Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I have used a photo like this as a Christmas greeting before, I think. Definitely on my German blog.

This choir of angels goes far back in my life. We used to have (some of) them when I was a child, and they would come out at the beginning of advent, decoration on our sideboard in the living room, together with some candle-driven pyramids. 

These items were precious because somehow friends and relatives in the GDR had managed to get a hold of them (which usually were not available to inhabitants of the country where they were being made, because the entires production used to go into export). We had several of the pyramids, a set of small choirboys, and a small orchestra of angels. 

As far as I remember, the musician angels were always my favorites, and once I was earning money myself I would buy me a little musician every other Christmas or so. Then at some point my mother offered to let me have the angel orchestra, and I gladly took that advantage. At that time, my son was already an active little boy and for a few years we were guarding the angels instead of them guarding us. 

Eventually we discovered that the annual Christmas market in Landshut included a stall that sold these angels. Ever since then it has become a little ritual between us – my son and I go to the market, and we have long discussions about which angel we will acquire this time. The discussions can even start several weeks before we take the figures out of their boxes to set up advent decorations. Usually I will argue for a few more string players because a real orchestra needs lots of string players, and they are certainly a minority in our assemblage. 

My son, the drummer, and with a very argumentative nature, will argue for any other instrument but a string instrument, and so discussions are serious, take their time, and the final decision depends on many aspects. 

This year my sons took an inventory of what instruments we have, including whether the angel has brown or blonde hair. My husband isn’t really so much into this, he thinks we have enough of these and should not go and get more. Although we have tried to bribe him by including 'his' instruments, a grand piano, and saxophones.

It is not an entirely homogeneous group, either. Pretty much so, but, as with Germany, we do have a few foreigners in there.

Especially the singers - they do look a little bit different.


But we know it still is not a complete orchestra, and it is nice to have a ritual like this. Unfortunately this year it was a rather nasty and rainy day, and my son also had to be at basketball practice on time, so our trip was brief. We decided on the bass clarinet for this year, in blonde.

My son, in a youngster’s manner of wanting to the biggest and most expensive part, would have liked to get the organ.
However, we are keeping that for a later date. Knowing full well that it is not going to get any cheaper… The online shop for the angels and many other little fellows is here.

Monday, December 10, 2018

70 Years: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

As I was driving in the car this morning I listened to a short historic report on the 70th anniversary of the UDHR. I hadn't known that the committee had been chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt. So I have already learned something today.
My textile activities this year were not knowingly shaped by this anniversary. But it was my theme this year. Two quilts completed this year that explicitly use text from this declaration. One was already completed last year, though using a variation from the German constitution.

text messages 12: Die Würde des Menschen

And even although the current state of the world is not as peaceful and as harmonious as this document is setting out to make it, it gives me hope that such a document was written. Perhaps we will learn, after all. And it is worth keeping fighting for that. So I am also happy to say that a new ship of the organization Sea-Eye is already nearing Spain and will be active in Mediterranean waters. I donated to make this possible, and although I can't go an be part of the team right now, I am following their progress.

Monday, November 26, 2018

First time public appearance

Last Saturday a small convention and discussion of refugee issues and politics took place in our town. The organizers had invited me to show some of my quilts, in recognition of the fact that I have been active in the volunteer group in town for several years now, and because I received the Cultural Award of the city earlier this year. I picked out the quilts that have some connection to the topic of the convention, which, as it turned out, adds up to 7 or 8 quilts by now. However, unfortunately the room where most of the convention took place does not really have many hanging options. There are no fixtures on the walls, no gallery rods, and because the building is old and the particular room is under the roof with slanting walls it was not possible to put nails into the walls. So I could only hang three quilts.
One possibility was in the stairwell, where "Promised Land 2015?" could be placed in good view as people were going down the stairs -

or they had to notice the mirror image as they were coming up and then turn around.

I assume, though, that a lot of people were using the elevator and thus never got to see this.
The other two quilts were in the room itself, on the sides of the front stage.

"Capsized" on the right side of the stage.

On the left side of the stage, "Everyone has the right" made its first public appearance.

"Everyone has the right" above the grand piano.  
I think they both looked quite impressive, and I did get a few admiring remarks and comments. However, most people were concentrated on the talks and conversations with each other, after all it was not an art exhibit as such. But it was good to see them presented to a public.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

I have used this heading before: Time flies.

And here is the perfect picture to illustrate that in a f´reflective way:

When I discontinued the fabric club one year ago I thought I would be starting a job assignment within only a few weeks of the end of the dyeing. That fell through for reasons I still don't quite understand, mostly because I was never told why. I did not press to find out more, though, because in the weeks that I was working towards establishing myself in that community I had realized that the person I would have had to work with was an extremely difficult and narcissistic person, so in a way I wasn't too sad I did not have to figure out how to deal with him in a real working situation. But I had shut down the fabric club, and several other applications to various kinds of positions always received a similar reply: Your CV is extremely interesting, and you bring such wonderful qualifications with you - but somehow you just don't fit our scheme/expectations/you name it... Germany believes in report cards and diplomas and a goal oriented job education, so if you cannot produce a diploma for a job you want to work in you are not adequately qualified, no matter how qualified you are in other areas. By April I was getting sick and tired of that, and had to live through another phase where it seemed that some of my students would not receive the work permit they needed to start the course I was preparing them for.
The teaching job was fun, but paid by the hour, no social benefits or health insurance. And I realized that I could not take it any longer to be working hard to educate and motivate young refugees who wanted to work, and in a job for which Germany desperately needs people, who would then be refused the permit - and all that in a precarious work situation for myself. So I took a drastic decision, applied for a slot in the next nursing school class and resigned from the teaching job at the end of the school year.
On October 1st I started that new phase in life, and it has been a very interesting and busy time since then. My family is getting the knack of new routines. My son has at least admitted that my being out of the house quite a bit now has a drawback because the male food production is not comparable to what he was used to get to eat before. My husband is making somewhat more of an effort in joining in with household chores. I am also making a point of not taking pains to care for their provisions on days when I am not home at lunch time, and I cook considerably fewer meals than I did before. (With the consequence that indeed I enjoy cooking a bit more than I used to before - as I had suspected.)
And I myself, too, have to find new routines and change my time management. If I want to continue stitching. Which I do, of course, but it will be under rather different circumstances, with a lower time budget, and it might completely change my activities even more.
I have managed to add some scraps to A Scrap a Day, but I need to catch up a bit, too.

I am planning to fill up the remaining area within the next few weeks. Even if it takes a bit longer than December 31.

I will continue to write the blog, but it won't be as frequently as before. Perhaps I can figure out how to add that gadget of email-notification on the side bar if people are interested. I am not going to turn this into a blog on my experiences as an aspiring nurse, for sure. But it is very good for me to leave the house in the morning and know I am going to work. Haven't done a late shift yet, so I don't know how it feels to come back late at night. I would appreciate it if people kept reading what happens to me and my textile doings. They do remain at the core of my heart, but being a bad self-marketer I never managed to make enough money on that so that I would get the feeling I was actually making an income. So here I go - yet another radical change in my working life, after all it is not the first time I did that.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Entered: Forced to Flee

So I managed to finish my piece for "Forced to Flee" in time - well enough in time to get it to the photographer, and to pick up the CD with the pictures before last weekend because I wanted to get the entry done with over the weekend.
Only on Sunday evening did I see that he had forgotten to put the detail photo onto the CD. At that time of day it was too late to take a decent detail photo myself to add to the entry. But luckily the deadline was only on the 31st, so I could go back to the photographer on Monday and get it. And still be on time. (Then he told me I should have called him, but I would never have dared to call him on the weekend - yet what would I have done had it been a last-minute thing? Besides being really annoyed...?)
On Sunday I had decided that I was going to enter only the new piece, up until then I had thought I would enter two of the older pieces as well. But because I assumed that there are going to be so many entries I then decided to leave the two older ones out. Of course I hope it's going to get in, and of course I am worried it might not, and then I will have to reconsider where to enter it to give it other chances...
On Sunday, however, I also read the prospectus more closely - one of my problems with entering shows, I don't read those things closely until the last minutes - and found out that it says we were encouraged to blog about our work in advance. While I had been holding back from talking about it. Oh well...

So here follow a few pictures from the process of making it.

Dissolving the stabilizer that was behind the lower part, always a scary moment...

Pulling the lower part back into shape-
wondering how much of it would be
falling apart due to insufficient fastening
of open crossings...

Adding some details in hand stitch.

The piece has an upper and a lower part, which required two distinctly different methods of assembly.

Upper part, the sky, being assembled.
Here is the upper part, after the 'background noise'-writing had been added and the necessary stabilizer behind it had been dissolved as well.

And here is a detail of how I transferred some lines onto the piece after the two parts had been put together.

This watersoluble plastic was kind enough to prove rip-out-able, though, and did not require yet another process of dissolving.
I put a piece of heavy linen as the backside fabric, no batting. Stitched and layered, that's what was required. Although in worst case, I could argue that the lower part, which is stitched onto a layer of fabric hidden in the middle, would let it qualify for a three-layers-piece, should the need arise.
I am still going to wait about posting a picture of the entire piece until I hear from the jury whether it got in...

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Changes, and ...

In the beginning of October some parts of my life changed. Since then I have had considerably less time for quilting. And it will remain like that. In fact, I was the one who intentionally changed these parts, and it's not that I was not aware of the consequences for my quilting. Little did I know, however, that now that time is more limited, ideas would start floating at me like clouds in the sky. So here I am, with very little time at hand, and many many ideas buzzing in my head. They might never get out of there, who knows.
But I did manage to work on - and finish! - the quilt I want to enter in the SAQA 'forced to flee' exhibition. It was a design I had contemplating for a while, and this call for entry gave me a good opportunity to work it out. I am not going to show many pictures here, as I haven't sent my entry yet. I can pick up the professional photo in a couple of days, and then will have to wait for the notification.

text messages 19 - as a work in progress

It wasn't always easy because the topic, of course, has been so intensively with me for the last few years. And in a way I was making the quilt for my refugee friends because I could not do a single stitch without having their stories in mind as I was working on the various parts of the quilt, and waiting for the ideas that kept coming in. The days when I could not spend much, sometime not even any time on it these past few weeks were sometimes disconcerting as I kept fearing I might not get finished in time. But it seems it needed those days of additional ripening time, because some more ideas could how up and get incorporated. I am very pleased with the result, and not matter whether it gets into the show or not, it was very good to make this particular piece.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

How to deal with your yellow scraps, or progress report....

1. Look at your collection of yellow scraps in the box of bags with scraps assorted by colors.
2. Realize that you have quite a few of yellow scraps.
3. Decide that you are going to do something about it – a whole year’s worth of a project using up yellow scraps. Set yourself a few rules – such as ‘use as they are’, ‘don’t cut additional ones’, ‘embroider them to a foundation, only using a machine in extremely dire situations’, ‘at least one a day’…
4. Start attaching them to some other fabric for which it was hard to find a suitable use.
5. Happily stitch along for a few weeks, thinking the numbers are dwindling, until you reach a minor moment of panic thinking there might not be enough yellow scraps to last you through the year.  This is the critical moment – because then you start searching for other projects that will produce additional scraps that fit the rules. Of course, not only yellow ones, but you will find that you will be particularly pleased to see yellow ones turning up.
6. Find interesting things such as ties from presents that have a tinge of yellow in them.
7. When given the slightest chance, grab anything textile that is yellow.
8. On the occasion of a heap of textile remnants being dismantled, spend a good half an hour searching for anything yellow in that heap…

And by about two thirds of the year over you will realize: despite the fact that you have been using scraps diligently, 

that you have made progress on the project, 

that you even have decided on a venue where you want to enter the result (i.e. adding a strong urge to keep working on the thing to get it finished) you will realize that your stash of yellow scraps seems to have multiplied instead of dwindled. 

You can start sorting out those scraps that are 'too straight', 'too strippy', for some other project.


Still - your supply of yellow scraps will have increased over time.

Not only that. Other color scraps have increased as well. Which will make you look at your collection of blue or red scraps for next year …