Posts Tagged ‘Lani Longshore’

Creativity with Clutter

October 18, 2017

I made a quilt with tea towels, because I needed to get creative with my clutter.

Scotland forever, warming up my toes

The towels were gifts, so I knew from the get-go that I could never dry the dishes with them. I still wanted to use them, but for the longest time couldn’t figure out how. The absurdities of aging gave me an idea. I very often have cold shoulders and hot feet, so I made a small snuggle quilt. It is also a good size for when my shoulders are hot and my feet are cold.

The borders and binding came from my blue and green fabric drawer. I pulled out the smallest pieces, the ones that were essentially cluttering up the drawer, cut them in strips and sewed until I was satisfied.

My guard hippo and lucky egg

This is one of the non-fabric collections that lives in the sewing room. I call it a decorative display. My family calls it clutter. My friend Bettina suggested I write a story about monsters hiding in the sewing room. I glanced around at my toy collection, and an idea was born.

What secrets does the black-eyed seal hide? Will the roadrunner tell?

I think my toys are cute, but those are the things that make horror stories even more frightening, yes? So, now I’m thinking of the stories as well as the quilts that can come out of my sewing room clutter. There are still a couple of weeks before Halloween, so maybe I’ll come up with something to celebrate, either in words or in fabric.

Luck and wisdom!

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The Suck It Up, Buttercup Effect

October 11, 2017

I made a public announcement that I would have two (2) quilts ready for our guild’s annual charity donation. The tops were finished, but I still had to quilt and bind them. The deadline is next month, but knowing what a procrastinator I am, I gave myself a stern talk. “Will it be easier to finish the quilts tomorrow, Self? The next day? The next week? What’s wrong with now? Suck it up, Buttercup, and get them done.”

Amazingly enough, it worked. Both are finished.

The Twist-and-Turn pattern is great for making quilts you intend to be used. You can let the fabric do the work.

The backing is made from black and yellow prints like the binding – stars, polka dots and squares.

Here is the binding I used on the cowgirl quilt I showed a couple of weeks ago. It was the only piece in the collection large enough to cut all the strips. Now the quilt is finished and the collection has been reduced to a couple of strips. Mission accomplished.

Luck and wisdom!

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!

Who You Are Supposed To Be

September 27, 2017

I had an epiphany this week, and here’s the item that started everything in motion.

For years, I have attributed my stuffy nose and sinus problems to autumn allergies. Since so many of my friends and family have much worse symptoms, I just soldiered on and made sure there were tissue boxes in every room of the house. The last couple of years have been a little worse, so I went to the allergy clinic this week to find out what exactly I’m fighting every fall.

Turns out that is a more interesting question than I thought. Turns out I might not have allergies at all but some other issue that presents with similar symptoms but needs to be treated far differently than an allergy.

That was the epiphany moment. Who I am supposed to be isn’t written in stone. I may look like one thing, but be another. My art might suggest it is one thing, but really is another. I need to dig a little deeper and find out who I truly am, what my art actually is about, and present that story to the world. And in case you need a little encouragement, you should give yourself the gift of finding out who you are, and what your art is about.

Luck and wisdom!

The Last Generation to Remember . . .

September 20, 2017

I heard a speaker lament that people his age would be the last generation to remember the world before the internet. More important to me as a quilter is that I am part of the last generation to remember the world before rotary cutters.

The tools that changed my quilting life

When I first started quilting, scissors ruled. I cut every piece one at a time. I drew cutting and sewing lines by hand. I pinned the living daylights out of every unit I sewed because they were all so dang small. Then my quilting teacher introduced me to rotary cutters. Life as I knew it changed forever.

More useful tools

Well, sort of. At the time I had very little disposable income, and getting a cutter and blades and rulers and a mat was outside the range of my budget. Soon after my first quilting class was over, however, I had squirreled away enough money for a small mat, one ruler, and a decent cutter. I never looked back.

Well, almost never.

Still useful, but not my go-to tool

Scissors still have a place in my sewing room, especially pretty ones. I like hand work, and having the right scissors for the right application makes the project even more pleasant. The important thing is it’s now my choice when to go old-school.

I’m not great with change. I didn’t get a cell phone until public phone boxes disappeared, and computer upgrades send me screaming into the night. With the example of the rotary cutter, however, I have the assurance that sometimes the end of the world as you know it isn’t such a bad thing.

Luck and wisdom!

Fighting Procrastination

September 13, 2017

I’ve known for ages that I’m pathetic without a deadline. No matter how good my intentions, if there isn’t a date circled on the calendar the project may not get started (much less finished). This year I took a position on the board of my quilt guild, so I’m using that to fight procrastination – and use some of the fabric in my stash – by declaring my intention to make at least two quilts for the guild’s charity drive at Christmas.

Cut patches, ready to sew

I found these cowgirls and some blue squares in a plastic bag on the shelf.

Cut squares, sewn in pairs, multiplying before my eyes

Who knows where they came from, or what I intended to do with them. All I know is that I looked at the bag and said, “Self, you can let these go. Someone else will be much happier with the quilt than you could ever be.” I started with the dimensions the charities prefer and worked backwards. This is the quilt-in-progress.

Cowgirl quilt in progress

I have a gazillion collections of fabric that still appeal to me, but not as much as when I bought them. Having it all languish on my shelf makes no sense when there are plenty of organizations in my community that want quilts. Turning these collections into charity quilts gives me the pleasure of using the fabric without the burden of figuring out what to do with it. I’m also training myself to fight procrastination – a lesson that I need to relearn on a regular basis.

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!

Gifts of the Sun (sort of)

August 30, 2017

The Great American Eclipse didn’t go over my house. We had 75% coverage, which was enough for the sky to darken a little and beautiful crescent suns to appear on the patio under the leaf-covered pergola. I wanted to make an art quilt to commemorate this gift from the sun (and moon), and used the American Quilter’s Society free pattern “Luna” as a starting point. The pattern represents a lunar eclipse. I turned my version into a solar eclipse with embroidery and a well-placed button.

The eclipse in felt and thread

The base is a piece of hand-dyed wool felt that fiber artist Gail Sims made. She used leaves she collected from her yard. I liked the idea of showing the progress of the eclipse on the ground, which is the way I watched it.

The well-placed button

The next gifts come from a land of midnight sun. My friend and sister quilter Margaret Misegades was on a cruise to Norway. Knowing my fondness for antlered animals, she found something reindeer at each port of call.

This is adorable

I plan to use my little pitcher for cream once the temperature drops enough that I can drink hot tea again.

Such a grand addition to my fridge magnet collection

The reindeer magnet is remarkably strong as well as just so darn cute. Even my grocery coupons look cool underneath it.

These pencils are wonderful, and I still use pencils a lot, but to be honest I’m thinking about using them as part of a table display for Christmas with flowers – fresh or silk – and maybe one of my birds.

Luck and wisdom!

Thread Brain: A Story

August 23, 2017

I was in the midst of creating small projects with odd scraps of aida cloth and embroidery floss when I was inspired by an article about the human brain. There was a simple line drawing of the brain in the magazine. “Self,” I said, “that would go well as a cross-stitch.” I charted a design on graph paper, then did the stitching, which was a first for me. There was room left on the scrap of aida cloth, so I stitched in the words Thread Brain. There was still room, so I added another line: A Story.

Now I have a title and cover art, but what comes after that? Since I have yet to come up with a story in words, I decided to continue a story in thread. I have lots of leftover floss, so I made a multi-colored field and stitched an outline of a brain.

There is room on this scrap of aida cloth, so I’m making another image, this time of the two hemispheres of the brain.

I have no idea where this will lead, but I’m keeping my fingers occupied and using up the odd bits and pieces that clutter my sewing room. That’s good enough for now.

Luck and wisdom!

The Felt-Melt Project: Before and After

August 16, 2017

The Progressive Party decided to play with felt melting after I showed them what I learned at Art Quilt Santa Fe. We all came with pieces ready to melt. Here are before shots of mine:

For these pieces, I sewed the patches on the felt with my quilting foot. That helped keep square patches square and round patches round. It also helped me with curved quilting grids.

The Dahlek patch on this piece comes from B. Coole Designs. She comes to the Caledonian Club of San Francisco Scottish Games every year, and every year I buy a handful of patches. Many of them are still in my “I’m going to use you someday, I promise” box. It seemed appropriate to use a Dahlek on a project that was going to be tormented.

This is the first piece where the felt to be melted was first attached to a small whole-cloth underquilt.

Now for the after photos:

You can see the lace-like effect of melting the felt when you hold this piece up to the light. I might hang it in a window, or attach it to a light fabric.

Just like a Dahlek, this piece was bound and determined to dominate me. I may leave it curled and crinkled, or I may try to include it in a different, non-quilted piece of art.

The felt took longer to melt, but the underquilt escaped without a single scorch mark. I attached eye-stems on the bottom for beading. I haven’t decided which beads I’ll use, so for the moment I’m enjoying being psuedo-steampunk with my metal fringe.

Luck and wisdom!