Posts Tagged ‘color’

That Spark of Green

February 5, 2020

Long ago, I learned that adding a bit of a bitter, lemony green gave any project a jolt that brought the other fabrics to life. This quilt is a great example of the good things that can happen with a spark of green. The fabric collection I started with was okay, but I love the way it sings with the green sashing and binding.

If green really isn’t your color, find something in your own palette that will bring sparkle and sass to an otherwise pedestrian project. Your quilts will thank you.

Luck and wisdom!

The Red Toothbrush

September 30, 2019

I try to use color to subtly inform the reader. When I describe what my characters are wearing, I want the reader to instinctively appreciate their moods, backgrounds, and self-images by the colors the characters put on their bodies. Then I bought a red toothbrush and realized I am missing a splendid opportunity.

If you look at my fabric stash, you’ll see lots of pinks, purples, blues, yellows, and greens. If you look in my closet, you’ll see lots of purples, blues, and greens. If you look at my dishes and pottery, you’ll see lots of blues. One could be forgiven for thinking I am a spring and floral kind of gal, with a calm, soft personality.

That’s not how I see myself.

While I love all colors (yes, even orange), if I have a chance to buy a red accessory I’m all over it. I have red purses and tote bags, red shoes, a red wallet, red pens (both red in ink and red in case), and a red pouch to hold cough drops in my red purse. I even have a red hat.

Having realized that I could expand my descriptions, now I have to decide which of my characters will have a revelation while brushing his or her teeth, and what color that toothbrush will be.

Luck and wisdom!

Pour Art

September 26, 2018

I haven’t been able to do anything in the sewing room, what with a gimpy foot and all. Even handwork is out of the question since I have to keep the puffy little thing elevated (at the moment it looks like a watermelon), which keeps me at an odd angle on the couch, which means more beads fall on the floor than get captured by my needle. The only thing I have to look at is older work, such as this small canvas.

My art critique group held a play date where we all made two pieces by pouring paint over canvas. For once, I choose a restrained color scheme, and the results were much better than anything I’ve ever tried with paint.

The small canvas looks like an architectural detail to me, while the piece above reminds me of a satellite image, or perhaps a riverscape. I’m not sure what I will do with either canvas. For the moment, I’m reveling in the knowledge that less really can be more.

Luck and wisdom!

Return of the Flowers

April 5, 2017

My husband became the gardener in the family when the drought descended. He started experimenting with what could grow in our dreadful soil with very little water. Turns out, bulbs do quite well. He ripped out the lawn and put a bulb garden in part of the yard. This is year two for that section, and the results are much more interesting than any of the results of my week in the sewing room.

Such a soothing shade of yellow

The front yard used to be almost entirely green – grass, trees, juniper bushes. Having some color is quite a treat. As luck would have it, the yellow iris started blooming just a day before the blue. Blue and yellow is such a calming color scheme in quilting that I was pleased beyond all proportion for these two flowers.

Wouldn’t this shade of blue be a fabulous accent in a soft yellow quilt?

The next blossoms will be from this little sprig. I can’t remember what it’s called, but I loved the way the buds looked this morning.

I have no idea what the flower looks like, but the buds are terrific

Here’s a new flower that we got for a planter box. We had all sorts of things in there last year, but it seems they weren’t quite up to the unusual cold snap we had this winter. They curled up their toes and died. With any luck, the new plants will be hardier.

There’s a quilt in this flower

This plant survived the garden redesign. It’s been growing outside my sewing room window since we moved into the house. Neither drought nor frost have caused it a moment of worry, so we decided to keep it.

The bush is a massive thing, but the flowers are quite delicate

We’ve no idea what it is called, but it grows and blooms, and that’s good enough.

Luck and wisdom!

Golden California

December 14, 2016

California is called the Golden State for the 1849 Gold Rush, the golden hills, the gold in Hollywood and Silicon Valley . . . and now for gingko gold. Our one tree puts out enough leaves to turn our front yard into a natural Klimt painting (and you know there’s a quilt in that!).

Lani Longshore gingko variegated

We live in an area that gets white, frozen water snow maybe once a decade. The golden snow comes every year.

Lani Longshore gingko leaves on rock

By happy coincidence, the tree lost its leaves just as an iris bloomed, so we got a double gold effect.

Lani Longshore gingko leaves and iris

Nature being what it is, there’s no way of knowing how the yard will look next year. I remember once our back yard looked as if it had been festooned with white lace, but the next year the blooming schedules didn’t work out as well. Time to be in the moment for the moment and enjoy my golden state.

Lani Longshore gingko leaves and orange

Luck and wisdom!

The Value of Gray

June 8, 2016

I’ve been known to binge on color. Mostly I binge on pink or purple, but a while ago I fell for gray. After accumulating a stack I could never get through alone, I packaged some of it and gave it to the Progressive Party to make backgrounds for me. Here are some of the pieces they made.

Three backgrounds, waiting for embellishment

Three backgrounds, waiting for embellishment

I asked for something I could use for applique, beading, embroidery – any kind of embellishment. Here is a piece that will push my design skills to come up with something worthy.

I like this just as it is, but my bead box is overflowing, so embellished it will be

I like this just as it is, but my bead box is overflowing, so embellished it will be

Luckily, I met a writer and painter recently whose work has given me a few ideas. Harry Freiermuth wrote and illustrated Lo! Jacaranda, the story of a gypsy woman who escapes the Spanish Inquisition and ends up in colonial California.

Harry's book

Harry’s book

Harry is a much better painter than I am, but I’m thinking I could try mixed media techniques to evoke the feeling of being at the coast on a foggy, misty day.

Harry's paintings

Harry’s paintings

Perhaps I’ll take a field trip to Ocean Beach in San Francisco for additional inspiration, with appropriate side trips for chocolate.

Luck and wisdom!


September 25, 2013

I’ve been thinking about what lies underneath – what is unseen, but necessary for future growth. I wanted to show hibernation for my November calendar project. Starting with floral prints in browns and grays, I strip-pieced a base and embroidered dead plants and roots.

The earth below

The earth below

Stitches with variegated thread

Stitches with variegated thread

My idea got a jump-start with Laura Wasilowski’s hand-dyed embroidery threads.

Color + texture = fun!

Color + texture = fun!

For all the notes, sketches and supplies I keep stacked in the sewing room, my ideas are a lot like roots and seeds hiding under the ground. With the right amount of rain and sunshine, some of them poke through and flower. Others wait for the next season. It’s sort of like magic, until the hard work of growing the project begins.

Gifts, Expected and Not

October 25, 2012

Mom’s visit is nearing the end. She and I made a box together.

She is taking some Christmas fabric home with her to make more boxes. This makes me happy on so many levels – we finished a project that isn’t staying here, some of my stash is going to go into a project that I don’t have to make, and Mom and I had fun together.

Mom also finished the purple hat for my daughter. I mention the color because you might not be able to tell:

My camera insists on turning the hat blue. Trust me, the hat is royal purple – not even a hint of blue!

I always considered that one of the gifts of being a fiber artist is a chance to play with color. I know that the value of any given fabric depends on what is next to it, that different light can make some colors shape-shift into an entirely different color, and that greens never come out well on film. However, I have never had a true purple disguise itself so completely as this purple hat did with my digital camera. Perhaps in my next life I will take up photography in a more disciplined fashion and play with color in new ways. For now, I’ll take the gift of the purple that wanted to be blue and keep it for future projects. I bet there’s a quilt in there somewhere.


September 26, 2012

When I was a new quilter, my husband made me a wonderful sewing table. It had a large well to fit any machine, a broad cutting surface, another broad surface behind the machine to support any project I might be machine quilting, and four roomy drawers for fabric. I was delighted, he was proud, and we both thought this would be enough space for years to come.

Silly us.

I colonized those broad, flat surfaces soon after the varnish hardened. The drawers filled with fabric, as did the space underneath the table, on top of the table, to the side of the table . . . but this isn’t a story about space. This is a story about color, and how those four drawers came to hold the fabrics they do.

While it probably doesn’t need to be pointed out, organizational skills are not my strongest skill. Even when I find a system that makes sense to me, keeping up with it is another matter. If I have to make up a system on my own – you don’t want to know. Let’s just say I have multiple files in both physical and digital form for the same information because I forgot I had already made a file.

When it was time to decide where to put which fabrics, I tried to think of the drawers as cabinets in the kitchen. Things I useĀ  often should be in the most convenient location. Things I use to spice up a project should be next on the convenience meter, so I didn’t forget about them. The rest could go where they fit.

I started with neutrals on top. That worked for a long time, until I decided to make a black and white quilt and began collecting said fabrics. Those are now under the sewing table in a large basket. This is what the neutral drawer looks like now:

The next drawer was reds and pinks. That worked until I discovered purple. All of a sudden my reds didn’t fit, and the pinks I bought migrated from cotton candy to lavender-infused. I moved the reds next to the blacks and whites, and left the drawer for the pinks and purples.

The third drawer was for blues and greens. Those seem to be the workhorses of my designs, along with neutrals. I am particularly fond of deep midnight blues and bitter greens to energize a quilt. This is the one drawer that has maintained its color integrity over the years.

The bottom drawer was originally my miscellaneous drawer. There weren’t many interesting yellows and oranges in the 80s and early 90s, so the drawer also held novelty prints, plaids and stripes. I suspect there are some of those left in the back corners, but ever since fabric companies started making better yellows and oranges, I’ve been on a buying binge.

The stacks of scraps on the edge of the table directly over the drawers are left over from other projects. They are too small for another complete project and too precious for me to cut up in squares for random scrap quilts.

I am a gnat’s whisker away from dedicating a couple of months to making small art quilts with my leftovers. Something in the 12″-18″ by 20″-24″ range would use up most of the scraps, and allow me to play without committing myself to an idea that should never have seen the light of day. Of course, then there’s the question of what to do with projects that are essentially the size of bread box covers, but that’s a problem for another day.


The Bad Fairy of Good Intentions

June 29, 2011

Another week, another demonstration that no good deed – or good idea – goes unpunished. Since my daughter had asked for pillows for her apartment, I picked at the edges of the piles and made projects from two UFOs.

Now I had a little extra room, which always encourages me to dig a little deeper in the pile(s). The latest Challenge Group project is a color assignment, so I pulled out fabrics that matched:

I stared at the fabrics; hints of the perfect design danced in my head. Then I remembered that the project did not have to be a quilt, and I had always wanted to try my hand at making a fabric book. The more cautious angels of my nature whispered start small, and I listened. Rather than make the entire book myself, I would cover a notebook first and see how that went.

The notebook project progressed as well as you might expect from a prototype:

Although there are things I will do differently when and if I cover another notebook, I’m pleased with the result. But here’s the thing – I still have a pile of fabrics! And embellishments! And new ideas that are demanding attention! I keep reminding myself that clutter is the sign of creativity, but there are days when I wonder if there is such a thing as too much creativity.