Sunday, June 30, 2013

Colour of the day: the sixth selection

Red - June 30
orange - June 13
yellow - June 20
green - June 27
blue - June 4
purple - June 29

Interesting - this is the middle point of the year, and for a little while I had been pondering whether I should change my Daily Art project after these first six months were completed. I still like looking for colors and taking these photos, and I know that I am getting an ever more schooled eye for these shots. But I am finding it increasingly annoying to have to figure out "ok -which colour is it today?", although I have put a note in my calendar for every day for the rest of the year. So I had started thinking about an alternative. But exactly this monthg two people mentioned how much they had enjoyed exactly these photos when they looked at the blog, one even suggested I should try to get an exhibition opportunity for   these photos. I know that this is completely exaggerated, they were taken with a small digital camera and are technically not exactly brilliant. But it showed me that my project of looking at colors reaches the viewers. So I am continuing. And the brain jogging will do me good, after all, I am going on to old age and the willful act of remembering must be - uhm, lacking the correct word there...  ;-))

Friday, June 28, 2013

So quiet.

Since I returned from Berlin a mere two-and-a-half weeks ago, life has certainly turned quiet. No more teaching commitments before September, no more fairs where I will be going with the fabrics, no real trips planned...
It had been a lot during the first part of the year indeed. Only now do I realize that my reluctance to go away for the family holiday towards the end of May resulted from that fact that I probably had been away too much. At that point all I really wanted to do was stay at home, catch up with things. And not be rained upon two weeks in a holiday apartment, although of course I did not know that would happen right then.
As it turns out with this lack of excitement, there is not really a whole lot to write about. But: Suddenly I am getting things done. I finished two quilts last week: Play of Lines XXXII, which had been waiting for its binding for quite a while now, 

Play of Lines XXXII (2013), detail

and Play of Lines XXXIII. 

Play of Lines XXXIII, detail

That one was entered for the challenge (in the teacher’s category) in Ste. Marie-aux-Mines a full 32 hours before the end of the extended deadline. Then, the next morning, my brain played me a mean trick and suddenly told me I had uploaded the wrong pictures. Panic – telephone call to Dinah at the Carrefour, who was kind enough to check in her data base and described the quilt she saw on the picture... I had entered the right pictures after all. Let’s see whether I win the one-week-round-trip to Tokyo for that one. Perhaps I won’t even get in. But that wouldn’t matter – I have an exhibit coming up in August, and could well show it for the first time there.
This week I have been working on another quilt that I had started quite a while ago, not really knowing where it would take me. It was another attempt to work on the principle I used for Play of Lines XXVII.

Play of Lines XXVII - ice-cube fabric on the right!

After I had finished No. XXVII I wasn’t really so sure what to think of it. I had tried to work with Kathleen Loomis’ technique of thin lines, but moving them into the realm of curves. And I wasn’t sure how much I really liked it. Imagine my surprise when it was shown in Alsace last September, not in a particularly advantageous spot, and drew many many positive comments. That’s when I decided I would give that principle another go and had taken the first few steps in February or March or so. Since then it had been pinned to my wall, waiting for inspiration and time to be continued. This week it certainly took on a life of its own when it clearly told me that it wanted to be a two-pieced quilt (I hesitate to call it a dyptich...) 
Play of Lines XXXIV, in process, detail

Finished the quilting today and will work on the bindings when family activities are done, after the weekend.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Before I die

This weekend we had a visitor, a young friend from Lithuania who will start her last year of college in the fall. It was wonderful to see her again after two years, and to talk to her about her studies, our common interests literature and languages, and her plans for the future. I was fascinated by the multitude of options open to her many interests and talents. At the same time I found myself in a position that I am absolutely not used to be in. I had my son late, he is still in primary school, and certainly does not think his mother is a valid authority to be consulted for advice. Nina, however, kept asking me for my opinion about various aspects of her life, current and possibly  coming up, and sometimes it felt a bit as if I was being seen as a fountain of wisdom on life issues. Looking back on many developments in my own life, I certainly never had considered myself an authority on well-thought-through-life’s-decisions. Things more or less happened, and many things in my life I believe I might have decided differently had I only had a real clue of what I wanted or was heading for.
After she had left, I thought some more about all those options she has, and despite my fascination with all her talents, and the fact that she is giving the future path of her life much more serious thought than I had ever done at her age, I also felt a bit of a relief that I am past that age, and past the kinds of decisions that have to be faced in one’s early twenties.
Then I checked the blogs I follow, amongst them India Flint’s blog "not all those who wander are lost"Through her set-up of “you might also like this” I happened on her entry from March; which I had missed back then, titled “Before I die”, and took the liberty to borrow that title from her for this post.
India Flint shows a picture of a blackboard on which you can write in chalk some of the things you still want to do during that period of life still left to you – and somehow that fit in with my thoughts after the conversations with Nina.
Relieved at not being early-twenties anymore with all the possibilites that need to be decided on, I nevertheless am well aware of the fact that statistics say I have passed almost two thirds of my lifespan. Good enough a reason to try to figure out what are the important things one really wants to have done before hitting the grave. Not utopian things like “Negotiated World Peace” or “Put an End to Climate Change”, although these would be on top of the list.

Neither did I spend a whole lot of time on this thought experiment, nor did I get all philosophical about it – but apart from living long enough to see my son out of school and set onto a good path in his life, I think I would like to live by the sea (or at least on some kind of body of water), and I would like to spend more time traveling: I want to see the Galapagos Islands (and several other groups of islands), and I want to return to New Zealand, preferrably by bike. I want to find a teacher to learn to play the bandoneon that I have had for almost one year now, and improve my piano playing. And, of course, work on and improve my art. So after these weighty and important thoughts, I took my son to the pool, played cards with him afterwards, took him to bed after reading a few chapters from “Charlotte’s Web” to him, and then worked on my latest quilt top, Play of Lines XXXIV. More about that soon.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Creative Outdoor Award, first report

Another thing I have been ‚working’ on since my return from Berlin is the Creative Outdoor Award for which I wasdrawn as a participant. When I returned home, I found the bird waiting for me which I have to complete. This is it, I guess you could say in its ‘naked condition’.

First thought: “aha. This is not exactly big.”
Second thought, a couple of days later, rather on the display side: “Can I put it on a branch?” Problem: how to get the branch into a position that it will stay upright, AND be shippable by German Post. Ruled out.
Third thought: Dispense it from some hanging device so it will look as if it is flying. Probably not very original, and, honestly, to my eyes, this is not a bird in flight, it would look as if it is dropping from the sky like a stone. Ruled out.
Fourth thought, more on the design side: can I put this thing in a dye bath? It does look like cotton, but it does not feel as if it is pfd. So how well would it take the colour? Plus, the make does not look like it would survive a tumble in the washing machine for thorough rinsing, and I just hate to let all that water go down the drain to rinse it from hand. (And if I would have to get a replacement after destruction of the first bird, I probably would have to pay €20...) So refrained from dyeing it. But in that line of thought at least I had turned to how to decorate the body rather than thinking about how to display it when it’s finished.

That’s what I am now still turning over in my head. Numerous possibilities. One would be to engage my son in the process. It might certainly lead to unpredictable results. Well, I still have a few weeks.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Getting back to work

When I returned home from Berlin on Monday early afternoon, I first picked up my son from school, unpacked the car and then waited for my soul to catch up with me after the 600 km drive. That included loading the washing machine, checking the contents of the refrigerator, and taking my son to track and field practice. And going to bed early.
But on Tuesday I immediately focussed and set to work on quilting my entry for this year’s challenge from the Carrefour in Ste. Marie-aux-Mines. 

"Red Line" in the first stages of being quilted

Similar as with last year’s topic, I had not immediately been blessed with a flood of ideas for “deformation”. I procrastinated, thought about the deformation of the words ‘freedom’ and ‘solidarity’, and how that could possible be turned into a quilt. Solidarity could have used the logo of the Polish union Solidarnosc, which then could have been deformed via photoshop.  

Similarly with ‘freedom’ (in German). 

But I am not an expert at photoshop, neither of the attempts satisfied me, and at some point I had decided I wasn’t going to enter. Then sometime in May I received a reminder from the organizers reminding me of that wonderful new prized given for teachers by the Japanese sponsors for the first time this year – I am teaching in Ste. Marie-aux-Mines this year, and they had not yet received my entry... Extended deadline: June 27. Call that pressure? Time running out, too, with only a few weeks left.
But a couple of days before we left for our vacation, I did have an idea that I found interesting enough to follow, that would be relatively easy and straightforward to realize, and on our way to our holiday apartment my husband and I talked it through a little. It will be a quilt that fits into the series ‘Play of Lines’, though coming from a totally different source of inspiration than most of the other quilts in that series. Of course, during the holidays I could not actively work on it, not being prepared, and not having the studio space necessary.
So when I returned home from vacation due to constant rain, I could get most of the sewing done before I left for Berlin. Focussed work! Now I am working on the quilting.

Back of "Red Line"

Detail of "Red Line"

I have finished the machine quilting, and I do want to include hand-stitching as well. However, severe limitation in my supply of black threads suitable for hand-stitching is posing a difficulty. Too bad – it will have to work like this, because the deadline is June 27th and I can’t spend time looking around for threads on the internet, waiting to have them shipped to me and only then start with the stitching. So, as the quilters in the old days, I am making do with what I have.

I don’t really like working under pressure like this. But somehow I get the impression that it is part of how my mind or my creativity works. No idea how to change it, and no time to think about that right now...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Berlin, a little more

Berlin is not like American cities with lots of skyscrapers, nevertheless it is a city with many reflections.

There is lots of art to be found in unexpected places – these objects I saw in a passage of shop windows that featured several ‘galleries’, off Kurfürstendamm.

And although I am not a person who cares much about cars, I did like looking at the oldtimers that participated in an oldtimer car festival on Kurfürstendamm. Those were still cars that had some character!

It would have been very nice to stay on. Next year...

Friday, June 7, 2013

In Berlin

On Wednesday, I packed up the car,

and yesterday I took off for Berlin, where I will be a vendor at the textile art Berlin for the first time on Saturday and Sunday. I had never been to the textile art before, but this year it is organized in conjunction with the German Patchwork Guild’s AGM and Festival, which I had been to for the first time selling fabrics last year.
Parts of southern Germany are flooded badly, and some more northern parts are preparing for floods that are rolling north, and long stretches of the autobahn where marked off for make-shift dams, leaving a number of reduced lanes only, especially north of Leipzig. Quite a sight and feeling, to be driving along walls of sand bags which are holding back the muddy waters that would be covering the highway otherwise...
But except for slowing down the drive it did not really pose a problem, and although I do not have a GPS-guid in the car I managed to find my hotel easily with the help of the printout from the route planner and checked in at four o’clock in the afternoon. An old building, squeaky wooden floors, a very simple room with shower and toilet across the hall, but quite a character. They fear invading make-look-alike-investors and are collecting signatures to save it...

Installation in the interiour courtyard of the hotel

Information about the history of the the house
which now is the hotel
I was born in Berlin, and have been back a few times, before and after the fall of the Wall. But just not enough! I love the feel of the city and took some time to walk along Kurfürstendamm. 

More the tourist hang-out, really, than the real city, but it felt good to be there. A lot of people are complaining that Berlin is not what it used to be, and that it is turning into a place like every other big city in the world, losing its unique charm.
On my way to meeting a friend in the evening I got off the train at Brandenburger Tor, too. Even more of a tourist-site than Kurfürstendamm, but a must-go nevertheless. When I came to Berlin in 1982 with my school, we still looked across the Wall at this walled-in gate that was shut. At that point we couldn’t imagine what would be happening there seven years later.

It still feels very special to be able to walk through the gate, even after 24 years.

Monday, June 3, 2013

2013 Creative Outdoor Award: My Bird!

I never win in the lottery. Nor major prizes.
When I was a teenager, I entered a photograph competition with a snapshot of my swimmer friend approaching a turn in a butterfly race, and was mad as hell that I received second prize, which was a pocket camera (with Bavarian colours), of no better quality than the cheap camera I had used to take the picture in the first place. I had so wanted to win first prize, a reflex camera, which I couldn’t afford because I would have to save my pocket-money for years and years on end, nor had any chance of receiving as a birthday present. (Looking back at it now, although I still wouldn’t appreciate that particular prize, I probably would have felt a bit more pride at coming in second.)
In 2008, I won a prize for handquilting at the Quilt Festival in Radolfzell, on Lake Constance, which had been donated by, of all companies imaginable, Bernina. That prize I really appreciated – first of all because of the quaint combination, handquilting and Bernina, and, secondly, because it could only be redeemed in the Bernina shop at Steckborn, Switzerland. I invested it fully into a large acrylic quilting table for my Bernina machine, which I might have been too stingy to buy – at least for quite a while longer -  if I would have had to pay for it in full. I still use it when I am using that machine, and it has been a cherished assistant in many a quilt's quilting.
Whenever I do play the lottery, which usually only happens when a large jackpot is waiting for a winner, I consider myself lucky if I win half of what I invested to play...
Nevertheless, when I came across the call for entries for the 3rd Textile OutdoorAward: My Bird! on Silke Bosbach’s websiteI decided on the spur of the moment that I would try to participate. 

This picture is a shot of the announcement as it appears on
my computer screen, taken with my current digital camera,
several generations after that camera with which I entered the photo competition many years ago.

Because the call for entry at first really was a call for application to enter. A drawing would determine who of the applicants would be allowed to participate in the end.
Lo and behold – last week I received the mail that I had been chosen. Out of 247 applications, mine was amongst the I-don’t-know-how-many. I could be one out of twenty, fifty, or 247, it did not say. (Correction: after checking out her website, I now know that I am one of fifty.)
Today I went ahead with the procedure: signed that I would pay for my own fare should I be one of the chosen 10 finalists who are expected – no, obliged! – to participate in the prize ceremony in March where the order of placement will be announced, for example. Pre-address and pre-stamp an envelope in which I will receive My Bird, which I then have to do something to or with. Fill out an application form, of course. Agree to pay 20 euros in case I should NOT send in my finished piece before the deadline runs out (Aug. 9).
So I don’t know what I got myself into, as I don’t really have a clue as to what kind of blank or template will come to me. But I will be doing 3D, and a bird at that, because I sure don’t want to pay 20 euros for not doing it. I do hope lots of ideas will fly in on wings once this is under way!

(And I won’t start thinking about what I will do about that mandatory presence at the award ceremony on that particular weekend in March, for which I already have a teaching commitment – because I never win major prizes anyway...)