15 Jul


Quiltstadt in situ

I keep forgetting to share this picture. It is of my MIL’s living room with my quilt hanging on the wall. She loves this quilt and let it be known when she moved into this house with it’s huge ceiling that Quiltstadt would be more than welcome. We gifted it to her for Christmas, and I have to say it looks really good in it’s new home. (Just knowing how big the quilt is makes my mind boggle at how high that ceiling is and how frakkin’ big that TV is.

This ties into our move in that I am thinking about how to approach “decorating” it. It is my goal not only to streamline our possessions (not just organize them), but to incorporate more of my art intentionally, rather than as an afterthought because, “Hey I just made it and there’s a space on the wall the right size.”

I’m also going to try to make rooms work together with a theme or mood right from the get-go because, so far, my modus operandi has been to put things in a room with the intention of making them work together, but never actually getting around to it — like our dressers that were supposed to get painted white. Katja wants a meadow theme and I am going to do my best to give it to her — from a wallpaper border (maybe like this but more like you might see it at design*sponge) to a scherenschnitte quilt to a coordinating desk. I’d like to take a stab at our living room as well. I once asked my mom how she liked our new apartment, and she said it looked just how she’d imagined it would — because it was all the same stuff just rearranged a little differently. Not that that’s bad, it’s just been like that for at least a decade now. I think it’s time to freshen things up a bit.


14 Jul


Since my car has been shipped to Hawai’i I have had to rely more on the generosity of friends and on public transportation. Gone are the days when I can run three or four errands in the morning while the kids are at school (unless I do them by foot in our village). I can get to our military post office box and back home in less than an hour, but if I have to go to the other post (like I did anyway this morning to pick up the kids’ translated school records), I’ll be lucky if I make it back before they get out of class. I’ve compared notes with others, and there just seems to be no good way to get to that particular post, except by car. Downtown Heidelberg, however, is perfect by streetcar because it’s a direct shot AND you don’t have to worry about parking (one can also partake in a bit of champagne at a gallery opening and not have to worry about driving ;-)).

Sunday was my last Craft Day with some of my oldest friends here in Germany. We used to all (well, except S, who I’ve now know for, gasp, 22 years!) be stationed in Wiesbaden, but after seven or eight years, the makeup of the group has changed and others have moved to other posts in the country. Since we are no longer geographically close to each other, there was no one to carpool with. I wasn’t going to let that stop me from attending though. I checked online (I love DB) and found the right combination of trains to bus (plus two streetcars to the train station here) to arrive in a timely fashion.

Weekender Bag at the Bahnhof

What would normally take one hour by car, took me nearly three hours (what with waiting for connections). BUT, it wasn’t difficult. And on a quiet Sunday morning, it was actually rather pleasant. Coming back, I skipped the bus by getting a ride to the train station and cut nearly an hour off the trip. There were a lot more passengers on the return trip — presumably going home after a weekend with family or friends. People watching was excellent.

I’m not sure what I’m trying to say with this post. I like European public transportation, and I try to use it when it makes sense. I think I will miss it. I wonder what it would take to convince more people to use mass transit, and I think it comes down to being in the right mindset. If a city has a decent infrastructure and if one is willing to “do” less in a day (like many of our one-car-family friends) then it works. My method has been mostly to find things close by. It is my hope that we can do that in Hawai’i too.

The title of the post? The number of days until we fly. I am contemplating a bit of a countdown.

08 Jul

Juan’s Fruit Salad on a Sliced Table

The Sliced Quilt I organized with the internet group Texies (we’re far more active in our closed Yahoo group than the blog leads one to believe) is finished and will soon be on display in England at Festival of Quilts.
We entered it into the juried Quilt 2008 contest because, even if it was not chosen, it could still be hung in the open Group Quilts category. It’s a good quilt and it was worth the effort to see if it would be chosen.

It wasn’t chosen.

I’m not disappointed though, because the reality of this quilt is that it is most definitely a group project. I think it will be perfectly placed in the group category, and maybe it will even find some other “sliced” friends.

Juan's Fruit Salad on a Sliced Table

“Juan’s Fruit Salad on a Sliced Table” 2008
by eight members of Texies, left to right, top to bottom: Kristin La Flamme,
Cordula Klöfkorn, Edith Blaurock, Christiane Kühr, Erika Beetz, Birgit Friese, Susanne Neuhauser, and Elke Kollender.

While we were working on this, discussion was raging on some internet lists about copying other artists’ work. Arguments ranged from “copying the masters has long been a teaching tool,” to “a true artist needs only to look inward for inspiration.” Of course, issues of copyright raised their ugly head too.

Here’s what I was thinking when we embarked on this project:

First and foremost, I was curious about how an image could be translated into fabric. It is fascinating how differently eight (or eighty for that matter) people can interpret the same source material. I see the same thing in traditional quilting — eight quilts using the same pattern (such as a Bear Paw or Whig’s Retreat) and layout (on point, straight rows, etc) can look very different depending on fabrics chosen, quilting technique and pattern, and embellishments added or not.

We considered using a photograph taken by one of the group members as our source image, but agreed on two points that using an existing painting as our inspiration was the preferable route.

  • Point one is that an existing painting would be “neutral ground.” No one could begrudge another in the group for providing an unbalanced composition, colors that clash, boring subject matter, etc. Nor would any one of us have more ownership of the finished quilt than the others.
  • Point two was that recognizability would work in our favor. If the viewing audience was familiar with the original painting, then our individual textile interpretations would stand out all the more.

I found a sampling of paintings that have stood the test of art textbook- and poster manufacturer-time and presented the group with a half dozen works, ranging from the Dutch Masters through the Impressionists to Modern Art, that had enough of an overall composition that no one quilter would be shorted visual material. We voted and Juan Gris won. Consequently, we did not choose to interpret “Pears and Grapes on a Table” because we lacked artistic vision, we chose it because it supported our initial reason for embarking on this project. That of seeing what we could each do with fabric.

As for copyright issues, I do not claim to be an expert in this matter. In fact, I personally run from legalese as much as possible. However, I understand that copyright laws exist mainly to protect against copies of works that might be mistaken as the original thing and to ensure that proceeds gained go to the creator or rightful owner of said works.

To that end, this is not a reproduction of a Juan Gris painting. We do not want anyone to think that this is a Juan Gris painting. We do not even want to mislead anyone into thinking that Juan Gris made this quilt. Nor are we trying to convince anyone that the Texies created this composition out of our own imaginations. No, this is a fabric interpretation of a Juan Gris painting. That’s why we pay homage to him in the title. I hope that it is obvious to all viewers that there is no tomfoolery going on here.

I attempted to contact the current owner of the original painting, but only came up with a foundation in the name of the people who’s names were credited on several online sources. The foundation said that they did not own the painting and did not know who did, but if they DID own it they would see no copyright issues with our interpretation even if we wished to show it in public. If we wanted to show a photographic reproduction of the original next to our interpretation, then we might have issues and would probably need to credit the current owners and/or whoever made the reproduction. But our quilt in and of itself did not seem to pose a threat to any copyrights.

Americans who have researched current copyright issues might get their shackles up if I have wrongly interpreted the spirit of the law, but bear in mind: of the eight quilters who worked on this project, only one is American. One is Swiss and six are German. Seven sections of the quilt were created in Germany and one was created in Switzerland. Nothing was actually created in America. Juan Gris was Spanish, and I presume the original painting resides in Spain. So even if I had a deep knowledge of American copyright law, there’s a good chance it wouldn’t apply word for word to this project. I’m just saying all this based on topics in the online discussions I’ve been listening in to. We intend no offense — just the opposite — we are indebted to Juan Gris for creating a beautiful painting that has inspired us to push our artistic skills as far as we can, and that brought us together for some good, creative camaraderie.

After Festival is over, we will pass the quilt around the group so everyone can enjoy it, and then eventually donate it to a charitable cause. I’m happy to be able to share our quilt with a wider audience as well through it’s display in Birmingham. Maybe others will be inspired to embark on interesting group projects too.

06 Jul

A Sunny Saturday

Saturday was a gorgeous, sunny day so we went downtown to run errands.

This is the Heidelberg “Hauptstrasse,” or High Street. It’s foot traffic only and lined with restaurants, bars, cafes, bakeries, shops, movie theaters (2) and department stores. Mixed in along the side streets are the University buildings and above it all are apartments of all types.

Heidelberg Hauptstrasse

Although it’s packed with tourists, it’s still a wonderful, lively place filled with students and other locals as well. If we didn’t have kids (and wanted/needed a bit of open garden or playground) I think it would be great fun to live down here.

We bought some summer pants for K, cotton yarn for me, ice cream for all, and then stopped in at our favorite gallery for a new opening.

Who's peeking in the window at Bourgeois Pig?

The current exhibition is paper cut illustrations by Gémeo Luis. Marcus has done a wonderful job mounting these works under glass so that the play of shadows on the wall adds to the swirling movement of the fanciful artwork.

Gémeo Luis at Bourgeois Pig

I’ve long been a fan of Scherenschnitte, and this is a wonderful, modern interpretation.

As an aside, it seems to be forming a critical mass in my conscious as well. Traditional Scherenschnitte (go ahead and google it, there’s too many examples for me to choose just one) is the epitome of German to me. Now that we’re moving to Hawai’i, I’m seeing a connection between the European paper cutting and the island quilting style. Add to that the influence of modern and whimsical interpretations such as Gémeo Luis’ work, or what Sara Lechner has now on her blog, and my head is swimming with ideas! My pixie of a daughter would like a meadow theme in her new bedroom and wouldn’t a quilt with a hawaiian style center motif, but with mushrooms and flowers, surrounded by a silhouette border of faeries, grasses, and flowers, all in just two or three juicy colors be fantastic?!

Oh, and speaking of bright and hawaiian, we bought sunglasses while we were downtown too:

Cool kids

We’re traveling exclusively by foot or streetcar now as my car is on a ship somewhere in the Atlantic. Not that it makes a difference — I’ve always preferred to go downtown with the streetcar. It’s clean and comfortable and there’s no worries about parking.

03 Jul

It Was Better in My Head

Illumination WIP

My next 12 x 12 piece seems to have been much better in my head than on fabric.

I’ve been struggling with this one from the beginning because of the constraints of working during a move from one hemisphere to the other. I’ve tried to stick with ideas that could be made with limited fabrics and tools. Through a focused shopping trip, rental tools and time at the Arts & Crafts Center, and a borrowed sewing machine, I’ve actually nearly finished this challenge.

But now I’m not happy with it. At first I thought it was just because of the uneven stitching, but the more I look at it the more I realize that its the whole thing. Instead of trying to fix this one, I’ve decided to do it over. Same idea, just a do-over. That’s often the problem with trying a new technique. You’re not very good at it. So, as long as I’m still within our time-frame for the project, I figure I can do this again until I get it right — or at least closer.*
I’m on a bit of a break right now though as the sewing machine had to be given back for a week.
Worst case scenario, I’ll try my other completely different idea, but it’s possible that that one is better in my head as well.

* We’ve been talking off line about “do-overs” and while we’ve all got our most- and least-favorite quilts, and would love to go back and revisit some, we agree that would run counter to the idea of completing each challenge within the alloted time period and to treat them as a cumulative learning experience.