Tuesday, 24 December 2019

the 24th

In the new Guest Room the bed is almost made, you can just catch a glimpse of a bassinet on the right.....blankets and pillows are shared, everyone has to squeeze in together, the more the merrier is The Dwelling's motto 

The owl choir sings a very 'Silent Night', although of course one can hardly hear most of it as they are silent creatures; however there is the occasional screeeeeech, and we all cover our ears in haste, pretending to be overwhelmed by emotions and nod and wink at them in fake approval.....ah well, they do mean well

The Spirit of Christmas stands by the main entrance hugging all the new arrivals and much to his surprise is kissed by each and every newcomer, unbeknownst to him he's standing under the mistletoe.
Mouse serves cakes and ale to hungry and thirsty travelers-from-afar......

Fun and games and loud music in the Play Room

By contrast: Calm & Quiet in the library

Angels have descended in the Studio, hoping to inspire Ms Smith whilst she's producing her latest creations

May you enjoy a Merry Christmas with your loved ones....and remember,
in the dark there is always a sparkle of *light*

Friday, 20 December 2019

almost Christmas

 Slowly but surely the Dwellers are getting ready for Christmas: there's a tree, there are candles, there's an angel at their table.....and we have posted well-wishes all over the place, we are even preparing a guest room!
There are starry lights, paper hearts,
wintry visitors in our midst.
And guess what?
The Spirit of Christmas arrived on time this year!

'are we really heading in the right direction?' a question I seem to be asking myself a lot lately, as the whole X-mas enterprise requires a lot organisation; I have asked my friends here to help out

We have made small paintings as possible gifts,
we have been wrapping teeny, tiny parcels
whilst singing carols with funny hats on, as well as studiously trying to ignore the rain and we all dream of snow, sleigh rides and skating on the lakes nearby. There's a great deal of rummaging for festive outfits, fancy table cloths, warm blankets, silver tableware;
not to mention extra toilet rolls, towels and toothpaste!
with such a full house there's just so much to remember
Fortunately I am not alone....I will be in my studio this weekend and hopefully a few of you will pop by for a visit

Sunday, 15 December 2019

tombola draw and an almost finished BirdQuilt!

the 13 names have gone into the cap!

the husband picked one as he rolled his eyes upwards....
and the winner is JOY!
@Joy please email your address to: 
saskiavanherwaarden@gmail.com and I will post the package asap
so another couple of birds will soon leave the nest

and now for something completely different

 tada! I am so happy it's (almost) done:
still a couple of loose ends to tidy up on the back and maybe, just maybe, I will add a running stitch here and there

the colourful front is a patchwork mix of cottons and linens, many of which have been donated  

the back, of which a tiny purple triangle can be glimpsed in the image above, was the original cheap shop-bought machine-sewn quilt; after years of use I was fed up with the patina of stains and dyed it a dark purple.....I tore out the diagonal quilting stitches and removed the bias binding; after having made the patchwork I ended up with these four layers: purple-dyed cotton, padding, purple-dyed cotton and the patchwork;
these were first roughly basted together with a long running stitch in all directions. Using a large quilting hoop, starting in the middel of course, I began quilting properly. Moving along in more or less straight lines with a running stitch up-and-down, and left-to-right. 
I finally used the diamond-shaped marks left from the machine stitching and this made for some interesting intersecting lines all over

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Early Christmas Tombola

'Moon rising over Tree of Life with a pair of love-birds watching’
yes, it's that time of year folks....
December can be a very expensive month, so I have decided to help you out by:
1. giving away this Small Pillow*
2. offering a 10%discount on all art work, see what's for sale over on the websitehttps://saskiavanherwaarden.nl/en/

Each pillow is handmade using (old) natural fibre fabrics I source from my own cupboards and donations from generous cloth-lovers spread across our planet; I prefer working with cotton, linen and silk; some pieces of cloth have been hand-printed with commercial textile inks and/or home-dyed using plant-based dyes; my favourite stitches are the running stitch, thread beads and simple stars. Each pillow is stuffed with snippets of old clothing and leftovers.
ca 2 x 11 x 14 cm

* how to join in the tombola:
all you have to do is leave a comment below, entries open till next Saturday 14 December Midnight!
On Sunday 15 December I will announce the winner. I will copy your names on snippets of paper, throw them all into my Tweed cap, shuffle and shake, close my eyes & pick one at random....

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

dark & light

I just love the bare skeletal branches this time of year,
how, on a sunny day, the air is crisp and feels unpolluted...
just by being outdoors your senses are uplifted, so you return home energized and ready for the day

ha, after weeks of switching between fiddling on the laptop building my website and patiently stitching the BirdQuilt, I felt the urge for something quick and got to painting and drawing in East-Indian ink, my favourite medium in high school: I used to draw black&white birds with my Schaeffer fountain pen; I must try and find where I stashed them

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

open for business, plus addendum

copious amounts of coffee and tea have kept me going (and the very occasional glass of red wine) as I have been VERY BUSY
not just with the quilting as can be seen in hazy image below, but drrrrummmmmrrrrrroll with setting up my business for real and making a site with the help of our son!

addendum: you can check out the website in Dutch: 'De Kunst van het Opruimen' or in English:  'The Art of Tidying Up

Most pages are by now both in Dutch and English.

You can also click on the Blue Tangible Memory, with a link to the English version in the side bar on the right and off you go

Monday, 4 November 2019

new rooms, a new winter cloak, news in general

we start in OBK's new walk-in-closet, he's excited, delighted and feels a little spoilt! not only can he now enjoy the closet itself, there's light and a brand new woolen cloak, as seen above and below: turquoise, purple and a touch of neutral natural tones; exactly warm enough for Autumn, he still has his really heavy woolen cape for the deep dark cold in Winter, I'm told we are going to have a proper one this year: snow and ice
hi there!

checking himself out in the mirror

Below right: Mr. Mole's glass house is dangling safely, he prefers living down below as he's used to crawling about in the dark. To the left there are now three 'swinging' rooms, the shop has moved from right to left; two 'swinging' rooms to the right: the large one is the new sewing room! There's lots more space and room for storage, a basket full of fabric scraps, several shelves and so much wall space for hanging stuff, excellent lighting.....oh we do love this new room

I am still very busy setting up my own business and visiting the old folks.....at times very demanding and tiring, but these things have a way of balancing my emotions and it's good to have positive things to look forward to rather than focusing too much on the sad side of life; as always the Dwelling's inhabitants keep me amused and occupied.
There's never a dull moment in the BirdHut, ha!

Friday, 11 October 2019

cloth collage

The BirdQuilt is evolving nicely, or I could say organically; organic has such a wholesome ring to it and it really does seem to have a life of it's own.
I sense this is how I work: I always have a feeling of not being in complete control of what happens in the creation of a piece (or story for that matter), let alone the outcome. 
I enjoy how once I've started a piece it moves forward of it's own volition, I so look forward to being taken by surprise by what happens.
As I have more time than I used to with another part-time job in this setting-up-my-own-small-art-business process [meaning this is it Full-Time!] it allows me to observe my self at work; in so doing I'm learning more and more about how and why it is I do as I do.
How I start out with an idea, a small sketch, sometimes not even that, just a scrap or two lined up or (part of) a lino-print on a bit of cloth.
I like starting in the middle and working outwards, I prefer some sort of symmetry, however the two sides (panels) are never completely alike, they are similar whilst differing ever so slightly.
I can work pretty neatly, with lots of small stitches, I prefer the squares and oblong shapes in a patchwork, at the same time I am most definitely not a perfectionist, so I do not mind if and when the lines do not quite add up. Maybe I don't use rounder shapes as I'm not yet capable of managing those. What I find extremely useful is ironing the seams before sewing as the crisp crease offers an excellent guide for my needle and thread.

This 'hanging construction' for the BirdQuilt allows me to try out different combinations, a bit like making a collage, pinning strips of fabric on,  taking a step back, looking closely, engaging with the piece.....taking a photo, staring at that, undoing some bits, stitching them back together, deciding to take it apart yet again....sewing together new patches, abandoning the project in frustration at being stuck; inspiration rekindled  by Jude's class......picking the cloth up once more.
This small collage of patches simply grew by picking bits from my third scrap basket (I have three baskets: one with very thin bits of fabric, a second with my small collection of silk cloth bits, a third with cotton/linen scraps)

These cloth scraps were gifts from so many: Jet Jude Julie Nancy Jennie, the blue chambray comes from Dee and the green flowers from Lise, my mother; I call it Connection Patch Piece, underlying everything I do is the desire to connect, make connections with others

In these emotional times I yearn for colour, desiring cheerful, joyful patterns in the knowledge that sadness, pain and loss are facts of life, always just around the corner. They'll seek me out no matter what, all I can do is decide to lean in and in moments of reprieve embrace life.
laid out on the floor


I made four more StarBirds, two of which feature here, I do like the combination of the blue with the home-dyed fabric below; I don't know why the tips of the wings turned out 'clipped off' however I think I've managed to make turn my mistake into a quaint detail, varying from bright red to a magical nod to Jude

Thursday, 3 October 2019

life is about letting go

after 2 days of serious sewing 4 joyful birds!

first sketch (and in fact final basic design) for a bird puzzle block, of course inspired by Jude's Class over in Small Cloth, Patchwork in Perspective Part 2

 I had gotten stuck in the BirdQuilt and here was the solution to unblocking my clogged up brain

this is StarBird number one, made with a nine-patch-grid in mind; a lot of stitching and seams meeting at the back which needed a good iron-press, so I got to thinking, maybe there's a shortcut:

number two, with larger areas pre-cut, however this proved to be more difficult than I had imagined, especially the triangle on the left! which pushes the piece up a bit; good to know though.

Number three is the one with the green polka dots, where I divided the larger left triangle into two, making for a better fit, plus the 'body' is made up of three parts again: a square and two triangles (are you still following?)

I suppose I could get away with keeping the lozenge (i.e. the head) and the larger triangle with the wings facing 'downward'. However in all other variations I think I'll stick to the making of squares, as I am not that precise, despite using the same templates and ironing the seams flat before stitching.
 I have learned and discovered for myself by actually doing (duh), that breaking the parts down into (parts of) squares and then sewing them all together according to the nine patch grid makes perfect sense, which is why Jude, among many other patch-working people probably follow this principle; the nine patch (or 4, 16, 25 etc) method is the most forgiving as far as I can tell
I also very much like the grid-lines showing

instead of being less work, number four proved to be more work, although that could be down to my imprecise cutting and ironing! those angles where the corners meet up were particularly cumbersome, although I did enjoy trying all this out!

I am now sewing four more, same as number one, albeit with different background colours, as I need a couple more for the quilt. The birds are all Blue so they match the colour scheme, because I'm that organised (not;-))

This is a 2faced post, much joy in the stitching and much sadness due to family circumstances, I wasn't sure how much I wanted to share here, but the crowd's not that big so here goes:
it has been a tough year for me, not just because I have been struggling with my burn-out and physical pain - I am on the mend! - but also because both my aging parents' health has deteriorated rapidly these past months; in fact my 85 year old mother now does not have long to live. Although we, i.e. my younger sister and brother, do not know exactly how long, as no doctor can possibly answer such a question.....With parents aged 88 and 85, I suppose this is only to be expected and we have of course known this was going to happen, especially after our dad's heart attack a year ago. It has been an emotional blow to hear, see and feel how bad it really is now. Fortunately my siblings and I have a good, loving relationship and can offer each other support. I have a husband and two sons, who are incredibly sweet, kind and loving; a couple of close friends who are simply there for me.
Many of you have been through this and know exactly what I'm talking about.

We will be together tomorrow, just the five of us spending precious time together

I don't know how or what or why, just that I am going to have to let go