Tuesday, November 30, 2010


It is so much fun  to construct and sew the squares. The right row is not yet connected with the quilt because I find it much easier to do the quilting on a smaller piece than in connection with a large space.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Quilting and: The old Advent Wreath and the new one

Didn't have much time to continue with my quilt, but did some quilting on all the parts finished up to now. I use all the threads I found, many of them have been part of my stash for decades. Some are too thick for quilting, but 6-ply DMC or Anchor embroidery yarn, split in 2-ply-threads, works very well and gives enough color variegation to play.

They say that mostly the ladies favour Christmas decoration, but in our case, it is J who likes it whereas I am without passion or adversion. We have an Advent wreath (one candle more will be lit each Advent Sunday) which consists of pine cones and small white beads. If you want to start a fire in the easiest and fastest way, I very much recommend this item. It is soaked with candle wax to the degree of danger. So today I went to get a new one and bought a wreath made of willow branches, added pine cones, attached with wire, and small balls or bulbs in 4 colors. The candles sit on stable metal plates. J was delighted!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Glass piecing

The Old "Elbtunnel" in Hamburg, 1907-11, is a work of engineering which was admired a lot at the time it was built. 23 meters below the soil, it crossed the river underneath and allowed thousands of workers to walk from the town where they lived to the forges, shipyards and docks. My husband, parents-in-law and I took a walk on Sunday. The picture no.2 is older, we did not have sunny weather.
After years of renovation, the tunnel has new elevators which can even take cars down und up again on the other side. I love the early 20th century architecture and the glass mosaics around the entrance doors.

Going for Reds and Greens

They say that according to Feng Shui, the combination of red and green is auspicious. Actually, also Western Xmas decoration is based mainly on this color combo. A synchronicity of life and work is there if I look closely. Jude taught me to see that.
Although the landscape seems grey now, after there is nothing left of the golden panorama than just a few yellow confetti, I find some more subtle color in the detail.
I have glasses in every corner of our flat, one for working on the computer, some for reading or sewing. As my father used to say: "My eyes are perfect, but my arms are getting too short." On a far distance however, my eyes are still fine. I'm glad about that.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Going out

We had a wonderful evening out with friends, dining at the "Indochine"s. Hot and spicy food, lovely decoration (purple flower) and an exiting view.
 The Buddha heads are huge! You cannot really see how. 1 yd height, I estimate. We celebrated the birthday of 2 of the boys.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

2 years of encouragement

The other day, my blog was 2 years old. I can never remember the beginning without a feeling of deep gratitude towards all of you who have been following my first steps and encouraging me to keep going. I started blogging in a phase of frustration about my art, no sales, no feedback; I thought it was wasted talent; knowing that there are so many talented people out there was not much comfort. I decided to follow an advice of my buddhist teachers which is named "rejoicing about other's merit". This means: To be happy about what others achieve, as if it was your own achievment. The result of this training is that real interest grows in the work and life of others. At the same time, the importance of one's own self will decrease. I needed that! A big ego can just as well be boasting as reproaching oneself; the source is the same, it is the expectation of success and happiness for oneself. Reading your blogs has shown me the tremendous amount of talent out there, to see that I have a right to play my violin in this orchestra, and helped me to see my own work in a realistic way. Thank you all!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Print more of those

Printing, ironing, painting, ironing, more printing. These layers stiffen the cloth and make it more difficult to hand quilt. But the details have become quite charming, some by coincidence. I had to show them before I cut into them. They are not so snakish as a whole piece, but in detail they will be.

Very simple

A very easy method to imitate snake skin, a mesh bag as a stencil for textile paint, brushed on. At first sight, it is quite convincing. The presence of reptile images makes the eye associate something similar. A closer look reveals the simplicity of making.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quilted Korak

Beside the sketched / painted pictures, I use print cloth with my own design. You can see part of the pale red reverse at the bottom of the picture.
I could call my working method "quilted korak" because it unites two traditions: Korak, the connecting of folded rectangles and triangles, the folded edge covering the cut or torn edges, stabilized with pins, sewn in a small stitch, the pins being removed as you go. You can see the unfinished part with pins in process. Then, the spaces receive a dense quilting to grant a ripply surface for all materials. The result is quite sturdy, due to the double layers of the pieces.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Turtle -- Snake -- Lizard

The next frame will be a green one with pictures of reptiles and text scraps. Most of the green will be covered. With one strip of green on each side, the quilt will have bed width. With 20" added on either side, the length of a bed quilt will be reached. A large space to be filled and quilted! A large project still. The happy feeling of having a lot to do.
When I finish a large project, I'm quite proud, of course; but I also feel a bit sad, thinking: "what next?"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A spell to the snake

Pictures of snakes, turtles, and lizards. I draw them on a strip of vintage cloth. And there is an Estonian spell from the collection "Songs of the Estonians", 1848. It speaks to the snake: "What is your color, little Lena?" And carries on, describing the colors of the snake: "Hazel colored, lizard eye's color". It is meant to ban the snake from biting, but also adresses its power to make a swelling wane. I wrote the spell with a textile pen, added drawings and colored these pieces with cloth paint. These will be part of the next frame of the reptile quilt.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Need some snake skin

Found a plastic grid, part of a net mesh bag I bought onions in. Used it as a stencil. Snakeskin finished. Hi, Rayna.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The frame is finished...

... and the next one is due. Maybe just a one-fabric border. Will be dyeing more of this "snake" fabric upper left. It is an Indonesian print which needs some modification. The diamond is overpainted satin, the same stuff you see at the very top left. And so are the triangles lower left. The black/blue frame of the lower left square is from a lovely ikat piece that jude sent to me. You can see bits and pieces of the hiding dragon most everywhere. It is about 35x35" now. I want it to be 75x53. When I add another frame, I will have reached the width for a sleep quilt soon, but not the length. How to reach the length within the concept of a medallion quilt? I have a plan vague idea.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Could have made color choices to create pictures of the elements. Wind, Fire, Earth, Water... It was not intended, but I like it.
I'm coming to the end of this frame, two free spaces left. 
I find it easier to express myself in techniques that challenge me. My treadle is rusting in the cellar. And: Could I work with it while watching tv on the sofa with my husband?

Two charming visitors were having breakfast in the ash tree behind our flat: The bullfinches are back. I took this pic at a 25yds distance or so.
We had a storm on Thursday/Friday. All the leaves are gone. A dull view.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Today's Trio

The work of today. There isn't much I have to say about it. The enchanting batik pieces came from Chris Gray. I don't quilt systematically, I save it for situations in which I don't find the concentration to construct the pieces. But in some parts I just can't resist.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Quilting is Fun

This is how far I got in the meantime, more or less; I should be walking all the time, but I just can't resist my craft desire. I found this light turquoise lining fabric, it follows the quilting stitches quite smoothly. Also the false dupioni doesn't look bad, although it really doesn't have the charms of charmeuse, right piece center in blue and green. The center diamond is some of the light blue fabric, covered with rust and gold woven chiffon. Very difficult to quilt!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A source for reprints

I once bought this fabric and made harem pants out of it which I wore until the fabric was worn out on some parts. I'll try a reprint by loading it up to a website on which you can order your own designed fabric. This way I hope to reconstruct a few of my old favourites.
After a few busy days for the district parliament project + a visit of our spiritual teacher + a little back trouble that made me walk like I was 100 years old, I find time to work on the reptile quilt again. I found an old lining satin in light turquoise which I have had in my stash for ages. It looks nice when quilted; I'll show you pics tomorrow.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

11 of 24 on the slowworm cloth -- slow wormcloth?

I feel at ease with the squares. My techniques to rule the heap of stuff on a very small table are improving; still the diamonds are dancing, not keeping in line. Yet, my impression is that they are balancing each other, looking not quite as wonky as in the beginning.
I run risks with my way of working, finishing each frame completely including the quilting. There is no way back. The central medallion is more subdued in color than the rest; the reds have sneaked in, the gorgeous indonesian fabric from jude is to blame. But why should this naga offering not contain some fiery parts? This element is associated with the mythic idea of dragons. In asia, they are more associated with the element wood: Green color, thunder, spring, electricity. "The New Year in spring is the time when the dragon rises from inside the earth." The green rust and metal -- brass -- connects this piece to the "copper snake", slowworm, Anguis fragilis, an animal that I love very much.

I once picked one up on a cold summer day and put her into a large pocket, together with fresh leaves to make her feel more at home, and she came alive in the warmth and seemed to feel alright and made no attempt to flee. It was a class trip, and I was 14 years old. The other girls almost dropped dead with horror when I held the animal in my hand. One of the girls -- the most frightful one -- asked me if she might take the snake in her hand, she wanted to overcome her fear, she said. Of course, I gave her the chance.
She flung the snake wide into the shrubs. I looked but did not find her. Oh, I was angry! My snake!

I love snakes, but I wouldn't own one if they have to be fed with mice, that's not in harmony with my vow as a Buddhist to abstain from killing.

I made experiments with overpainted fabric, using my Marabu textile paints as water colors; the left one is a Kaffee Fasset.
The second detail is a print with indonesian pattern. I overpainted this one in green and wine red to make it adapt to the whole composition. I did not show it sooner because I wasn't sure; but it fits in well.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


A story from my working life
I went to the district parliament today because I have a little job there. I created a presentation as a background for a ceremony in which the parliament will honor 2 volunteers who have worked for the community with special effort. I met the technical media operator, and we tested my work on his computer, everything went fine, just a few changes remain to be made.
Why did I tell you this story? Because I wanted to introduce you to the operator's assistant. The label on his back reads "security".
He snarled at me from time to time to confirm his authority.

Liberated is the Name

The lap reptile is getting on. Slightly subdued colors, for a change, but still looking a bit gaudy. Fortunately I found a positive name for the style: Liberated. The difference: They cut wonky and mean it.
I have a concept how to continue. This is a manipulated photo with multiplied squares. Those within the red line exist already, the outer parts are just planned. I want to reach sleep size, the quilt has the proper width already, but not the length. Of course I intend to continue the principle, but don't know about the details. So there is a long way to go with the frame of squares, and I don't have a plan about head and foot of the quilt. At the moment, it consits of about 10% self-bought fabric which I think is quite a good quote.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fading Memories

My mother Maria was born in Tallinn, Estonia, in 1920. She left us on Nov.1st, 2001. She will be a dancer in her next life. That's what she wanted to be. And I hope she will be happier than in this life. She lost two sons at an early age in 1945. Her 3rd child was a dissappointment, female and crazy (me). Maria was full of temperament in moments she escaped her traumatic depression. Then she would play swing hits of the thirties on our piano, a cigarette between her lips, her head bent slightly backwards, as smoking piano-players do. She was a widow when I took the second picture, but ready to go for another adventure, a relationship with a prominent man from the Bavarian culture scene. After his death, she lived in my brother's house near Hamburg.
It was not until her last years that I understood her love which was hidden behind criticism. Her "hello" was: "oh, you put on weight again." I, nevertheless, told her a story: I was about 6 or 7 years old and had a high fever. From my bed, I could see my desk which was covered with a bright red table cover. I loved this plastic cover, it allowed me to do wild watercolor experiments without messing up the place. Now, the red was unbearable. I asked my mother to take it out of sight, and she, without a word, removed it. 45 years later I thanked her for being so understanding.
At that time she showed signs that her life energy was going down fast. I realized that she would be going soon, and it choked me.
We never stopped missing her.