30 Sep

Abstract Collage Workshop

I barricaded myself in my sewing room this morning and got in two hours of productive work and one more hour that was probably more interruptions than works itself, but got me to a good stopping point. The rest of the day was spent at “Hermann’s Biergarten” celebrating Oktoberfest. Four of the families in our row went and we dressed up in our best Lederhosen and Dirndles (OK, me, the girls, and our resident toddler boy). We ate Weißwurst and Obazde, but had to pass on the beer because all the hubbies are gone and we had no designated drivers.

Anyways, I’m overwhelmed and tired from trying to balance the art stuff I want to do and the mom stuff I need to do (plus the fun family stuff like fests and cultural events). By the time the kids are in bed I just want to read some blogs and go to bed myself — no energy for even doing hand work in front of the TV. Oddly enough, having the kids in school has given me less time to myself. No longer do they disappear to friends’ houses for hours on end. No, by the time I get them both off to school I have no more than three hours before they return home, and then we have homework and after school activities and new friends who want to play here because the novelty hasn’t worn off yet. One more week (that has more days off than on) and then Katja goes to 5 hours of school instead of the 2 to 3 she has now. Phew!
I actually didn’t set out to write, yet again, about my lack of time to do what I want to do. I guess that’s just where my head is at right now. What I did want to write about is the full day I had attending Mirjam Pet-Jacobs’ Abstract Collage workshop at the Main Quilt Festival. I think the very, very best thing for me about the workshop was that I had a full day there. I could get a momentum going and no one was going to make me stop to prepare them lunch or pick them up from school or get ice for their boo-boo or whatever.

I guessed that we were going to take an image of our choosing and then work to simplify it to an abstract composition, but Mirjam’s method was more direct, and cunningly simple, than that. She had us each make a cropping tool, and then take an image that had interesting forms and lines in it and, using tracing paper, find various interesting compositions. Concentrating just on lines and shapes, we could take these little sketches just about anywhere. Magazines are a great place to find inspiration, but how about one’s own work, or photos of something you are interested in. I couldn’t help but think that this technique would be perfect for my Twelve by Twelve friends taking dandelion photos and wondering where they could go next.

With a half dozen or so sketches we could then develop our favorites into fabric constructions, or pick one and do variations on it. I chose to do variations on one because there are just so many options when one isn’t tied down to making it “be something.” Here’s where I become a bad student though. I like piecing, so I developed my squares by piecing as I went. I also like to work a lot of stuff out myself before I invite others to give their input. This didn’t really allow much moving around and switching out of bits once I had something on the design wall. This is my issue though and not Mirjam’s. She is attentive as a teacher and had plenty input for those who wanted/needed it. In my favor, I’m a relatively quick worker, so Mirjam’s reaction to one piece would then feed into the next one (and a half dozen others I could have made if I could have stayed all weekend!). This is what I left with at the end of the day on Friday:
Radiator Studies

I probably could have worked a bit more at home to really finish these off, but I decided that I didn’t need them to be finished art; I merely needed the experience of making them. What was important was the discovery of which proportions worked better for me, the freedom of trying different techniques on something small and not worrying about whether it had some relation to the content of the piece, and being given a cool new way to find compositions without having to invent the wheel every time.

This one was all about the contrast between the satin stitched, fused squares and the three dimensional, raw edged stripes. I didn’t do anything else to it:

Radiator Study 4

This was the first one where I was trying to replicate the lines in the radiator with a striped fabric. I didn’t have enough fabric to get the proportions right, so I didn’t take this one any farther. I also wanted to see if I could translate it into piecing just because everyone else was doing raw edge applique and I wanted a bit of a challenge. Done. Moving on:
Radiator Study 1

I liked where this one was going with stitch and liked the subtle and not so subtle grid aspects. I echoed the couched yarn with more back and forth quilting in the white and taupe areas and then added more white in a few of the “windows” with stippling.  I rather like the way this one turned out:
Radiator Study 3

This one was almost there, so I just added a bit of parallel line quilting to finish it off. I didn’t want to take too much away from the cool pleats which totally said “radiator” to me. Originally I wanted to add a few hand stitched details (and I still think it could use them), but in the end I wimped out and decided that my time would be better spent making more postcards to sell at the Villa Meixner show in less than two weeks. I can always come back to this later if I feel I need to.
Radiator Study 2

All in all it was a good workshop and worth the effort it took to get there. I can definitely see incorporating things I learned/did into future work.
In other news, we braved the crowds at the Heidelberger Herbst Fest on Saturday to see the Vorhang Auf show at Bourgeois Pig. Well, not just the show — we met a friend too, and I can’t in good conscience pass up a chance to drag the kids to a fest. We ate big pretzels and Zwiebelkuchen (onion cake that’s really more like a simple quiche), watched a mideaval theater, just missed the South African dancers, and listened to the fanfare band perform one number. The show looked really nice and I’m soooooo glad I didn’t stress over making a new quilt for it. “Village Series #1” is new to the general public and to the gallery, and fit right in with the soft colors and mixed media of many of the other works. My friend noted that I was the second oldest most mature artist to be represented by the gallery. However, although I may be one of the oldest, I’m pretty sure I am the newest on the art scene. So, yea to a gallery that supports both young AND emerging artists.
Vorhang Auf at Bourgeois Pig, HD

27 Sep

Lucky Me

A while ago I showed the table runner I made for my design school friend — and now I have her side of the swap to show. She loves paper like I love fabric and has spent the years since we graduated working for card and gift paper companies. She now has an Etsy shop with lots of goodies she makes on her letterpress at home.

Two Hand Design

She filled a box with lovely cards, tags, sketchbooks and personalized stationery just for me. Yikes, now I’m going to have to write more just to be able to use this wonderful stuff! The sketchbook on the bottom has quality paper inside, so I’m really looking forward to using it. Here’s a few of my faves:

Two Hand Design

Another reason I’m lucky is because tomorrow I’m taking a workshop with one of my favorite fiber artists, Mirjam Pet-Jacobs (the workshop is on page 8 of this program).
Can I just say that if anyone has a partner whom they can count on to get the kids off to school if one has to leave the house earlier or come home later than usual, or has the kids enrolled in some sort of regular daycare so one can run errands on their lunch break, or has someone on their payroll who is scheduled to care for the kids on certain days, or grandparents nearby to take the kids for that odd, once a year event — please give that person(s) a hug, a handshake, a bonus; any sort of appreciation of how wonderful it is to have someone or someplace that is always there. It’s not easy to arrange for care when you don’t need it on a regular basis as the formal places tend to want you to sign up for a certain number of days a week/year and using family and friends for child care assumes that you can count on that person being available on a certain day. It’s taken coordination with four friends and neighbors to go to this one-day workshop, but I’m glad I made it happen. I’m very much looking forward to tomorrow!

OK, go hug your caregivers now.

24 Sep


I’m not a big poster of memes and blogthings, but I have been known to take a quiz or two when I’m procrastinating. Today was a bumper crop. I wasted a good amount of time playing with letter combinations here, via Katrin. Then, I was fully flattered to find that Angela thinks I rock. And, finally, I got sidetracked with blogthings and found one I really liked the results of. Who can argue with being called a genius? Yellow’s not usually my color, but I did drive a yellow bug for many years (I still miss that car).

You Are a Yellow Crayon

Your world is colored with happy, warm, fun colors.
You have a thoughtful and wise way about you. Some people might even consider you a genius.

Charming and eloquent, you are able to get people to do things your way.

While you seem spontaneous and free wheeling, you are calculating to the extreme.

Your color wheel opposite is purple. You both are charismatic leaders, but purple people act like you have no depth.

Can you tell I haven’t been up to much “real” work here?

21 Sep

Rooted #4

I don’t think I ever showed the front of this quilt. I actually finished it in August, but was pondering the value in showing absolutely everything. It dawned on me today that this will never get sent to any competitions, so it’s being “previously published” won’t effect it’s place in the world. In fact, it may just languish in a closet the rest of it’s life. Not that I don’t like it, I just don’t have a place to hang it right now. I’m really not sure where the color palette came from (other than my fabric stash). I just picked up a few fabrics and it evolved from there. There’s more purple, brown and aqua floating around here even now.

Rooted, number 4

Rooted, #4 August, 2007
17″ x 21 1/2″ -ish

20 Sep


Wanna see what I bought at the Quilt show in France?

Quilt Show Goodies +

Some beads and crystals for my embroideries. Some perle cotton for my embroideries. And, some shiny silk because I was in France. All these I got from a charming Hungarian vendor. The embroidery cotton is not Valdani, but it is hand dyed. Is Hungary the new hot spot for hand dyed embroidery supplies and Czech crystal?? I got a few findings for purses, although I may be over that for a while. In the middle is this really cool wire ribbon that you can stretch out into organic ruffles and then pull straight again if you want. I got six meters in three gorgeous colors. I got three spools of Aurifil thread because I’ve heard it’s very nice and I know I can always find some at the show. I’ll report back later. My benchmark thread for piecing right now is Masterpieces by Superior. We’ll see if Aurifil is superior to Superior. And finally, a piece of hand dyed silk I couldn’t pass up even though it was obviously painted by an artist other than me. Maybe it will find it’s way into a scarf or something other than my artwork.

Speaking of the show in France, I think I forgot to mention the tent-makers’ applique that Jenny Bowker brought from Egypt. Absolutely fabulous!! She even brought her friend Mohammed, who demonstrated his craft. The man is amazing. He can applique his imagined design on a finished pillowcase incredibly swiftly — and without sewing the front of the case to the back! Of course, that’s not the most important thing; the designs are beautifully realized and the makers’ skill is readily apparent. The color combinations range from subtle to sublime. My favorites being the darker ones with a bit of cobalt blue that just glows. Perhaps you can get a glimpse of these masterpieces on her blog if the link is still up.

OK, back to my stuff. I got my box from Luzia Pimpinella‘s DaWanda shop. Nic’s been making the cutest clothes for her daughter and then bags and bag accessories and patches for the rest of us. I have no actual NEED for these things, but I’ve been admiring them from afar for so long I finally broke down and bought a bunch. She’s got the greatest combination of kitsch, humor, and aesthetics. (BTW, the Mistyfuse isn’t from Luzia Pimpinella, it was a surprise gift for being accepted into Art Quilts Lowell. Nice, no?)

I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do with the Heidi-inspired goat and heart with Swiss flag purse bling, but I have an idea. Our mailbox keys are looking good with Herr Hedgehog and his Fliegenpilz (oh, I’ve been eying him for about six months now). My boy is of the age where he might need his own keys every now and then, so we’re totally cool with the punk skull neck-strap key holder. I love the Dios de los Muertos turquoise key fob thingie, so I got that too. I’m not sure what it’s final destiny will be. The Geweihpilz (that’s somewhat related to “Arschgeweih,” TS&WGH) patch was a great suprise. Maybe they will end up on the Fliegenpilz quilt I plan to make for the guest room/sewing room someday. I am already using yet another purse accessory-key-bling-thingie with Bambi, an Oktoberfest styled heart, and hidden in the back — a big fat Fliegenpilz! Note the teensy mushroom pendant below Bambi, and the spotted bead above. Toooooo cute!
Fliegenpilz key bling

Yup, I got some good stuff.

19 Sep

And The Winners Are…

Thanks to everyone who came out of the woodwork to comment on my Blogiversary post. It’s hard not to feel loved when you get so many comments. 🙂 It’s that connection that makes blogging different than just having a static website.
Picking winners

So, the kids randomly picked first-time commenter Ursula, and first commenter Debbie. I’m not saying who gets which pincushion, but as soon as I find two appropriately sized boxes, these will go in the mail.

Prize Pincushions

Just for fun, I snapped a picture of my current favorite Public Service billboard on the way back from France. It says, “Racers are this sexy.”

Note the measurement she’s indicating with her fingers.

18 Sep


The Einschulung is a rite of passage.

In Germany, children can attend Kindergarten from age 3 until ages 6 or 7. Kindergarten is a place to learn independence from one’s parents, to socialize and learn to share and take turns, to develop one’s fine and gross motor skills, to increase one’s vocabulary and diction, to play and sing and paint and be read to and have fun. What it is not is a place to learn to actually read and write. That’s school. And that’s why the Einschulung is so important. It marks the paradigm change from Kindergarten to school.

In our town, the Saturday after school starts for most kids, and before the first graders begin, the first graders and their families are invited to the school to meet their teachers, show off their Shultüten and Schulränzen, have their first hour of instruction in the classroom, and receive a formal welcome from the school director, teachers and fellow students. It’s a big deal and everyone wants to support their “Ersteklässler.”

Katja’s teacher made a festive sign in her classroom so that parents could take pictures of their kids on the first “day” of school.

Pretzel tree

In the auditorium where the school director, teachers, and some third graders spoke and sang songs for us there was also a pretzel tree. At the end of the presentation, the director hung a pretzel around each first grader’s neck. Apparently, about 100 years ago, this was how the kids were sent to school so they wouldn’t loose their snack. He figured since our school is a few hundred years old, the tradition would be appropriate. I figure a pretzel tree is one of those “only in Germany” things.

Katja’s pretzel was completely eaten buy the time we got home.

Not only is this second week of school the Einschulung, but it is also the Wein Kerwe or town fest (oddly enough, wine is not featured predominantly). The kids enjoyed four days of rides, food, sweets, music and general fun (while I ran away to France for two of those days).

Favorite rides were a “time machine” where you sit in a moving theater while videos take you on a roller coaster ride through history, and trampolines with harness and bungees for really high bouncing. Here, the kids are hamming it up at the interactive fountain in the town center (the fountain is always there, although the beer and snack stands behind it are just for the fest). She’s a pretty princess and he’s trying out his tough guy pose as a knight (although I think it looks like maybe he’s scowling at a fist with a mind of it’s own).

Monday was the last day of the Kerwe, and since it takes place not only in the marketplace, but the school grounds as well, all the kids got released early from school. The kids in our town LOVE the Kerwe!

18 Sep

Vorhang Auf!

Bourgeois Pig, the gallery where I had my solo show is celebrating their first anniversary!!

From 24 September until 29 November the gallery will be filled with work by the artists who have had shows there in the last year, and who are scheduled to show in the near future. Check out all the names. I am humbled to be on this list. I won’t be able to make it to the opening on the 22nd, but if you can, many of the other artists will be there and the champagne is always good.

The gallery address is Ingrim Strasse 7, 69117 Heidelberg. They are closed Sundays and Mondays. Telephone: 06221-889 49 68