January 24, 2011

Design Inspirations from all over

Warning: if you’re not into crafts or designing stuff, feel free to stop reading now. You will be bored. ;-)

Every city I've gone to recently has inspired me in some way to create. Sometimes I buy a really awesome piece of fabric, which leads to a new project. Other times, the museums inspire me with their art, which moves ideas around in my head.

It does take a while to put these projects into motion. I know now I need time to formulate the idea and think through my plan of attack before I feel like I can get started. That's not to say my mind is organized and the project all laid out when I start a new project, but I have a fairly good idea of my end goal. I don't always get to the end result I imagined, but usually I get pretty close. Here's a recap of my projects that sprouted from recent trips:

dress inspired by NYC
I saw a beautiful dress in a shop in New York. I drew a quick sketch at a cafĂ© and that became my guide for this dress. I’m hoping for more summery days this year because I’ve barely gotten to wear it. Munich had a horrible summer last year.


My cousin in Israel has a belt like this and it inspired me to try to make my own. I basically measured her belt in terms of how long the different parts were compared to my arm and went off of that when creating it. I also created the shirt from a lilac sheet. Quite comfy!


This project wasn’t really inspired by Berlin. When we were there though, I woke up one morning and knew what I wanted to do with an old skirt of mine. I guess I had been thinking about subconsciously for a few days. The skirt was made of fantastic fabric, but didn’t fit right anymore. So I decided I would turn it into a sweater vest top. My favorite detail is the buttons in the back.


The details on the buildings in Croatia made up a lot of our photos on this trip so this project was a natural fit. They didn’t turn out great, but we will definitely be trying them again. We took our favorite photos from Croatia, gave them a sepia tone, printed them and attached them to newspaper-covered pieces of foam (although wood would have been much better!).


I had been thinking about tunic dresses a lot and found this fun grey polka-dotted fabric and black velvet ribbon while in a London fabric store. It was meant to be! This was my first project sewing a zipper (and I did it without a zipper foot on my machine – pretty daring!)


I created this doll for a friend’s baby based on a doll I saw in a very cute shop in Grand Central Station. This was the first time I had created a doll (or any baby stuff in general) so it was great fun.


I fell in love with this blue-flowered fabric in London and have great memories of hunting down a trimmings shop with a newfound friend to get this lace. So this holds special meaning for me. It started out as a scarf, but eventually became a gorgeous table runner.

The Victoria and Albert museum in London was so huge and wonderful. It took me a whole day to see everything I wanted to. I was especially attracted to the ironworks section of the museum and took a ton of pictures there. I came home thinking about experimenting with a fabric pen and silk scarf my mother-in-law, Priscilla, gave to me this summer. This is what resulted, although it’s hard to see because it’s basically a white scarf on white wall. You get the gist, I’m sure.

Ok, this post is already very long so I hope you enjoyed it. If you’re on Facebook, you can check out my crafts album for more projects I’ve completed while in Munich.

January 12, 2011

Comparing Munich and Berlin

Any time we go to another big city, we always compare it to Munich. Berlin was no exception. The two biggest cities in Germany are only 6 hours away by fast train, but feel much farther from each other in their attitudes.

To say Munich is conservative would be a major understatement. It's definitely the wealthiest city in Germany. Comparatively, Berlin had more edge, more funk, more life to the city than Munich does. It was bustling with people even on the second day of Christmas, which is a public holiday here. I’m sure if we had more time in the local neighborhoods to explore unhindered by numb feet and steamed-up glasses, I’d have more examples for you of Berlin's general coolness.

A few other differences:
  • Trash situation. Munich is super clean and I love that about the city. Yes, Berlin had trash on its sidewalks. But I should add that saying Berlin has trash on the streets when compared to Munich is like saying an OCD person has a cleaner house than someone who’s simply tidy.
  • Snow all over Berlin's sidewalks. Let’s just say the only shoes I wore all week were my snow boots. But again, Munich is obsessive about snow removal among other things. However, the snow on the sidewalks in Berlin allowed some industrious Berlin citizen to create a human-sized igloo we stumbled past one night. Any full-sized igloo in Munich wouldn't last very long against the sidewalk snow plows.
  • More graffiti on the buildings in Berlin. If this happened in Munich, it would be a detriment to the buildings. In Berlin, it added to the city’s appeal - it was better than what the buildings would have looked like without the graffiti. Imagine blank grey eight-story communist-style buildings and you’ve got the idea of what some Berlin neighborhoods would look like without the graffiti. The graffiti art in Berlin was quite very artistic and vibrant actually. Berlin does have beautiful buildings (like this one), but we saw a lot of communist era buildings, too.
  • Exotic food abounded! We found Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, Turkish, Italian and even a few Mexican restaurant choices all over. I wouldn’t call Berlin the ethnic food capital of the world, but for Germany, it was top-notch.
  • Differences in mass transit. Berlin’s s-bahns were mostly outside and not as frequent or as useful as the trams or buses. Plus, they were not punctual most of the times we took them and when you’re cold, an on-time train is a lifesaver. Our favorite buses were the # 100 or 200 because their routes covered most of the sights we wanted to see. Plus, they were double-deckers so we got to see the city from above while toasty warm.
I think we both loved aspects of Berlin and wished we could bring a touch of the edginess back to Munich. But there also are parts of Munich and the way of life in Munich we love.

January 9, 2011

Berlin Reviewed

I could say I wanted to let our experience in Berlin to sink in before I felt able to post about our trip, but that wasn't it at all. I just didn't make the time to write this week. So I started by wasting my time "composing" my thoughts and creating this nifty photo collage of my favorite pictures from Berlin.
You may wonder why there's no couple-y picture of Greg and I in the above. It was so cold I hardly felt like stopping for a picture and I worried that our camera would freeze open if we tried the timer. I know, it's an irrational thought, but hey, the camera still works and I don't regret not taking a picture of me freezing my butt off. ;-)

That being said, Berlin is awesome, even in the bitter cold (which wasn't that cold by Wisconsin or Minnesota standards - about 12-18 degrees F each day, but it feels cold when you're walking outside a lot). There's so much to see; I found myself wishing I had an extra day there to fit in another couple museums. Hands down our favorite museum was the Pergamon, which rebuilt temples and altars from Turkey and elsewhere in the world. It also had cool archaeological finds on display.

The Jewish Museum is architecturally amazing, but if you've been to many Jewish museums, the display in this one was only okay. It was very interactive though and there was still a lot about Jews in Germany before and after the Holocaust.

Another morning we walked along the East Side Gallery, which isn't exactly a gallery, but rather a section of the Berlin wall full of different artists' murals. Artists from all over the world contributed to it. Some of it reflected the graffiti scattered around the city. We also checked out the Topographies des Terrors museum about the Gestapo, SS and SA on the last morning. Again this was full of fascinating information, but I think by then we had learned enough about WWII for one trip.

Other than those sights, we ate great food and enjoyed exploring bits and pieces of a city that is very unlike Munich. Greg and I will brainstorm another post comparing the two cities for you all. In the meantime, you can check out the rest of our photos from Berlin.

January 4, 2011

Whirlwind of Berlin Museums

So, last time you learned that it was very cold during our time in Berlin. For many of you reading this blog, you know exactly what we are talking about. Like us, many of you have spent enough time in Wisconsin or Minnesota in the winter to deal with the cold. Well, we have apparently become a bit soft when it comes to the cold and we packed our time in Berlin with as many indoor things as we could.

The movie highlights some of the major museums in Berlin. Our favorite was the Pergamon Museum and unless you get a chance to travel directly to ancient Middle Eastern human settlements, than this is a great option. Many of the displays are the original human works so you can imagine this massive building being designed to house massive ancient buildings.

Other main museums you will see in the video include: Bode Museum, The Jewish Museum, The New Museum, The New National Gallery, and The Natural History Museum.

January 1, 2011

Frozen in Berlin

We'll let the video do the talking. Enjoy what it felt like to spend 5 winter days in Berlin. Basic locations include train footage, Alexanderplatz, Museum Island, and lots of the remaining Berlin wall.

The next video will highlight what we did to avoid freezing.