Posts Tagged ‘design’

The Beading Version of The Song That Never Ends

May 31, 2017

When my kids were little, they learned a wicked little song:

This is the song that never ends

Yes it goes on and on, my friends

Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was

And they continued singing it forever just because

This is the song that never ends . . .

It still gets stuck in my head, especially now that I’ve put aside my Santa Fe quilt.

This is on its side, although I might hang it this way eventually

Since an overall beading design didn’t immediately leap to mind, I started beading the sections.

Beads for the Turquoise Trail

There is more empty space for beading and quilting, but at the moment I’m out of ideas.

Perhaps the turtle will tell me what to do next

That’s okay with me. I have plenty of other projects to occupy my time. Also, like the song that never ends, I suspect I’ll revisit the project now and again, beading needle in hand.

Luck and wisdom!

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Toes In The Water

May 24, 2017

This week in the continuing saga of the collaborative quilt: we decided to use the “toes in the water” technique for the border. I finished the inner border, and we immediately stopped to think about what we want next.

I like the top as it is, but we had discussed the possibility of another border. We’ll let the quilt sit on the design board for a bit. In the meantime, I unearthed my quilt marking kit.

When I saw this kit, I was struck by my own lack of vision, and laziness. Lack of vision because all this kit contains is a marker, a paper towel, and a piece of plastic. You put the plastic over the quilt top and mark potential quilt lines. You erase the lines you don’t like with the paper towel and start again. “Self,” I said, “you could have thought of this.” The laziness part came when I bought the kit rather than going to the craft store and buying my own plastic. The “toes in the water” part will come when I actually use the plastic and marker to design a quilting pattern rather than sitting down at the machine and falling into my go-to quilt motifs.

Shameless self-promotion alert – one last “toes in the water” moment occurred this week. I was encouraged by Julaina Kleist-Corwin to consider video blogging. New-to-me technology is scary, so I thought I would start with a tiny snippet of video on Instagram. There was a big, beautiful bug flying around one of the plants in the back yard. Out I went with my cell phone, finger on the video icon. To my absolute amazement the clip was in focus and I posted it without tearing my hair out. I tried posting it here, but discovered that would require an upgrade. As far as I’m concerned, upgrade is the single most frightening word in the English language. So – and here’s the shameless self-promotion part – if you want to see a beautiful flying critter (I think it’s a bee of some sort, but I’m not going to swear to it) you’ll have to find me on Instagram (under Lani Longshore).

Luck and wisdom!

The Year For Design

January 11, 2017

I prefer to make New Year’s projects rather than New Year’s resolutions, and this year’s big project just made itself known. My art quilt critique group started the exercises in Art Quilt Collage by Deborah Boschert. The latest assignment was in design basics. I had a few minutes and very little brainpower, so I knew I wouldn’t overthink things. I grabbed some scraps of fabric and batting. A long strip of batting and a piece of watery fabric became the beginning of a high horizon seascape.Lani Longshore seascape

I decided to continue with the water theme, mainly because I unearthed a strip of trout fabric and a batting strip of the appropriate size. The next step was to experiment with grids, so I quilted the trout to the batting, cut out nine squares, and zig-zagged them together again. This is the back, showing the basic grid.

Lani Longshore grid back

I didn’t mind the back seams showing, but I wanted to cover the ones in front. Narrow strips zig-zagged in place did the trick, and I added some extra strips to enhance the grid.

Lani Longshore grid design

The best part about these exercises is that I really like using commercial print fabrics in my art quilts, but a lot of fiber art today is made from hand-dyes and solids. If I cut into my stash, I feel as if I must have a brilliant idea to complete. Since I’m only using leftovers, my ego investment is limited. If the project works, great; if not, at least I’ve reduced the size of the scrap pile. As it happens, I like what I’ve done so far, and have some ideas for embellishment that will turn these exercises into art. Someday.

Luck and wisdom!

Design by the Seat of Your Pants

June 15, 2016

In the writing world, there are plotters and pantsers. Plotters know where they’re going at every step of the way. Sometimes their plot outlines are so detailed they basically just have to add a few “ands” and “buts” and the story is done. Pantsers, not so much. They start writing and see where the words take them. I am a pantser, not only in my writing but also in my quilting.

A footed flower vase and falling petals

A footed flower vase and falling petals

The gray top is one that the Progressive Party made for me to embellish. The rose petals and leaves were made by someone else, too – Bella Nonna. They’re silk, but feel like a thick, handmade paper. I won the package at a silent auction (don’t ask why I put a bid on them, I’ve long since forgotten). The bag with the rose petals was on the ironing board, which reminded me of my collection of red beads, and then I started working.

Without a plan.

That happens a lot in my studio. There’s no better feeling in the world when things go well and the project tells me what it wants. Nevertheless, to make a quilt one actually has to sew the top to a batting and backing, and that’s when things get dicey.

Handquilting with beads

Handquilting with beads

Forget the trouble with sewing the quilting lines after you’ve done the embellishment. Just marking those lines is a pain in the . . . pants. You’d think I would learn my lesson and consider the end at the beginning, but it doesn’t always work. In my writing, sometimes the end is as much a surprise to me as it is to my readers – so also in my quilting.

The good news is, my idea for quilting continues to develop. I decided to start with diagonal lines and scattered beads. I like the look, but will have horizontal lines along the bottom and vertical lines on the remaining side. Today I thought, “Self, bind it in red and add more rose petals to extend the flowers beyond the edge.” We’ll see what ideas I have tomorrow.

Beaded centers

Beaded centers

The beading may evolve, too. I thought adding a few beads to the flower centers would look nice. It does. I may add beads to all the petals. Heaven knows I have enough to encrust those things.

With any luck, the creativity inspired by this project will spill over to The Chenille Ultimatum. I’m working on the last chapters now, and the characters have been better at telling me what they want. Every so often, however, one of them throws a tantrum and decides something else is needed. Just like my quilts.

By the way, today is a palindrome for those of us who write the date month-day-year – 6/15/16. Sounds like a reason for a cake.

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!

Line and Repetition

May 25, 2016

This week I started the to-be-quilted stack. I had no design plans, which means the quilts had to tell me what they wanted. The bad news is the tops refused to talk to me. The good news is my art quilt group is exploring design elements now. I decided to use line and repetition.

Echoing the edges

Echoing the edges

This quilt was easy to start, because the collage style practically screams for repetition. I did one line of beading, then a line of hand quilting. I’ll continue the process until A) I get bored out of my skull, or B) the top is too heavy to lift any more.

One fabric to hold many threads and beads

One fabric to hold many threads and beads

This quilt suggested I start with machine quilting, which is fine, but the center section didn’t want to cooperate. Luckily, I was reminded that one can combine machine- and hand-quilting. So I did. I’ll also add beads (like you thought I wouldn’t).

I recalled having layered more quilts than I actually did. I don’t enjoy layering quilts. That may explain why these tops have remained unquilted for so long. If I’m very clever, I will schedule a time to put tops together with batting and backing. Once it’s on the calendar, I’ll have a harder time ignoring the task.

Luck and wisdom!

Where Random Things Go To Live

September 11, 2013

That’s how my daughter described my decorating style. It does me no good to deny it, so instead I’m turning that bug into a feature. I will revel in my ability to see patterns in otherwise unconnected items. Here is the item that started the conversation:

 

Celtic knots in brass

Celtic knots in brass

 

I decided to buy this brass wall hanging rather than the first one that caught my eye, which was a castle with beads on its turret spires. This piece has beads –

 

Connecting beads

Connecting beads

 

– but the casual visitor’s eye will sweep over it to the next delightful piece in the room. Or so I tell myself. Some of the next delightful pieces are from a long-expired balloon bouquet –

 

Stars on the piano

Stars on the piano

 

– and a visit to a fossil museum gift shop –

 

My very own fossil

My very own fossil

 

– so perhaps I am overestimating the ability of the casual visitor to see the patterns I see.

 

My studio might be a better place to start. At least I have two kinds of ships, and two is a beginning of a pattern. Here is a ship for my space series:

 

Space ships for the Christmas tree

Space ships for the Christmas tree

 

This ship might also appear in my space series, especially the quilts I make to illustrate my novel-in-progress about space Vikings.

 

More embellishments for quilts

Another embellishment for a quilt

 

On the other hand, perhaps I should accept that there is a reason I’m not an interior designer.

 

Composition Guides, Design Tools and the Lazy Artist

July 31, 2013

A painter friend, Janne Henriksen, was talking about art at a party recently. We discussed technique and process, and how she paints, and what tools or guides she finds useful. That’s when I realized I would be a much better artist if I would first find and then use the many tools I have bought over the years.

 

My favorite design tool is graph paper.

 

Lani Longshore graph paper

 

Graph paper is the single most useful thing a quilter can stock. My sketching skills are minimal, but give me a pad of graph paper and I can recreate the lines and angles of interesting shapes in a format that will help me create something wonderful in fabric.

 

I’m also fond of marking tools.

 

Lani Longshore marking tools

 

Colored pencils, markers, slivers of soap – anything that lets me add a line to fabric is welcome in my studio. Sometimes I need a sewing line, sometimes a cutting line. Sometimes I want to intensify the color of the fabric, sometimes I want to hide it (and sometimes I want to hide where the seams don’t quite meet).

 

When my free-hand drawing skills fail me, I turn to stencils.

 

Lani Longshore stencils

 

Stencils are great for quilting, embroidery, or beading designs. I like to look at them when I’m stuck for a piecing idea, too. No, I don’t do curves or pointy-points, but you’d be surprised at how the brain kicks into problem-solving gear if the fingers think they’re going to have to do something hard at the sewing machine.

 

Of course, even the most highly motivated creativity session can end in disappointment. This is where the most important design tool comes in handy.

 

Lani Longshore trash can

 

I decided long ago that agonizing over $1.15 worth of fabric and half an hour of my time was silly. I give you permission to bury your mistakes, too.

 

Experiment, Take Two

February 14, 2013

The nasty cough that is going around found me, so while I was sniffling on the couch for the last week I spent some time thinking about my curved fabric vase. One of my quilting buddies (thanks, Jan Maxwell!) showed our friendship group a product she had found for making purses. It is called Soft and Stable (ByAnnie.com), looks like lined foam, and held the promise of being just what I needed.

Before I cut into the fabric and foam, however, I decided to do a proof-of-concept piece. I took a square of canvas, cut it into a circle, marked some darts and sewed. Then I gathered the top edge. This is the result:

Canvas proof-of-concept, with darts

Canvas proof-of-concept, with darts

Next, I gathered my supplies:

Soft and stable, fabric

The product instructions claimed that sewing around the edges would be sufficient, so I assembled the three layers:

layers

Then I sewed two circles – one around the outside edge and one in the center for the base. After that, I marked where the shaping would go:

first stitches, layered bowl

For this piece, I decided to sew ribs rather than darts:

fabric bowl, ribs

This created a nice, shallow bowl:

flat bowl

Since I wanted a shaped vase, I sewed a casing to the top edge, ran some ribbon through it and gathered it up:

From the side . . .

From the side . . .

. . . and from the top

. . . and from the top

The end result is closer to the shape I want. Soft and Stable is a great product for this application, and I think I can achieve my goal. For the next version I’ll go sew darts rather than ribs, which should create a gentle, gathered curve. I’ll also cut a wider casing. The 1″ strip I cut was so narrow after subtracting seam allowances and turn-over that it was necessary to use many naughty words before the bodkin would slide through easily.

While I can’t say I’ve enjoyed being sick, I must admit that the enforced stillness gave me an excuse to take the time I needed to think through the next steps in my design. My reduced energy level encouraged me to do a simple version to see if I was on the right track. Now if only I can be this methodical when I’m feeling energetic and anxious to just get on with things.

Fish

April 18, 2012

The latest Challenge assignment will again give me a chance to finish a UFO, and again it is a Progressive Party project.

The quilt began its journey as a bordered rectangle of fish fabric. By the end it had blossomed into a fish tank on a book shelf. I was so pleased with it that I set it aside until I had the perfect quilting design for it.

Finished laughing, have you? Of course the perfect quilting pattern never revealed itself, and the darling little fish tank languished in one corner or another for more years than I care to admit. Then came the Challenge assignment – Fish. That’s all, just Fish. I can do anything I want as long as I can somehow relate it to the word Fish. I decided it was time to finish this quilt.

Which isn’t to say I couldn’t have done a brand new fish quilt. I have a sewing room full of fishy things.

One might ask why I have so many fish-related items. I can’t honestly tell you. I don’t eat fish and I prefer dogs as pets, but show me some fish fabric and it’s like putting a 5-lb box of chocolates in front of me. I start drooling, and before you know it my little hand is reaching out to snatch something. Occasionally I make something from my fish fabric –

– but for the most part I just keep adding to the collection. I can only hope that the integrity of the space-time continuum won’t be compromised if I actually use up my pile of fish fabrics.