Wednesday, September 26, 2018

handmade cord, and what you can do with it

Being a very orderly person is not one of my major strengths, although I try, try, try. It results in regular attacks when I try to establish order, and these last a while, then I drift back into creative phases, until another attack hits me. I have been suffering from such an attack lately, so my studio is transforming somewhat. Boxes have disappeared because their contents could be placed in other boxes. Scrap projects that I am consciously aware of seem to have multiplied, because they keep reappaering under some trojanic layer of fabrics and other project, and I could probably be handstitching til the end of my days.  This kind of attack, however, leaves me very vulnerable towards minor weaknesses in orderliness of other people. I have a wonderful husband, whose weaknesses in orderliness are very different from mine, and I don't want to judge them in any way, or talk about them publicly here. One weakness, however, left me screaming the other day - he went away for four days, after asking me to take goood care  of the mail box because the office, which is in the same house as we are, and the mail of which frequently gets deposited in our private mail box, is currently receiving many letters for a certain reason. Fact is, the key to the mailbox is one of those minor weaknesses he has, and usually I don't even try to find it but wait until my husband goes and empties the mail box. Then I don't have to do the search. Now he left, and the key was nowhere to be found. It doesn't make much sense to call him, then, either, because he wouldn't remember where he put it anyway, and his phone was off because he was examining students.
I searched high and low, asked the secretary, went through his desk - nothing. After quite some time I was lucky to find the replacement key. And had an idea.
Handmade cord, which I learned how to make from Kathleen Loomis, which she learned how to make from Dorothy Caldwell, who, supposedly, learned it from Australian indigenuous people, is one thing I like to be making from the narrowest cut-offs when aligning or straightening fabric.

The result has become my standard gift wrapping item, getting rid of wrapping paper, just tyeing a piece of this cord around the present. The production yields much more revenue than I can give gifts, however, this ball is just a small portion.

These stocks came to my mind when I was running around the house, still fuming, after having found the replacement key. And I decided to put that one on the leash.

It's long enough to take the key to the mail box, but it is attached to the balustrade inside our door - with any kind o fluck I will always be able to find a key to the mail box that way.
Sarahcswett has posted a little video on how to make the cord on instagram and her blog. So you can have another scrap project to work on, too.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Scrapping away

Since I returned from Ste. Marie-aux-Mines I have been scrapping away. I had meant to spend the entire week seriously working on my quilt for the SAQA "Forced to Flee", but obviously something still hasn't developed far enough yet, because I keep postponing/stalling...
I have been struck be a cleansing fit and am rummaging through boxes, sorting, throwing out, rearranging. And actually reducing the number of boxes slightly, simply by putting things in a more orderly manner, packing more densely. I had tons of boxes standing around, and there is a bit of a wish there to reduce that number considerably.
But while I am doing that, I am also finding soooooo many WIPs that I am getting overwhelmed. For one thing, with ideas of what I still want to do. And for the other part, with desperation, because after Octover 1 there will be considerably less time to do all these...
For example, these two different-sized Underground Railroad projects I am working on. The upper picture is the Dear-Jane-size - i.e. 4 1/2 inch finished. The lower picture is slightly larger, with 1 inch squares in the four patches.

And there are about 6 or 7 other unfinished scrap projects, those mostly hand stitching.

Today was the last day of openinig hours in our swimming pool. It has now closed for winter, and I am heartbroken. It is the greatest place of entertainment we have here. So now there are 7 dreary months ahead of us. But fall is here, it cannot be denied. The garden is still nice,

and we are still picking tomatoes.

 These were planted rather late, though, they might not make it anymore before the weather gets too cold.

And this plant was sold to me as an aubergine (egg-plant). The first time I was trying to grow one like that - but somehow it does not look like an egg-plant to me. On the other hand, I don't even really like to eat those, so I am not quite sure why I bought the plant to begin with...

While swimming in the pool today during the last hour before it closed, however, I had an idea how to go on with the refugee quilt, so tomorrow I will be back at the machine, not scrapping anymore, and definitely not distracting myself through trying to put things in order. I can very well live in disorder when other things are more pressing.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Ste. Marie-aux-Mines, come and gone

For the tenth time, I think, I have just spent almost a week in Ste. Marie-aux-Mines at the European Patchwork Meeting, or Carrefour Européenne, as it is called now. At least seven or eight of these ten times I came in a row, and it feels like I reall know the place now. I see changes over the years, and I feel comfortable when things are like they used to be. For example the hospitality of Serge and Olga at the Taverne au Mineur, and the delicious food you can get there, right on the corner of the central square and close to the Vendors Hall. I keep finding new instances of Found Art, as I posted on my German Blog, and I know where to go to get to the exhibition places.
The SAQA-meeting was in a different spot this time, though, and that's how I got to see the swimming pool for the first time - we met in a room next to the pool, not in the pool proper...

The first heated pool in Alsace: pool in Ste. Marie-aux-Mines

I met new people, remet some whom I had met before, and I had the most interesting encounter with a couple from the States who started talking to me while I was stewarding the Wide Horizons VI exhibition. They started telling me about Karlsruhe, and I said I had grown up there, and they asked for a specific part of town which they pronounced absolutely correctly, thus showing that they must know this place pretty well, and it was exactly the part of town I grew up in. So I said that I had grown up there, oh where, in one of the highrises, yes, in one of the highrises, and in which one, what house number... It turned out they had lived in the same house as my family moved into, on the 2nd floor, while we lived on the 9th, and we had coincided for almost 2 years there. What a meeting! I will have to ask my parents whether they remember these Americans, or their cat, which they claimed would be the only remarkable thing about them that the neighbors would remember.

I went through the exhibitions pretty systematically, was impressed with some, really liked some pieces very much, and felt a bit over-quilted by Saturday. So Barbara and I skipped half a day of the show and went to the flea market in Sélestat, where I was thrilled to see this little kid enjoying a puddle. That reminded me a lot of my son when he was little.

I saw many many quilts, and I felt inspired by a number of them, in a way it would be great to be sitting down at a sewing machine right now, but I am still in Ste. Marie and will only go back tomorrow. But I do hope to take some of the urge to create back with me, although some things will change and it will be much more difficult to find time to sit down and sew in the next few months.
So before taking down the Wide Horizons VI together with Paolo and Paola Zanda, I took a selfie in front of my quilt that will be traveling for a year now. To remind me of the people I tried to commemorate with it, and the fact that their lives were cut short - and that it is necessary to make as much of one's own as is possible.

Mediterranean Blood Count, 2017.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Three years plus

It's been three years plus a few days since the picture of Alan Kurdi's body rocked world media coverage. It's been three years plus one day since German chancellor Angela Merkel said those famous words "Wir schaffen das!" (translate that as 'We'll manage and get that dealt with.') with which she permitted over twenty-thousand Syrian refugees in the Bukarest train station to travel on to Germany.
A lot has happened since then. For one thing, the sentence is being used to throttle Angela Merkel, and Germany's ugly face of extreme right wing thinking has been rising ever since. Here is a comment on how the statement seemed to be changing the world in a positive manner, only ten weeks after it was spoken. How different something can look with just a little more than two years onward.

I never really liked Angela Merkel before that sentence, but I do love her for that sentence, and the attitude it showed. I am appalled at how this single sentence has been thrown back into her face from various alpha-male-politicians in this country, and how every problem in this country is being tied down to 'the refugee crisis'. Which is simply not true, these are problems that have been building up over years of political inactivity in various areas and that dissatisfied people are now connecting with that once single issue that is by far not the most important question we have in this country right now. I still don't really like Ms Merkel - now more for reasons of her not living up to the potential she showed in that single moment, for her lack of putting those alpha males into their place, for her 'merkeling around' (as the newly-coined verb is being used in the media).
When I look back at what has gone on in these three years I am at a complete loss at how things will or can go on. Somehow it has shattered all my beliefs about the country I gew up and live in. And probably these feelings and beliefs will never be the same again. Not that I ever was a happy German, but I saw justice, I thought equal rights, I wanted this to be a country that had learned from fatal historic events and developments for which our forebears were  responsible. Not so - my discomfort has grown to such a degree that it feels a bit like I have lost what little 'home' I ever had.
In these three years (I had started before, so I was already deeply involved in the matter, but that does not make a difference) I have worked very hard trying to help refugees in this country find a way. At first only a few Syrians, one of whom came for German lessons regularly once or twice a week, has since completed a school degree and has just now finished his second year of vocational training with a large global company, is almost fluent in German and will certainly find his way. He calls me 'aunt', and I am so proud of him! The a few issues brought me close to burn-out, if I wasn't there already, I withdrew a bit and wanted to put more energy into quilting - if I wasn't getting paid for my work, I might as well do something that was pleasant. But when I was approached whether I would like to apply for teaching German as a foreing language to a class of refugees in a special program - getting paid - I could not stay away, got deeply involved again, made wonderful friends amongst the students and was, that's what it felt like, ridiculed twice by the Bavarian government and authorities when they refused to give work permits to a third of each of the two classes I taught. They wanted to take up nursing or taking care of the elderly, an area in the job market where German hospitals and care-homes desperately need personnel.
I decided to quit - I will do something else. I will still be involved with refugees, I will fight for my friends until we achieve what we want to have or until I drop dead. But I won't get paid by an authoritiy that is not permitting to become real what they are paying  me for to do. Probably this doesn't make any sense, but explaining it all would be a bit too difficult and long-winded.
I am working on another quilt on the topic of refugees. There are almost 7 more weeks left to enter this quilt in the SAQA call for entries 'Forced to Flee', which I do want to be a part of. The symposium this year tied up my energy and 'swallowed' one inspiration that I had been pondering as a possible entry for this call. But I have another one in the line, and serious work has started. I will try, even though the time is rather short.

One part of the design and technical execution being stored in a
plastic bag to avoid air humidity to change its state, which
is one thing I have learned during the symposium that
it happens to avalon film when left out in the open...

On the wall, yesterday evening. (Admittedly not much to see, just to proove my words.)
Honestly, more would I wish that it would not be necessary to have such a topic for an exhibition. And I really wish there will be a future where we won't have people crossing oceans on rubber boats, hypocritic judgements on the side of rich nations and this horrible kind of xenophobism that is making the rounds. I wish we would understand that we are all humans, that we have only one world to live on and that it won't be possible to continue like we are doing. In terms of exploitation of resources, climate, human condition. I wish. But do I hope?