Between doing and re-doing images for my re-vamped website, working on a challenge quilt for our local quilt group (more on that in another post), and preparing for my weekend in Halle, it seems to me like I’ve dropped off the the edge of the blogospere. I’m back now, and it looks like I have blog fodder for a little while at least.
Last summer I sent two of my little collage quilts (“Staufen Vineyards” and “Foggy Morning in Czesky Krumlov”) to a show in the german town of Halle/Saale. The co-owners of the quilt shop Patch & Work, Sabine and Grit, created the show as part of the entire city’s celebration of it’s 1200 year Jubilee. After the show, they asked me if I would be interested in coming to their shop to teach a class on this fabric collage technique.
“Ummm, OK,” I said. I wasn’t sure if this was teachable, since I just kind of “did” it — riffing off of a kick start in Sue Benner’s workshop at Art Quilt Tahoe two years ago.
I brought some of my quilts from my exhibition, some samples especially for the class, all of my of pre-fused fabric, and a friend to help me translate (she is also friends with Sabine from when Sabine lived in our area). We took the train and I’m sure our traveling compatriots thought we were a couple of American loons, chattering away and spreading our challenge quilts out on the table to work.
We arrived safe and sound in Halle, where Sabine met us and whisked us off to her house for a weekend of wonderful hospitality.
She was quick to point out the lovely Socialist architecture near the train station:
All of Halle is not so blocky and dull though. In our short tour, it actually reminded me a lot of Wiesbaden but without the lush green hills as a backdrop. Much of the buildings were very Art Nouveau (or Jugendstil, as it’s called in German) — tall with lots of flowing, curvy details and fancy roof lines. What was noticeable however, was that one building would be freshly painted and wonderful looking, and then right next door would be a delapidated building with no window panes. It was everywhere and did not seem to be restricted to certain neighborhoods. Where someone had managed to make some money in the new economy, or hold on to their livelyhood through the DDR era, then the home or business looked like any other in modern Germany, but the rest were just left to the ravages of time.
Saturday morning Sabine brought us bright and early to her and Grit’s adorable little quilt shop:
And then the ladies started pouring in. Everyone was so enthusiastic — and well prepared! I had been a little concerned that the students might not have a lot of fabrics to work with, given the general frugality of German quilters and the compounding factor of being in the former eastern bloc. I shouldn’t have worried. Since we only needed small bits for our collages, everyone had plenty. Some had even taken the time at home to pre-fuse all their teensy bits, or to sketch out their image. I gave a presentation, and explained the basic technique, in English with Kathy translating. Then they all got to work, and I made the rounds — helping and commenting in German. When I got stuck on a word, Kathy and Sabine were there to help me out. My favorite was when Antje (in the far back corner) asked for a “Bügelgenehmigung,” or official hall-pass kind of permission from the teacher — to iron her strips 🙂
We had two rooms to work in, and though the space was on the small side, no one seemed to mind. There was lots of swapping of fabrics and conversation. The lady below (I don’t remember her name) works, or had worked, in an interior decorator’s shop and had lots of wonderful fabrics to use in the image of the castle in her home town. The photo doesn’t do the texture and sparkle justice.
I don’t remember the lady in the foreground’s name, but she was working on a picture of the castle in Halle. I think the lady in the background was also named Sabine. She had come all the way from Leipzig for the class. She created a lovely, subtle, Moroccan themed scene based on several photos she had.
And here’s the first lady’s castle a little further along:
And here’s most of the work, mostly finished. One lady had to bring her daughter to class as she had been sick and couldn’t go out horseback riding with the rest of the family that day. She made the wonderful fish picture, and decided NOT to go home when her dad came to pick her up halfway through the class. All the ladies thanked me profusely and promised to send photos of their works after they quilt and bind them.
I needn’t have worried about my ability to share this method of working. The Sabine, Grit, and all the students assured me they had a great time. I know I did!