Posts Tagged ‘family’

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

 

 

The Best I Can Do

June 26, 2013

Three quilts waited for me this week, layered and basted. The sewing table was cleared (well, cleared enough), but my calendar was not. This was one of those weeks when I had to accept what I accomplished as the best I could do, because life got in the way of quilting.

 

The good news is, I finished a gift quilt.

 

Lani Longshore Landon Leveille quilt

 

This will go to one of my brother’s grandsons. Here is the back.

 

Lani Longshore Landon Leveille fish

 

The quilt for my brother’s second grandson is next on the stack to be quilted. Here is the back for it.

 

Lani Longshore Avery Longshore elephant

 

The third quilt is the Challenge project. It is much smaller, but will require some embellishment. Lucky for me, I found a new bead shop.

 

Lani Longshore Challenge

 

Yes, I know, I probably have beads just like this somewhere in the sewing room, but I think finding the new bead store was my reward for not grumbling when I had to spend a day in an unfamiliar city for family matters. Sometimes, the best you can do is to take the bead in the hand and ignore the bead in the bin.

 

 

Boxing Day

December 26, 2012

The week between Christmas and New Year holds such promise. When the kids were younger I always planned to do great, fun things on their vacation. When they got older I planned to do great, useful things around the house. But we all know about plans . . .

At any rate, I did manage to do some things in the sewing room. I started a free-form stuffed collection that I hoped would look like Christmas ornaments that I could pile in a decorative bowl.

Christmas puffs

I still like the concept, but I’m going to have to spend some time auditioning embellishments.

My daughter asked if I would make a name tag for her dog’s Christmas stocking. She asked on Christmas Eve. After dinner. Luckily, she liked what I did.

Christmas stocking name tag

The week between Christmas and New Year holds demands, too – specifically the demand to clean up the place. Given that I still have my Easter Egg collection out on the hutch, I’m not holding out much hope for getting the Christmas moose/reindeer collection back in storage any time soon.

Christmas centerpiece with reindeer

Still, it is Boxing Day today, and regardless of what it might mean in the U.K., at my house it is a reminder to get out the boxes and put things back where they belong.

Hidden Victories

September 19, 2012

The good news about having the kids in the house is that I feel obligated to be busy. You know, make sure I’m being a good example. The bad news is, I can’t always be creatively busy. So I do the next best thing – I putter. What I learned about puttering this week is that momentum can be your friend. After tidying up the obvious stuff in the sewing room, I started tidying up the stuff that I had been ignoring for weeks.

The scrap pile is almost gone. I cut, sorted and put fabric away. While putting fabric away, I noticed some of the bins could be consolidated. When I consolidated some of the bins, I sorted larger pieces of fabric that had been in piles and put that in the now-empty bins. When I got to the bottom of a couple of piles I discovered a bin of fabric that I knew I wouldn’t need soon. That went in the garage, because there was a tiny bit of room from the consolidation project. The empty space in the storage unit was filled with books and patterns for the prison program, and that bought me a foot of floor space:

 

I can stand in front of the closet again!

No one else in the family will even notice, but I do. They also won’t notice that getting the scraps under control gave me a bit of clearance on the cutting table:

 

I can see over the stacks!

The piles are still there, but now they are low walls, not the foothills of the Himalayas.

While all this was going on, my eye fell on some leather cording. To be precise, my eye fell on the cording as it fell on my foot. Repeatedly. After the third or fourth time it fell from someplace that I had put it down (as opposed to putting it away), I remembered my tree quilt. It still needed a binding; the fabric bowls and vases I made last week used piping as a binding before zig-zagging the sections together. The technique worked well, and the leather cording was exactly the right color for the quilt, so I used it:

Almost done

 

I couldn’t have made a better match if I dyed it myself

So, in the end keeping busy resulted in creativity. Who knew.

 

Unexpected Accountability

August 1, 2012

One of the problems the as-yet-undiscovered artist faces is accountability. If you don’t have a client – gallery owner, publisher, commission-holder – does it matter if you fudge your deadline? And by “you” I mean “me.” Yes, I structure my day to maximize creativity, I maintain a list of goals, I establish a system of rewards and consequences for those goals. Nevertheless, as long as dinner is ready I’m accountable only to myself.

Until last week, when the kids arrived for an undetermined stay while they look for work. While I’m not precisely accountable to them, and even though they haven’t been here that long, I have discovered that:

  • coordinating schedules makes me more aware of what I want to accomplish in any given hour
  • having more people in the house really does mean more clutter, so I have stronger incentives to put things away in their proper places
  • having more people around makes me less inclined to waste time, even if they aren’t paying attention to me

Now, I will admit to my share of setbacks. I’ve added to the clutter – although not in the sewing room – by buying a special rug for my daughter’s dog:

I also had to move more stuff into the sewing room so that back wall didn’t get organized:

Still, I think there is going to be a hidden benefit to having the whole family under one roof again. At the very least, it is nice to show the kids that I was handling the empty nest syndrome just fine (and I have an excuse to dump the dishes on them – I need to quilt!).

Today is Deviled Egg Day

November 2, 2011

I have no idea why today should be set aside for deviled eggs, but since I like them I’m going to make a couple. No one else in the family likes them, so I must take the opportunity to treat myself when it arises.

Despite the fact that yesterday was Halloween, I am still looking for a treat. The second anniversary of this blog is next week, and the sewing room is still a mess. I’ve found even keeping the ironing board clear of piles is as hard as keeping the credit card paid off when there are a dozen quilt stores within driving distance and new stuff arrives every day and there are sales and things . . . sorry, lost control for a minute there. Anyway, the sewing room project is definitely in the trick category.

Which is not to say that all my projects are giving me fits. I did manage to finish the chenille purse:

I decided to use two of my late father-in-law’s ties as handles. If my daughter likes the idea, I’ll also think about making purses from remnants of my late in-law’s clothes as well as using ties for handles.

This is what hides between the sewing table and the window

I still want to make a few more quilts from the clothes, but there will be plenty of scraps, not to mention fabrics that really won’t play nicely with each other. Perhaps we quilters should start telling our relatives to make sure their wardrobes are well-coordinated? And that they should only wear quilt-friendly fabrics?

Then there’s my Big Project.

My nephew plays college baseball in Oregon, and my sister-in-law thought there had to be a better way to keep warm in the stands than multiple coats and blankets. She’s been using a sleeping-bag, but it isn’t waterproof. She and I are designing a waterproof half-bag, half-poncho. I’ll be making a prototype first, so you’ll be seeing a lot of this project. I’d appreciate any rituals to appease the design gods.