04 October 2010

A Virtual Photo Booth

Monday again. Time seems to fly. So many things I wanted to do over the weekend... and suddenly it's Monday.

John's at work, Johanna is busy growing and teething and is pretty restless and wriggley. Currently she sits on my knee.
I am trying to type with one hand whilst holding her little fists with the other other hand in an attempt to stop her trying to type.

She has been very active today and generally really good, but very clingy. She wants to be held and carried all the time since her first little tooth appeared. She's very alert and keeps looking around as if she's just lost something, which is ever so cute and funny.

She's got such an amazingly animated little face. It's so interesting to watch her working things out. The range of expressions seems to grow steadily. Most recently she started "fremdeln". There is no word for this in English it think. It's normal behaviour in babies, that at a certain age they just cry when a stranger (or anyone apart from mum & dad) is approaching them.
It starts off with Johanna giving the person a long, serious look, then she pulls her eyebrows together, then pulls down her bottom lip, takes a deep long breath and then starts screaming until big baby tears are running down her cheeks. It's a heartbreaking show.

 We've spent the last 30 minutes  in the virtual photo booth.

I came across "La Photo Cabin" via Juliette on her Blog "Zuhause in Germany". Vist her beautiful blog here.

The sun is shining and we'll be going out in a minute, though we probably won't go very far as it's nearly time for Johanna's next feed.

Have a nice day and don't forget to check out Juliette's blog!

20 September 2010

A half

Our baby daughter Johanna is six months today!

03 September 2010


You can now watch "Trapezius", a dance film I worked on, in full length:

TRAPEZIUS from John Coombes on Vimeo.

John planned this film using one of his paintings as a starting point. He filled lots and lots of pages with his exquisite drawings, scribbles and notes and created an amazing storyboard.

painting by John Coombes 

© John Coombes

While we were in amongst the preparations, building the set, holding auditions, doing various test shoots and trying lots of different lighting options, we went to the farewell party of our friends Wayne and Fran who were going to live in Australia for six months. I sneaked out the back door for a cigarette [I used to smoke occasionally] and met Ian Sanderson, which, it turned out, was a wonderful coincidence. He said he was a musician. I said we were looking for a musician for a dance film. He said he was very interested in writing music for a film.

He wrote the most beautiful tunes and came up with wonderful arrangements.

Ian tailored his music around Johns images and John cut the pictures to Ian's music. I learned a lot whilst watching the amazing process of editing the piece. Oh, and by then I have also learnt that Ian is part of the Urban Myth Club, and that his sound samples have been used by hundreds of artists including Massive Attack, Lemon Jelly, the Prodigy and Beastie Boys. It was a pleasure working with him.

02 September 2010

Laugenbrezel - Bavarian Pretzels

I made Laugenbrezel "Pretzels" this week and it was a big success. They tasted exactly like they should do when you have them at a beer festival in Bavaria.

I made up a recipe by throwing 3 different ones together to make it work the way I wanted. Here's what I did and how I did it:

Bavarian Pretzels:

500 g plain flower
1 ½ tsp fast action bread yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
50 g butter (+ some butter or margarine for the baking tray)
150 ml water
100 ml milk

You’ll also need
500 ml sodium hydroxyde solution (4%)
and coarse salt.

You can order sodium hydroxide via your local pharmacy. They might even make the solution for you. Let them know that you want to use it in food, it has to be clean. I got some natrium hydroxid pearls at the pharmacy and make up my own solution. It’s a bottle full of caustic soda in pearls. This is not the soda you use for normal baking, this stuff is normally used for clearing blocked drains and stripping furniture. So be very careful with it.

4 % means 4 g of natrium hydroxid in  96 g of water. Use cold water! It will get hot. (20 g natrium hydroxid in 480 g water)

So let's get started...

Butter your oven tray (thick!) and preheat the oven to 180 ° C. Don’t use Aluminium foil or baking paper, the sodium hydroxide solution will destroy that.

Mix the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the butter (in little flakes) and slowly add the mix of water and milk while kneading. Knead until you get smooth dry dough. Do not add additional water, just keep kneading, you’ll get there.
I let the bread maker do all the kneading for me. I set it for pizza dough, but take it out earlier as you do not want the dough to rise yet.

Divide in 6 equal lumps which you then roll into 50 cm long stings, which are a bit thicker in the middle and narrower at the ends. Then form a pretzel!

Let the pretzels rest for 15 Minutes.

Put on disposable gloves and goggles. (I’m not kidding. Do not touch the solution with bare hands!) Make up your solution or open the bottle of ready made sodium hydroxide solution and pour the acquired amount into a glass or china bowl (no metal!). Now dip the pretzels into the sodium hydroxide solution. Only for a moment, not longer than 5 seconds and place them on your baking tray.

You can use a sieve and pour the solution into a glass bottle for reuse, but make sure you do label the bottle and keep it out of children's reach.

Take off your goggles and gloves. Take a sharp knife and make a cut at the thick middle bit of each pretzel. Drizzle some coarse grind salt over the pretzels and put them in the oven for 15 – 20 Minutes at 180 ° C fan assisted top and bottom heat.

Have them still warm with some thinly sliced Emmenthaler cheese with salt and freshly ground black pepper sprinkled on top and some chilled German beer. 

UPDATE: cover your worktop with lots of paper

01 September 2010

Back from Bavaria

We've had a wonderful summer. We really enjoyed our first big trip with our little one and there are lots of new tales to tell. So stay tuned.

03 August 2010

The advantages of having a very small baby

When Johanna was born, 4 months and 2 weeks ago, she was only 1490 g and around 40 cm long. Yesterday she got weight and measured again: 4620 g and 55 cm.

We are so proud of our little girl. If she keeps growing at that speed she'll have to move to the bottom drawer by the end of next week.

01 August 2010

First smiles

first smiles from Katrin Freitag on Vimeo.

Johanna practising first smiles on 21st June. She's pretty good at it by now.

I put this video on Johanna's private blog, that we started for our families to keep them updated, and I cannot believe how often they have watched it!

30 July 2010

The Other Corner

Another peek into our living room, that used to be the office of the printworks. It seemed to be a very dark room. It was painted glossy pink, which didn't help making it look bigger. After being in there just once I was convinced this room had very low ceilings, while in fact they are 3,20 m.
When I say the room was painted glossy pink I mean THE WHOLE ROOM - not just the walls. They've been painting the ceiling and the radiators in the same colour. To complete the theme they also had pink blinds. (!) Maybe Barbie did the interior design...

On the floor there used to be a dark blue carpet and underneath we found red carpet and underneath that we found an uneven concrete floor.

John knocked out some of the uneven bits and put down new concrete. On top of that we put polystyrene and wooden floorboards, we took off the attic floor. I painted the walls and ceiling white. And... we had a window custom made to match the others at the printworks.
We put in our stuff and voila... WE LOVE IT!

What do you think?

29 July 2010

The Transformation of The Old Printworks

Today you'll get a peek into our new home. So much has changed since I have seen the Printworks for the first time. Looking back at the photographs I took then, I realize how much we've done to the place to make it ours. We bought it in July 2009 and moved in in September.

Here is a photograph I took a year ago - and one I took at the beginning of March:

It's hard to believe that this is the very same corner of the very same room.

28 July 2010

The Bavarian Window

I haven't been blogging for a while, but I think it is time now to get back to it and tell you what we've been up to for the last few months.

My apologies to everybody from the BYW class, especially the "Valley of Blogs"-girls, for dropping out so abruptly at the end of the course. I missed time in the forum due to the early arrival of our baby daughter.

First of all I want to tell you that our little one has been a star. She recovered from surgery and grew stronger every day so despite the early complications we were able to take her home 10 days before her due date. I am so grateful for the care she got from nurses and doctors at the hospital - they were brilliant - as well as for all the support from our families and friends.

John was a star, too. Johanna was in hospital for 55 days, I was there every day and John was there most days. I know it must have been hard for him. When he was not able to go, because of his work, he was always there when I came back from the hospital feeling exhausted and incomplete.

It's been an exciting time, sometimes difficult, but mostly wonderful.

Looking out of the window of our flat in Bavaria this morning. It's been such a peaceful and quiet moment with Johanna falling asleep on the sofa making soft little giggley noises.

17 April 2010

It's a girl!

Johanna Marie-Louise Freitag Coombes

Our baby daughter arrived on 20th March 2010 - nine weeks early.

She  had to undergo a surgical intervention as her foodpipe did not join up with her stomach and there was a connection between the foodpipe and the windpipe. In medical terms it's called Tracheo-Oeophageal-Fistula with Oesophagal Atresia.

She has recovered from surgery and everything else is fine with her. She is amazingly strong and  has done brilliantly. She is beautiful and we cannot wait to take her home. She probably needs to stay in hospital until around her due date, the 23rd May.

06 March 2010

Frau Heuberg's Swap

My old baby bedding needs mending before our little one arrives. The baby will sleep in the cradle next to our bed for the first few months, but when it moves into its cot it shall have the baby bedding that I had, when I was a baby, which naturally I deeply love!

The two designs on top and the one with the apples are by German textile Designer Graziela Preiser. Her iconic and award-winning designs from the 1970's are currently relaunched. Have a look at her website here.

It's amazing how cheerful and bright the colours are after 35 years, 4 children and lots of little visitors. Just the corners suffered a bit, as my younger sister used to fall asleep with one thumb in her mouth and the other one busily scratching through the fabric she held in her tiny little fist.

So when I saw that Ines from Frau Heuberg is offering exactly the fabric I need in her weekly swap, I tried to find something in my studio which might make her happy to swap with me.

So I offered lovely Ines one of my handmade corsages and a paper garland.

The music sheets I used have aged beautifully with a warm tint of brown. A few month ago we moved into a building that was owned by a pianist and member of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. I found lots of old music sheets and as this pianist also was a printer by profession and our house used to be his printing workshop we also found some paper punches, which I used for the smaller circles. The bigger ones I had to cut by hand. I also used pages from and old copy of Jane Austin's "Sense and Sensibility".

I quickly hung the 3.6 metres long paper garland  in our living room, took a photograph and send it to Ines.

She instantly agreed to the swap.

Thank you so much, Ines. You made've my day!

15 February 2010


When I was in Germany over Christmas I came across the latest issue of "Landlust", a living/gardening/cooking magazine.

“Landlust” started in October 2005. In November/December 2005 it had 10 000 readers. Latest known figures:
648 866 sold issues in August 2009. It’s a big success and if you get the chance to have a look in one of their recent issues you'll understand why:
Beautiful images, mouth-watering recipes, useful tips for gardening, inspirational decorating suggestions, peeks in craftsmen’s workshops, knitting instructions for cute gloves... all presented in a lovely way.

When I first found it I really enjoyed reading this magazine, in fact I read six copies in a week. I found it very relaxing, as it was not about celebrities, the hottest clubs and the latest fashion, but about slowing down and enjoying simple pleasures. You’ll find quiet and detailed observations of everyday occurrences, traditional craftsmanship, and sustainable products that are easy to read and that appreciate the finer things of life.

The overall impression of the magazine is extended by the use of matte paper that looks and feels much better than glossy magazines.

Topics are often related to country living. Alongside “Landlust” the publisher, Landwirtschaftsverlag Münster, mainly publishes agricultural magazines, like Top Argar, which my father is reads regularly. I recently read that the chief editor Ute Frieling-Huchzermeyer, who studied agriculture and was writing for Top Agrar before, has no computer in her office. She prefers to dictate her texts and discuss topics. She has finished articles printed out to proofread.

I’m very lucky, my sister gave my mum a subscription for this magazine for Christmas, and my mum keeps all the magazines for me to read when I am back in Germany. :)

I liked their topics; informative, inspiring and beautifully photographed.

I recently became proud owner of a garden. It still looks a bit like the car park it was, but I am trying to do my best to change that.

They also feature on crafting and DIY.

When I checked their website I found they've got most instructions available online.
These cute gloves are knitted with Rowan yarns, and as this is manufactured in a nearby village I am very tempted to go there, stock up with their fine threads and get the knitting needles out.

As a textile lover I was thrilled when I found photographs of old embroidery sample cloths on their website.

I nearly forgot: “Landlust” is published every second month and costs 3,80 Euros. They do subscriptions world wide.

Have a look on their website here: http://www.landlust.de
I just had a glimpse at the March/April issue there and cannot wait to read it.

11 February 2010

Inspiration in sunlight

I took some more photographs of my inspiration board on Monday. The sun was pouring in through the big pane windows and it was a lot of fun to capture some details.

07 February 2010

Tales from a textile studio

While I was working on the inspiration board for this blog, I finally found the name I was looking for. And it was there all along.

I feel I do really need to change the name. Though I liked "Tapetenwechsel" and what it stands for, I think most people probably will not be able to pronounce it (or remember it).

Any thoughts?


So here it is, my inspiration board.

I'll print this image and put it in the notebook you see in the bottom left corner, where I keep a record of things that inspire me. As this inspiration board should show my personal style and how I want my blog to look like, I decided to assemble some of my work* on the table, instead of  just sticking cut out pictures from magazines onto a board, like I have done previously for coursework at university. I will take some images of those mood boards this week to share them with you here on my blog.

I should have taken the photograph in natural light, but I admit, I didn't. Sorry. 
I had a very busy week and today, after lunch, I wanted to have a short nap, before I finish my homework and woke up hours later. By then the little daylight that we get here in the north of England in February was gone. I can sleep for hours and still feel tired - maybe the energy burst you should have in your second trimester of pregnancy is just a myth.

Anyway - I got up and took some images of the board, without flash, in my textile studio, but was not too happy with them. So I went through to my partner's photography studio and used the big daylight flash.

[image I took in my textile studio - not too happy with it]

I left the arrangement on the floor and will go back tomorrow afternoon (if I get back home early enough that is) and take some daylight pictures from different angles.

*I put two of my fabric designs in the background and arranged some of the things I make and sell in my Etsy shop on top, together with some of the materials and tools I use, oh - and a couple of pictures I cut out from a magazine.

Please comment! Don't be shy.

31 January 2010


TRAPEZIUS, John’s most recent dance film, has been accepted at two more festivals.

It will be screened most nights from 7th Feb 2010 to 4th April 2010 at Xtend IV, in South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell, as part of their LIFT OFF! dance festival this spring.

First we have been told that it would be part of a larger showreel of dance films, but then the festival director liked it so much, TRAPEZIUS is now being featured on it’s own screen.

It will also be screened at Phoenix Picture House, Oxford at a special screening event alongside a new commissioned work for “Dance Festival - DANCIN' OXFORD.” on 21st March 2010.

And here are some images of me preparing the backdrops used in this film.

30 January 2010

The bump

There's something I haven't mentioned on the blog yet...

John and I are having a baby. It'll be due at the end of May. We are so happy!

29 January 2010


We finally got handles on our kitchen drawers and cupboards. It was quite tricky without them, but if you start with the bottom drawer and then pull out the next one... well you get the idea.

The decision-making was quite tricky, too, as I really liked some vintage style ones we found at car möbel, but we finally settled for some modern looking ikea ones as they go well with the oven handle and all the other stainless steel in the kitchen. There is already different types of wood going on and I wanted to keep things plain and clear.

26 January 2010


Thinking of renaming my blog...
So far "Tapetenwechsel" is my favourite name. Litereally it means "change of wallpaper". It's also used for changing location. And as this is what I am doing at the moment (literally and in a metaphorical sense) I think it might be the right name.
As I am designing wallpaper (amongst textiles and other things) it could stay the name of my blog even after all the moving and decorating is finished. Once we've settled in we will still need a "Tapetenwechsel" from time to time, as you could use this expression to discribe that you want to get away for a few days and stay somewhere else, i. e. need to look at different wallpaper.

Does that make sense, what d'you think?

22 January 2010

The Poppies

I am nominated for "The Poppies", a virtual awards ceremony, on Poppytalk, one of my favourite blogs.

Take part in this event celebrating the Handmade Community and browse through the lists of nominations here to find your favourite handmade accessories. Or just click on my name, and vote for Freitag Design! ;)

20 January 2010

Correspondence between Goethe and Schiller

Computer Journalist Giesbert Damaschke puts the correspondence between Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller on a blog - in real time.

Well, nearly real time, there is a delay of 215 years. Letters form 1794 - 1805 will be posted on the date they were written.
Giesbert Damaschke started on 13th of June 2009, and as about 1011 letters were exchanged over a period of 11 years he plans to be finished on 27th of April in 2020.

Good luck with this exraordinary project. It will be interesting to see if these two classical authors will be able to succeed in the blogging world.

Click here to get to the blog:: Briefwechsel-Schiller-Goethe

19 January 2010


Here are some images of  my work I took a while ago.

Dionne's invite form the previous post reminded me of a picture I took for my degree project.

That's just a snapshot of the piece still at the sewing machine, but I liked it so much that I wanted to have it on my invite and the cover of my book. So we took some more photographs

and finally came up with this one:

18 January 2010

Last week...

On Monday, the first day out after being snowed in for a week, I went clothes shopping in Leeds. Tuesday I finally managed to unpack the last two boxes that have been underneath the big table in my studio since our move in September.

I've been cooking (and eating) lots of warming winter soups this week.
Carrot and Ginger soup on Thursday, with a lovely Welsh opera singer called Richard Parry.

Friday was spicy lentil soup with “Spätzle” with Martin Riley, an opera librettist, screenwriter, storyteller and dear friend.
Saturday we went to the opening of an exhibition of works by textile artist Dionne Swift at the Bankfield Museum in Halifax. I was very curious to see her latest work as soon as I had a look at the invite.

 The exhibition continues until 7 March.

We had a fantastic night out on Saturday, when we went to The Green Miller, a pub in Huddersfield to celebrate Ruby Black's birthday. Ruby is a fashion and beauty photographer. Check out her beautiful website here.

photograph: Ruby Black

Then on Sunday I made minestrone for 7 people and, after a snowball fight and a long walk at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, it was exactly the right thing to have.

17 January 2010

New Year – new start

The last few months I was so busy with the renovation and the move that I neglected this blog, but there is still so much to tell as 2009 was such an exciting year! I’ve been working on various creative projects, but I’ll tell you about those later. I’ve collected lots of ideas and taken hundreds of images and I can’t wait to share them with you.

I plan to blog more regularly this year and I’ve been thinking about the subjects I like to write about and allocated each subject to one day of the week.

Monday – about my week
Tuesday - projects I am working on
Wednesday- other blogs and websites I like
Thursday- documenting the renovation & decoration of our new live/workspace
Friday - online finds / flea market finds

What do you think? I am grateful for any advice.