Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chickenshack or "Mein Huhnchen soll es besser haben"

Made a few prints on paper: They illustrate a joke on an old maiden who had a chicken shack with 6 cocks and a hen. A neighbour asked her why she did not have a number of hens and one cock like all the other farmers; she said: "Well, in my youth, I was a wallflower. I want my chicken to have a better time!"

On the fourth print, a robber is in the shack, and the farmer seems to breed roadrunners. Gouaches, printed with lino stamps on paper. I exchanged the photos because the yellow paper wasn't shown correctly in the first series of photos.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I'm still auditing my stash for a carrier fabric. I have a red one and a green one, but fate decided this thing to be blue. Buying a fabric would break the rules. I'll work like I did in the case of the projects I did before, Jacob's colourful coat and the witch gown "witch" is now finished and still must be photographed in an outdoor situation. Susan had a good idea what way to take a photograph, I'm not telling.
My husband said the bear looks like run over by a truck.

Quelque chose très, très belle est arrivée

Aujour d'hui, c'est-ce que était dans ma boîte aux lettres: De fils colorés par Diane! Merci beaucoup, beaucoup! And wrapped up so nicely that I hardly dare to use them. But they are much too beautiful not to use them! Je suis très heureuse.

Blueprint or Redwork?

Not too much time to carry on with my printing project. I was helping my husband to look for a new job. He will have to find one until September, or we have to go to Munich. They desperately want him there, but the perspective is not sure. They are not planning longer than about half a year, then we'll see what happens.
I will not be a grass widow again! And he doesn't want that either. That's why we went to see places where he might apply, and the good thing: We can walk right in and see if it is a good place. His job now is customers' complaints and logistics. He doesn't see himself as a salesman, although he did this for years in the past, but he is very good at negociating in cases of conflict, so he is perfectly right for the complaints departement.

Tried letter print in blue. I wanted to make a red piece, and also tried black with colours, but the blue is nicer. I feel more inclined to do this.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Pazyryk project

New lino cuts, I don't know exactly what I will do with them, but I think they will be forming rows in squares. I'll print patches which I will fix on a ground cloth and later quilt. I still find it difficult to reach a kind of unity of style. The elk doesn't fit into the row, so I think there will be some more sketching and research necessary and reading in books on Asian tribes like the Skythians. The idea is to create a piece which reminds of the carpet in the grave of Pazyryk.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

All you can eat

Okay, I can accept avocado in the sushi, but remolade goes a bit far. Yet there was enough to satisfy any taste, also classic sushi and warm dishes in Asian style. It was an "all-you-can-eat"-restaurant in the center of Hamburg. J's cousin H and his Japanese wife H had come over from Berlin; they are standing in front of the restaurant. I took this picture after the meal. We did not get seduced, just took what we needed.

After the meal, we took a stroll down to the Alster banks in front of our town hall and saw how the swans, geese and ducks where being fed and gulls and doves snatched their share. Two gulls were fighting about bread, and the left one won. This gull did not mind digestion problems. Greedy bird!

We did some window-shopping in the "Colonnaden", I saw a quilt from India for 290 Euros/406 $ which I think is a bit much!

Then we had coffee and decided to get cinema tickets and take a walk in the park until the movie started, but this was prevented by a rain shower.

Okay, we went right into the cinema; we saw Star Trek, and the boys were enthusiastic.

We spent the Saturday with our Cousin and his wife at my parents in law in the garden and veranda.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

About J

Husband's out with his cousin from Berlin and old mates. They will conquer the Harburg Mountains (right, that's their name! 380 ft above sea level) by bike. It is Ascension Day, after all.
Have to report one of his remarks. When putting the food back into the fridge after supper: "No, there was meat in this box, you can't put the cheese in there. -- We're Jewish!"
Oh. How good I found out after 12 years.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I promised a bird, and what happened? A tiger lino print.
I'm not too satisfied, the print is pale, maybe the paint is too dry -- I've had it in my stash for a few years. Diluting helped a little bit.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This time, it's the computer

When I know a pattern, I start out embroidering without counting much, I know most of the patterns by heart, like my carnations, but still vary them slightly. If this becomes boring, I have to find something new. This one is constructed by pixels and was inspired by South American weaving. I'll try this as a lino cut, too. If a pair of these birds are placed symmetrically, it looks like a 19th century German sampler cross stitch pattern.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Young finch

Today I heard a loud cheeping on my balcony and saw a young finch which looked much like this one. He was just learning to fly and landed on the window sill. When I opened the door, he came in, I softly showed him the way out again. It took him another effort to fly off to his bush where his concerned parents were calling him.

Finished Embroidery

Made the last stitches today. Now it is ready for Etsy. It became more colourful than intended; I wanted to give it the look of an old Kelim, but it reminds of Mexican weaving instead.
What do you think: Should I have it finished as a pouch with a zip? Would it be more attractive for sale?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Super frame, stronger than me

Wow, this embroidery frame has power. It was easily adjusted, and now has such a firm grip on my embroidery that I wonder how I will be able to remove it. Before there was the cloth between the tubes and the clip, I was able to push the clip down from the tube with some effort. But now... I guess I'll cut it out and order another frame.
However: It's great to work with! It holds the cloth so firmly and you don't have to readjust the tension. I have some wooden hoops which have the disadvantage that when the embroidery is close to being finished, some finished parts get squashed between the hoops and remain distorted sometimes.
Yes, and this is how far I got in the meantime.
And the new Depeche Mode album is rotating in the player. We love it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

This Year's Carnations

This year's carnations are partly sock wool. When I run out of a hue, i take the nearest possible, this creates an antique look. I combine it with a double sawtooth.

Colour Theory and a long time error

When I was a student of Fine Arts, I earnt money by working as a shop assistant in an art material store. One day, a customer came in and asked for the fundamental colours in gouaches. I picked out tubes in black, yellow, blue, and red.
Wrong, he said.
And he explained to me that the fundamental colours are these: instead of red, it is magenta. Instead of blue, it is cyan. Yellow is alright. If you look at the blends in the rectangle fields of the 1st picture: Clear secondary colours. In the red-blue-yellow, 2nd picture, only the orange works. The green is very dull, and violet is a catastrophe.

During my jobs as a layouter, I was employed by print shops twice. In each case, I had a good impression of colour blending. At that time, it saved a lot of money to print in two or three colours instead of the full scale. So I collected some experience in colour processing.
In every print workshop, there were tins labelled "Rot nach DIN and EURO", this means: "Red by German and European industrial norms", and so in yellow and blue, of course. These define the fundamental print colours, in the case of red it is close to magenta.
I don't know the USA norms, but I'm sure they are similar.

How was this fundamental error about colours possible?
It seems to be a matter of history. The natural pigments that the painters used were never pure enough in colour to allow this experiment. It was not until about 1856 when chemical dyes were developed (anilin dyes) that mankind was able to reproduce colours that were visible in the spectral light and in some flowers and to turn them into a paintable substance and dying material. The "red-blue-yellow"-error was still kept up in the Bauhaus and has been impoisoning the colour vision of millions of school children who have learnt this in art lessons. Millions of elementary school teachers teach this still today.

I was grateful that this graphic designer opened my eyes to the true physical nature of colours. This has had an incredible impact on my choice of hues. I hope that my readers will feel encouraged to try it out themselves and have fun discovering a wider range of colours than before.
Of course, I was talking about print colours, the CMYK range. Here, they are reproduced by RBG colours. The differences are natural.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fun and a Fake

1189 is the year which is seen as the official beginning of a harbour in Hamburg. In May 1989, there was the first celebration of a harbour jubilee. Unfortunately, the Wall had not opened yet. When there was free access for East German citizens, they were very sorry they had missed this great event. So Hamburg decided to celebrate the 801st birthday together with East German visitors. And this event became a habit. This is the 820th Harbour Birthday.
Actually -- that's why I call it a fake -- a delegation of the Hamburg citizens tried to get a harbour privilege. They went to see King Frederic Barbarossa, but were not received in audience. The king had just returned from a crusade and did not welcome visitors. They were sent home and told to wait. They waited for years. In 1265 they lost patience and probably wrote the patent themselves. This document still exists, and some experts on history say it is a fake.
Nevertheless, Hamburg loves this fair.

This one's for Rayna!

We had a stroll along the shops and had a Guiness, a band played Irish music, much to my husband's delight.
On the way back, we took a walk through our wonderful old "Speicherstadt", the old warehouses which in the time of container cargo handling are no longer used for this purpose, but have become expensive flats and a place for exhibitions and companies. Here is the complete photo galery!

A whole new quarter of luxury apartments and offices is being built in the south of Hamburg, and right within, our new opera -- TADA!! --
If a show is cancelled, in German this is called "fallen into the water" . Hope that this location is okay for an opera house!
Walking home on socks

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Believe in Carnation

Looks like I have to embroider at least one carnation pattern each year. This time I use sock wool again. It makes a nice dense pattern and has a pearly touch.


My husband's best friend sent a card from NY. He is there with his lovely family to see relatives. Also my husband was there 19 years ago. And we also received a card from Dresden, Saxony. The generous man is a sculpture from the treasury of August the Strong. An African is offering a bowl of emeralds. He is richly adorned with gold and jewels, yet in a serving position, decorated not in order to show his dignity, but decorated as part of the king's property. -- From the Green Vaults, exhibition rooms, newly renovated and exposing the treasures from the 18th century.
We went to Dresden in 2004. The town is not beautiful, the destroyed parts were replaced by optimistic socialist reconstructions which look completely different from what was there before the bombing. But it is worth visiting.
Picture below: Approaching the town by boat on the river Elbe (yes, the same on which Hamburg lies)

Saturday, May 9, 2009


3 jumped in order to land on a swimming platform in the Hamburg Harbour on occasion of a great feast called "Harbour Birthday". Then came the storm. One of the parachutists landed in the river Elbe, the other two were carried away to a distance of 20 kilometers outside of Hamburg. They landed unharmed, but this was not planned!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Rider on the storm

Is it okay to be riding so high? I don't know anything about paragliding, but this guy (gal?) seemed to be going a bit far. My husband made me notice the dramatic light and the storm. A huge black cloud came sailing in, and before it, driven by the wind, this paraglider. I wonder if they are allowed to be riding so high. And was he in trouble? I do hope we won't hear from him in the news.
-- Most black spots in the first picture are leaves that were whirled about by the wind. --
In the meantime I read that his height was more or less okay, but later he was higher than the cloud, and this is not allowed.
After the rain
The sun came out soon after the rain and painted a dramatic coloured north western sky and a huge rainbow.

Fiber Art in Germany

The question of a blogger's granddaughter about Germany made me remember why I started international blogging.
Am I living in a fiber art desert?
There are two German fiber artists I found in the blogging world who create things that go beyond traditions: Gerdiary and Beate Knappe, but praising their art would go beyond my pledge of not giving nor receiving awards.
There is fiber art; it is "high art", the kind that a museum pays for; but when these things will be remembered later, what have they "done" for the welfare of beings? Only very few people see them, they are an elitist kind of art, and very often, the artefacts are not beautiful, in some cases they are darn ugly, and they fail to keep anyone warm. They "say something", okay, but was something "said" that reaches so few?
I'm aware that is a criticizm concerning modern art in general. Maybe it is not legitimate to take such a radical point of view. But what-if we have the courage to ask what deserves to consume our precious lifetime? And I say:
-- beauty
-- a use or benefit to the user
-- an important message.
This means that fiber art certainly has a right to be there if it is more than mere playing with material just for fun and ending up as something that is of no use, doesn't look beautiful and doesn't have a message... Am I too harsh?

I was looking for things in Germany which serve a purpose and/or are beautiful or have a message.
Not too much there!
Embroidery is mostly cross stitch and gets framed. Form follows function, as Bauhaus and Feng Shui say -- mysteriously unanimous. I'd rather have my embroidery made into a pillow or a pouch than being framed.
This doesn't mean a quilt should not be hanging on a wall, because this is where the beauty of the graphic surface has most effect. But I'd rather see it on a bed, to be honest.
I felt confirmed about living in a fiber art desert when I went to my local quilting material store and put some questions. Foto transfer material? No. Soy wax? No. Textile paints? No. The shop assistant, a lady of my age, was so kind to call a Munich shop about photo transfer materials. No result. There were beautiful fabrics, also Kaffee Fassett, more or less all you need for traditional quilting.

The German word for quilting is "quilting". Pieced quilting is "patchwork". I've been thinking about a German word for pieced quilt; it would be "gestueckelte Steppdecke", which sounds like a description of refugees' luggage that you better leave untouched.

There is no tradition of quilting in Germany. This may surprise some who haven't gone more deeply into European history. Well, what did people do with used fabrics? I wonder. They were collected by the "Lumpensammler" and turnt into paper. Another way to use them was known in Scandinavia and Bavaria, the production of the "Allgaeuer" (pron.: ullgoyer), a rug out of used cloth stripes. In Bavaria, they are called "Fleckerlteppich" (scrap rug), I remember how my Grandma and mother cut old clothes into 1" stripes and sewed the pieces into long strings, wrapped them up and sent them to a weaver in North Germany. A few weeks later we received rectangle rugs, in which I recognized my old bedroom curtains, green with little dwarves, and a number of other familiar fabrics.
And haven't they made quilts to cover themselves up? In medieval times, people slept under fur blankets. The traditional bed cover from the 18th century on in Germany was the "Federbett", feather bed, a huge, not quilted linen bag filled with geese down, called "Plumeau" in the Rheinland. Quilted bedcovers appeared in Germany, too; Goethe had one on his bed (picture). But there was a major change in habits and traditions after WWII through international influences and different way of life brought into the former Reich by refugees and displaced persons like my parents who never used a Federbett.
When I was 6, before I went to school (it was law to let children go to school at 6, no sooner), I had my tiny cardboard loom and used a needle for weaving. Some grown-up hurt my pride by calling this well-respected craft "mending socks".
I learnt to crochet and to knit a bit, and my Grandma showed me how to embroider. This became my favourite craft when I was about 16. But painting seemed to be more serious, so I spent most of my time painting and drawing.

Quilting is a wonderful craft, and a number of Germans have started it, creating a new tradition which wasn't there before WWII. A craft which unites the recycling of fabric, graphic beauty, skill, intelligence (block construction) and an emotional aspect just wasn't there! I'm glad and grateful, although I am not a quilter, to see pieces every day which combine beauty, craft and the touch of caring.