Inspiration: Wartburg Castle

Eisenach, Germany

The thing about inspiration is that you can’t go looking for it. Well, you can, but it usually finds you on its own. Last week was fall break in the Netherlands. We took some time to go to Weimar, Germany and visit old, good friends. On the way home, we stopped in Eisenach to visit Wartburg castle. The drive up to the castle from town was gorgeous. I’m always particularly taken by the contrast of the dark lines of the damp (it is northern Europe!) tree trunks against bright fall colors of leaves on the trees. Once we got to the top, the views were amazing in all directions.

Ever obedient, we followed our friends’ advice and bought tickets for the guided tour. My German is still pretty good for listening, so it went fine. It helped tremendously that the tour guide was a fabulous story teller. He had such style and enthusiasm, I think he could have turned a recipe for stew into a riveting tale! The first rooms we saw were not particularly exciting. They have been well restored, but most of the furniture and fixtures have long since disappeared, so that made it a bit harder to appreciate them. Our tour guide helped, though, causing more than one listener to gasp and then chuckle with wonder when he explained that medieval castle dwellers solved the problem of unruly storage in large boxes by (wait for it) turning boxes on their sides and inventing cupboards!

I’ll just give you a minute to gasp and chuckle. And yes, he was really that good.

Tree detail
Waves detail

My big treat was the St. Elizabeth bower. It was originally the ladies and children’s family room. It was given a mosaic treatment in the 1920s and the result is dazzling. The shapes were gorgeous. I tried to photograph as much as I could in order to be able to look back over it later. Here are two of the details I loved most. Not only do they capture organic forms, they have something of the style of Sashiko embroidery too, with repeating lines within lines. Every surface seemed to have a unique texture and pattern. And beyond the sheer beauty of the design, the execution is mind-boggling. How on earth does one achieve the shadow of oars in the water in mosaic? The result was absolutely gorgeous.

It’s funny how I lack the vocabulary to convey much more than my truly emotional response to what I saw here. It just stopped me in my tracks and transported me a bit, what can I say?! I would love to take these shapes and patterns and work them into both stamp making and embroidery in the coming weeks and months. I can just see a little bag with those waves embroidered over part of the linen or a pillow or bag with the tree on a patchwork background. Yum yum yum!

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