Posts Tagged ‘challenge project’

Fun With Glue

November 9, 2016

The latest Challenge project is to find something unique about our area, and translate that into a quilt. There are a lot of things unique to this part of California, but what strikes me is that in any given neighborhood you can find a deciduous tree, a pine tree, and a palm tree. I’ve wanted to do a quilt about those trees for a long time, but I have yet to come up with the ideal design. So, I’m breaking the Challenge rules and having fun with glue.

Lani Longshore tree canvases

The little canvases are 4 inch squares. The fabric is from my extensive collection of tree prints. I whacked off a small piece and made random cuts until I liked the way the motifs looked against the black canvas, then stuck them on with glue stick. The jewels have no symbolic significance, I just like them. For those, I used an all-purpose white glue. I’ll attach the squares with some screw eyes.

Lani Longshore hardware

As you can see, I have S-hooks as well as screw eyes. I may attach some lines of beading to the edges of the canvases. I pulled out this box from my collection, but I will let the piece tell me what sort of beads it wants.

Lani Longshore bead box

While I was assembling the tree canvases, I remembered that I have a collection of appliques. I found one that I thought would be useful to keep me creating art when the ideal design eludes me.

Lani Longshore No Whining

Luck and wisdom!

I Deny the Reality of Finite Space

January 20, 2016

The return of rain to California is such a miracle it is spilling over to other things, like my to-do list. I actually finished the piece for the Quilting Arts readers challenge. This represents my super power, which is putting more stuff into any given area than one might think possible. I call it “I Deny the Reality of Finite Space.”

I Deny the Reality of Finite Space - a study in beads

I Deny the Reality of Finite Space – a study in beads

This piece will also be my Challenge Group project on the theme of holes. There are holes in the beads, holes in the button, and holes in the quilt itself.

Lani Longshore quilt detail

Here is a shot of the real secret to my success in stuffing (hint: I cheat).

Perhaps my real super power is hiding stuff on the back?

Perhaps my real super power is hiding stuff?

Luck and wisdom!

Filling Holes

January 13, 2016

I spent a lot of time filling holes this week. There was the hole in the blog line-up for Tri-Valley Writers, there was a hole in the flavor profile of my persimmon sauce, and there were holes on the contest quilt for Quilting Arts magazine readers’ challenge.


The theme is your superpower. I decided my superpower is the ability to ignore the reality of finite space if I have more stuff to cram into any given spot. To translate that into an art quilt, I picked a limited palette of beads and started stitching.


I also did some hand quilting


There is every possibility I will miss the deadline for this challenge because I will keep trying to cram more beads on the surface. That is my superpower, after all. Not to worry. The Challenge Group project is about holes. I can easily rewrite my artist statement to say this quilt represents the absence of holes.

Luck and wisdom!

Catching Dead Herrings

November 4, 2015

Dead herrings are kind of like red herrings, only they’re clues or plot twists the author meant to revisit but forgot. I have a lot of dead herrings in the sewing room, and this week I went fishing for them.

The back stack

The back stack

First on the list were backs for the pieces I want to bead. In the past I’ve made a back from something that was big enough regardless of whether it matched the top. I’m trying to break that habit, and I actually made an effort to have some connection between my tops and backs.

The batt stack

The batt stack

Next came digging out the batting. I have a couple of unopened packages, but I knew there were some pieces left from other projects that would be the right size. Miracle of miracles, I found the stash (at least I hope this is the only stash of leftover batting).

Lani Longshore space convergence

Finally, I made the piece I had originally planned for the Challenge Connections project. I wanted to make a convergence quilt with some space print fabric and some primitive prints. Then I found a square from a hand-marbling class that I took years ago. It made sense at the time to cut it in half and use for a top and bottom border.

Next week, if all goes well, I’ll layer and baste. Then the dead herrings will truly be caught.

Luck and wisdom!

Piled Higher and Deeper

October 21, 2015

The Connections Challenge project is taking on a life of its own. I have two more tops to show how ideas evolve, which will also go on the ever-growing beading pile.

I used a modified four-block structure

I used a modified four-block structure

This top started with leftovers. I pieced strips of the handpainted silk into a block, then added other fabrics that spoke to me at the time.

Lani Longshore challenge top B

This piece started with leftovers from the leftovers. I didn’t have any silk, but there was one nice square of the pink Japanese-style floral remaining. I added a leftover block from a Progressive project that I surrounded with the greyed green floral. The piece begged for a different direction, and I pulled some fabrics I thought I could make fit. Then my inner critic spoke up, so I put the collection aside until my art quilt critique group meeting. They agreed the piece needed a different direction, but not that different. Back to the sewing room I went, found some batiks and shiny ribbon, and now we’re all happy.

These will get a project of their own - maybe

These will get a project of their own – maybe

These are the fabrics that my critiquer friends persuaded me not to use. They were right. I look at them now and wonder what I was thinking. Word of advice – if you don’t have a group of artists in your area that gathers regularly to give helpful suggestions on each other’s work, create one. There’s nothing like having other eyes examine your design to help you improve and grow. Yes, their suggestions resulted in more stuff on the beading pile, which is already high and deep, but it’s worth it.

Luck and wisdom!

Gratitude for Loose Ends

September 30, 2015

I just returned from a terrific extended holiday visiting family. We all had a wonderful time, but then comes getting back to the real world and remembering what I was doing before I left. Luckily for me, I left some loose ends that triggered ideas for the latest Challenge project.

Lani Longshore strip-pieced Cuba

The inspiration is Cuba – colors, culture, history, whatever. I had an idea – well, the beginning of an idea – well, a tiny thought that could be the beginning of an idea under the right circumstances – and just before leaving for vacation I pulled some fabric from the scrap bin. When I returned, I strip-pieced some of the scraps, drew a pattern of Cuba from a map in an advertisement, and found some fabric for the sea.

Lani Longshore sea fabric

One piece of fabric didn’t look anything like the Caribbean, but went well with a dark green print from the scrap bin.

Lani Longshore Cuba muted

The final shape of the project is still a mystery to me, but I am grateful to have left enough stuff on the sewing table to give me a beginning. If the Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise, this small victory might be enough to get me back into a creative routine.

Luck and wisdom!

Theme and Subtext

February 4, 2015

Pick up any book about art and you’ll find a discussion of theme and subtext. Regardless of the medium, artists are admonished to define that which informs the work. The creative process itself can be reduced to exploring the impulse to express the inexpressible through theme and subtext. At least that’s the theory; practice – not so much, not in my studio.

The beginning

The beginning

For the latest Challenge project, I tried working with theory. You can’t grow as an artist if you don’t stretch (and that doesn’t include stretching your hand to the chocolate stash when things aren’t going well at the sewing machine). The theme is the color of music. I started one project already, but found a collection of fabrics which reminded me of 60s music. The fabric cried out for attention. (Neither project is likely to be finished by the deadline, so this isn’t bragging, it’s confessing.) I put two fabrics together and thought, “Self, do this as a row quilt, and let the fabric speak to you.”

I sat at the sewing machine, waiting for the fabric to tell me what it wanted. The entire collection kept silent, and I got bored, and then I noticed how many pieces had dots or circles. Circles led me to cycles, cycles led me to action-reaction, reaction led me back to 60s music and all of a sudden I had my subtext.

Another row, with separator strips

Another row, with separator strips

In row two, I took some pieces I had cut long ago to make fan blocks and re-purposed them for an exploded wheel.

Play along and tell me you see the exploded wheel

Play along and tell me you see the exploded wheel

As an author, I’ve discovered that some readers can find subtext where I thought I was just writing myself out of a corner. Playing with subtext in my quilting gives me a new appreciation for subtext in my writing. Since the series Ann Anastasio and I have going is about quilters saving the world from alien invasion, you never know when the characters are going to recreate on the page what I found in my sewing room.

Luck and wisdom!

Defining Well Begun

January 28, 2015

Well begun is not half done if you forget that you’ve made that first step – which I did with my bead collection. I thought I had squirreled all my beads in one bin.

Lani Longshore project bin

The bin wasn’t labeled, and there were bits and bobs of old projects among the tubes and boxes of beads. I took a lidded plastic box and prepared to sort things out.

Lani Longshore bead box

I thought I had plenty of room to store my beads as well as some old jewelry that I take apart for embellishments in this box. As I separated the beads from all the other clutter, however, I realized I had more beads than were in the bin.

The impetus to sort the bin came from the Challenge project.

Lani Longshore challenge project

My art critique group gave me permission to smother the piece with beads, especially black ones. I started with the one tube of black beads I found in an abandoned project bag.

Lani Longshore beading detail

The thing is, I knew I had more black beads. When they didn’t appear in the first bin, I started looking through others. Imagine my surprise when I found three other bins holding bead collections. Imagine how red my face was when I realized that I had started sorting beads many times and forgot.

The good news is I found my black beads.

Lani Longshore black beads

The better news is I re-labeled the box.

Lani Longshore bead box

The best news is I cleared out all the other bins and put my entire bead collection in this box. At least, I hope it’s my entire collection.

Luck and wisdom!

The Year To Come – Holes To Fill

December 31, 2014

Rather than make resolutions, since I often break them, I plan projects for the new year. In the year to come, my project will be filling holes.

The space was empty for about three minutes

The space was empty for about three minutes

I already started by stacking batting and pillow forms in the space formerly taken up with fabric I bought to recreate the light show from a Crosby, Stills and Nash concert.

Bring on the tie-dye

Bring on the tie-dye

FYI, you know you’re a quilter when you spend more time analyzing the light patterns and figuring out how to piece them than you do listening to the music. You also know you’re a quilter when you collect the fabric for the quilt and then it sits so long you forget when it was you went to that concert. Perhaps I’ll remember in the coming year. The next Challenge Group project is about the color of music, so out came the tote. The empty space was perfect for the batting and pillow forms, and thus my new year project came into focus.

I did make one little resolution – to dream more, and dream bigger. Here’s the tiny piece of art I made to remind me.

Take time to dream

Take time to dream

Here’s hoping 2015 is a wonderful year for us all.

Luck and wisdom!

The Hijacked Journey

December 3, 2014

I should have known better – never give the universe a chance to have too much fun at your expense. The planned blog for this week was about another version of my Challenge letter project – a journey quilt. That journey got hijacked, big time.

Lani Longshore journey quilt

This is the end of the process – the destination, if you will – and I had planned to show you how I got here. You may notice the last part of the saying “it’s the journey, not the destination” in this photo. You may hear the universe laughing right about now. That’s because the photos of the journey got munched in their own little transporter accident. While moving the photos from one device to another, they were scrambled forever.

So I picked up another path, using my grandmother’s embroidered squares to make pillows. I have enough squares to make a pillow each for my brother and cousins.

Lani Longshore embroidered pillow

Lani Longshore pillow

Lani Longshore large pillow

My grandmother bound many of her quilts with prairie points. I’m using them as a design element, mainly because I could never make a long string of prairie points lie flat and straight. Three is my maximum, and even then there is much swearing and gnashing of teeth.

And in another journey/plot twist, the gnashing and naughty words are getting me a new sewing machine. My Viking is a grand little work horse, but it is old – twenty years old. Lately it has been skipping stitches, and the bobbin pops off the spindle if I look at it funny. My husband said the waves of frustration rolling out of the sewing room are too much to bear, and my birthday present is a new machine. He even found a link to a site evaluating the ten best sewing machines for quilters.

Honestly, I did not have a meltdown on purpose (but I’m still accepting the gift!).

Luck and wisdom!