Sunday, December 29, 2013

End of Year Mood

I am not a particularly original person. And sometimes I wish I had taken a few more original decisions in life than I actually did. Perhaps there will be a few more chances, after the child is a bit more advanced in his life... Now being not particularly original, I fall into the same trap every year as the particular year draws to a close. Finishing mode – which is not too bad, as it helps clear up a bit of clutter, gives UFOs a different kind of life(expectation), and me a feeling of accomplishment.
And, of course, looking back on what happened during the past year with a more or less critical eye. I’ve been on the road in quilting and fabric selling quite a bit. I had one quilt accepted to a major exhibition and was rejected from several others. Overall, I guess, it has been a successful year.
Although I do have to admit that I did not get very far with my great intention of de-cluttering the studio which I announced in September. I even think I knew then that not much would come of it. But I did take one step of rearranging the immediate right hand corner next to my sewing machine, which tends to be the accumulation point of stuff. Stuff, which is not necessarily needed there, which attracts dust and more stuff, and which sometimes is a hindrance when I reach for the wheel of the machine on the right hand side:

Before de-cluttering

I cleared that off, as I did with the surface of a little trolley which holds many of my sewing threads and has the advantage of being on wheels, and which can be rolled into position on my right side when I need these things, and pushed back when it is in the way. Major achievement! Count that on the very positive side of the successes during the year.

After de-cluttering. Hopefully not only a temporary condition...

But because the past few months have been emotionally draining it somehow doesn’t really feel like it’s been a successful year. My husband has been struggling at work quite abit, which always has an influence on the family. And ever since the summer I have been asking myself ‘what is going on here?’
One part of it I attribute to the fact that Germany had the General Election in the fall. A lot of talk was going on about more children’s day care centers, getting more women to join the work force full-time (a large percentage of women working here only do so part-time, and a low-paid jobs), establishing more and more schools where kids go for the whole day – by far not the norm here yet. And it really made me feel insufficient. I don’t go out of the house to work for somebody else, my little one-woman fabric-dyeing business doesn’t have a wild surplus, I don’t give employment to other people, and I do care about being at home in the afternoon when my child comes home from school. I would not want to send him to afternoon care and only get to see him in the evenings when everybody is tired. I am working, and not only as the unpaid house-caretaker - but I am not working in a way that the politicians think economically successful. But with all that political talk suggesting that a good woman is only she who has made it to the top of some major company and is successfully juggling everything, driving herself and probably her family mad with overchallenging herself, I wondered how backward my opinions have become over the years. (My younger brother used to call me the feminist b.... when I was at university – now I am slowly approaching fifty and seem to be an anachronism regarding my opinions...) I haven’t felt good about it – although I do think I have taken the right decisions. They weren’t particularly original, but the ones that the politicians would have preferred, don’t seem particularly original to me, either.
I have also been bothered more and more with the EU’s way of dealing with so many situations. I don’t approve of their policies with refugees – I am ashamed that the former recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace looks on as hundreds and hundreds of people drown right on their doorstep when trying to escape from their unbearable situations at home. And the only answer the politicians come up with is putting more money into fending them off. In the end of November I listened to a radio report on the Jewish Refugee Children Movement, and how those had helped tens of thousands of children escape Nazi Germany. Right after that the news reported on the fact that by now hundreds of thousands of Syrian children are displaced either within their country or in other countries, just across the Syrian borders. And that Germany had graciously granted visa to 5,000 Syrians. (By now that number has been doubled.) How much have we learned from past history lessons? Nothing much, it seems.
Not to mention ongoings in other countries such as financial cliffs, civil war in far too many countries, natural disasters which still don’t teach us anything, backlashes in human rights issues... Easy to get depressed!
So it is easy to let a few months in the end of a year spoil the earlier successes. Again, not very original. We have had a few nice days of sunshine – although too warm for the season – but I won’t go on about it any more. In order to get out of the end-of-year-slump it certainly makes more sense to go out and enjoy the sunshine rather than lament that it’s there...

on the way to take a photo for my new tree-project

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays!

All the best for the next year - with lots of special effects, not only on photoshop!

Monday, December 23, 2013

On meeting size restrictions and deadlines...

In the summer I became part of an international quilt group with members from five different countries. (We are planning to go public when we have a little bit more to show as a group, right now we are still sort of working undercover.) Assignments for quilts are passed out by the members according to a rota, and the second assignment called for a scale of greys, with a little bit of color.
That immediately gave me an idea for a quilt that would well fit into the “Inspiration Bauhaus” exhibition that I am working on and which will be on display at Fagus Works in October. I have shown a first glimpse of it here.

Sketch/plan for Shapes 10 according to a strict
and perfectly orderly system

Here are a few stages of development of the quilt:

7 shades of grey, numbered (at top) to keep them distinct for the maker...

adding red circles, the 'little bit of color'

adding grey circles according to plan above

the plan kept having to be altered to avoid too many repetitions,
and in the end I did not really  understand my own system
anymore, or if there was any system left at all...

adding the second set of (interior) circles

red rounds around half of the squares

reflector fabric and black-and-white-striped fabrics
for the rounds around the other half of the squares,
and a further round of the original shade of grey

all sewn together

a helper in the sandwiching - well qualified as a supporting quilter!

Now it is in the process of being quilted. I even hope to be able to show it in my exhibition in Freiburg in January already.

However, I had not met the size-restrictions that Ita had given us, and this quilt does not qualify for the assignment which is due by the end of the month. I have a number of left-overs from making this one, however, and ideas, and will be able to make a quilt 40 x 80 cm large. 

Although it probably won’t be exactly on time...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Little escap(ad)e: Rugs from Marocco in Pinakothek der Moderne

After I wrote about the wonderful book on ghelims that I discovered in the Basel museum during my visit in early November, I did go to see the current exhibit on Maroccan Rugs in the Pinakothek der Moderne.
 I had read about it in the paper when it was opened, had heard good things about it from friends, and was determined to go and see it even before I discovered the other book. 
Very impressive, very much worth seeing! Photographs were allowed without flash, so I can show you a few although I haven’t bought a catalogue yet. (I will, though.)

Some of the rugs were purely woven, yet most of them were hooked. Some on both sides.

With some you get the impression that the weaver started off with a pattern in mind and then did not  quite remember later on how s/he wanted to continue. Or maybe just changed mind halfway through. These I found particularly interesting, as the break in pattern appeared so slightly and created a particular kind of suspense.

 With this one it seems the warp ran out before the weaver had finished the intended pattern. But I love the way it leaves things 'open':

Overall, I was very much reminded of the quilts of Gee’s Bend in the liberty and ease with which patterns are handled. And even if you bear in mind that these pieces were made to lie on the floor, not to be presented on walls, they have a strong presence that draw you in. 
Similarly to the exhibition of Amish Quilts that was shown in the exactly same room several years ago, however, it must be said that too much was forced into this rather small space. Too many pieces in too little room, so that it wasn’t always easy to catch a good view of the individual rugs. But the arranger had made the most of it, and walking around the panels that were spaced diagonally all over the room, at least quite a few interesting views occured suddenly and unexpectedly. Luckily there was a second part of the exhibition on the upper floor, and here nothing was left of 'too little space'.

On display until January 5th, 2014.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Found Art

Finally, after weeks in grey, we had two hours of sunshine. As I had been watching the sun's battle against the fog this morning, hoping for success, I was all prepared, and raced outside once it had happened.
Found this wonderful tank.

And it yielded quite a harvest for 'found art'. (Of course, the owner came while I was taking pictures, and looked at me slightly sceptical when he first saw me, but he softenend up when I told him I was looking for art.) Here is a small selection of what I found.

After two hours, the fog won over, and by now it is raining. That's better than fog.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Small business Saturday

For quite a while already have I been following Margaret Cooter’s blog by e-mail notification. Her frequency of posts is intimidating for anybody who is a blogger, because one starts to wonder where she finds the time to write so many posts, and produce her books, sewing kits, drawings, take photos , and read (and share) poetry (and information on the respective poets) as well...
And inbetween she is always good for wonderful and interesting bits and pieces of information. Such as this most delicious recipe for lemon squares which I had printed out in March right away and finally have tried recently and found to be of a highly disappearing nature. If they hadn't disappeared so quickly, I might even have been able to take a picture.
Recently she wrote about the “Small business Saturday” - that is today - in England.

The rules for eligibility (as shamelessly copied from Margaret’s blog) read as follows:

We founded the Campaign to promote and support small businesses; accordingly, you should only download and use the Marketing Materials if you fall within these criteria:
 Your turnover (for all outlets and other business locations within the UK) for the 2012 calendar year must have been ten million pounds (£10,000,000) or less·
 You must not be:·
o involved as a principal course of business in the manufacture, promotion or sale of pornography, sexual aids, firearms or other weapons
o involved with the promotion or advocacy of any sensitive or controversial topic, or otherwise participate in activities that we determine to be inconsistent with our values.

So here I am – my turnover in 2012 was far below ten million pounds, even if converted into Euros, I am not involved in the manufacture, promotion or sale of pornography or weapons (although I suspect you could use a quilt to suffocate somebody if you tried really hard – but I would plead for ‘misuse of object’ in court in a situation like that), and I try to stay away from controversial topics on the blog (although I sometimes do feel a growing urge to start saying something about politics and humans treat each other and the planet). And in German tax rules I am even registered as a ‘small business’.
I even have several ideas how you could support me. You could either
  • buy a quilt (here is the gallery, more pictures on  request) – or
  • buy some fabric (by the yard here) – or
  • hire me as a workshop instructor – or
  • offer me a chance to exhibit my quilts.
  • Or subscribe to my fabric club – for which there is a special offer up, starting today, Saturday 7th, and valid until the Saturday after next, i.e. 21st, 2013.

This is the offer:
Sign a subscription for my fabric club (conditions for subscription in English can be found here and a printout of the order form is possible here, and after the completion of the first year you will receive the January-2015-shipment either
  • for free (if you sign up for Fat Quarters), or
  • at half price (if you sign up for half metres or metres),
regardless whether you decide to discontinue the subscription or to keep going.

Are you ready? 
Support this small business, and give yourself a little Christmas treat that will last more than a whole year!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thread spool storage

Over the last few weeks something has been happening in the back of the sewing room of the community college where I am currently teaching a patchwork class.
At first it looked as if a fakir was going to start using the classroom as well.

Last week, first items started appearing on the nails.

And this past Monday, the board looked almost like a piece of art.

Quite an ingenious way of storing your thread spools - all it is is a board hung on the back of the door.

You don't waste any wall space, you don't run danger of hurting your thread spools, because usually there is enough room between the door and the wall, even when the door is open. The only thing I don’t like about it is the open air storage approach, and thus the high possibility that they will accumulate dust quite quickly – because sewing rooms tend to be on the dusty side, no matter how often you push the vacuum cleaner through!
This doesn't even take a supporting quilter to make, though - anyone can make one herself. (Except that I have my little drawers, which keep out at least some of the dust.)