17 Sep

All Birthday, All the Time

WARNNG: Lots of gratuitous kid pictures. Those not related to my kids may want to skip this post and come back another day. No quilt content!

My son just celebrated his 8th birthday — twice. On his actual birthday, we invited the neighbors over for cupcakes and juice (coffee for the moms — this was an afternoon event after all).

Zavi liked the shark cupcakes in an issue of Martha Stewart Kids. We thought the plate full looked like a feeding frenzy:

Yesterday, we celebrated with his school friends. This was rather clever of him. I told him he could only have 8 guests. If we invited the neighbor kids, then he’d use up his quota pretty quick. But, he said that he didn’t want to have to translate, so he would rather have a party with just his German friends. Since I didn’t want the neighbors to feel bad, he got two parties out of the deal! Lucky dog. He wanted pizza from our favorite Italian restaurant, but since I was to be the only adult there, I told him we’d have to make our own. I suggested frozen, but he wanted everyone to have the opportunity to make their own. I set up a “pizza bar” and it actually went over really well!

While the pizzas cooked, Zavi encouraged everyone to open the present we had put at each plate and they all tucked into making their own Bionicle.

Some took the task seriously..

…others didn’t 😉

After lunch we proceeded to the games. They had a lot of fun popping balloons tied to each others’ ankles.

No party is complete without a game of “Topfschlagen.” For each kid, I hid a small bag of gummi bears under a pot, then blindfolded the kid, spun him/her around, and sent him/her off in search of the pot by banging a wooden spoon on the floor while everyone else shouts “warmer” or “colder.” Once the kid bangs on the pot, he’she gets the traet and it’s the next kid’s turn.

We had a “Schatzsuch” (treasure hunt) as well. Now that the kids can read I hid eight papers with clues for finding the next paper. Check me out: I made each clue a simple rhyme in German. OK, they may not have been totally gramatically correct, but the kids liked it. The Schatz was a box of gummi bears for all to share.

I sent the kids all over the house and outside as well.

By the way, thanks Auntie Erin for the cool “Seilbahn,” it’s been very busy sending notes and small animal up and down our stairwell!

After all the games and presents and more palying, we sang Happy Birthday and had ice cream.

Zavi wanted an ice cream cake and again, chose something from Martha. This “watermelon” was actually pretty easy to make a day ahead, and was pretty tasty too.

And tomorow my big boy starts Second Grade!

Stay tuned next month for a perfectly princess birthday (or maybe more sharks — you never can tell).

15 Sep

12th Carrefour Europeén du Patchwork

Idylic view of St. Marie aux Mines

12th Carrefour Europeén du Patchwork is the big annual quilting show in the Val d’Argent, France. It is centered around the former silver mining town of St. Marie aux Mines, but there are also exhibits in the nearby towns of St. Croix aux Mines, Liépvre, and Rombach le Franc.

I went with a guild friend and a friend of hers, and dragged my long-suffering children along with us. We started in the actual town of St Marie aux Mines. First up was the Théatre where there were Japanese quilts, either by Yoko Saito and Suzuko Koseki or collected by these two women. I appologize that I was so in awe of the quilts that I forgot to look at names and give credit where credit was due. About half the quilts were bright, with wonderfully odd color combinations, and the other half were the taupes that the Japanese do so well.

I loved that this one was basicly traditional, but not really. Each and every brick in the border is about the size of my thumb, and hand appliquéd onto a plaid background that subtly shows through as “grout.” I liked the gradation:

Taupe quilt from Théatre exhibit

I liked this color combo from the Théatre exhibit

I’m a sucker for fabric with text in it!

Daisy Quilt detail from Théatre exhibit

Ah, the details in these Japanese quilts. I loved the embroidery on the peacock in this quilt:

Peacock detail, Théatre exhibit

And look, a whole table straight out of the Japanese craft magazines I’m currently in love with! (Oh, and I broke a little rule — I bought a kit for an apron, with lovely linen and cotton fabrics; I’ll post the finished product if/when I get around to it.)

Handmade purses --- yummmmmmmy!

Next, we visited the works of the Austrian guild at Eglise de la Madeleine. Most of the quilts were made around the theme of Austria’s Daughters. My absolute favorite was an omage to the Venus of Willendorf, which I remember well from art history class (although it’s Austrian origins had escaped me) she is indeed mother of all daughters. (“Venus-Godess-Mother of all Great Daughters” by Irene Sutterlüti-Austria)

I am so happy that the quilter chose to hand quilt this piece. It fits the handwork of the original goddess so well.

Venus Detail

Here’s another quilt in the same exhibit. Although I don’t know who these daughters of Austria are….

…I really liked the quilted text (“Austria’s Greatest Women” by Elfriede Bohle- Austria). It’s pretty, AND so well done:

Quilted text -- love it!

Lastly, I thoght this quilter was clever in her use of maps for the dress and background (“The Great Daughter” by Ria Braspenning- Netherlands):

After the Austrian exhibit (or was it before?) we saw a collection of Molas at the Eglise St-Louis. I was suprised at how many utilized European imagery. For the tourist trade, I expect.

Mola

Last year I loved the Gymnasium turned exposition space “Espace des Tisserands” which this year had exquisite cross stitch on linen, ATCs and work from the French guild. I think this is where we saw the quilts made for the Expo X in Lyon with a silk/light theme. I liked the chenille on this one (“Reflet due Soi” by Ewa Guerlin- France):

The ombré silk has such a nice look when it’s frayed like this, and look, she’s added some little red knots as accents:

Silk chenille detail

I liked the simplicity of these prairie points as well, somehow with all the color and the crosswise quilting it looks more complex than it really is. It was made by Teresa Gai from Italy and won first prize of the France Patchwork competition “Soie et Lumière” (thank you Françoise for the info):

Silk Prairie Points

This year the vendor’s tent moved from an actual tent in Liépvre to a real building in St. Marie aux Mines. I specifically wanted to purchase some body armor from Miller’s Quilting:

Thumb and finger thimbles

I only have the border left to quilt on Quiltstadt, but I’m ready for my next project (perhaps a UFO started several years ago?). I got some glider tips from Esther Miller as well. It seems to be all in the angle you hold it. Now that I’m (trying) not to buy fabrics, I can breeze through the vendor areas much faster. I was quite focused and only stopped by one hand dyed fabric booth as she was the one I bought some silk from last year and I wanted to be able to credit her as I used it for Katja’s Owlz. That doesn’t mean I didn’t buy anything though! In addition to the thimbles, I bought thread for my Raps and Fliegenpilz II quilts, two Japanese craft magazines (what mother of a girl doesn’t need instructions to make kitty purses, or those little cylindrical and cone shaped ones?) I also bought two copies of Dijanne’s book to share with members of my quilting group, and a catalog for Léa Stansdal’s installation (more on that below). Oh, and 4 little off-cuts of silk (I’m not perfect).
My other purchases

In the next town of St. Croix aux Mines we visited Eglise St-Nicolas to see Priscilla Bianchi’s work. It is a wonderful riot of color! Check out her website for good pictures of the quilts, but here’s one of my favorites (“Rainforest”):

We loved the way the simple quilting really complimented the simple piecing, and all together it just looks lush and lovely! (“Holiday in Nebaj IV”)
Quilting detail from

No trip to the Carrefour is complete without a stop at Villa Burrus. I mean, how French is this scene?

Villa Burrus

Inside was an exhibit of Antique Australian quilts. Although I’m not really one for Bible verses, I was struck by this one because of, you guessed it, text on fabric!

Australian quilt, c. 1800s, I think.

In the Espace Exposition in St. Croix aux Mines were a dozen or so artists selling their wearable art. The lady I bought a patchwork belt from in Lyon was there, as well as several artist with wonderful felted hats, scarves and jewelry. I held myself back and didn’t purchase anything, although I was quite tempted by a pom pom necklace.

We ran out of time for Rombach le Franc. In Liépvre I stayed at the Espace Exposition to see this years challenge: Fashion, Reflection of an Era (only OK in my opinion), and an exhibit with the theme of time curated by Dörte Bach. There were lots of interesting works in this collection:

“Vegetationzeit” by Claudia Kreuzig – Germany

“Im Blauen Wunderland” by Anita Leutweiler – Germany

“Abgetragen” by Rita Maria Lerch – Switzerland

In the same space was also Changing the World One Thread at a Time curated by Thelma Smith where I also got to see Dijanne Cevaal again and fondle a few WIPs, and meet Sandy Marcoux in person. I love how small blogging makes the world! Thelma has assembled many interesting pieces but of course, it was Linda Colsh’s work (“Brittle Silence”) that caught my eye.

Finally, I was blown away by an installation by Léa Stansdal. She accosted me to look at my Orange Revolution backpack and I took the opportunity to ask her about her work. Unfortunately my French sucks, and she doesn’t speak much English or German. As far as I can tell, she has used quilts, soft sculpture, and assemblage to create dioramas of sorts to tell the story of “Sweet Girl.” I’m not sure what the story is, but it is very feminine, kitschy, and magical like a fairy tale. I bought her book, which not only has lovely photos of the pieces in a woodland setting, but also instructions to make your own cottages, Fliegenpilze, caulifowers, and flowers. It’s like a Japanese craft magazine and a fairy tale all wrapped into one beautiful package. Léa said she’d email me an English synopsis, so I’m waiting hopefully. My pictures don’t do Léa’s work any justice, so check out the links to see nicer pages from her book and a better idea of her vision.
The kids liked the bears, cottages and twinkling fairy lights

Fliegenpilze -- what's not to like!

Cauliflower made from toweling and green tulle!

I can’t wait to see what visual treasures await us next year!

12 Sep

One Year Blogiversary

Wow, I have had my blog for one year now. Probably a year and a half or so ago, I decided to take myself seriously as an artist. I started by saying it out loud. Then I had my husband create a website for me (which is woefully in need of an update, but was created on a now-dead computer and really, needs to be re-created on my computer, which means not until the new year). Then, as part of the website, my Tech Support and World’s Greatest Husband (refered to as TS&WGH) told me that I needed to have a blog. Right, like I have anything to say. Well, it ends up that I do have something to say. And I enjoy saying it.

A year ago, I said that I wanted to take my quilting to the next level. That “writing about my journey in something more formal than my personal sketchbook [would] help me take it more seriously.” I hoped that getting feedback would help me along my path. I think I have achieved all of my blog goals, but what is so wonderful is that I have gained so much more. As opposed to actual guilds and groups where membership is limited geographicly, blogs are limited only by one’s interests. I can meet, and have met, people with similar mind-sets and interests to mine, who live all over the world. I can talk about art and creating with them. I can share in their adventures, and share mine with them. I’ve found that the discourse between bloggers has helped me both define what I am doing, and broaden my resources. And, of course, I could get lost in all the links to wonderful new worlds 🙂
I could try to wax poetic about the benefits of blogging, but my brain is kinda fried right now, and I know so many others have said the same thing as I feel, and said it so much better than I could. I am proud to say though, that I have finished quilting houses (98 in all), we have celebrated my son’s 8th birthday with neighbors (the big school-friend party is yet to come), and managed to get 100 copies of Dijanne’s book printed here in Germany so she didn’t have to lug them on the plane from Australia (poor Dijanne had to brave not only my kids, but all my neighbors and their kids too — thanks). Whew!

My very own Dijanne Cevaal postcard

Oh, and lest there be any confusion, this wonderful pomegranate is mine only in that I am the proud owner of it. Dijanne is the talent who actually made it (and a whole suitcase more of them — it was soooooooo hard to choose just one).

09 Sep

Bourgeois Pig

Today was the grand opening of Bourgeois Pig, the gallery/boutique where I will be showing my quilts in December/January.

Welcome to Bourgeois Pig

They have a most wonderful corner location with big, beautiful windows which will be able to showcase their lovely and unique boutique items. The street is just one block off of the heavily travelled pedestrian main street of old town Heidelberg. It gets a decent amount of foot traffic, and very little auto traffic, so the party can spill into the street where today, Huub Dutch Duo entertained us with toe-tapping jazz music.

Street party

Here’s proprietess Kate, with partner, Marcus, in the background. Both were bustling around in a daze after working incredibly hard to pull this opening off. Music, wine and sekt, bread and cheeses, paella, cakes, and even a few sales! What more could you ask for?

Kate opens more wine...

Off of the corner space is the gallery proper. I have been apprehensive that it would be a cavernous space and my measly eight quilts would look sparse inside. But no, it’s a small, very private place. Now it is filled with the drawings of Mehrdad Zaeri (which, by the way, are hauntingly beautiful). Soon, it will be filled with my quilts. And fill it I will! I feel so much better about my ability to fill the space and have some presence, that I’m planning on scaling down the last project I have in mind. My cartoon for it is pretty big, but since I’ve only gotten as far as choosing some fabrics, I’m going to scale it down more along the likes of my strippy, fused castle pieces, which, because of their size, may be more conducive to sales anyways.
The gallery

I’ll post more info about the show as the date nears, and I have more details. But, if you are in the Heidelberg area and would like to see Mehrdad’s work in person, or congratulate Kate and Marcus on making their dream a reality, the address is:

Bourgeois Pig
Ingrimstrasse 7
69117 Heidelberg

06221-6544455

08 Sep

Yea baby, I’ve got mad skills!

I went this morning to a small group meeting of those in our larger quilting group who like hand work (all my hexagons gained me entry!) One of the ladies there, R, had a thingie called a needle glider. I too, have such a thingie, but I bought it a year ago, while in the middle of a king sized hand quilting project, then lost interest in the quilting and never really learned how to use the glider. I pulled it out to help me with Quiltstadt but had forgotten exactly what to do with it. R showed me how she used hers, and we talked a bit about the learning curve. So, when I got home, I put the glider on and went to work.

Suited Up

Essentially, I hold this porcelain thimble parallel to my quilt, underneath. Then I can push the needle into it and it’s curve naturally directs the needle back up through the quilt. I can keep backing it up and making more stitches. It’s taking some getting used to, but knowing that I am on the right track now is helping a lot. My finger appreciates it as well! By the way, the house count is now at 84, with about a dozen left to go, plus the border.
While working at the meeting, one of our hostess’ teenage daughters was admiring the seedstitch on my Raps quilt. She really liked my variegated yellow cotton. When we told her that I dyed it myself, she said “wow, you’ve got skills!” To get such a compliment from a teenager is quite the honor 🙂

Raps quilt and hand dyed cotton

07 Sep

Best laid plans

I’ve realized that my last post and the one on productivity are somewhat contradictory. In the first, I said that I don’t want the pursuit of my art to adversely affect my family, and that perhaps that at this point in time, they need me more than my art needs me. But then yesterday, I posted that my art IS currently taking precedence over many other things in my life. Ahhh, best laid plans…. I’ve let what seemed like oodles of time last March, summer vacation, and plans with friends, and (temporarily) single parenthood throw my little universe out of balance. Now I realize that December 1st is fast approaching, I’m going away to AQT in November, and I have committed to this show. Yikes! So, in the name of balance, the pendulum must swing the other way. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

06 Sep

Ouch

I’ve been quilting like a mad-woman — 75 houses done! (OK, some are only 3″ square, but most are bigger.) I realized that a house a day, plus three more quilts I’d like to finish before December 1st, just isn’t going to hack it. I have found that when I’m quilting in the living room, I can keep tabs on the comings and goings of the kids, so it’s possible to get quite a bit done; and I did. I realized that if I quilt a frame sized section a day, I could conceivably finish the quilting in a week. That’s not going to happen, but two weeks would be fantastic, so I’ve been quilting as much as I possibly can. And this is what my finger looks like (the one under the quilt).
Pricked finger

I need to switch projects tonight because it really hurts. The callous will be nice and hard again by morning though, so I can keep on keepin’ on. See the nice fresh needle grabber? I didn’t realize this before, but you can actually wear one of these out. Somehow I managed not to loose this one’s predecessor in the last two or three years and it finally got all slippery and stopped grabbing.

The down side to all this progress is that I’ve been ignoring the house (not a bad thing), and denying the kids (possibly a bad thing). I’ve said no to a recent sleepover request. Dinners have been simple; with no extra kids. I had a dyeing session this morning (need yellow perle cotton) which threatened a trip to Toys R Us for Birthday party supplies. I said no to face painting and embroidery today because these activities suck too much time away from my precious quilting. I feel bad being so selfish, but right now it’s the only way that I can see the light at the end of the eight-quilt-tunnel. I’ve tried to explain to the kids that grandmas will be coming in the next few months and they can do stuff with them, and then after December 1st they can have me back again, but that does little to console a not-quite-five-year-old who really just wants to be painted like a princess.