Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Colour of the month










the writing was red indeed - it just doesn't turn out red in the picture... 





Colour of February: orange.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Right hand protective rubber gloves

One part of equipment that makes a lot of sense when dyeing fabric is a pair of protective rubber gloves. When I buy them, I buy a stack of packages, because they tend to be not really long lasting. But is there anybody out there who can tell me why it is always the right hand glove that gives up first?
Last time I was lucky – I was not dyeing black or dark blue, so the coloring of my hand was not quite as noticeable as it could have been:

I also have a very effective soap that removes color stains to a satisfying degree, and quickly. But after a couple of hours some of the stains reappear, and despite repeated applications it usually takes a couple of day until the last stains disappear entirely. Which results in wonderfully ‘empathetic’ questions of the type “What on earth did you do to your hands?” Especially when one had been dyeing dark colors. I haven’t taken any pictures of those conditions, but definitely could have taken a few very impressive shots after I had been removing the rubber bands from the T-Shirts that I dyed together with the children in kindergarten.
So, despite the fact that I have already trhown some of them out, I am again starting a collection of left hand protective rubber gloves that get left over. 

I always hesitate to throw them out together with their counterpart, because I keep thinking that next time it might be a left one of a pair that breaks first. And then I could pull one from my stack and not have to start a new pair right away. However, it hasn’t happened yet. And I haven’t been able to figure out why. Is it because I am right handed? But does that really matter when I am dyeing fabric? After all, I have both hands in the bucket, stirring, both are active – I really don’t understand. Of course, it could well be that the whole thing is subject to the same irrational and unexplainable laws that are the reason why a complete pair of socks is put into the washerd and only one of them re-emerges...?
In any case I have begun to think that it is too bad that this kind of plastic is not too durable overall and will disintegrate with time due to ultraviolet rays. Otherwise I could start using them to make art. As it is, I’ll just hang on to them for a little while. I suppose three left hand gloves as substitues are sufficient supply in case that a left hand glove might actually give out after all...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Daily Oak is in the News...

Well, I have to be honest and change that to “Daily Oak is in the newspaper”. I’ve been freelancing a bit for the local newspaper since last July, and had to do an article on trees and the public’s reaction to the felling of trees. This has been quite an issue in Germany, as only the begginning of the felling of trees initiated the protests against the construction of the new main station in Stuttgart, which ultimately led to the change of government in Baden-Württemberg early last year. And there have been a number of instances in our town where trees were felled in situations that not everybody could understand.
So I took the chance and sneaked in a picture of perspective b into the article.

And I thought I should take the chance to show you a few more pictures of guest trees, which Kathy requested. She’s right – I was rather neglectful on that part.

These two were taken during our family holiday on the coast of the North Sea, diring which we did actually have four or five days of sunshine:

This oak I felt very sorry for –what a brutal way to trim it. It almost hurt me to look at it:

And here is another oak that had suffered badly at some point:

This linden tree was happily blooming away right next to the German autobahn, at a rest stop:

These trees were part of our view from our cottage during my stay in Switzerland:

And I keep finding myself looking out of the window, trying to figure out “how is the light – is it a good time to go...?” Obviously, I haven’t really lost touch with the project yet. So here art two pictures of Daily Oak which I took just recently, on one of the very few nice days when I went back to the tree for sentimentality’s sake.

Friday, January 20, 2012

New site for TAFA-List goes online

Some time last fall I received an e-mail by a to me unknown person, Rachel Biel from Rayela Art, telling me that she had found my website and asking me whether I wanted to become a member of the Textile And Fiber Art List (TAFA). At first I hesitated, but after a few days I checked it out, got in touch with Rachel and finally decided to give it a go. I jumped over my own shadow, got myself a Paypal-account (which I needed to pay for the fee, and which Rachel rightly suggested I should have if I was trying to go more international with my hand-dyed fabrics) and signed up.
Because Rachel was in the midst of having the newly designed site set up, I decided that I would only take advantage of the lower price for signing up  before it went online, but that I would wait with uploading my profile until the new site was about to be launched. That took a bit longer than she had anticipated, so we received several mails informing us about progress and delays of the site, and what Rachel wanted it to do, and how she hoped it would not get too complicated for non-computer-freaks to manage their own profile. Just after New Year’s she then was looking for guinea-pigs to start uploading their profiles, which I could unfortunately not be part of, because we were out of town visiting friends. Then it took still a few days longer, but it finally happened this week.

So in preparation for the big launch I spent part of past weekend preparing and uploading images, trying out what I wanted to say about myself and my fabric business, and my art business. I wondered whether perhaps I should have taken two memberships, one for justquilts.de and one for justcolours.de, but then I decided for the beginning it was ok the way it was right now. After all, the two are somehow related, so it wouldn’t matter to have them appear together on my profile. Although my membership officially is listed as “justcolours.de”. 
Now it’s up there, and you can check the whole site out here.
One of the things I immediately fell in love with is the members map feature. When you look at it, all the little balloons show you where a TAFA member is located. So when you have a particular affinity for a specific country, such as New Zealand (as I do), you can look at the map, see who’s there, click on the balloon, and (virtually) meet new and interesting people. (As you probably have noted, I have included that world-map-gadget at the bottom of my blog-site, which tells me from where people have looked at my blog. I’m so thrilled to see Brazil, Far Eastern Russia, included on that map. Of course, here I won’t be able to find out who’s behind those red dots, but it’s fun to have them on the map anyway.)
But let’s get back to TAFA – I also spent quite a while surfing the list and discovered many interesting things. Take a look – I’m sure you will enjoy it, too!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Color Improvisations - exhibition dates for 2012

The participating artists in "Color Improvisations" have meanwhile been notified of additional venues in Europe in 2012, before the exhibition is then moving on to the US and overseas.

From June 8th until September 2012 the exhibition will be in the Open Air Museum Het Hoogeland, Warffum, The Netherlands. For more information and updates, check here

According to the Color Improvisations hompage, the show will be shown in Munich at the German Patentamt in September. Unfortunately, no exact dates have been given yet.

UK and Ireland:
The exhibition will be held alongside The Knitting and Stitching Show in both, Alexandra Palace, London (October 11 through 14, 2012) and the RDS in Dublin, Ireland (November 1 through 4, 2012).

Hope you'll be able to check it out at any one of these places.
To order a catalogue, click here

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My sewing machine, quilting and I

I am a dedicated and convinced hand quilter. Unfortunately, my normal days only have 24 hours, and that is by far not enought to deal with all the quilts I want to make by hand. Add to that the fact that I have seen many modern quilts during the last years which were expertly machine quilted, which did contribute to my caving in – I can say these days that machine quilting indeed has its merits for modern quilts. (Still not so sure about those made in a traditional pattern/style, but that’s a different story.) Even for mine! Accordingly, I did decide that it was necessary to improve my machine quilting capacity. The first attempts a few years ago were rather tedious, partly because I stupidly started out with rather huge pieces, on a plain home machine, using my walking foot. Both of these quilts measure more than 180 cm across either way:
Play of Lines VIII -
machine quilted by a beginner, size 185 by 188 cm

Play of Lines X, machine quilted by a beginner, size 203 by 188 cm

For Play of Lines VIII I chose parallel lines all across, which went very well with the three-part-partition of the composition. Play of Lines X was even more of a challenge because I decided on varying patterns in different areas. So I had to deal with figuring out tension issues in free motion quilting. Certainly a huge challenge for my veteran home machine, together we reached our limits, although we did make it. Both of these pieces have been traveling with “Color Improvisations”.
A few smaller quilts followed, with me mostly relying on those parallel lines, which my machine could handle.

But when I began to tire of parallel lines I was a bit at a loss, because of the limitations of my machine. Every time it came to subjecting a finished top to quilting I would fret to myself “well, how I am going to quilt that thing?” When I tried out other patterns than the parallel lines while still using the walking foot, I usually ended up with a lot more threads to sink than I actually cared for. 

At that point I even pondered buying a longarm machine, perhaps taking in commissions to quilt other people’s quilts in order to pay it off. Even went to a business start-up workshop to figure out the necessary business details for such an undertaking. Needless to say, the coach could not even fathom that this might be a possible way (of course, he had never heard of quilting before anyway) and seriously doubted that there would be any possibilities of obtaining a loan to pay for the machine to begin with.... Add to that the fact that around the same time we realized my son would need a room in the house for his drum set, and I certainly did not want to take the risk and start renting additional rooms where I could install a longarm machine which would even have added to the costs.
So I took advantage of the offer for the new Janome Horizon which was launched at the German Quilters’ Guild’s Patchwork Meeting in Dortmund in 2010. Teachers of workshops got an even better offer than the world-launch-offer for visitors of the festival, and it has since become my quilting machine.
Nevertheless, first attempts at free motion quilting offered rather unsatisfying results, again, tension problems. Machine quilting was not liking me – and I was beginning to return to not liking it either.
Meanwhile my Janome and I have been on a wellness-tour together when I took it to the dealer in the Bavarian Forest, about a two-hour drive from here. There the tension was readjusted, and I bought a special bobbin for free motion quilting.
Now that the hardware seems to have been optimized as much as possible, I was totally motivated and decided to start yet another major effort with at my machine quilting by practising practising practising. First, I want to sort of follow the 365-day-free motion filler quilting design project by Leah Day.
I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Colour of the month

It might not have been the best of ideas to start this project with red in a month that is mostly gray and dark, should have started with gray... But some things did come my way, even if the camera is finding it hard to cope with red on days without sunshine.











Thursday, January 12, 2012


... was the first day in a seemingly endless stretch with no low clouds. Imagine my delight at watching the moonset at sunrise(time).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Textiles in Museums: Alexandra Bircken

When I went to see Ellsworth Kelly at the Haus der Kunst recently, I took advantage of the „two exhibitions“-price and also went to see an exhibit by young sculptors in the upper floor, called „Strukturales Handeln“ (translates roughly as „Structural Action“). No photos allowed here either, so I am taking two pictures that were published on the homepage of the Haus der Kunst:

Kimberly Sexton, column 4
Kimberley Sexton exhibits plaster casts of space. Sounds unbelievable, but is great to look at. Definitely a must-see.

Michael Beutler, the gardens
And Michael Beutler constructs machines for each individual venue so he can do something in situ. Here he built an „Oberflächenaufknackapparat“ (translates roughly as „Cracker of surface structures“). This machine is left standing around next to its products, the whole back part of the room looks sort of like an unfinished construction site.

My attention was caught mostly by Alexandra Bircken’s works, though. Besides wood, leather, metals, plaster, stone and everyday objects she does also include that rare commodity, „textiles“ in her works.
Funny and clever her version of an instrument for spool knitting. Not a self-made yarn-spool, but constructed from old skis. In German, the little instrument is called Strickliesel, which was   transformed to a “Skiliesel” by Bircken:

Alexandra Bircken, Skiliesel
In other works she frequently includes pieces of fabric, yarn, knitted pieces.

Alexandra Bircken, Gewächs
When I first saw them, I was a bit disappointed. It bothered me that the textile parts are included looked so roughly made, obviously deliberately unaesthetic. “So why do those textiles that get included in modern sculpture have to be ugly?” I asked myself. Then I started searchiing the net about her, as I really did not know much about her before I saw this exhibit, and my frustration diminshed somewhat on seeing the variety of things Bircken has already made. (I also had that encounter with the drummers I wrote about here.)The way Bircken  includes everyday items such as a panty-hose or a skirt (sewn closed shut) still makes it possible for the viewer to have the original associations that come along with these things. You then have to figure out why they were put together like this for yourself. Perhaps if the knitted pieces included in her art were ‘nicely’ made, people would give them fewer thoughts? Beautiful knitting (or any other kind of handiwork) doesn’t qualify as art in real museums...
Here you can see a few more pictures of works by Alexandra Bircken.
And this is a link to another blog-entry which talks about Alexandra Bircken and newer works of hers.
The exhibit in Munich is still on until February 26, 2012. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Planning for 2012

When my husband requested a joint calendar-session a few days after Christmas, my heart sank a bit. I had only received my beautiful new handmade calendar from Susanne Muuss the week before Christmas, and all my commitments hadn’t been entered into it yet. So although I kept track of them on a separate sheet of paper, I hadn’t really done the definite step of ‘making them mine’. 

Notes for next year's planning
waiting to be transferred to my calendar...
Add to that the fact that I still haven’t got quite accustomed to having to talk with my husband’s calendar when I am thinking about dates and commitments on my side, and you might understand my feeling of discomfort. He is very cooperative in accomodating my various activities and commitments. But nevertheless, for quite a while our calendar sessions tended to turn into slightly strained relations because I would have mentioned a date, he had not had his calendar with him, but I felt safe, because after all I had communicated that specific date, but it had not found a way into his calendar...
Anyway, this time we did fine. Everything I had told him before was actually noted in his calendar, the one new one still fit in without any problem, and the one where I had already messed up earlier will somehow be manageable, although with some difficulties where we need to make special arrangements for child care for part of my absence.
However, this conversation led to a new state of awareness on my part. My God, I hadn’t quite realized how much I had heaped onto my plate for 2012!
But there it showed up, newly put down: several weekends with teaching commitments in the first half of the year, then add to that my participation at the German Quilting Guild’s Patchwork Festival in Einbeck as a vendor with my fabrics, and my planned trip to Birmingham in August. And a solo exhibit in Ste. Marie in September – where they require you to show only new pieces. Certainly a legitimate request that one doesn’t put up only old stuff. Although I am quite sure that many people who will be visiting there will not have seen much if any of my things before. But it leads to quite a stressful situation for the person exhibiting: You have to produce quite a lot in a relatively short time, and everything has to be good...
But the good news about this is that I won’t ever be bored until the middle of September. Focussing will be the main topic of the year! And I can catch up on sleep afterwards.