Archive for the ‘Halloween’ Category

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!

Strips and Stripes for Halloween

October 15, 2014

The best part about uncovering my Halloween fabric stash is that most of the collection are scraps. Knowing I will never get a full-size quilt out of this stuff, I felt liberated. Not inspired, mind you. It took a whole lot of staring before I decided to use my go-to technique and assembled strips and stripes for the Halloween projects.

If you really see four moons outside your window, lay off the whiskey

If you really see four moons outside your window, lay off the whiskey

This is the easy solution for a landscape fabric – turn it into a scene from a window, complete with window case treatment and wallpaper.

Yes, those are eyes in the dark

Yes, those are eyes in the dark

I used a modified collage technique for this very small quilt. Some of the top is pieced, but most is layered and zig-zagged around the edges. I may put a string of silver sequins around the gray moon-lit square after I quilt the piece.

Lani Longshore spider card

Once I made the backings for the first two quilts, I had such small pieces left that I indulged myself with postcard quilts and embellishments meant for scrap-booking.

Cats A

Cats and Bat A

I’m more a dog person, but you can’t beat black cat batiks at Halloween, so I made two.

Cats and Bat B

Cats and Bat B

The embellishment started with a wreath for a handmade Christmas card. I glued on a bat button, and now it’s a spiderweb-covered cave entrance.

An October-December marriage

An October-December marriage

I also found the bat applique I bought years ago from B. CooleDesigns. This postcard quilt is for me.

Lani Longshore bat postcard

Last but not least, the traditional witches hat –

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Luck and wisdom!

Where I’m From, Where I’m Going

November 6, 2013

In an attempt to wrench myself away from the rest of my Halloween fabric, I decided to make one more project and then reassess the sewing room. Since I can make tote bags in my sleep, that’s the project I chose.

 

The side with the crows

The side with the ravens

 

This is a very simple bag – no pockets, no zippers, no embellishments – just an enjoyment of fabric.

 

The side with the bats

The side with the bats

 

The reassessment took a bit more effort. While I was stacking up fabric for future consideration, I noticed some of the inspiration objects I have in the room.

 

My grandparents creations

My grandparents’ creations

 

This vase and the plastic flowers were made by my grandparents, Fred and Luba Rezansoff. They were multi-talented people who sang (click here to see the album of Russian songs they made with close friends), served their community, gardened and made art.

 

That desire to make beautiful things filtered through the generations. My mother made a flower arrangement from one of the miniature pitchers that my grandfather carved.

 

From my grandfather to my mother to me

From my grandfather to my mother to me

 

It’s kind of thrilling to think about the genetic contribution to who I am as an artist (instead of obsessing about the genetic contribution to my expanding waistline). That’s where I’m from. The question before me is where am I going?

 

Once again, family came up with the answer. My brother mentioned that Karen Nyberg, now on the International Space Station, put out a call for star blocks. Click here for a link to the NASA website or here for information on the star block challenge.

 

I met another quilting astronaut on the set of Simply Quilts. Jan Davis doesn’t mention quilting in her official NASA biography, but she appeared on a show in 2000 and demonstrated hand applique. She designed a pattern based on the NASA astronaut pin that was available free on the Simply Quilts website.

 

(Shameless self promotion – I was also a guest on Simply Quilts. Alex Anderson‘s producers wanted to do a show on quilting in non-traditional venues. Alex and I are both members of Amador Valley Quilters, so she knew about the prison project and asked if I would mind her passing my contact information to the producers. Mind? Mind?!! I couldn’t say yes fast enough. Taping the show was a joy, and then to be allowed to watch the taping of Jan Davis and meet her afterwards – one of the best days in my life.)

 

Davis flew on three space shuttle missions. Like Nyberg, she also brought fabric into space. While I’m sad that this connection between quilting and NASA isn’t (yet) in the official history, at least Nyberg’s art is being recognized.

 

I don’t know if Davis or Nyberg or even my grandfather identify themselves as artists, but I do. Making something beautiful is as much a gift to the community as it is to the artist/crafter/hobbyist/human being expressing joy or pain or amazement at life itself. And yes, I’m including art that challenges or disturbs in the category of “something beautiful” because there can be a beauty about truthful emotion that transcends any ugliness in the piece.

 

My first impressions of Northern California in 1983 were not those of beauty. My husband and I were driving down I-5 in mid-summer, the last leg on our move from Boston. Every mile we drove south, more green disappeared from the landscape. By the time we hit Redding I accused him of taking me to Mars. This quilt is based on that memory. With a little bit of luck and a lot of perseverance, I hope to find some beauty in there.

 

To Mars, via California

To Mars, via California

 

 

A Fabric Obsession

October 30, 2013

My next quilt project is going to be called Fabric Obsession – Variations on a Theme. Either that, or Fabric Obsession Virus Strains and How to Recognize Them. I had a couple of variation/virus things going on this week. The Halloween fabric kept whispering to me, giving me ideas for more projects.

 

Lani Longshore spider purse

 

I strip-pieced the panel of spider fabric first, then decided the Pixeladies Bellinzona Cube pattern would work just fine. This design has a zipper in it, but the directions are clear enough that even I could assemble the section on the first try.

 

The spider fabric is jazzy enough that the purse did not require embellishment, but these orange beads, which I inherited from my grandfather Fred Rezansoff, begged to be included in the next project.

 

Lani Longshore beads

 

That project also used some of the fabric I couldn’t bear to cut.

 

Lani Longshore Halloween fabric

 

Instead, I made a quilters pop-up book for Halloween. After gluing the base fabric on foam core – cars for the road, the spooky scene for a backdrop – I made cut-outs of a tree and two buildings.

 

Lani Longshore tree pop-up

 

Some of the beads became feet for the base.

 

Lani Longshore bead feet

 

The last step was to make a candy holder from leftover candy corn fabric, and my Halloween display is complete. Let the Trick-or-Treating begin!

 

Lani Longshore Halloween pop-up book

 

The Accidental Halloween

October 23, 2013

The Christmas project schedule is progressing so well I forgot that Halloween comes first. I nearly tripped over the bag of Halloween fabric, which is how I remembered. Those goblins don’t like to be overlooked.

 

My Halloween collection tucked in a tote

My Halloween collection tucked in a tote

 

While unpacking my collection, I realized that I haven’t made anything with it because I don’t want to cut it up.

 

Too cute to cut

Too cute to cut

 

When I have a creative problem that is turning into a fur ball, I try solving it by the Wandering Method. Amble aimlessly about the house and see what leaps out at you. Usually what leaps out at me is the box of cookies I tried hiding on the shelf, but this time I was lucky. First, I noticed my collection of picture frames.

 

Lani Longshore picture frames

 

Then I noticed my collection of Halloween flowers, feathers and stuff on sticks.

 

The little arrangement that grew

The little arrangement that grew

 

For the past few years, I’ve decorated the table with a small Halloween- or harvest-themed centerpiece. I folded the small centerpiece into a larger floral arrangement in the living room when it was time to decorate for Christmas. As you can see, that arrangement is spreading out from its vase like the monster that ate Cleveland. “Self,” I said, “it is time to do something different.”

 

Lani Longshore Halloween decoration

 

This is only a prototype of a fabric collage. I wanted to see how much space I really have between the back and the frame. The next step will be to experiment with wrapping the back with fabric and placing other fabrics and embellishments only in the area that clears the edges of the frame. While I would prefer to use the glass to protect the piece, it is designed to go over a photograph, not a three-dimensional collage. Of course, I could try gluing things to the glass to get a floating effect . . .

 

Excuse me, but I think it is time to wander around the house again, this time in costume –

 

Boo!

Boo!

 

 

Detour To The Next Big Thing

November 8, 2012

Between hiding from the political telemarketers, getting back to the tyranny of the daily routine after my mom’s visit, and gearing up for my pre-holiday fretting, the sewing room went into free-fall:

The view from the hall

 

The view from the sewing machine

There was a little time for creativity – the pumpkin carving, for instance. My kids both found images to copy and transfer to their pumpkins. Not trace, copy; like art students have done from the beginning of art instruction. Meredith carved a witch on a broom in front of a full moon, and Alexander carved the Sith lord who killed Qui Gon. And my pumpkin, the one from the fiber artist who loves Halloween? I carved a candle.

Can you see the face?

Maybe next year I’ll be more adventurous.

In the meantime, a writing friend of mine, Marlene Dotterer, tagged me for a blog chain. Marlene writes science fiction and fantasy, at one time had her own business as a free-lance personal chef, and is a birth coach. Marlene and I are in a science fiction writing critique group – the wordsmith equivalent of a friendship group. You can read her blog about her next big thing here.

This blog chain is about the latest writing project of the taggee. I get to tag other people, and the people I picked are:

V.Z. Byram, who writes poetry, historical fiction, and spy thrillers. She isn’t a quilter, but she sews with her grandkids. She was born in post-WWII Europe to refugee parents, whose stories formed the basis of some of her work.

Violet Carr Moore, who is one part of Carr Twins, a former foster mom, and a writer of devotional material as well as mysteries. She also is not a quilter, but used to sew period costumes for Civil War re-enactors.

J.K. Royce, a retired attorney whose “simple” snack buffet will make you weep for joy, and who writes hard-boiled crime thrillers. She has made one quilt, which proudly hangs on her wall, and (I believe) might be persuaded to make more someday.

Elaine Schmitz, a quilter, quilt judge, quilt lecturer, and writer. I had the privilege of helping her edit her cookbook, Recipes & Recollections of My Greek-American Family. She also writes fiction in a variety of genres.

So, here is my Next Big Thing Q&A, ten questions you may or may not want to ask about other things I do:

What is your working title of your book?

When Chenille Is Not Enough

Where did the idea come from for the book?

This is the sequel to Death By Chenille, the quilting science fiction book I wrote with Ann Anastasio.

We had a few loose threads, so we thought we ought to weave them into something fun.

What genre does your book fall under?

Quilting Science Fiction, which is a new genre that Ann and I created. We also created the musical comedy genre of Quilting Vaudeville.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I would love to see Sigourney Weaver play the main character of Susan.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Quilters save the world, again, then set off for outer space.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

We’ll be self-publishing. That’s what happens when you create new genres – people get a giggle out of what you’re doing, but the marketing department doesn’t have a clue how to sell it! Ah, well.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

We’ve been working on this book a little over a year, which is a huge improvement over our last book, which took fifteen years.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I hope you could find some similarity with Douglas Adams, because he was absolutely hilarious, and that’s what we were going for in the Chenille series – a good laugh.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Ann and I wrote a quilt design book. An editor found our project interesting, but since we didn’t have a name outside of Northern California, we didn’t get a contract. We thought if we wrote a novel and made our reputation we could get someone to publish our design book. You know, when you don’t know something is hard, you jump in with both feet. Fifteen years later we published Death By Chenille as an ebook, started a sequel, and think about that design book now and again.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Ice cream figures prominently, as does a crazy quilt.

The Last of the Livermore Coffee

October 31, 2012

“I just finished the last of the Livermore coffee. I guess it’s time to go home,” my mother said on the morning she flew back East. Since she was flying into Hurricane Sandy, I was even less happy about her leaving than I normally am. The flight went well, Sandy didn’t cause much damage in her part of Maryland, and we’re already planning next year’s visit. That’s the good news.

The interesting news is the thought train her joking comment produced. No one here drinks coffee, so I only buy it when my mother comes to visit (we have a coffee maker just for her – it lives in the garage 50 weeks out of the year). Buying the right amount of coffee to last her entire trip is a fun challenge, which I usually lose. The same is true of fabric buying – do you get only enough for the project at hand, or do you buy extra? If I buy exactly what I think I’ll need that guarantees I will miscalculate, mis-measure, and mis-sew. If I buy more, the project will come together perfectly and I’ll discover I don’t like the fabric at home nearly as much as I did in the store.

I also thought about the emotional reaction I have when a sentence starts, “This is the last of . . . .” There will be tears shed when I have to say, “This is the last of the Halloween candy.” I don’t always have that reaction to the last of a fabric, no matter how much I loved it. There are times, however, when the last of a certain fabric sends me into a tizzy. I have strips and squares on the side of my batting wall, the last bits of fabric I adored and can’t seem to let go.

Here is the vase I made with (almost) the last of the fabric Mom and I used for the box:

Mom loved it, but had already stuffed her suitcase and carry-on bag. This may end up in her Christmas box.

I haven’t had much time to do anything in the sewing room, except make it even messier (yes, that is possible – difficult, but possible). Today being Halloween, there’s no chance I’ll get to those precariously stacked piles. This is my project for the day:

Waiting to be carved

With both the kids home, I bought a pumpkin for each of them and one for me. Some traditions are too much fun to let go.

I leave you with another tradition that I know my husband wishes I would give up – birds in the centerpiece (and the fuzzy pictures to document them):

A fuzzy Halloween bird for you!

[insert bird here]