on Instagram how I was searching for yellow scraps in Mirjam Petjacob's installation that was a part of 'Stuff for Thought', which was shown in Birmingham at Festival of Quilts for the last time and that wasn't going to be shipped back to her due to cost.

You can see that I was having fun. However, it shows one of the 'problems' with this project, too. It was also intended to make a dent in my collection of yellow scraps. This is not working, let me tell you. If you want to find a way for that, I do not recommend imitating such a project, you have to figute out a different way.

I have since incorporated a few of these Petjacbs'-scraps in the piece.

When we went on vacation, I was smart enough to forget a few things at home, amongst them the Encyclopedia of Embroidery Stitches by Mary Thomas, which I have been using to give me new ideas for stitches and that I have been working through (from back to front) almost systematically. So I searched on my computer where I might have saved the files from the online free hand embroidery class I once took with Anne Lange, but I couldn't find the files. For a few days I kept returning to my favorites, but then I figured I had to something else and searched for a 'stitch dictionary' online - this one now teaches me German names for the stitches, which Mary Thomas wasn't giving me, of course. It also doesn't have wordy descriptions but shows the making of the stitches in photos. And already it has given me a couple of more new ones that I really like. For example, so far I had not realized that 'French knot' in English and 'Colonial knot' are different stitches... I have opened this dictionary as a tab on my phone, too, and am considering working through this one systematically from now on. Except for the fact that it has 206 stitches and there aren't quite as many days left in the year. However, I might know some of the ones I can find in here...

In any case, here are a few recent additions from the days of our vacation.

Because of the problem with not-diminishing masses of scraps

I took a decision to exclude from the potential pool those scraps that are pretty much just plain strips leftover from whatever strip project I was doing. These have been banned to a corner in the thread box right now.