Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

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.

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The Scary Month

October 4, 2017

I love Halloween. I love the scary movies, candy corn, costumes and bat jewelry. This year, however, the month is starting out more scary than I’d like. It seems a little sacrilegious to indulge in horror movies when the whole world is living in one.

That’s the origin of Halloween, the acknowledgement that life is pretty darn scary. People have always created rituals to help with fear, ease grief, share joy. How those rituals change over the generations is a testament to humanity’s willingness to adapt, and to its stubborn optimism that the future is worth the effort.

That’s where artists (including writers) help the most. We’re blindingly optimistic, even when our inner critic is screaming at how unworthy we are. We still create. We adapt to all sorts of things – new technology, art trends, the rising cost of our favorite media. We find a way to create.

Healing a wounded world won’t be easy, or cheap, and we may never know if our approach is the best. Do what you can. Do it with love. Take the scary month, the scary year, the scary life, and make your own rituals to cope, to thrive. Be artist strong.

Looking for beauty in the dark

Luck and wisdom!

Don’t Mess With Halloween

November 2, 2016

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but this year I decided to scale back and not carve a pumpkin. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was second-guessing that decision. I went to the grocery Monday morning, pumpkins were on sale, and I took this as a sign that I should carve a pumpkin after all. My third mistake was picking the wrong knife.

Lani Longshore bandaged thumb

Yes, that is my thumb with the bandage covering a proper jab. My husband helped me clean up, then finished the carving.

Lani Longshore carved pumpkin

My husband was really sweet about the whole thing, especially since he is always warning me off knives. I come from a long line of women who can’t cut straight. My grandmother made fabulous bread, but her slices looked more like a sandy beach after a particularly vigorous wave washed over it – all ripples.

My other decorations were far less hazardous to make. I found some delightful orange pipe cleaners, and made a bow-tie for my monster-head scythe.

Lani Longshore Halloween decorations

I also found some bats on clips. Twist a few pipe cleaners together, attach the bats, and you’ve got a door hanger.

Lani Longshore bats

While we may have a pumpkin next year, I can guarantee you I won’t be carving it.

Luck and wisdom!

That Aha Moment

October 19, 2016

Two small solutions came to me in one of those lovely “aha!” moments. The first solution was for a Progressive Party project. The theme this round is movie quilts. It’s my turn to work on The Wizard of Oz quilt, and Jeanne Brophy suggested I do the scene with the house on the Wicked Witch of the East. I figured out how to make clapboard siding, but how to create the ruby slippers? Then I noticed I have crescent sequins. Red crescent sequins.

Check out those pointy toes

Check out those pointy toes

The second solution was for my map quilt. It needed more. I added more. It still needed more, especially around the edge. I explored my bead collection, and discovered I have plenty that work with this piece.

Lani Longshore map quilt

I even have beads of similar size but different colors for different sections of the edge.

Variation on a border

Variation on a border

Sometimes, solving one small problem is enough to make the whole day better. Solving two gives me a boost for a week. Being able to put out another Halloween decoration? Priceless.

Glitter and polka dots - heaven

Glitter and polka dots – heaven

Luck and wisdom!

Halloween in Tree and Flower

October 28, 2015

The decorating gods are smiling for me this year. While shopping for something else I found a Halloween tree that is the perfect size for the dining room table.

A bit of wife, and a couple of tiny bats - brilliant!

A bit of wire, and a couple of tiny bats – brilliant!

Also, I decided I didn’t have to sacrifice a squash for Halloween when I found this great polka dot pumpkin.

Shiny dots and glitter - what more could I want?

Shiny dots and glitter – what more could I want?

Even the bushes are cooperating, as our orange begonia is blooming.

Lani Longshore begonia

Technically, this was sold as a peach-colored begonia but I’m calling it orange until the end of the month.

I have a gargoyle named Trevor who lives in the backyard. Next year I may festoon him with colored lights.

Lani Longshore Trevor the gargoyle

Luck and wisdom – and happy Halloween!

What I Did On Halloween

November 5, 2014

This was the Halloween without a pumpkin. Since the weather forecast was for rain all day, I figured carving a jack-o-lantern would be a waste of a good vegetable. Instead, I put out a staff from a weird costume one of the kids wore long ago.

Creepy - and the kids loved it

Creepy – and the kids loved it

This little paper tree resurfaced, so I decorated it.

And a jack-o-lantern in a paper tree

And a jack-o-lantern in a paper tree

During the day I almost finished a Halloween-ish quilt, but didn’t quite get to the sleeve.

Crows and bats and moons, oh my

Crows and bats and moons, oh my

This quilt may be displayed next year, if I can remember the very safe place I’m certain to store it once I attach the sleeve.

Last, and for the first time ever, I decided on a project I could easily put down when the trick-or-treaters came – which they did, because the rain came later than expected.

It almost glows in the dark

It almost glows in the dark

All in all, it was a great Halloween.

Luck and wisdom!

Strips and Stripes for Halloween

October 15, 2014

The best part about uncovering my Halloween fabric stash is that most of the collection are scraps. Knowing I will never get a full-size quilt out of this stuff, I felt liberated. Not inspired, mind you. It took a whole lot of staring before I decided to use my go-to technique and assembled strips and stripes for the Halloween projects.

If you really see four moons outside your window, lay off the whiskey

If you really see four moons outside your window, lay off the whiskey

This is the easy solution for a landscape fabric – turn it into a scene from a window, complete with window case treatment and wallpaper.

Yes, those are eyes in the dark

Yes, those are eyes in the dark

I used a modified collage technique for this very small quilt. Some of the top is pieced, but most is layered and zig-zagged around the edges. I may put a string of silver sequins around the gray moon-lit square after I quilt the piece.

Lani Longshore spider card

Once I made the backings for the first two quilts, I had such small pieces left that I indulged myself with postcard quilts and embellishments meant for scrap-booking.

Cats A

Cats and Bat A

I’m more a dog person, but you can’t beat black cat batiks at Halloween, so I made two.

Cats and Bat B

Cats and Bat B

The embellishment started with a wreath for a handmade Christmas card. I glued on a bat button, and now it’s a spiderweb-covered cave entrance.

An October-December marriage

An October-December marriage

I also found the bat applique I bought years ago from B. CooleDesigns. This postcard quilt is for me.

Lani Longshore bat postcard

Last but not least, the traditional witches hat –

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Luck and wisdom!

A Fabric Obsession

October 30, 2013

My next quilt project is going to be called Fabric Obsession – Variations on a Theme. Either that, or Fabric Obsession Virus Strains and How to Recognize Them. I had a couple of variation/virus things going on this week. The Halloween fabric kept whispering to me, giving me ideas for more projects.

 

Lani Longshore spider purse

 

I strip-pieced the panel of spider fabric first, then decided the Pixeladies Bellinzona Cube pattern would work just fine. This design has a zipper in it, but the directions are clear enough that even I could assemble the section on the first try.

 

The spider fabric is jazzy enough that the purse did not require embellishment, but these orange beads, which I inherited from my grandfather Fred Rezansoff, begged to be included in the next project.

 

Lani Longshore beads

 

That project also used some of the fabric I couldn’t bear to cut.

 

Lani Longshore Halloween fabric

 

Instead, I made a quilters pop-up book for Halloween. After gluing the base fabric on foam core – cars for the road, the spooky scene for a backdrop – I made cut-outs of a tree and two buildings.

 

Lani Longshore tree pop-up

 

Some of the beads became feet for the base.

 

Lani Longshore bead feet

 

The last step was to make a candy holder from leftover candy corn fabric, and my Halloween display is complete. Let the Trick-or-Treating begin!

 

Lani Longshore Halloween pop-up book

 

The Accidental Halloween

October 23, 2013

The Christmas project schedule is progressing so well I forgot that Halloween comes first. I nearly tripped over the bag of Halloween fabric, which is how I remembered. Those goblins don’t like to be overlooked.

 

My Halloween collection tucked in a tote

My Halloween collection tucked in a tote

 

While unpacking my collection, I realized that I haven’t made anything with it because I don’t want to cut it up.

 

Too cute to cut

Too cute to cut

 

When I have a creative problem that is turning into a fur ball, I try solving it by the Wandering Method. Amble aimlessly about the house and see what leaps out at you. Usually what leaps out at me is the box of cookies I tried hiding on the shelf, but this time I was lucky. First, I noticed my collection of picture frames.

 

Lani Longshore picture frames

 

Then I noticed my collection of Halloween flowers, feathers and stuff on sticks.

 

The little arrangement that grew

The little arrangement that grew

 

For the past few years, I’ve decorated the table with a small Halloween- or harvest-themed centerpiece. I folded the small centerpiece into a larger floral arrangement in the living room when it was time to decorate for Christmas. As you can see, that arrangement is spreading out from its vase like the monster that ate Cleveland. “Self,” I said, “it is time to do something different.”

 

Lani Longshore Halloween decoration

 

This is only a prototype of a fabric collage. I wanted to see how much space I really have between the back and the frame. The next step will be to experiment with wrapping the back with fabric and placing other fabrics and embellishments only in the area that clears the edges of the frame. While I would prefer to use the glass to protect the piece, it is designed to go over a photograph, not a three-dimensional collage. Of course, I could try gluing things to the glass to get a floating effect . . .

 

Excuse me, but I think it is time to wander around the house again, this time in costume –

 

Boo!

Boo!

 

 

The Last of the Livermore Coffee

October 31, 2012

“I just finished the last of the Livermore coffee. I guess it’s time to go home,” my mother said on the morning she flew back East. Since she was flying into Hurricane Sandy, I was even less happy about her leaving than I normally am. The flight went well, Sandy didn’t cause much damage in her part of Maryland, and we’re already planning next year’s visit. That’s the good news.

The interesting news is the thought train her joking comment produced. No one here drinks coffee, so I only buy it when my mother comes to visit (we have a coffee maker just for her – it lives in the garage 50 weeks out of the year). Buying the right amount of coffee to last her entire trip is a fun challenge, which I usually lose. The same is true of fabric buying – do you get only enough for the project at hand, or do you buy extra? If I buy exactly what I think I’ll need that guarantees I will miscalculate, mis-measure, and mis-sew. If I buy more, the project will come together perfectly and I’ll discover I don’t like the fabric at home nearly as much as I did in the store.

I also thought about the emotional reaction I have when a sentence starts, “This is the last of . . . .” There will be tears shed when I have to say, “This is the last of the Halloween candy.” I don’t always have that reaction to the last of a fabric, no matter how much I loved it. There are times, however, when the last of a certain fabric sends me into a tizzy. I have strips and squares on the side of my batting wall, the last bits of fabric I adored and can’t seem to let go.

Here is the vase I made with (almost) the last of the fabric Mom and I used for the box:

Mom loved it, but had already stuffed her suitcase and carry-on bag. This may end up in her Christmas box.

I haven’t had much time to do anything in the sewing room, except make it even messier (yes, that is possible – difficult, but possible). Today being Halloween, there’s no chance I’ll get to those precariously stacked piles. This is my project for the day:

Waiting to be carved

With both the kids home, I bought a pumpkin for each of them and one for me. Some traditions are too much fun to let go.

I leave you with another tradition that I know my husband wishes I would give up – birds in the centerpiece (and the fuzzy pictures to document them):

A fuzzy Halloween bird for you!

[insert bird here]