Posts Tagged ‘Alex Anderson’

Low-Hanging Fruit

June 18, 2014


There are times when you forge ahead, knowing success will follow. This is not one of those times. This is the time to pick the low-hanging fruit and consider yourself lucky if the birds and squirrels left a piece or two.

Lani Longshore green silk

I ripped a couple of pieces of silk to dye. This one begged for beading. I found my collection of green beads, put them in a clear plastic bag, put that bag in a tote bag, and went off to a meeting. At the meeting, I couldn’t find the beads. Maybe they fell out, maybe they’re hiding under a flap or in a pocket.

Lani Longshore pink silk

This piece was intended to go with my collection of pink and brown fabrics, ribbons, buttons and other embellishments. The problem is, I don’t want to cut it, I want to wear it. I haven’t decided if that desire is strong enough for hand rolling the edges to make a scarf.

Before hopping on the pity train, I gave my project stash one last chance to be nice to me. I pulled out the piece from Alex Anderson‘s hand quilting workshop and wrote my mantra with watercolor pencils (at the very least it is what Ann Anastasio and I use when we sign our novels).

Lani Longshore mantra

Low-hanging fruit is always a blessing.

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



Starting Stories

June 19, 2013

It’s been a busy week, even in the sewing room, but nothing to photograph. My quilting efforts resulted in getting three quilt tops basted. One is the next Challenge project, two are baby quilts. With any luck (and a little work), I’ll have them ready to share next week. So this week I thought I would talk about beginnings.

My first finished quilt

My first finished quilt

This is the first quilt I finished. The label says it is my second project, but since I can’t remember what the first was I’m guessing it was a potholder, or something that would only require one block. Ann Anastasio was my first quilt teacher. She had been teaching long enough that she thought she had seen it all. She hadn’t, and she’ll still tell you stories about my ugly fabric collection. That didn’t stop us from collaborating on quilts, novels (Death by Chenille, When Chenille Is Not Enough), entertainment (Broken Dishes Repertory Theatre), and non-profits. Ann and I served together on the boards of several non-profits, including Amador Valley Quilters (AVQ).

AVQ sponsors a number of outreach programs, including the quilting class I teach at the nearby federal prison for women. The class was originally taught by Thea McCurry. I inherited the class when she moved, and have kept with it for nearly twenty years. Over that time it has transformed as the policies, budgets and demographics at the prison have changed. When I turn over the reins to new teachers later this year, some of the students will have progressed to the point where they can teach their own quilting classes.

The moral of the story is you never know what a beginning will bring. Ann could have thrown up her hands with my lack of skills (ask her about teaching me to iron properly) and fondness for odd color schemes. She didn’t, and we went on to be invited to Road to California, the annual Tennessee quilters conference, the recent SAQA conference – and we’re working on our third novel. I could have dropped the FCI quilting class when the prison made changes. I didn’t, and the program was featured on Alex Anderson‘s HGTV show Simply Quilts, has inspired other quilters to start their own outreach classes, and offers a unique opportunity for AVQ members. So – what are you going to start today?

Beading Time

April 24, 2013

Amador Valley Quilters had their quilt show last weekend. It was a fabulous show, with Alex Anderson as the featured artist and a special exhibit of Quilts of Valor projects. We also had members giving demonstrations of various techniques, and I demonstrated beading.

Me in yellow and blue for Boston

Me in yellow and blue for Boston

Beads can substitute for embroidery, and enhance bindings. They can be used to hide piecing or quilting errors, or can be scattered over the surface just because you’ve got them. I like to turn otherwise unusable jewelry into embellishments, too, and I lump that under beading when I’m giving a demonstration.

Being me, I have my beads squirreled away in many corners of the sewing room, some in containers with projects in various stages of completion. Pulling the stuff together for a demonstration requires me to paw through bins, boxes and stacks – which means I’ll get distracted and come up with another dozen or so projects before I remember what I’m doing. This year, I decided to turn that character flaw into a teaching moment. I brought a sample of the various sorting systems I have used over the years.

bead box A

bead box B

bead box C

This collection does not show how well they work, but illustrates how many choices there are and (I hope) serves as a warning to those who have a a tendency to buy these systems because they are so darned cute. I also hope it will encourage others to do what I have found impossible, namely develop an organizational system and stick with it. Of course, if I could have done that three years ago I wouldn’t have anything to write about in my blog, and that would be sad.