Thursday, October 31, 2013

Colour of the day: the tenth selection

Red: October 29
Orange: October 29

Yellow: October 25

Green: October 25

Blue: October 9

Purple: October 16

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Stones and creativity

I am not a particularly spiritual person, and I don’t believe in esoterics. And I am not superstitious.
But I like stones, and sometimes collect them. For purely aesthetic reasons.
Either as books.

Or as cats.

Or as simple pebbles that have a white line in them.

Or as stones that I plan to use for shibori – have actually started to use them: I have done a lot of tieing in. What is missing is the dye-bath part of it all.
Or as a little totally haphazardous collection of semi-precious stones that is slowly accumulating on my window-sill.

A couple of weeks ago I ended up in a shop for pretty stones while I was waiting for a train. And I bought this Labradorit, of which the shop owner says it boosts creativity:

I have been wearing it in my trouser pockets since, and I must say it does seem to work. I have been having an almost constant flow of ideas of what kinds of quilt designs would fit for this exhibition or that challenge.

All I lack is the time to actually produce them. Although I have been working diligently. “Light Sculpture”, which is now going by a different name that will not be mentioned here just yet, is completely finished. It needed a few more corrections, and a bit of pulling in the diagonal to get it to hang properly. But right now it is up in our entrance hallway, the place where I usually audition newly finished quilts, and I really like the impression you get when coming in through the door. Soon to be sent out into the world, released into the rounds of vicious judging.
And I started work on Shapes 10 for Fagus Works.

This is based on the sketch I showed the other day which was rather incomprehensible. But it's only the beginning.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fillin' up on sunshine

It’s obvious. Clearly visible everywhere:

Summer is over, fall not only coming but definitely at it’s high peak. And although I can see the beauty of this (given some sunshine to illuminate my perception!), I have to admit I am absolutely not ready for this.
A few weeks ago I took the chance of a particularly warm day and had my last lunch on the terrace for the year.

But today I decided I had to make the best of the sunshine there was, and instead of staying inside my studio I took my quilt and hand-sewed the binding on the terrace as well.

And when the binding was done, instead of going back inside, I took my knitting, trying to catch as much of the sunshine as possible.

My son has graciously permitted me to knit him a pair of socks.
(So far he has been refusing to wear anything that's knitted.)

But now it’s clouding up again, so that little enjoyment is over.
But it’s been a good day to end a good week – lots of work, and got some things done, too. Most of the studio time was spent orking on “Light Sculpture”. 

Sinking threads...

... and avoiding to have to sink them.

Which is not called Light Sculpture anymore, my husband vetoed that title. He also changed the quilt’s orientation, it’s now in a vertical orientation rather than the horizontal orientation originally planned. And he also vetoed my thought of adding buttons made of mother of pearl, which would have caught the light in a different manner than what I am using right now. Instead, he introduced washers as a possible addition, after a bit of consideration, however, we decided against it and for simplicity of design.

I hope to finish the binding perhaps today, if not tomorrow. And then I am all set for entering this quilt to the German Guild’s challenge, together with Play of Lines XXXII. Let’s see whether one of these two makes the cut – and if so, whether it will be the one which makes the maker recognizable, or the one that doesn’t.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Working myself through fall issues...

The past ten days have been emotionally draining, and it has been difficult to find the leisure to write a decent blog post.
I am astonished that a few radical blokes can shut down their huge country’s government and endanger world economy simply because they want to bring down a law that has been legally passed. Isn’t this unconstitutional behavior? How can the majority of their party let themselves be driven by a small number of fundamentalists? This country, that has been telling other countries what democracy is all about...
I am appalled at the self-conceitedness of the Bavarian government, where one party, again characterized by a series of undemocratic decisions and procedures, has regained the absolute majority they had lost in the last election. But I am also alarmed at the fact that the voters made this possible, and even topped the percentage a week later at the federal elections.
I am afraid that the results of German federal election might turn into an unhealthy type of coalition. And alarmed at the growing practice of lobbying in German politics, which so far have still managed to at least maintain a picture of integrity and upright procedures. Probably merely a self-delusion, and my alarm is caused by the fact that I am getting aware of this?
And I am deeply ashamed that Europe, last year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, does not do anything to open their borders for refugees, drowning in the Meditarranean by the hundreds, fleeing countries in which many of the problems have been caused by historical and economic interference of the so-called western world.
These conditions upset me. Add to that the first longer stretch of high fog, always a difficult climatic situation for me in the fall. And a lot of work – picking apples, picking quince and making juice and marmelade, getting the garden ready for winter. 

These apples will be made into juice coming Saturday

The larger part of bottles of quince juice -
very nice, because it has a very low sugar content.

We had to take down the quince tree because it was sick, but we planted a new apple tree. And we are planning to put in another quince tree before the winter.

See that awfully gray sky? Isn't that
a good enough reason to become all depressed?

And my son’s process of adjusting to third grade demands, quite a different pace of schooling than last year’s second grade still comfy atmosphere. And of course, this already difficult week was the one when the rejection for my Quilt Nihon entry arrived, and the rejection of my entry for the Creative Outdoor Award.  I really don’t mind the latter, I was expecting it because I myself wasn’t really taken with what I had produced. But it did take some serious self-suggestive work – won’t have to go to see the customs guys to ship it, one extra quilt to enter in other competitions – to talk myself out of being disappointed about the rejection from Japan.
Nevertheless, I did get some work done. I am working on an entry for the German Guild’s bi-annual “T bis M” (“From Tradition to Modern”), which I won’t show here because it must not have appeared anywhere. It will be called “Light Sculputre”. And while I was waiting for the batting to dry I started on the first of the five small quilts I have to make for next October’s exhibition in the Fagus Works.  And it is getting along nicely.

Of course, there are going to be larger quilts in this exhibition, too.

Weather had inproved over the weekend, so things have brightened up a bit on that line. Although it is raining and cold now - but much better than high fog! 
And I have decided not to let myself be run down by politics. Even if world economy should falter tomorrow. I can always make a comforting quilt.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Seek and ye shall find...

September and also the beginning of October have been very busy. Not only all the teaching and traveling that has been going on, but also suddenly quite a bit of computer work for SAQA in my function as co-rep for the region Europe/Middle East. First an e-mail discussion whether the next exhibition "Wide Horizons" (coming up soon) should be accompanied by a catalogue, and then a lot of preparations of blog posts for SAQA as there is going to be a giveaway on the regional blog. It's going to happen any time now - why don't you check it out and take your chance on being the winner of a box of the brandnew SAQA Signature Thread Collection, which was kindly donated for this purpose by Alex Veronelli of Aurifil.

In the midst of all of this it sometimes felt as if I was losing my head. I spent much more time on the computer than I really care for, much less time at the sewing machine than I would have liked - and I have several dealines breathing down my neck. Which I might meet. Or not, but better should...
The situation went wild this past weekend/Monday. In order to start living up to my own good intentions of clearing out some of my stuff in the studio I had started a bit and tried to get stuff off the floor, including putting boxes back into the shelves. Yet after that I could not find the box which contained all the teaching materials for my weekly Log Cabin class at Landshut Community College. Spent several hours looking for that. It did turn up in the shelf, after all. But I swear it wasn't there when I first looked...
Next day my husband disappeared - he had said he was going to walk our son to school. Which is a ten minute walk. When he hadn't returned after one hour I was beginning to get worried - was this a case of "Honey, I am only going out to get some cigarettes..."-disappearance, or would I have to expect some policeman at the door soon? No kidding, I was really getting nervous, checking out the house whether he had returned unnoticed, but he hadn't. After two and a half hours he returned, he had stopped by at the doctors to arrange for an appointment and they had kept him there right away. And in the afternoon I was searching for "Yellow Line", the quilt I had retrieved from customs a little while ago and which I had left all packed because it was going to be shipped to appear at OEQC as part of the German contribution. But the box wasn't there anymore where I am dead certain I left it, now that I had received the address to which it should have been posted. Several hours of nervous running around the house, checking out various places. Parallel to this my son started crying because he had left one text book at school which he needed for his homework, and I should have been getting ready to go and teach. I managed to organize a copy of my son's exercise for his homework, and I finally did find that quilt in a place where I can't remember putting it. But nobody else in the family remembers either. (It has since been shipped.)
There is a saying in German "The house doesn't lose anything." I just wish sometimes it would tell me where it was hiding things...

Friday, October 4, 2013

When is it time to stop?

One of my favorite literary genres is the genre “Short Story”. I’m not an expert on them, but I did manage to arrive at a rather good grade with this topic in my final university exams. And I have tried to catch new ones every once in a while since then.
One of my favorite short story writers, though really one among several, is Alice Munro. Still without a Nobel Prize, though mentioned frequently amongst those who really ‘should’ get it some time, but for this awkward genre, only short works, can she not write a proper novel? I don’t care whether she has written a novel or not. But I do care that she has stated publically that she would probably not publish another book. I only heard about this on the radio a few weeks ago, it must have happened some time in April. At first I was upset. Then they talked about her age, and I fully realized what I should have been aware of anyway – Alice Munro is an old woman, almost the same age as my grandmother when she passed away. My being upset turned into admiration – to know for oneself the right time to stop, and to announce that publically, must be one of the hardest decisions that a person can be faced with.
In sports, however, frequently the ones who have announced their retirement decide to attempt a comeback, not necessarily for the benefit of their reputation. If Michael Schumacher had stuck to his decision, instead of attempting a comeback, his fame would have been more lasting than it is now, after he came back, and did not manage to be as successful as he had been when he retired. And this is true for many other famous names.
So knowing when it is the right moment to stop is a personal, difficult and very delicate decision. This holds for personal relationships – is this the right time to break up, or should it have happened long ago already? – and jobs as well. Writing and publishing might qualify amongst both of these, perhaps. I don’t own all of Alice Munro’s books, so I can still go ahead and buy a few others; even though they will not be newly published, they will still be new to me. And perhaps she might still write one or the other, who knows. But she is not planning on going through the entire process of publishing another book.
When I heard about her announcement, though, I also hoped that I would know for myself when is the right time to stop with something. I wondered whether I would be ready to see it, and to act accordingly. And I think that point has come today.
I spent several hours yesterday night and this morning trying to come up with a new design for a next quilt in the series “Play of Lines”. There is deadline coming up end of November, for which I still could have finished something, trying to get into an exhibition that I have been juried out of every single time that I tried to get in. But I had never tried to enter one of the Play of Lines, which some people I talked to have thought stupid. So I had figured if I gave it one more try, and with a Play of Lines, perhaps I would get in this time...
Which is why I started working on this design yesterday. Again, based on a line drawing by my son, that I had edited intensively.

My son's drawing, and a tracing,
which served as the starting point for my design work.

One design I had come up with earlier,
which I used as the starting point yesterday.

And again working through various stages of altering the course and the arrangements of the lines.

The transparencey foil in front is stage no. 11...

And yet, before I started enlarging the design, I looked at it, and it didn’t feel right. A bit of "been there, done that."
So I talked to my husband, showed him what I had come up with. And he put into words what I had been feeling already, but had not yet had the courage to tell myself: “For heaven’s sake, he is eight years old. And we have seen enought of these. You have done other stuff that is completely different. Why do you want to return to these -- ?” 
It’s difficult to admit, but here it is: as much as I had enjoyed working from the inspiration of my son’s drawings, and as much as they have given me, as important as they have been for my personal development as a quilter, indeed, it is time to move on. This must not necessarily mean that this series is entirely closed, over and done with. But if I should indeed try to work on another quilt that fits into the series because of its linear character, it would have to come from a different inspiration.
Of course, that gives rise to the next question. where do I go from here? Uuuugh, scary.

But who knows. There are a lot of new directions coming up behind a corner.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Colour of the Day: the ninth selection

red - September 17
orange - September 24
yellow - September 13
green - September 20
blue - September 27
purple - September 22