22 Feb

Fairytale Forest

I’ve been working on this piece on and off since I bought the beautiful hand-dyed background fabric from Dijanne Cevaal nearly a year ago. I kept adding more and more embroidery, but when I’d step back it still looked the same. Finally last week, I just decided I was done for now and stretched it on stretcher bars (like an artist’s canvas) to see how it looked. I’m not sure if it’s truly done, so I’ve set it aside for a while. I think it’s actually too big for what it is because it just begs to be looked at up close. I have not finished the back with anything, so I can still add more embroidery if I want, it will just be a bit harder at the edges where the frame is, and it may affect how taught the piece is (I wet it before stapling it to the stretcher bar frame so it would shrink up as it dried). I keep trying to maintain a balance between a richly encrusted surface with textural fabrics, embroidery and beads, and letting Dijanne’s work show through. A few people who saw it in progress suggested I add a fairy or two. I hesitated at first, but it really did want something to lead your eye about. I had fabric with soft green non-cutesy fairies on it so I added three. This is not a deep thinking, push the barriers of art kind of piece, so I think the fairies are perfectly in keeping with the sparkley yarns and magic toadstools.

Fairytale Forest © 2009  Kristin La Flamme
33″ x 33″

05 Feb

Mushroom Swap

I joined a mushroom swap. It’s mushrooms, how could I not jump in? Deborah found it (and I encouraged her to join too — mwahaha!). At first I thought I’d make pincushions. They look great and I enjoy making them. But there are a lot of softie mushrooms out there, so I decided I’d mix it up a bit.

I adore the mushroom people on these two postcards from my German Friday morning sewing friends. These postcards are my springboard.

I’m also taking inspiration from “Jahreszeitkinder;” tiny figures representing the seasons or particular plants (Waldorf adherents probably have some of one kind or another in their seasonal displays). Above are two mushroomy people I made from a Dutch kit bought at Kreativ Welt (annual craft convention in Wiesbaden, Germany), and a chestnut boy and Chinese Lantern/pumpkin girl made by artist Birgit Kaiser bought at the Sticheleien (another annual fair of all things needlecraft, which I’m missing that right now). I’ve bought quite a few Jahreszeitkinder from Birgit over the years — I think my parents and sister all have at least one, and maybe the in-laws too.

Here’s one of several Star Babies by Birgit that graces our Christmas tree each year.

And this Icicle Lady is one of my favorites.

I’ll share my take on these once the swapping is complete.

04 Feb

Forest Pillows

I’ve been reading Susie Monday’s blog and gaining interest in her “Sensory Alphabet;” those elemental things we respond to. Wondering what mine is, I’ve noticed that I love, love, love to pick out fabrics. When at the Arts & Crafts Center on post in Heidelberg I was always jumping in and grabbing fabrics for people whenever I overheard anyone say “I don’t know what goes with this,” or “Do you think this color works?”
Recently, I bought a pack of fabrics from Pink Chalk just because I liked them (and I had a coupon). When I got them, I realized that they had the same colors as my living room rug, in inverse proportions. I made a pillow from the deer and trees fabric and then couldn’t wait to pick out all the colors for the coordinating patchwork pillow. I think there are only four half squares that use fabric from the collection, and the rest are from my scrap bin. I had great fun sorting through, pulling out bits that worked and arranging them in color families. So I’m guessing color is part of my personal sensory alphabet.
The embroidery is a drawing my son did several years ago. I used it on a gym bag, but since that never gets used, I figured I could give the drawing another go. I wanted to use something that “went” with the forest fabric, but my kids draw mostly race cars and princesses. I figured a bird was good and zip-lining spiders just adds to the intrigue.

This project brings up one more question. We could use a lap quilt for the couch. We’re using one of my house quilts now, but the Hawai’i Quilt Guild is having a “One Block Wonder” class in a few months, and I actually like those. I generally don’t have any interest in patterns, but this is sort of like Log Cabins or 9-Patches — in that you can make the blocks following basic rules and then do whatever you like with them (like group by color, which is apparently one of my strengths). Anyways, I could do it on my own, or not at all, but it could be a nice social opportunity to do it with the Guild and I’d get a utilitarian quilt for the couch out of the deal. My plan would be to use the deer fabric. Since most One Square Wonders are done with florals, this is kinda out there and even I can’t quite imagine if it would look good with relatively clean blotches of color, or if it would be dull, dull, dull. Any thoughts?

17 Oct

The After

Remember the before?

Here’s my studio “after:”

I’m not calling it done, but it has plateaued to the point where it is functional and I’ve been spending my mornings there. The table is a new addition since our belongings that were in storage arrived. It’s a vintage Saarinen table that belonged to my parents and even though I’ve parted with nearly all of my college and graphic designer reference, inspiration, and tools, have purged my collection of California pottery, and I plan to garage sale a good deal of furniture and stuff that doesn’t work in this house, I just can’t part with this table. It’s too short for lots of cutting but I don’t care — it’s bigger than the even shorter dresser I was cutting on before the storage stuff arrived. Margaret of Resurrection Fern found my table’s daughter and made magic with it. Too bad Canada and Hawaii are an ocean apart because I’m tempted to try and convince her that the mushroom stool really belongs at my house!

Opposite the sewing and cutting side of the room is this side. I had set up the dresser as my cutting area, but when I couldn’t find any studs in the wall on which to hang the box of drawers, I moved them here (where they are working just fine) and brought in the pedestal table to cut on. The green paper collage is my son’s work. The rest of the wall is pretty much filled with my collection of mushroomy fun.

The wall between these two is mostly one long window and will eventually have some sort of sleeping arrangement in front of it. Whether that’s the white sleeper sofa currently downstairs, or a new fold-out foam thing has yet to be determined. The fourth wall is the closet with it’s mirrored sliding doors. They may be covered with a batting “curtain” for a design wall, but as long as I’m making garments and small stuff I’m not going to worry about that yet.

15 Jul


Friends keep surprising me with gifts.

Blocks from the HH

The ladies of the friday morning breakfast and hand sewing (man, I’m going to miss them) each made quilt blocks for me. C still owes me one, but she’s got until we get a house and our stuff, so there’s no pressure. When I get a chance I will sew them all together, hand quilt it (of course) and hang in on the wall near my sewing machine!

Fliegenpilz Tote

Katrin surprised me with this awesome tote bag above. I just realized that the Fliegenpilz knitting needle case I bought from her would coordinate perfectly with this and that it should become my new project bag!

Valerija's Beach Bag and friend

Valerija, of the fabulous bags, handed this one to me at our last Quilted Chaos meeting. It’s got plenty of room on the inside for a towel and other bulky beach stuff, and then it’s got fabulous pockets on the outside for all those things that usually get lost on the bottom of a big bag. In typical Valerija fashion, each pocket is made from meticulous and tiny patchwork (you should have seen the miniscule bag she made for Friday friend Kathy!).
The other side

And last but not least is the cute little beach bum that the board of the local Quilt Guild gave me. They had a table full of these ladies complete with beachy and watery fabrics as decor for our end of the “year” potluck. As a goodbye gift, I got to take one home. How cute is she with her red and white polka dot suit and little rose in her hat? Oh, and she’s not fat, she’s strong!

06 Jun

Etwas von Dorothee

Dorothee sent me a most wonderful gift!

I love the end papers. They remind me of German Scherenschnitte. The book is “Etwas von den Wurzelkinder” written and illustrated by Sybille v. Olfers. It is a German family classic for people my age and older, about the seasons. And, of course, the autumn page has Fliegenpilze!

I’ve seen this book at friends’ homes, and certainly the aesthetic lives on in Jahresseitkinder and Waldorf toys. Here’s a link to an edition from 1913. You may also recognize it as the basis for Sieglinde Schön Smith’s prize winning “Mother Earth and her Children.” Smith’s quilt was also the impetus for an English translation of Olfers’ book using the quilt as the illustrations.

I have to interject here my mixed feelings about the new book. Smith’s quilt is undeniably beautiful, and made with love and skill. The original book is a classic in Germany and it is no wonder that Olfers’ beautiful images stayed with Smith. She has done a masterful job interpreting the original, but I am a bit saddened that in all the hoopla about the quilt and the recreation of the book, little to no credit is ever given to Olfers without who’s artwork Smith couldn’t have made her fantastic quilt, and who’s words support the story. Most of the references I’ve seen in the quilt world seem to assume that Smith made up the images out of her rich imagination. To their credit though, Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine has an article online that explains the whole story, and if you look closely enough at this review the original date is up at the top next to the translation credit.

That said, I do love Smith’s quilt and must say that her appliqué and embroidery is richer than Olfers’ original illustrations (although I suspect that much original detail and subtlety has been lost due to the limitations of early 20th century print reproduction). I am also giddy happy that I now own the Olfers book and can revel in it’s nostalgic German-ness whenever I want. The generosity of the people I have met while living in Germany amazes me and for it I am forever grateful. Thank you again, Dorothee, I will treasure this gift and everything that it reminds me of.

27 May

Payed Forward

Several months ago I signed on to the Pay It Forward meme. By agreeing to offer a handmade item within 365 days to the first three commenters on my PIF post, I would receive a bag from the blog on which I was one of the first three commenters.

I don’t think I ever shared the fabulously springy Lylou bag Lynn sent me:

Lylou Bag

So now finally, I have given up on a few other deadlines and decided I could finish my obligation before the sewing machine and fabrics are packed up. Here are the three Fliegenpilz pincushions that are on their way to Angela, Dorothee and Una. (Actually, Una, if you still read this blog, please leave a comment so I can get your address.)
PIF Pincushions

And because a certain Mad Pirate already has a pincushion, I’ve tried to make her a Captain Cone Sparrow in the spirit of the ever popular Kampfzwergglücksbringerin (who I hear is still wearing her grass skirt).
Cone Pirate

Thanks everyone for playing!

On other fronts, I am in full-on pre-move freak-out mode. Because we don’t actually pack things into boxes (the moving company does), it just needs to all be cleaned and organized into piles of what goes now via ship, what goes in a few weeks via airplane, what we’ll carry with us in July, what we won’t need anymore (i.e. 220 appliances), what TS&WGH will take with him to his class en route, what stays with neighbors here to be mailed directly to TS&WGH when he’s eventually deployed this Fall.

I live in fear that something important that I’ll need in the next four months will be inadvertently packed on Friday not to be seen again until September. I’m also fighting the force that is kids. The rooms that were clean and organized before we went to Egypt have now exploded into a mass of tiny parts. I know if I put it away again it will only explode again before Friday, yet I don’t want to be stressed on Thursday night re-piling everything. Complicating matters (sort of), I found lice eggs in K’s hair on Sunday — necessitating washing all the bedding, the couch cover (which was on my list anyways) and quarantining stuffed animals (luckily, three to four months in a crate on a ship will go a long way to de-louse things ;-)). Then, last night she wet our bed (which doesn’t have a waterproof cover like hers) necessitating more washing of bedding and of the bed itself.  Oh, and the living room is hopeless.

I am now knitting a lovely washcloth in denial of all the work I should be doing.

26 Apr

Ein bischen verzweifelt

Here’s where things stand Chez La Flamme:

We’re moving to Hawaii! The last few days have been a flurry of activity and information gathering. Cat will be in quarantine, housing is nebulous, school ends here and starts there at about the same time, it will take 3 months for our stuff to get from here to there, etc., etc. BUT, we have very helpful friends on the other end, help from the Army that almost balances out the frustrations they create, and we know how we’d like things to look in a best case scenario. Worst case scenario — it’s still Hawaii!!!

Flegenpilz shakers and fabric

My quilt mom Gerrie sent me this box of fun stuff. You can’t see them all here, but the colors and patterns are approaching Hawaiian. The shakers are adorable! I wonder if the Fliegenpilz craze has made it to the Island yet? Thanks!
With everyone’s input, I decided to donate “Celebrate Home 2” to the SAQA auction. You can see what’s already been donated here. There’s lots more time, so I’m sure more and more lovely artworks will be added to the page. Although “Celebrate Home 2” plays better with my other house and rooted pieces in the eventuality of a show, I decided that because a show is only in my imagination now, and the auction is real — it would be better to focus on the tangible. Besides, my work has a much better track record in auctions for good causes that it does all on it’s own (my donations garnered the second highest bids in both the Kim Family auction and one of Ami Sims’ Priority Alzheimer’s reverse auctions. My SAQA donation last year also sold relatively quick — and therefore for a larger price than many works.)

Hopefully, I’ll have some projects to post soon — before it all gets packed up. I’ll try to keep blogging, but no promises.