Posts by Thomas

Bedding anybody?

Posted on September 6, 2014

This is the third batch of work from our summertime textile exploration. Working with bedding and its large scale is very different than the work we were doing with scarves and pillows. A 2 meter x 2 meter duvet cover, for example, cannot simply be dipped in a bucket of dye. So, we headed to the hardware store for large scale wood pieces, vices and clamps. With the help of the bathtub, a bunch of dye and a twist on traditional shibori folding techniques, we created these two bedding sets.

Pillow exploration

Posted on September 1, 2014

This summer, we decided to put a deeper focus on textile design. We experimented across fabrics, techniques and dyes. A few of the pieces we’ve included here show the wide range of things we played around with, but by no means represent a collection. Here, we focus on our pillow designs and subsequent posts will show other bedding pieces and scarves.

Fabrics: we found linen to be heavier, have a better drape and be all around more substantive than cotton for pillows, so we used linen on many of our pillow designs

Techniques: most of our pillow designs were created by using immersion dyeing, direct printing, shibori (a Japanese term for several methods of resist-dyeing to make a pattern by binding, folding, twisting and compressing), stenciling, discharge application, traditional batik (wax resist) and/or block printing with stamps we made ourselves from found objects or foam

Dyes: we bought all of our textile dyes here in Berlin. They are: fiber-reactive dyes, discharge gel (which is like bleach), fabric paints and photo emulsion for textiles that develops in sunlight

Schloss Charlottenburg

Posted on August 30, 2014

Over the last few months, we’ve found ourselves sticking mainly to the East side of Berlin. So today’s field trip was a trek to the West to visit Charlottenburg Palace. This ornate royal residence was built at the end of the 17th century in baroque and rococo styles. It even includes a room called ‘the Porcelain Cabinet,’ which holds thousands of porcelain objects as well as a stuffed deer hanging from the ornate molding. Outside are formal gardens and walking trails surrounded by beautiful woodlands.

Field of stelae

Posted on August 24, 2014

Michelle came to visit from London and we took one of our favorite sunny day bike rides through Berlin. We walked around the Field of Stelae, a somber memorial to victims of the Holocaust.

The monument is laid out over 19,000 square meters and includes 2,711 concrete pillars – called stalae – that create a grid-like structure. We walked through the unevenly sloping field and got lost among the gray forest of concrete. It created a slightly disorienting, wave-like feeling as we made our way through the columns, all slightly different in size.

Bunker art

Posted on August 9, 2014

Housed in this old air raid shelter is one of Berlin’s largest private collections of contemporary art. We’ve ridden by it on our bikes dozens of times and only recently realized it was home to an art collection which we’d heard about through friends. Visits to the bunker are by appointment only, so we decided to check it out this weekend.

The bunker was constructed in 1943 to shelter up to 3,000 people during air raids. There are 120 rooms on five floors, and the walls are up to two metres thick. At one point, the bunker became storage for tropical fruit – it was once called the Banana Bunker – and then a hardcore techno and S&M club in the 1990s. It’s now a fascinating space which houses sculpture, installation, painting, drawing, video and photography.


Posted on July 13, 2014

Today we made a visit to the Reichstag, the center of Germany’s government. From the dome, we saw the surrounding buildings of the German Bundestag as well as other significant structures making up the Berlin skyline. The exhibition inside did a nice job of detailing the building’s past, its reconstruction after the war and how it’s played an integral role in German history. We realized how much we’ve forgotten from grade school history, so this visit served as a nice jumping off point for more reading and exploration of German history. Oh, and maybe good excuse to partake in the schwarz, rot & gold World Cup festivities.

Hufelandstraße 31

Posted on July 1, 2014

Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, Germany: Prenzlauer Berg is situated in the former East, so the area is full of wide parade streets, old Communist monuments and GDR-era buildings. All of this is juxtaposed with pre-war architecture as well: relatively few structures in this neighborhood were destroyed in WWII. So, living here in Prenzlauer Berg is a really interesting mix of German history.

The hardwood floors, 12-foot ceilings and light-filled rooms in this pre-war apartment on Hufelandstraße was a perfect find for us. We’re on a cobblestone street and downstairs are countless cafés, ice cream shops and boutiques. The bike path leads to Volkspark Friedrichshain, Berlin’s oldest public park and great spot for walking, biking and people watching (now that summer & the warm weather has finally arrived). The neighbors are friendly and it’s easy to get around for exploring, sightseeing and discovering. It’s going to be a wonderful summer…

Hello Berlin

Posted on June 22, 2014

Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, Germany: We’ve made it to our new home for the summer. We moved in yesterday and are already busy exploring this beautiful neighborhood and watching World Cup. More to come from our bike excursions and explorations through the city…

Poling in to the Delta

Posted on May 26, 2014

Okavango Delta, Botswana: Poling in to the Delta and camping overnight on one of the salt islands has has been one of our most memorable experiences to date. To understand the uniqueness of this trip requires understanding the uniqueness of this landscape.

The Okavango Delta is an enormous inland delta formed where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough in the central part of the Kalahari Desert. All the water reaching the Delta is ultimately evaporated and does not flow into any sea or ocean. This oasis spreads out over a 16,000 km² area, and is listed as one of the seven natural wonders of Africa.

The journey to the Delta was an adventure: we set out by 4×4 early in the morning and drove 2 hours through sand, mud and water into the last area that is accessible by vehicle. When we reached the end, we climbed a cow fence and met up with our crew on the water’s edge. From there, we got in our mokoro – a traditional dug out canoe made from the trunk of a sausage tree – and were poled through the waters of the Delta another 2 hours. We found shore on one of the salt islands – which is thought to have begun as a termite mound – and set up camp.

While on the island, we had about 5 hours of bush walking, which is a fun but fairly dangerous way of seeing the Delta’s wildlife. Our guide and head poler, M.B., gave us very specific instructions on how to stay safe – don’t talk and don’t make a move without his ok. We saw elephants, hippos, giraffes, zebra, buffalo, warthogs and wildebeests in the late afternoon and then again early in the morning. Along the way, M.B. also pointed out how the Bushmen lived on the land by using plant life and how to tell different piles of animal dung apart (see photo of him holding a cluster of impala poop pellets).

The beauty of this landscape is indescribable. Camping in the middle of nowhere surrounded by wildlife was a humbling experience, and the calm while out on the quiet water was truly beautiful. It was the quintessential back-to-nature experience and we loved it. We’re already daydreaming about ways to make it back to Botswana and specifically to the Delta for an even longer mokoro trip next time.

Spying hippos & our favorite campsites

Posted on May 17, 2014

Caprivi Strip, Namibia: We’ve loved camping in Namibia. Two of our favorite spots were Roy’s Rest Camp outside Grootfontein and Ngepi in the Popa Falls area of the Caprivi Strip.

Roy’s is owned by a cattle ranger – cattle production is one of the biggest industries in Namibia – and is artfully designed with hanging metal sculptures and kitschy details. Felt a little like it could be a funky New Mexico ranch plopped in the middle of northeastern Namibia. We loved watching the sun go down in our bush camp, and then later sitting around the cozy campfire with a glass of wine.

We set up camp for two nights at Ngepi on the Kavango River and listened to the hippos call to each other up & down the water all night long. On our sunset river trip, we spied a few of these loud mouths poking their big eyeballs out of the water.  This place was also quirky and had a sense of humor: throughout the camp are littered funny little additions like Poopa Falls, an outhouse on stilts with a view of Popa Falls.