Archive for the ‘Halloween’ Category

My Scary Halloween Story

November 1, 2017

I usually write funny stories, so Marlene Dotterer’s challenge to write a scary story really made me work. Since the whole shebang started with critters in the sewing room, I decided to go there for inspiration. This is what I came up with:

Yes, anything can inspire a story – or a quilt

The jeweled spider is an important character, as suggested by Julaina Kleist-Corwin, so it has a prominent position on the tray. I made the ceramic crow and the purple snowflake ornament, but the other pieces are things I found in odd drawers and corners.

This isn’t the first time a sewing room find inspired a story. Another horror story I wrote, “The Family Tree” (published in Eve’s Requiem by Spider Road Press) was inspired by my tree fabric collection. This story is called:

All Over But The Screaming

My sister cornered me in the sewing room, demanding a quilt for her fifth grandchild. She grabbed the amethyst batik I had just made and said, “This will be perfect for little Angelica. Her aura is such a vibrant purple, it’s as if she told you this was what she wants.”

“Angelica hasn’t told me a thing. That batik is going into an art piece I’ve been planning for six months.”

My sister tossed her perfect auburn curls. “But you will be making art. It will cover Angelica instead of hanging on a wall, but it will still be art. I’ll make sure Angelica knows how lucky she is to be related to a famous fiber artist.” She flashed the million-dollar smile I paid for after the car accident, with me at the wheel and her side smashed into a tree.

Every cut I made into that batik felt as if I were slicing into my own heart. Never say no to family, that’s the motto pounded into our heads. I made the quilt with care, but not with love.

I finished the center and realized there was still enough of the batik left for my project if I used something else for the borders of the baby quilt. I searched through my stash for a suitable substitute. A golden leaf print blended well with the other fabrics, as did an aquamarine solid, but both seemed more like afterthoughts than integral parts of the design. While I never apologize for my decisions, I knew my sister would nag me about those fabrics so put them back in the drawer.

I considered a black polished cotton with gray circles, even sent a picture to my sister. She was horrified. “The specter of death is hovering over this quilt,” her text read. “Didn’t you see the ghost in the corner? It’s on the right, near the edge of the screen.”

I stifled the impulse to throw my phone across the room. The talismans my sister had given me at the summer solstice – a ceramic crow, a jeweled spider and other bric-a-brac on a tray – caught my eye. She said it was an altar of protection, and that I desperately needed it. I snatched the jeweled spider and broke one of its legs.

The wire pierced my skin. A drop of blood welled on my finger. As I watched it grow, the blood turned from dull red to a glowing red-orange, like lava. Sparks of light rose along the edges, as if they were bubbles in water about to boil. The sparks flashed diamond-white.

The spider wriggled from my grasp and crawled up my arm. My skin opened everywhere the raw wire touched, bringing pain and heat.

I heard a crackling sound, and the spark bubbles exploded from the blood drop. They scattered about the room. Smoke puffed from each spark. I smelled burning cotton and silk, and the toxic odor of melting plastic.

The spider waved its wire stump at me. “Apologize.” It spoke with a crystalline voice – sharp, high, unyielding.

I tried to sweep the spider from my arm, but the beveled edges of the jewels sliced my hand as if it were so much sandwich meat. My knees buckled. Stacks of fabric tumbled to the floor with me. The air swirled with each avalanche, fanning the tiny sparks into flames.

“Apologize, and I will bite you,” the spider said. “You will die tonight, one way or another. My poison will make your death easier.”

I watched the flames jump from fabric to bookshelf to curtains. The smoke smelled angry. It smelled of my own hate. Now I must choose how I will end, in bitterness or rage.

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Scary Stories

October 25, 2017

I’ve been thinking about scary stories set in my sewing room. The room itself is a scary story, but let’s not dwell on that. On the other hand, perhaps we should, and keep the title I came up with earlier in the year – Thread Brain: A Story – in mind.

So, let’s suppose the schnibbles and thread snips have gone beyond the dust bunny stage. They’ve accumulated critical mass and developed language skills.

Schnibbles of the world, unite!

Then they make an alliance with the stuffed toys to take over the sewing room, and then the world. Or maybe they infect the stuffed toys, like a parasite, and turn them into their own little army.

Birds worked for Hitchcock, why not for me?

Now let’s add another critter, one I only bring out once a year. Like this Halloween spider.

Halloween decoration or guardian angel?

This spider opposes the schnibbles. Why? To have the sewing room for herself? Or is the spider my guardian angel, sent to protect me from my willingness to create art in squalor and chaos?

This is the outline of a story. I have no idea if it should be funny or scary, short or long. It’s like a sketch of a quilt. Whether it should be king-size or miniature, art or utilitarian – those are questions that sometimes won’t take the answer I give myself at the beginning of the creative process. If you’ve got an idea for the story, write it in comments and we’ll see what happens.

Luck and wisdom!

Creativity with Clutter

October 18, 2017

I made a quilt with tea towels, because I needed to get creative with my clutter.

Scotland forever, warming up my toes

The towels were gifts, so I knew from the get-go that I could never dry the dishes with them. I still wanted to use them, but for the longest time couldn’t figure out how. The absurdities of aging gave me an idea. I very often have cold shoulders and hot feet, so I made a small snuggle quilt. It is also a good size for when my shoulders are hot and my feet are cold.

The borders and binding came from my blue and green fabric drawer. I pulled out the smallest pieces, the ones that were essentially cluttering up the drawer, cut them in strips and sewed until I was satisfied.

My guard hippo and lucky egg

This is one of the non-fabric collections that lives in the sewing room. I call it a decorative display. My family calls it clutter. My friend Bettina suggested I write a story about monsters hiding in the sewing room. I glanced around at my toy collection, and an idea was born.

What secrets does the black-eyed seal hide? Will the roadrunner tell?

I think my toys are cute, but those are the things that make horror stories even more frightening, yes? So, now I’m thinking of the stories as well as the quilts that can come out of my sewing room clutter. There are still a couple of weeks before Halloween, so maybe I’ll come up with something to celebrate, either in words or in fabric.

Luck and wisdom!

The Scary Month

October 4, 2017

I love Halloween. I love the scary movies, candy corn, costumes and bat jewelry. This year, however, the month is starting out more scary than I’d like. It seems a little sacrilegious to indulge in horror movies when the whole world is living in one.

That’s the origin of Halloween, the acknowledgement that life is pretty darn scary. People have always created rituals to help with fear, ease grief, share joy. How those rituals change over the generations is a testament to humanity’s willingness to adapt, and to its stubborn optimism that the future is worth the effort.

That’s where artists (including writers) help the most. We’re blindingly optimistic, even when our inner critic is screaming at how unworthy we are. We still create. We adapt to all sorts of things – new technology, art trends, the rising cost of our favorite media. We find a way to create.

Healing a wounded world won’t be easy, or cheap, and we may never know if our approach is the best. Do what you can. Do it with love. Take the scary month, the scary year, the scary life, and make your own rituals to cope, to thrive. Be artist strong.

Looking for beauty in the dark

Luck and wisdom!

Don’t Mess With Halloween

November 2, 2016

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but this year I decided to scale back and not carve a pumpkin. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was second-guessing that decision. I went to the grocery Monday morning, pumpkins were on sale, and I took this as a sign that I should carve a pumpkin after all. My third mistake was picking the wrong knife.

Lani Longshore bandaged thumb

Yes, that is my thumb with the bandage covering a proper jab. My husband helped me clean up, then finished the carving.

Lani Longshore carved pumpkin

My husband was really sweet about the whole thing, especially since he is always warning me off knives. I come from a long line of women who can’t cut straight. My grandmother made fabulous bread, but her slices looked more like a sandy beach after a particularly vigorous wave washed over it – all ripples.

My other decorations were far less hazardous to make. I found some delightful orange pipe cleaners, and made a bow-tie for my monster-head scythe.

Lani Longshore Halloween decorations

I also found some bats on clips. Twist a few pipe cleaners together, attach the bats, and you’ve got a door hanger.

Lani Longshore bats

While we may have a pumpkin next year, I can guarantee you I won’t be carving it.

Luck and wisdom!

That Aha Moment

October 19, 2016

Two small solutions came to me in one of those lovely “aha!” moments. The first solution was for a Progressive Party project. The theme this round is movie quilts. It’s my turn to work on The Wizard of Oz quilt, and Jeanne Brophy suggested I do the scene with the house on the Wicked Witch of the East. I figured out how to make clapboard siding, but how to create the ruby slippers? Then I noticed I have crescent sequins. Red crescent sequins.

Check out those pointy toes

Check out those pointy toes

The second solution was for my map quilt. It needed more. I added more. It still needed more, especially around the edge. I explored my bead collection, and discovered I have plenty that work with this piece.

Lani Longshore map quilt

I even have beads of similar size but different colors for different sections of the edge.

Variation on a border

Variation on a border

Sometimes, solving one small problem is enough to make the whole day better. Solving two gives me a boost for a week. Being able to put out another Halloween decoration? Priceless.

Glitter and polka dots - heaven

Glitter and polka dots – heaven

Luck and wisdom!

Anxiety Lesson Two

October 5, 2016

Apparently I didn’t get a good enough grasp on being calm. This was another week of fret fests, although I am delighted to say one issue after another was solved with a minimum of fuss. My family calls me Anxiety Woman, able to leap to the worst possible conclusion in a single bound. In an attempt to train myself to react better next time, I pulled out all my old mantras for courage. Then a new one came my way, in the form of a tee shirt.

Lani Longshore tee shirt

I’m only marginally Celtic, but I’ll take anything that keeps me from running in circles. Even knowing that anger and anxiety are often linked (anger being a fear response in many cases), the shirt makes me laugh, and laughing makes me less anxious, and that’s always a good thing.

Another good thing was finishing one of my Colors of the Vineyard challenges (and I do mean finishing, not abandoning).

Lani Longshore tree

I sewed on the last bead, took a deep breath and said, “Self, this is good.” The sleeve is attached and the label will go on soon.

Lani Longshore tree detail

Even better, it is now a perfectly reasonable time to bring out the Halloween decorations. This year I’m adding a new item.

Lani Longshore pumpkin with crows

The pumpkin is molded from heavy plastic. The beads are ready-made appliques. I couldn’t decide between two of the offerings at the store, crows or bats, so I got both. After all, the pumpkin will be seen from several angles. Why have a blank side when I can have bling everywhere?

Lani Longshore pumpkin with bats

Luck and wisdom!

Halloween in Tree and Flower

October 28, 2015

The decorating gods are smiling for me this year. While shopping for something else I found a Halloween tree that is the perfect size for the dining room table.

A bit of wife, and a couple of tiny bats - brilliant!

A bit of wire, and a couple of tiny bats – brilliant!

Also, I decided I didn’t have to sacrifice a squash for Halloween when I found this great polka dot pumpkin.

Shiny dots and glitter - what more could I want?

Shiny dots and glitter – what more could I want?

Even the bushes are cooperating, as our orange begonia is blooming.

Lani Longshore begonia

Technically, this was sold as a peach-colored begonia but I’m calling it orange until the end of the month.

I have a gargoyle named Trevor who lives in the backyard. Next year I may festoon him with colored lights.

Lani Longshore Trevor the gargoyle

Luck and wisdom – and happy Halloween!

The Practical Side of Creativity

November 12, 2014

Creativity starts with asking “what if” – for example, “What if I crushed the leftover Whoppers from Halloween and made cookies?” Since we had a lot of them, I figured there was no real downside to experimenting.

The candy known in my house as Whackers

The candy known in my house as Whackers

Who knew that those chocolate-covered things turned into a wonderful flour? They also make a satisfying crunch when you whack them with a rolling pin, which helps with stress management. I substituted half a cup of finely crushed Whoppers for regular flour in my basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, and the results were great.

Lani Longshore cookies

The next “what if” question I tried was, “What if I make the letter Challenge project with one of my grandmother’s leftover embroidered pieces and name it Jardin de Grand-mere?” Never mind that my grandfather was the one who did most of the gardening, or that the only connection my grandmother had to anything remotely French was that she would make frog’s legs every summer – for the annual fish and frog fry. Jardin begins with “j” so it fits the challenge, and I used a lovely bit of embroidery for which I had no other project.

Lani Longshore quilt Jardin de Grand-mere

Here is my grandmother’s work:

Georgia Wright Longshore did beautiful work

Georgia Wright Longshore did beautiful work

So it appears, wonder of wonders, that you can be both practical and creative.

Luck and wisdom!

What I Did On Halloween

November 5, 2014

This was the Halloween without a pumpkin. Since the weather forecast was for rain all day, I figured carving a jack-o-lantern would be a waste of a good vegetable. Instead, I put out a staff from a weird costume one of the kids wore long ago.

Creepy - and the kids loved it

Creepy – and the kids loved it

This little paper tree resurfaced, so I decorated it.

And a jack-o-lantern in a paper tree

And a jack-o-lantern in a paper tree

During the day I almost finished a Halloween-ish quilt, but didn’t quite get to the sleeve.

Crows and bats and moons, oh my

Crows and bats and moons, oh my

This quilt may be displayed next year, if I can remember the very safe place I’m certain to store it once I attach the sleeve.

Last, and for the first time ever, I decided on a project I could easily put down when the trick-or-treaters came – which they did, because the rain came later than expected.

It almost glows in the dark

It almost glows in the dark

All in all, it was a great Halloween.

Luck and wisdom!