Friday, August 31, 2018

Progress Report 'A Scrap a Day'

It's been a while since I have given a report on my daily art project for the year, "A Scrap a Day". Since I have decided where and when I want to enter it next year, I know that I have to keep up to date and get it finished quickly after the year is over (or after I decide that it is done - which might happen, depending on how big it is getting).

 I have already shown on Instagram how I was searching for yellow scraps in Mirjam Petjacob's installation that was a part of 'Stuff for Thought', which was shown in Birmingham at Festival of Quilts for the last time and that wasn't going to be shipped back to her due to cost.

You can see that I was having fun. However, it shows one of the 'problems' with this project, too. It was also intended to make a dent in my collection of yellow scraps. This is not working, let me tell you. If you want to find a way for that, I do not recommend imitating such a project, you have to figute out a different way.

I have since incorporated a few of these Petjacbs'-scraps in the piece.

When we went on vacation, I was smart enough to forget a few things at home, amongst them the Encyclopedia of Embroidery Stitches by Mary Thomas, which I have been using to give me new ideas for stitches and that I have been working through (from back to front) almost systematically. So I searched on my computer where I might have saved the files from the online free hand embroidery class I once took with Anne Lange, but I couldn't find the files. For a few days I kept returning to my favorites, but then I figured I had to something else and searched for a 'stitch dictionary' online - this one now teaches me German names for the stitches, which Mary Thomas wasn't giving me, of course. It also doesn't have wordy descriptions but shows the making of the stitches in photos. And already it has given me a couple of more new ones that I really like. For example, so far I had not realized that 'French knot' in English and 'Colonial knot' are different stitches... I have opened this dictionary as a tab on my phone, too, and am considering working through this one systematically from now on. Except for the fact that it has 206 stitches and there aren't quite as many days left in the year. However, I might know some of the ones I can find in here...

In any case, here are a few recent additions from the days of our vacation.

Because of the problem with not-diminishing masses of scraps

I took a decision to exclude from the potential pool those scraps that are pretty much just plain strips leftover from whatever strip project I was doing. These have been banned to a corner in the thread box right now.

Friday, August 24, 2018


We are on vacation. We haven't really made many plans, but somehow it seems that most of those are getting thwarted. To begin with the mode of vacation as such. At first we - the parents - had thought it would be nice to introduce the junior to one of our favorite modes of vacationing , i.e. a several-day-bike-trip. (The interesting bit about this is that the junior was participant in a 1000-km-bike trip approx. nine months before he was born, before we even knew that he was going to be born. To which the gynaecologist said 'well, if he survived that, everything will be just fine'.) However, after first agreeing he then back-tracked and said he wasn't really up to the idea of having to go on a bike every day for several days, and for such long distances... (mind - we were planning on much less than that 1000-km-ride). So we changed the plan of how we would get to the destination, my brother-in-law's house near Lake Bodensee, and I was kind of disappointed because I had really been looking forward to finally getting back to bike trips. But as it turned out it was a good thing the junior backtracked because the heat wave just kept going and although I am tough and can really take a lot in terms of pushing myself, I do have to admit it would have been absolutely noooooo fun at all to be biking in the kind of weather we have had.
So we spent a few days near the lake. Gorgeous views, that you have to pay dearly for when you go to a restaurant with a view.

My husband wanted to go and see the David Clearbout's exhibition with sound installations at Kunsthaus Bregenz because he is very interested in aspects of sound, silence, listening, music... So when I went to visit my godmother he and the junior went to Bregenz and were severely disappointed because they say the could not understand anything that the exhibition was trying to show. Admittedly, the building itself is always great to see, but, as the junior said 'so we paid 9 Euros to go up these stairs...' obviously it would be more fun to enjoy the exhibition, too. My trip on that day, on the other hand, didn't go as smoothly as I had planned, either. I had taken the bike with me and planned to ride all the way back. But somehow I took a wrong 'exit' out of the town where my godmother lives, as a result of several construction sites and the rremains of a summer festival being taken down. So instead of trying to find my way back and get on the right track I just rode ahead and got on a train again after 30 kms into the not entirely right direction. Then the next day we wanted to go and see the August Macke exhibition in Lindau , but it was so crowded that we would have had to wait for almost an hour.

So we went for ice cream instead, and swimming in the lake after that.
All of this still in very uncommon heat for Germany, such that you break out in sweat simple from thinking whether you should not get up and get a drink of water or not...
Meanwhile we have moved on to my parents' house where we are house sitting for a few days. I had taken my next piece for 12 by the Dozen to stitch here on my mother's sewing machine (reveal date is August 31, and I better be on time because it is my challenge...). Not once did I consider she might not have a free motion quilting foot. Or that something would not be right with the tension.

Brief attempts to stitch without a quilting foot were abandoned when tension problems
resulted in repeated breaking of the thread.
I gave up quickly and will have to finish it when I get back home. No pressure... But I have other options for stitching.
But we are having a good time. It's just different from what we plan. And now I will have to go and watch soccer with the guys, simply for bonding. I will be spinning.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Festival of Quilts at Birmingham, once again

Last week I have been to and on Monday returned from the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. 

I am beginning to lose track of how many times I have been to that event and venue, and the whole procedure is getting to be a bit of a routine. I know my way from the airport to the hotel and the exhibition halls, I love the fact that the venue is so conveniently located to the airport. I enjoy being able to walk to the hotel with my bags (praise to the person who invented the wheel, and to the person who put suitcases on wheels!) from the airport, and back. 

It has become an important place to renew contact with many people whom I don’t get to see often, 

The SAQA dinner always is one of the highlights of the event.

and I use the setup to find topics/people to write about for the German Guild’s Magazine. With floor plan in hand and very little of a pre-set mind I make sure to see every single gallery with special exhibitions unless I have seen it before. At FoQ this year, ‘Stuff for Thought’, e.g. was one gallery that I did not look at in detail anymore because I had had three other opportunities where I could see it.
Some galleries I don’t spend a lot of time in, but the ones that touch me I can while away a lot of time in. 

I make sure to see every ‘winner’ in the winner’s gallery, 

Philippa Naylor, Circuit Training, 1st prize winner of Miniature Quilts

Philippa Naylor, Circuit Training, 1st prize winner of Miniature Quilts, detail

and I do go through the aisles of competition entries, pausing to look closer at those the somehow catch my eye.

A very interesting interpretation of the famous Japanese wood cut of a huge
wave (is it a tsunami?) - in plastic -

Anthropogenic Wave - Kay McKiernan, Detail

And I use the time to perhaps conduct an interview with an interesting exhibitor so I can then write an article for the magazine. 

Ruth Singer, 'Traces'

Ruth Singer with a quilt in her exhibition "Criminal Quilts"

One of the photos of prisoner women on their release from
prison that inspired Ruth Singer's exhibition

At FoQ, the one gallery that impressed me most was one the setup and preparation of which I had been following on Instagram, ‘The Button Box’. I was really impressed with the theme of the history of appreciation of textiles and needle work in recent centuries, and very touched by the quotes from literary works in which remarks about the importance and significance of textiles accompanied the works on the wall. It reminded me of a quote from a German turn of the 19th century novel by Gabriele Reuter, ‘From a Good Family’, which describes a young girl’s development from expectant girl from a good family to an old spinster, who will never be married and is completely disillusioned in the end. At some point towards the end of the novel she is sitting next to her ailing mother whom she is taking care of at that time, stitching some doily, and questions herself ‘how many superfluous doilies have I stitched in my life, by the way?’ I remember how deeply I was shocked when I first read that sentence. And that sentiment somehow was represented in that wonderful exhibition in Birmingham.

'Up in a Minute', Christine Chester
'Up in a Minute', Christine Chester, detail

So Birmingham is an important and interesting date for me, but very tiring. This year the Hilton did not have reliable wi-fi for the entire time of my stay, which is highly annoying. The quality of food has never been up to the price you have to pay for it, but that’s the price to have to pay for the other conveniences of being put up there. If I had to pay for my own hotel stay, I would certainly choose a different accomodation.
It’s good to be on vacation now with the family.