31 Aug

Look What We Made!

The kids, especially the boy, are currently obsessed with Pokemon. Although that’s not the kind of shows and merchandising I condone at home, they do get game and TV peeks at friends’ houses. They translate this at home into endless teeny drawings of Pokemons, both existing and of their own design. Zavi got it into his head last week that we should make a Pokemon-inspired dragon. Sure, I can do that!?! I searched the web for dragon and dino patterns hoping for something that I could adapt to his design. We didn’t find anything that struck our fancy (except for a VERY intricate dragon pattern the boy hopes I will purchase and make for next year — he’s so thoughtful, giving me a year to make it!). So we dove into constructing our own. Zavi says that it’s not exactly what he had envisioned, but it will do (note the tiny drawing I had to work with).

Bruty and Hedgie

Not to be left out, the girl wanted a softie too. In our dragon search we found a very cute (and bonus, free!) hedgehog pattern at SilverSeams, so I made that too. Mom’s a mess, but the kids are happy.

X and Bruty

29 Aug

Dye Day Redux

Summer, and the last week in particular, has been kicking my butt. I’m both exhausted and feel like I’m getting nothing done at the same time. I know, I know; hire a nanny and lock myself in my “office.” Perhaps I’m avoiding that solution because it defeats the purpose of doing art purely because I love it and not for ulterior motives. However, my goals and how to reach them are the subject of another post when my head is more clear.

The weather has been nice and between trips to the pool and the park and various friends’ houses I did accomplish some dyeing.

Thanks to everyone’s helpful suggestions, this effort was a greater success.

• The orange on the left started life as a white cotton damask duvet cover. I dumped 500 grams salt in a bucket of warm water (approx. 6 liters) and added a dye solution of about 3 Tablespoons Procion powder to two cups warm water and two drops dishwashing liquid. After about 20 minutes I added soda ash dissolved in water (about a quarter of a solution of 200 grams soda ash to 1 gallon water). I let the whole bucket with fabric sit all afternoon and then all night and rinsed and washed in the morning. I’m very happy with the results and the fabric has derailed three other projects so that I can work with it.

• The pile in the upper left corner was made with Ann Johnston’s parfait method via one of my helpful commenters (sorry I forgot who suggested I try it). My choice of colors was a bit lame, based on the solids I was aiming for. I think I had orange on the bottom, then brown and then either green or purple, depending on which of the two jars I was working with. The brown is pretty washed out, presumably from a combination of being a weaker dye solution, and because I ran out of room in the jar for the last dousing of soda ash solution. The parfaits were batched five hours.

• The pole wrapped shibori-style brown/burgundy in the upper center is the washed out green shibori from the previous attempt, now wrapped on a big piece of (clean) sewage pipe. I added a very strong dye solution (I kept adding other powders to get a stronger brown as my dye is the red-brown, and I wanted a chocolate brown) to the strong salt water solution, plopped in the fabric, added soda ash solution a while later and let the whole thing sit overnight. I was worried that the combination of batching overnight and the strong dye would completely overwhelm any patterning, but the shibori pattern survived.

• The brown and blue piece on the right was also dyed with the pole wrapped fabric. It started out as a washed out “forest” on a white damask duvet cover from my previous dye day. I tied marbles in a swoosh and let the nice sky blue area hang out of the bucket. I’m pleased that the tied areas remained blue, but the intensity of the brown dye and long batching obliterated any other scrunchy patterning or underlying color from previous dyeing. Regardless, the colors go nicely with an in-progress project and may change the direction said project was moving.

• The big(ish) pile in the center is all the other bits and bobs  I threw in the dye pots. The green on top is the top of a parfait, clamped with clothes pins (I was inspired by my kids’ work). Below it is a fabulous green that was white PFD fabric tossed in a bucket with dye solution and soda ash solution. I threw in some salt just to see what happened. Later, I moved a linen tablecloth from the orange dye bath to the green one and sloshed on more soda ash solution. It pleases me that the orange did not transfer to the first green piece, and yet does show through a bit on the table cloth. I can always work with variations on green. At the bottom of the pile are a light blue cotton tablecloth and a light blue patterned sheet that were soaked in a soda ash solution, then had a purple-ish dye solution added. No salt. Batched four to five hours. I think the colors turned out quite intense. (Now that I look again at the photo, I think that you can’t see the purple, just more of the burgundy/brown.

My very unscientific discoveries are:

• I need to make stronger dye solutions. 2 1/2 or more Tablepsoons of dye powder to 2 cups water makes a good starting point.

• I need to batch about five hours. I don’t think that overnight added much to the process, especially since the instructions at Dharmatrading.com say that heat has a lot to do with the workings of the dye.  I suspect my previous one to two hours was just on the edge of acceptable, four to five hours on a sunny day worked quite well, and that a cool overnight sit is inconsequential.

• A few drops of dishwashing liquid appear to help the dye powder dissolve. I had NO flecks from the brown and black dyes, and that had been a problem previously.

• Salt may or may not play a part in the dyeing process, but soda ash is essential. Maybe more soda ash is a good thing too (I used more this dye day than on the last one), but it’s hard to say if the darker, more intense colors are from more soda ash, or more dye powder. I suspect more dye powder.

23 Aug

Christmas in August

Did I say I could have these done by Easter? Ha! Between the gathering of fabrics (during my “buy no new fabrics” period), the procrastination (for some reason, the wise men’s finery frightened me), the kids (mommy this, mommy that), the procrastination (now it’s the angels’ wings I can’t get past), the lice (everything into plastic bags for 2–3 weeks; whether it was near lice or not), the kids…… I thought I’d never finish these guys. But here they are finished, loitering in my living room in their little cliques.

I’m still giggling to myself about the name I gave to the little babes one night. They look less like potatoes to me and more like larvae (especially before they were snuggled into their brown baskets). And since there are three, what’s the plural of Jesus? So yes, they are “larval Jesii” to me. I’ll probably get struck down by lightning for that one, but it still makes me giggle.

23 Aug

Quilts on Tour

And just like that, it’s over:

“Fliegenpilz II” and “Quiltstadt” are back from England.

To ease the letdown, at least “Village Series #2” is having a nice time in Massachusetts at Art Quilts Lowell. Kate‘s mom was kind enough to go see the show AND send me pictures!

Thanks Barbara!

She sent pictures of some of the other quilts, and of an adorable quilted grandma in a shop window nearby. Jurors Rayna Gillman and Nancy Halpern did a lovely job choosing a wide variety of art quilt styles. I am proud to have my artwork hanging here (OK, to be completely truthful, it will soon be Gerrie‘s artwork). My lucky quilts — getting to see so much of the world and meet so many wonderful people!
Has anyone seen “Traumwald” at the World Quilt Show? I may have to wait until PIQF for a report from the California contingent of my family. 🙂

21 Aug

Quilts in Birmingham, England

Françoise has reported back from Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England. She was kind enough to search out my two quilts and send me pictures.

Fliegenpilz II

Fliegenpilz II, in the Contemporary Small category. I like that they put not only similarly colored quilts together, but that they are both foliage themed as well.


Quiltstadt in the Contemporary Large category. It’s partner didn’t match quite as well, but it did have several of my favorite fabrics in it ;-).

I’m very pleased with the way these are hung. I like the taut black drapes as opposed to wavier ones I’ve seen, although I’d paint those horizontal hanging bars black. The large quilts on gallery-like white walls look great to me. So much better than the Patchwork Days show in Berlin that had such distracting backgrounds. Word has it that the contemporary, art quilts were of a higher caliber than the traditional quilts, presumably because there are more beginners in the latter category. Mine garnered no awards, but just seeing them looking so good (and seeing that they DID actually make it to England) is worth the horrendous amount of money I spent and copious paperwork I filled out in order to take part in the Festival.

18 Aug

Hey Y’all!

Feel free to skip this if you’re not my husband or a crazy German.
I went to see The Boss Hoss at the Schwetzingen Schloss Park, and they freakin’ ROCKED!!!!!! TS&WGH, you missed a great show. I’m not a big fan of country music, but have you ever heard Plastic Bertrand’s eighties punk-pop “Ca Plane Pour Moi” with Nashville twang and harmonica? How about a rockabilly inspired version of Cameo’s normally funkadelic “Word Up?” How can Outkast’s “Hey Ya” get any better? Give it a cigarette and a shot of whiskey and it does. (Go check out YouTube. The blog will wait.)
The Boss Hoss plays Schwetzingen

I knew the band was really from Berlin, Germany and have been enjoying their music since their second album, “Internashville Urban Hymns” came out, but I had no idea how far they take their good ol’ boy schtick. They do the entire show in English — introducing each song and engaging in playful banter — all the while with Southern States accents. OK, I caught them up a few times, like when they call women “birds” (decidedly British) instead of “chicks,” and Hoss once referred to a “gitah” rather than a “geetarr.” Nevertheless, the audience agrees to play along with this wonderful bit of theater and willingly becomes part of the play. The boys had a great time calling everyone “Sweatsingers” and naturally the audience cracked up every time at the stereotypical Americanization of the town’s name. The whole thing reminded me a bit of “This is Spinal Tap” in that you knew it wasn’t real, but you gladly suspend your disbelief because it’s just such a good gag. Everyone is in on the joke and loving it. The band plays the part with wife-beater tank tops, cigarettes and lots of beer bottles, but they play the music with power (that’s powAH to you honey) and skill. It’s not all cover songs either, their originals rock as well. You can’t help but get up and move — the energy is so great. (I’ll admit that I had to draw the line at pogo dancing — it’s just not safe for a 41 year-old woman who has had two kids to bounce like that.)

Schloss Park Schwetzingen

Oh, and seeing an open air concert on palace grounds — highly recommended. I love the people watching too. The entire rock and roll spectrum was covered, from the rockabillies with dice on their wallet chains and Mr. Horsepower shirts; to European cowboys with distressed tight jeans, fake Stetsons and United Colors of Benetton T-shirts; to the leather-clad bikers. I haven’t been to a concert in the States in over a decade, so I’m not sure how things are done there, but when it’s open air, do you get tables to set your beers on?

Open Air

Oh, and the first people to dance on the tables were men. I wonder if The Boss Hoss unintentionally has a gay following, like Xena, Warrior Princess? The encore ended with a rousing Bo Diddley-ized version of Donna Summer’s disco classic “Hot Stuff.” Maybe they’re just European.

Egal, es ist einfach gute laune Musik!

15 Aug

Two steps forward, One step back

Or that’s how it feels around here sometimes.

I’ve decided that I could do better on a piece I’m working on for a group show at Bourgeois Pig in September so I ripped it apart today. I’m working on some small embroideries for a hand work show/sale in October and though I like the one I’m working on now, I’m going to take out last night’s work because I’m not happy with the placement of an element.

Today I decided I really needed to dye some fabric. I’ve been collecting stuff to dye and ideas of what I might want, but I always put off the dyeing. I like a warm, sunny day, which have not been in great numbers here. I also have a great fear of messing something up and having it all turn out bad. Which it did today. The crazy thing is, I can always overdye, so there’s really no wasted fabric. I also don’t like having the kids jumping around when I’m working with messy stuff like dye. And lastly, though the dyes say they’re pretty safe, I know just about everything is toxic at some level, and I just don’t think my little garden can stand too much of the stuff.

Excuses be damned, I dyed today. I even involved my kids, though I drew the line at including the hyper neighbor kids.

I’ve been dyeing vicariously through Gerrie and Glennis of Shibori Girl, so we tried our hands at Shibori-inspired techniques (I won’t even attempt to claim that we were actually making Shibori as that would pay no respect to those who do practice this classic method). I’m pretty happy though with this piece I tied marbles into:

Tie Dye

I’ve been dying to try pole wrapping, but I keep forgetting to go get a PVC pipe. I did this around a closet dowel, and although the colors all washed out, I think the patterning is interesting, and I’d be willing to do it again with PVC:

Pole Wrap Shibori

The kids had the greatest sucess with folded fabric and clothes pins. Katja’s was accordion-folded and pinned on both long sides. Zavi folded his into a square and pinned on all four sides:

Clothes Pin Clamped

Out of curiosity, I used Brenda’s Triad Dyeing table and came up with an interesting set. I used Warm Yellow, Turquoise (or medium blue, but I think turquoise), and Rust Brown. They looked awful in the dye bath, but washed out nice, if a little light.

Triad Dyeing

So that’s my problem; the color is very washed-out. I mixed my dye and then added salt and soda ash to it and then poured the mixture onto damp fabric. I had good results with this method in Dijanne‘s class, but maybe my water here is just too hard for this technique. I’ve had washed-out color before at home and I think this is why. I’ve also had better success at home, but I think I may have soaked the fabric first in a soda ash solution and then added dye diluted only with water. I wish I had taken better notes. Maybe I don’t batch long enough. I’ve heard everything from one to 24 hours. These were batched about two hours. Maybe I need to be more patient.
I think the best thing to come of the day though is my newly colored clothes pins!

15 Aug

Angelbachtal Ritterfest 2007

We enjoyed the Ritterfest in Angelbachtal so much last year that we had to go again this year. The kids were ecstatic when last weekend opened up — both socially at meteorologicaly.

Katja was very excited that she was tall enough this year to spear a wreath off the tree (she may have been on a bigger pony too). Zavi actually got his wreath too, but it fell off when he pointed his spear down. Zavi’s pony girl may have coordinated her hair to her dress, but I swear a Gartenzwerg was leading Katja’s pony.
Ritter and Ritterin in training

Then we went to see the pros with their spears, swords and horses. The kids got a better view of the tournament this year. Zavi took lots of pictures:

The players

Check out how huge “Richard the Lionheart’s” horse is! He played the hero, by the way. The “French” guy (didn’t catch his name) in yellow and blue played the bad guy. “Saladin” presided over the tournament. Between my poor German skills and our location as far away as possible from the loudspeakers, I couldn’t really follow the story line, so I can’t begin to speak for it’s historic accuracy.

Richard the Lionheart and steed

There were two other middle eastern players who’s names I remembered on Saturday, but not four days later. I think this guy was possibly Kurdish based on my recollection of his name. I did notice that they were also “good guys.”

My favorite was the guy below, “Ben Youssef” I think. I thought his first name was Aziz, but couldn’t Google anything that fit into the Richard I/Saladin story line, so I’m not sure. His horse is all Arabian though, and makes me think that they created the story line based on the horses that would participate.

We watched another bit of theater as well. The troupe Firlefanz (frivolity) entertained the kids with the story of Orlando the reluctant knight.

But the big hit this year was archery. Zavi loved it, of course.

And even Katja got in on the act:

I gave in and bought Zavi a sword (any kid who still wants the same thing after a year can have it as far as I’m concerned), and a princess headband with train for Katja (because if I didn’t make her one in the last 12 months, what makes anyone think I’ll make one in the next 12 months!). We made bows and arrows from big sticks on Sunday.