Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

A very happy New Year to all of you! Thank you so much for your kind comments and support. I wish you all the very best, good health, success, love, and a creative spirit. May all your projects turn out better than you can imagine! Yes, that's possible -- haven't you experienced that you can surprise yourself with the results of your craft? Have a wonderful time.

My husband and I will stay at home, after some very frosty weeks, the snow is melting and the roads are very slippery. He is just on the point to recover from a nasty cold, but kept going to work because without him, the company would have collapsed, of course. Men! But now he's the victim of my care. And I will spoil him.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New squares for the quilt's head

A dragon's tail in the larger pic... I'm running out of dragons and snake skins. There is this little chap, hand painted, and there are the iguana and other snakes who went to a party. Here, you see the squares still unquilted.
Maybe I'll do my next korak unquilted, because the double layers of the folded parts make it more sturdy than a quilt of traditional making. In this project, I like the quilted structure of the satin parts because they also have something reptilic.
I had intended to stick to the stash and not purchase new fabrics. Ha!
My wish to create according to my own ideas has tricked me. I just couldn't resist Benartex, "Palace". Would you?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holidays and back to daily life

Driving home for Christmas. We spent our holidays in my husband's hometown again. Temperatures were between -2 and -10° C/ 28 and 14° F. Jens had to scratch ice from the windscreen.
 About 5 or 6" snow. Unusual for our region, where we rather have warmer temps around Christmas, and people make bets whether it will be white or green.
We celebrate the evening of Dec 24th, so we arrived for coffee, then it was time to hand over the presents, we had a nice meal, and on Saturday morning we went to see J's old friends.
We went home to Hamburg on Saturday night after coffee.
 This evening, a garbage container started burning, it looked dramatic, but very soon was under control.
And I connected the latest strips to the quilt, you can see it at the foot of the quilt. And a ribbon with another magic spell is visible.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Season's Greetings

Deep winter is not a time to travel more than necessary. We're just learning this lesson.
But thru this wonderful invention, the internet, I have an opportunity to wish you all a great time, joyful celebrations with those you love. We are travelling towards the rising light again. The longest night, the darkest day is over.

P.S. I found a lovely video for all those who don't mind a little Christmas.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

False Korak

The method I use for the reptile quilt is a kind of korak which is different from the tradition: 1. A true korak is made of doubled-up strips and squares, the squares folded diagonally, thus forming triangles. 2. A true korak will not be quilted.

Why do I abandon tradition in these two issues? (1.) Doubling up the scraps means to hide one half. Some of the fabrics I got from friends or bought long ago are too precious to be wasted. So I just fold it at the edge to create a seam, on the triangles as well. It requires only one seam, due to the method of covering the cut side with the next scrap, like laying tiles on a roof. --
Doubling the layers in smaller scraps means to stiffen the whole piece which may replace the (2.) quilting. But as I love the surface of hand quilted fabric and see this as the main purpose of quilting, I still do.
Some quilters are not so enthusiastic about the pin method. I tried basting, but it is double work since the scraps have to be held in place by pins anyway. The loop of the thread also loves to wrap around the pins. The fastest method to free it is to pull the pin out and put it back again. As always, the quilter can get used to the handling.
This is the next strip, going across the width of the quilt. Another, approximately symmetrical, will be added to the opposite side, as head and foot. This might reach the desired length already. Or some more will have to be added. Who knows? --
You're all deep in your Xmas preparations? Haha, I'm finished.
 My Japanese "cousin-in-law" gave me a pin cushion. It is a kind of embroidery that is called "kogin" and comes from the Tsugaru district in Japan. Here's a book on this craft. And here are some very beautiful samples.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The next step

The quilt is wide enough now, but it needs more than 1/2 yard  to be long enough for a sleep quilt. I think I will add zones of strips, alternating with more squares and reptile pictures. 

This is the plan, more or less.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Magic Breakfast

I recite a spell from the book "Mythic and Magic Songs of the Estonians" by Friedrich Kreutzwald, 1848. It bans the snake so it will not harm humans and also conjures healing power.
The video is shown here in a very reduced quality. You can see it on YouTube alternatively.
And here is a video of an American learning Estonian. Respect! He is doing very well.

I speak the words in the way that Estonian was spoken in exile in my childhood.
I made a mistake in the end. So you better not use the spell.

We took this video in Berlin, in the café where we had breakfast. This explains the voices and noise in the background.

And here is the -- corrected -- spell, integrated in the reptile quilt.

The excerpt from the book shows an old-fashioned spelling. Estonian was based almost entirely on oral transmission.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Our traditional Berlin Weekend

My husband's cousin is almost the same age as my husband. He lives in Berlin, and the guys have started a "tradition" to visit him once a year. He is married to beautiful H from Japan.
 A speedy journey to our capitol! The train rode at 125 m/h. The further east, the more snow was on the ground. This weekend was milder most of the time, the snow was melting.
 We were picked up by our cousin and wife and we had lunch in a typical old Berlin pub. Then, we walked to the hotel and dropped our luggage. We had tea with our cousin and then walked to the Xmas market on the "Gendarmenmarkt", a very beautiful square in 1800 style.
It is a very famous market, you even have to pay 1,35$ to get in. There are many  shops with food and drinks, and a sweet hot wine, often with a big sip of rum in it, is a very popular drink on these markets. "Gluehwein trinken" has become a kind of party.
 I was very fond of a shop for shawls and scarves and especially admired the self-grown shawl of the seller who looked very oriental indeed. The shawls were quite expensive, one was there to die for, but it was 73$.
 There was a little craft shop of a jeweller and I saw ceramics, candles, porcellaine, German fairy story glass ornaments for the Xmas tree -- close to kitsch -- and tea shops, spice shops, and so on.
Brushes of all kinds, very nice to look at.
It was incredibly crowded, no place to sit and rest, and the boys had one Gluehwein after another.
 We moved on to a café with a tower made of scrap metal, a piece of art. It was nice to sit for a change!
Then we "travelled" through Berlin once more to reach the place where we wanted to have dinner together.  We did not ride a car the whole day, but walked or took suburban trains or busses.
We had a great meal in the restaurant "Highway 66" -- very tasty and abundant. I was careful not to eat too fat and took a vegetarian noodle dish with extra jalapenos plus fresh mint tea. What a treat! One more drink in another place. I was knocked out when we reached our hotel!

Next morning, we had brunch together and then took a taxi to a remote museum for German expressionist art. There was an exhibition of Erich Heckel, a painter who had been banned by the Nazis as "entartet" -- degenerate art. He was a member of the artists' group "Die Bruecke" -- "The Bridge". A great afternoon!
Then we got on the train back to Hamburg. I had taken a strip of the reptile quilt along and did some stitching during the ride.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A glimpse of the process

This is a new snakeskin patch as a whole, uncut. Until now, I showed them integrated into the quilt and covered with paint, adding a few more layers until the paint looks dense and dark. This piece is different, I wanted to keep the transparency and brightness of the colors. I made a few more reptile drawings and colored them, and there are some more Estonian spells to be cut in stripes and integrated into the quilt. The lizard isn't really cut off, it is just a portrait and ends more or less with the picture edge. The spotty background comes from ironing the cloth before it was dry which makes the steam create a pattern.
-- This is the view from the kitchen window this morning, temperatures going up and down around the freezing point. Later, there was bright sunshine.

Update of today's work:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Why in English? That's for you, friends!
I activated my sketchbook again after a long time. It used to be my constant companion. During the past years I have spent a lot more time at home than before when I was a single. Commuting and spending a lot of time (and money) in cafés and restaurants was a larger part of my lifestyle.
I'm not searching any more, I found a home and a partner. Happyness is indoors. Or, when we walk, there is not much time to take sketches. So there is not much there to fill my sketchbooks! Yet, today I found things to sketch.
Again I tried to reach the administration about the trees that were taken down near my home. Everything was okay, the guy said. Not to me!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The year of the tiger

Isn't this great? A backpack from Israel! With matching pouch.
Tigers are a favourite of mine because I was born in the hour of the tiger, between 3 and 5 in the morning. I had the tiger in my corporate identity when I was a full-time graphic designer.
I'm so happy to have this gem of a rucksack. It was made by Yael. Her blog is a collection of wonderful craft + wonderful visual journeys to fascinating places of ancient heritage in Israel and other places. And she is a caring and wise friend.
The year of the tiger ends on Feb 2nd 2011. But my pleasure about the backpack will not. When I will have worn it to pieces, I'll cut it up and make a tiger quilt out of it -- haha, kidding! It is so well done that I won't be able to wear it up.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

True colors of my hometown

The photos in my latest posting about the reptile quilt were a little too strong, too red. The quilt isn't quite so, but good photo light is rare these days. I dedicate the choice of colors to my hometown. Copper-covered roofs are common on larger buildings, and the climate with grey skies contributes to the magic effect of this color. Brick red is the other prevailing color because clay is a traditional material which was a lot easier to find in this landscape than stone -- exept diluvial granite rocks.

Here is St. Katharinen church near the harbour.
Another material found quite often is a sandstone or lime stone in a subdued yellow.
Somehow I feel at home in these colors, although I never thought they would be favourites of mine.
Why do I find them related to snakes? There is a snake called copper snake or slowworm. And maybe it is because of a bronze sculpture in our local zoo. It shows two snakes that got entangled so heavily with each other that both died. A sign of bad surveilance of animals which would probably not happen today. I used to stare at it when I was a child, oscillating between horror and enthusiasm, stroking the metal bodies.
Could my hometown be a naga place?
If these are the local spirits, they are said to provide wealth, but also to be moody.
I will not test their mood by incorporating real snake skin, although there is a little piece resting in my drawer. But something tells me not to. Did I see a twinkle?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Finished after almost two years

In February 2009 I tried a hand-sewn nine-patch that did not satisfy my sense of perfection at all. The other night, J came home from a company Xmas celebration where they had had a tombola, and brought home a very boring cushion which obviously had reached the lottery via dead article department. I did not even bother to take a photo, but did this instead: