Posts Tagged ‘creative life’


March 7, 2018

I had some green felt left over from the project with ribbon roses, and some hand-dyed purple cotton thread, so I decided to resurrect my purplework project. Purplework is like redwork, just in purple. I thought I had sketched some patterns a long time ago, but I couldn’t find them. “Self,” I said, “wing it.”

Target or alien spaceship?

To be honest, I did use Helen Stubbings’ Simply Redwork for inspiration. The motif in the picture above is the whole reason I bought the book.

These flowers are from her book too. Once I finished them, I took out some other embroidery books and played.

Sea creature or alien spaceship?

I’m not sure what I was thinking with this one. I might add beads, or I might turn the pointy motif into a tiny sea creature by adding legs and antennae.

This last piece definitely needs more beads. I started with a paisley motif, but stopped partway through because I liked the idea of hanging flowers. Now I’m not so sure. The great thing about this project is everything was left over, so even if I’m not entirely pleased with the result I’ve learned something for the next time.

Luck and wisdom!


Cityscape in Felt

February 28, 2018

The last Challenge Group project was to take a piece of art and mess with it. I pulled out my art books, looking for inspiration, and found it in a Howard Behrens cityscape of San Francisco. I messed with the concept by putting it on felt. This is what started my journey.

From a book of Behrens’ work – a street in San Francisco

This is what I got after stripping together some scraps that didn’t always match Behrens’ colors but suggested buildings to me.

A street, an ocean, a sky

I put the pieced work on felt because the felt was there and I thought I could see if I liked the idea of matting the pieced section. Then I thought, “Self, leave it on the felt and do some embroidery. Pretend it’s a crazy quilt and see where it leads you.” This is what I’ve done so far.

This may turn out to be one of those never-ending story quilts. I’ve added a few lines of embroidery, let it rest a day or two, added a few more. As I dig through my floss and specialty thread collection, I have been inspired to push the design in a different direction. Who knows what it will look like when it is closer to done?

Luck and wisdom!

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.

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!

Heat: A Whine

September 6, 2017

We had ourselves a doozy of a heat wave last weekend. We were hosting visitors, and we knew that the forecast high at our house was 114 degrees. We decided to go into San Francisco, where the high was supposed to be 88. The forecasters were wrong. The all-time city record was broken as temperatures downtown reached 106.

We melted along with the city, then melted a little more when we arrived home and discovered the forecasters were all too accurate in their estimation of the heat in our area. Unfortunately, they were also accurate in the forecast for the rest of the weekend. Oh, yes, the heat abated degree by degree. On the day our company left it was a relatively mild 97.

I made us all badges to celebrate surviving the Great Heat Wave of 2017.

The sun’s flames felt a little too close

Luck and wisdom!

Forward and Back

July 19, 2017

The family had a lovely reunion a couple of weeks ago. Knowing that the first week back from vacation is never entirely productive, I’ve made a habit of getting a project prepared before I leave so I’ll have something easy to work on when I return. That planning turned out to be more of a blessing than I expected, because I started feeling under the weather shortly after I returned home. The universe sometimes does that – the two steps forward, one step back thing – so I’m not going to complain (much) that my usual week of less-than-stellar productivity is stretching into two, maybe three.

Luckily for me, my back-from-vacation project was a baby quilt that has been languishing for about a year. Life got in the way when the top was pieced and the quilting part never happened. Now it has. Rather than anguish over a quilting pattern, I let the fabric tell me what it wanted. I also lucked out in finding a new spool of coppery thread that matched nothing but blended with everything. Then the universe really gave me a break and let me unearth a coppery fabric for the binding.

I think this will look great even cut into strips

This fabric has been hiding in the drawer for a long time, waiting for the perfect project. It isn’t alone. I have many fabrics, threads, and embellishments biding their time. While searching through my collections, I unearthed a doily that might go well with a fat quarter a friend gave me.

There isn’t enough contrast between the doily and the light fabric, I know, but I’ll solve that another day. For the moment, I’m going to accept that life, especially the creative life, is all about moving forward and rolling back. There are lessons to be learned in both directions.

Luck and wisdom!

Upgrades – Gift or Curse?

July 12, 2017

Some wretched app on my cell phone absolutely positively had to schedule an upgrade last week. My phone reacted poorly, and I lost all my photos, my Instagram connection, basically anything I actually use. Curses. The good news is once I accepted that I would be without a phone for a while I stopped thinking about it and began to appreciate the gift of time. The hours I  might have been on social media turned into a lovely period for handwork.

I finished the cross-stitch thistle that went off the rails a couple of weeks ago. Now that it is done, I’m actually quite pleased with it.

The next project-in-progress was inspired by some trees I saw on a family trip to Montana. The trunks were straight and tall. I started embroidering lines to represent them. I may or may not add the canopy after I’ve grown weary of laying down straight lines in varying widths. Someone asked what this piece was going to be, but I didn’t have an answer. For the moment, it is simply a bit of beauty to occupy my hands and entertain my eyes.

I still don’t know if upgrades are a gift or a curse. My current phone is toast, so until the new one arrives I’ll be living the unconnected life. At least I know that I can go back to the way life used to be if necessary.

Luck and wisdom!

Going Blank

May 17, 2017

Last week I discussed the quilt top my husband and I are designing together. We started with two collections of hand-dyed solids, which I am showing you now because I’ve never shown you the beginnings before.

Here’s what we bought at the quilt show

We managed to get to the last border before our concepts diverged. I found some other fabrics this week and put this draft up on the design wall.

A double border, dark blue and yellow then light blue and beige

He likes it, I like it – but here it sits. Why, you ask? Because now we have to decide exactly where those stair-stepped borders will actually step. I said he could have final approval, but then the weather got nice and the chores in the garden called him, and deadlines for my latest volunteer position piled up on me, and we have yet to sit ourselves in the sewing room and decide about this last (insert naughty word of your choice here) border.

In the meantime, I would like to begin another project but my mind has gone absolutely blank about what that project should be. Oh, there are stacks and stacks of potential candidates waiting for me, but it seems my brain is stuck spinning its wheels until we make a decision on that border. So now I’m hoping for rain over the weekend just to get him out of the garden so I can get this quilt top finished, at which point we start all over again to design the quilting pattern. Argh.

Luck and wisdom!

Social Media and the Solitary Quilter

April 26, 2017

Creating art is usually a solo journey. I am lucky enough to have collaborators for some of my fiber art and fiction, but most of my work is done alone. Social media is useful for promoting one’s work, but first you have to get something finished. I started this blog to help me move from solitary quilter in a quagmire of a studio to fiber artist with something to show for it. It was a daunting experiment.

I called this corner Fort Longshore

I’ve worked diligently, finished some things, but my studio still looks like this.

The foundation of a fort on my sewing table

The sad truth is, I have so many stacks of works-in-progess and ideas-that-deserve-more-attention and oh-isn’t-this-a-cute-fabric that my studio will probably always look like the aftermath of a warehouse explosion. However, I figure if one part of social media could make me a little more productive perhaps another part could help as well. Julain Kleist-Corwin, a good friend and wonderful writer, recommended Instagram, and now I’m on that. I believe you can find me as lanilongshore, but if you search under #artquiltsantafe you should find my posts.

My intention is to post once a day, and focus on what I’ve accomplished. Yeah, that was the plan. I’ve already put up many days of flowers blooming in our garden because I did bupkus in the sewing room.

There is always art in the garden

I’ve also posted art quilts I made a long time ago. This is one of them.

Called Window, because it reminds me of a window open to the stars

Blogging once a week helped me to get over my fear of messing up a project, because I wanted to have something to write about. I’m hoping that posting on Instagram once a day will keep me working on a project even when I’m out of ideas because a picture of something is better than a picture of nothing. Check in on my progress (or lack thereof) if you have a free moment.

Luck and wisdom!

Colors And Vineyards And All That Jazz

September 7, 2016

I’m working on a couple of challenge quilts that may never be finished. Oh, they’ll be turned in, but they both keep telling me there is always room for one more bead.

This looks more like a grape vine if you squint

This looks more like a grape vine if you squint

The challenge is Colors of the Vineyard. I started with the background fabric and put a vine on one and a tree on the other. My usual procedure is to quilt, bead and bind. This time, I bound them in the middle of beading so that at some point I can say the project is done (even if it is merely abandoned).

Beads, lots of beads

Beads, lots of beads

I started beading grapes. That got old real fast, so I started beading around the motifs. Since I bead while watching TV, the needle kind of takes over. It’s like eating popcorn while watching a movie. Suddenly the bowl is empty and you don’t know how that happened. In this case, the fabric is encrusted but I have no idea when it happened.

My mossy tree

My mossy tree

For this quilt, I intended to use a blanket stitch around the tree applique and leave it at that. Then I looked at all my beads, and realized the quilt desperately needed a bit of sparkle.

Finally, a place for these tear drop beads

Finally, a place for these tear drop beads

I’ve been beading this quilt in front of the TV, too, but I forced myself to cover only one side of the trunk. I want it to look like moss.

Auditioning fabrics - better one?

Auditioning fabrics – better one?

I hadn’t intended to enter the tree into the challenge because it doesn’t meet the size requirement. My quilting buddies reminded me that if I made an underquilt the tree would meet the requirements just fine, thank you very much. The above fabric was my first choice (and not just because I could reach it easily).

Auditioning fabrics - better two?

Auditioning fabrics – better two?

This is my second choice. My third choice is to go shopping. I know which path my budget tells me to take, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to listen.

Luck and wisdom!