Friday, July 29, 2011

"Metamorphoses XI" for Africa

When we had the art exhibit in shop windows of our little town in May that I reported about on my German blog, the organizer of it all had also suggested that every participating artist donate one of their works for an art auction. The revenues of this auction were supposed to be donated for a help organization for children with cancer.

I had donated a quilt from my series ‚Metamorphoses’:

Metamorphoses XI: Weber's Gold

Metamorphoses XI: Weber’s Gold was made in 2006, after I had been given a few pieces of golden-colored silk. They had been cut for a dress, which had never been finished. These pieces were the original inspiration for this quilt, and the donator’s name (Weber) also led to the quilt’s name.

All of the donated pieces of art had been on display in one of the shop windows during the days before the scheduled auction date. However, on the day of auction it rained heavily, there were hardly any people there to attend the auction, and the whole thing was cancelled. At first it wasn’t clear whether it was only postponed or had been called off entirely. By now, however, the „Kultursommer“-festival is over and it is not clear whether there will be another good occasion for such an event.
A few days later I was approached by the director of the kindergarten where my son has been going for the past four years. She and her colleague would have liked to bid in the auction for my quilt because they had decided that this finally was the piece they had been looking for for their office, what was going to happen with it? I checked back about a new date for the auction, and when I found out that that was most likely not going to happen, we agreed that she would be very happy to buy the quilt for the minimal bid that had been set for the auction.  This is a wonderful way for me to say thank you for four years of loving caretaking of my son.  The director had made it very clear that she was happy to give me the money directly and thus let me have the benefits from the sale. However, I have decided to donate the money nevertheless. I have been very much affected by the news from Somalia, and especially by the numbers of children in need, malnourished or dyeing. So I topped up the amount I received for Meamorphoses by a good part of the profits I made during the last month of good sales and chose the Welthungerhilfe  instead to help alleviate the suffering in Africa’s East. It's little enough that I can do.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ice-Cube-Dyeing: Report in German "Patchwork Professional" magazine

In December I wrote about our heaps of snow, their effect on my dyeing, and presented a few results. When I was busy ironing the first wonderfully colorful and lively results I started thinking about water and its functionality in dyeing. 

Experiment with snow, this time in a flower pot...

These thoughts turned into a sort of meditation, after all I was still ironing the traditional way, not my most favourite activity in the world and one has to do one’s best to enrich that time...

Waiting to be ironed: snow-dyed fabrics on the line

That meditation centered on the state of matter of water, and the influence that might have on the behavior of dyes, and on the results of dyeing processes. When I was finished with my ironing and at the end of my meditation, I had come up with a new idea: ice-cube dyeing.

A few days of experimenting followed, as I still had a sufficient supply of soda-ash-soaked fabric from my snow-dyeing. Our ice-cube trays had been sitting idly in our kitchen cupboards anyway (we usually have a bottle of water in the fridge, that’s cold enough for us.) 

When I had found out what I was doing, I contacted the German magazine Patchwork Professional. The result is now in print – the newest edition hit the newsstalls yesterday.

Title page of the newest edition (03/2011)
 of Patchwork Professional magazine

View inside the magazine
I will probably give a (sort of) English translation of the workshop article here later in the fall.

Meanwhile you can buy fabrics that have been dyed with this technique via my website (sorry – in German only…), under the tag „Stoffunikate“ (unique fabrics). The site is updated frequently, whenever I have a new stack of fabrics finished. Check it out, and enjoy!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Whoever would have thought…

Life is full of surprises. And the best surprises are those that one gives oneself, taking decisions one would never have thought oneself able to. Or doing things one would never have thought possible. When I was a student in Freiburg way back I wouldn’t have believed I would end up in Bavaria. Now I know that it’s not at all a bad place to live. Not to mention some slightly more private matters I don’t want to talk about here.
So here is the newest surprise in my life: ironing is fun!
Excuse me? Yes, ironing is fun. I am a regular at the dry cleaner’s with my husband’s shirts because I hate ironing, and for my own clothes I usually choose to hang them up dripping wet, taking no offense at a few wrinkles, just to avoid ironing, and now this? Of course pressing seams when sewing a new quilt – fine, that’s ok. Ironing newly hand-dyed fabrics in order to give them their final shape, yes, that’s ok, too, But fun?
Well – I have a ‘new’ rotary iron. Of course, it is old, because I have inherited it from an elderly lady preparing to move to a retirement home. But it is just about wide enough for my fabrics.

I had been asking virtually everybody whether they knew of somebody who would be willing to part with their rotary iron. But nobody wants to give up theirs. But finally, in April, my friend Nina gave a positive answer, she knew somebody who would want to give up hers in the fall. I made it very clear that I would be very interested – and a few days later she called back I could have it now, all we had to do was organize the transport.
Kindly enough Nina engaged her nephew to help, and my husband was also willing. Little did we know what we had got ourselves into!
These things are HEAVY! And we had to take it down one flight of stairs first, put it into the car, and then down into the cellar.

on the way down
When they were half-way down the stairs I was ready to give up, pull it back up and put it somewhere in the living room on the ground floor, I was so afraid that thing would fall off the cart and crush the two persons holding it from below. But they did manage to get it down safe and sound in the end. My husband complained about an aching shoulder for a few days and threatened to divorce me if I ever wanted another transport of a rotary iron done by him. But it’s there.

The 'new' machine...

And I have used it.

And it is fun…

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Daily Oak - middle of month extra

On the day of my return from Switzerland we had a tremendous thunderstorm in the evening. And I managed to catch Daily Oak with an impressive rainbow, although from a perspective which is not part of the art project. The rainbow extended for the complete half circle, which, however, my camera could not handle.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Workshop with Nancy Crow – viewed in retrospection

Day before yesterday I returned home from my two-week-stay in Falera (CH), where I participated in two workshops by Nancy Crow and translated two workshops by Jan Myers-Newbury.

results from shibori class drying on the line

my first attempts at shibori...

Because some of my boxes are supposed to be stored in a room where a guest of ours is sleeping I have not unpacked the car yet. But this morning I took out my notebook from another workshop with Nancy Crow which I took a couple of years ago and which had a similar topic („Figure/Ground Composition“) and tried to compare what we did then with this workshop („Lines, Curves, Circles, Figure and Ground“). I had consciously not looked at the older notebook before leaving for Falera, because I wanted to approach this new class with a clear mind.
It was very noticeable that the design exercises differed a lot, both classes were structured on a different principle. For one thing, we did not do any black-and-white studies a few years ago, and we were supposed to bring some inspirational pictures, which had not been asked for this time around.

"The Walks of Life in Yellow" -
 finished quilt from a figure/ground workshop
with Nancy Crow four years ago
I have to admit that I had found the figure/ground class a very difficult one then, and I still think it is one of the most challenging parts of composition in my quiltmaking. However, during this class I sometimes had the feeling that the whole problem got more and more complicated if I think about it too consciously. I don’t want to say that working from the guts is always the best way in this matter, but certainly a lot of careful thinking doesn’t make it any easier. It is definitely an aspect that will keep me on my toes for a long time to come.

This time, I had started the last design exercise almost a whole day later than all the others. I had fallen behind due to the interpreting, and had decided that I wanted to finish the second exercise before I started on the last one instead of taking it back in pieces. At least that I managed.
First sketches for the last exercise were put to paper during a nice chat with my house-mates after dinner.

Nancy pretty quickly approved of them, with the addition „We’ll have to see what it looks like when you put it up on the wall first, though.“ So although I did feel a few reservations about cutting more black shapes, I did go about it, put up a first design,, and was pushed a bit by Nancy to make it better before she gave me a ‘go ahead’.

Black-and-white design for last exercise in workshop

When receiving the instructions I definitely had the feeling that the result of this exercise could look nothing better than a workshop piece, which had not exactly enamoured me of it. The last exercise in the earlier class had been much more openly formulated and resulted in individual and original designs, whereas already the three-part format that was a strict given this time must result in much look-alike. Add to that the “use as may colours as possible”, and you get many tops that somehow look alike. 
Nevertheless, I did begin putting my design into fabric, and I might even go ahead and continue to sew it. For one thing, I want to practise and familiarize myself with a new technique that I learned about. But I also think that I could definitely learn a lot by pushing this one through. It might look just like a workshop piece in the end after all. But that’s ok. That’s what workshops are for, to learn something, and then to have a piece which reminds you of the fact that you did learn that thing doing exactly this piece.
I hope that these two weeks will reamin with me for a while – and not only because of sewing this top together and finishing the other three that are completely sewn.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

First attempt at Arashi Shibori

During my hours with the dyeing class with Jan Myers-Newbury I got to borrow a pole and try my hands at a first piece of Shibori. It was an ugly fabric before - although I haven't figured out yet, how I would use it, I think it looks much better now.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Workshop with Nancy Crow - 2nd week

Last Friday my second function here in Falera began, after all, I am not here for pure entertainment. I am the interpretor for two Shibori workshops taught by Jan Myers-Newbury. During those times when Jan is not doing a lot of explaining but the participants have to work, wrapping poles, packing or clamping, taking care of the dye baths or whatever I jump over to the other building where the sewers are at work and try to get a bit of my own work done inbetween. Of course a constant change of scene does not really give me good opportunities to work as concentrated on my pieces as the other participants can. However, I can be pretty focussed even in short periods of time, so I am pretty happy with this arrangement. Otherwise I would not have been able to come here at all. In fact, I am learning a lot about Shibori that way and have the feeling that I am getting the best of two worlds that way.

The cut-up top from last week found Nancy’s approval and looks like this right now:

And that assignment that I did not have time for at the end of last week is already growing in my mind, I will try to put it into fabric as soon as possible after my return.

Over the weekend I spent most of the time with the Shibori class. Über das Wochenende war ich zu großen Teilen bei den Färberinnen im Kurs. Without being an active participant in the class myself I have already understood why my own attempts at Shibori from last summer were not very successful, which I had started after reading Janice Gunner’s book on shibori techniques.
I am certainly going to try more after I return home.

Let me show you a few impressions from the Shibori-class. The pieces are hung up to dry on the line in the school yard after rinsing, and because there is mostly a light wind they are dry in not time at all.

In Nancy’s class we have again started sewing in black and white. However, we progressed to colous today, and my current design for this exercixe looks like this:

I will start putting it into colour tonight.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Play of Lines XI

A few weeks ago the deal was finished, and Play of Lines XI, which has been on temporary display there since the opening of my show past November, can now be seen permanently at the Catholic Rural Community College Petersberg near Erdweg (north-west of Munich). Take a look at their catalogue – perhaps you’ll find a workshop or seminar there which is of interest for you. The quilt can be seen in the Großer Saal there.

Play of Lines XI (2010), 203 x 153 cm,
hand-dyed cotton fabrics,
machine-pieced and machine-quilted

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Symposium of sculpture in Vilsbiburg

A few days before the „Vilsbiburg Kultursommer“, which was also the reason for the presentation of artworks in shop windows throughout the city that I have already written about on my German blog here, three sculptors took up work on a vacant parking lot next to the river Vils. They had been invited to participate in the Vilsbiburg Sculptors’s Symposium, and stayed for more than a whole week, working open air with their chain saws and other large tools: Örni PoschmannPeter Frisch (couldn't find a homepage) und Michael Lauss.
I made a point of regularly stopping by – it didn’t really require a detour – and found it fascinating to watch them work. I missed a couple of days when I had to leave town to teach a workshop at Rüdesheim, but they were not entirely finished when I returned, and so I was able to see the final stages.
Of course I know from own experience what it is like to see a piece of art grow, slowly, or even in leaps and bounds. But to see it happen when somebody else was doing the work was very interesting and exciting. For one thing, all three sculptors had presented a model of what they thought they would be making. Which is not necessarily my mode of working, at least not for every piece I make, as I regularly work on quilts that grow intuitively, without a clear sketch or pre-planned design. On the other hand, it was interesting to watch how closely they stuck to their designs (or not). And thirdly, I did have the impression that the artists spent a lot of time talking to the passers by – which is after all one reason why they were working in a publically accessible place – so one must wonder when they ever did get their work done. But they did.
These were the initial designs:




These are various stages of progress:

Frisch, beginning

Frisch, wood being blackened with fire

Frisch, before raising

Lauss, beginning

Lauss, partly painted
Poschmann, working on figures

Poschmann, working on stands

Poschmann, in position, but unpainted

And this is how they looked when they were finished, at a site on the southern side of town, near the river:

Three sculptures as ensemble

A few days after they had been moved to their final destination I stood looking at them from a perspective I had not taken before – see left - when a woman whom I had never knowingly seen before stopped her bike next to me, and asked, “Well, do you like that?” in a slightly provoking tone of voice. I was quite surprised, partly because I did not know her, but more so because I had not even given a single thought to the idea that somebody might not like what they saw here! I said yes, I did like them, and immediately she set off raving about that she indeed did not, and that she thought it very inconsiderate of artists to put something up that looked like this and expected people to like it. Before I had got my reaction back she left me standing there – otherwise I might have been able to tell her that perhaps the artists had not expected her to like what they saw, but definitely to think about what they were seeing (and then, perhaps, about why they did not like it), but obviously she was not really interested in a discussion of it all.
This does not change my pleasure at the new addition to the town’s appearance – I like the sculptures, and what they are. My son is still worried about whether something is hidden in that treasure chest or not. We have to return to it and have already repeatedly looked ‘inside’ whether we can finally see something …

By the way, one of the other artists who had also shown pictures in a shop window was accosted by a passer-by while putting his pictures up and had to listen to the comment “Oh boy, that artists have to put up any kind of atrocities…”  It seems to me that this city definitely needs many more of these kinds of art-actions to broaden their horizon!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Daily Oak - June report

Number of days missed: 6
Number of days with more than one visit: 11
Number of visits with more than the two standard perspectives taken: 12
Guest trees: 3
Total number of pictures taken: 115

I have postponed the entry about Daily Oak’s age until next month’s report. This month offered another special aspect for the year’s daily art project – solstice.
Some time during May I realized that the days would not be getting longer for much longer, and felt that required some special attention in connection with Daily Oak. This is what I came up with: on solstice day I would visit Daily Oak every two hours. I thought that way I would be able to document the movement of the tree’s shadow throughout the entire day, from sunrise to sunset. This included finding out the  exact moments of sunrise (5:06 a.m.) and sunset (9:16 p.m.) at that specific location – and the exact moment of turnaround. Internet-research told me the the most northern position of the sun this year would occur at 7:16 p.m. on June 21, which I also wanted to document.
Then family matters interfered. We are having a four-week visitor stay with us who planned to arrive exactly on June 21 in the afternoon – a two-hour-interval would thus definitely not be possible, even though we live relatively close to the airport. So I checked the respective moments of sunrise and sundown for the day before – which, as could be expected, did not seriously differ from those on the exact 21st. In fact both, sunrise and sunset were given as occurring at exactly the same time. I decided to do the two-hour-interval-documentation on the 20th, and to try and catch the turnaround as closely as possible.
On the 20th, I set my alarm for 4:50 a.m., but was woken by my son, who had had a bad dream half an hour earlier. He cuddled up in my bed and kept talking and talking – and went back to sleep when I got up… Unfortunately, the sky was clouded up, and the backside-picture of the month, which was pointing in the direction of sunrise was not at all interesting.

Backside view, June 20, 5:06 a.m., sunrise
Four minutes before my second trip was due I decided to alter the rules and go every three hours, which I then maintained throughout the day, buying a new computer inbetween, and other little house-hold items like that. However, the weather did not improve, a movement of the shadow could not be documented simply because there was not shadow to speak of. Frustration!
In the evening, when the weather report called for a slight improvement for the next day, I decided to try and get in as many trips to the tree the next day as possible, knowing that it would not be possible to do an exact two-hour-interval. Another early wake-up, a look out the window – still cloudy, forget it. By seven, however, things had improved slightly and I took my first trip for the day:

Perspective b, June 21, 6:53 a.m.

Three more followed.

Perspective a, June 21, 10:02 a.m.

Perspective b, June 21, 12:02 p.m.
Perspective a, June 21, 1:46 p.m.

The afternoon trip to the airport interrupted the series, but on our return we managed to pass by the tree 8 minutes before the magic moment of turnaround, and by now the weather had definitely improved.

Perspective a, June 21, 7:08 p.m.,
almost turnaround time

Perspective b, June 21, 7:08 p.m.,
almost turnaround time

(At that point my husband, as understanding as he usually is with regard to my art projects, was getting slightly edgy about my repeated photo-taking and I did not dare suggest we wait out those eight minutes to actually catch the moment – which I definitely would have done had I been on my own.)
One more and final trip at sunset followed that day:

Perspective b, June 21, 9:08 p.m., sunset

Next day, the weather was even better, and I could fill a few gaps – the sunrise, for example.

Perspective a, June 22, 5:06 a.m., sunrise

A little extra on the side – after I had been at the tree at sunrise I took a little swing across central square, which is right on a bridge across the river – and saw a beaver heading upstream.

Beaver in the river Vils

At the end of those three tree days I was quite happy to return to the usual routine of once a day, you bet! Winter solstice is going to be easier – only half as many daylight hours to cover then!