Posts Tagged ‘retail therapy’

Asking Questions

January 28, 2019

My copy of Wonderland, already flagged and tagged

Creating art usually starts with a question. What if I mixed these colors? What if I sewed these fabrics together? What if a stranger came to town with a mysterious gift? Then you bring out the paints, or the scissors, or sit at the computer and let the rest of the project flow logically from that question. Turns out writing history is the same. You start with a question, assemble your supplies – in this case, the documents, photographs, and artifacts of the era you’re studying – and let the story flow logically from the facts. Except that the interpretation of the facts is colored by the way you ask the question. Steven Johnson asked a question about fashion, recreation, entertainment, and the unknown masses and came up with a different take on history. The first chapter of Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World is called Fashion and Shopping. I’m not thin or rich enough to be a fashionista, but I certainly have experienced the benefits of retail therapy, especially at a quilt shop. How wonderful, then, to read Johnson’s discussion of the effect of cotton on Europe. Not only was cotton a revelation in texture to people accustomed to wool and linen, but the results of the dying techniques developed in India were irresistible. “When Vasco da Gama brought back a cargo full of textiles in 1498 from his landmark expedition around the Cape of Good Hope, he gave Europeans their first real experience of the vivid patterns and almost sensual textures of calico and chintz.” The next line is even better: “As fabrics, calico and chintz first made their way into the routine habits of Europeans through the gateway drug of interior decorating.”

My first thought on reading these paragraphs was about my next stories and novels. I could build my grand civilizations not on the bones of conquered peoples, but on the imagination of interior designers. My planets could be ruled not by emperors, but by fabric artists. Storytellers could be the most highly regarded in the population. The economies could work because they already have worked here. I’ve just begun the book and have already flagged a dozen pages with notes-to-self on world-building. All of which proves that asking questions is always valuable, and asking odd questions is even better.

Luck and wisdom!

Self-help and the Studio

July 23, 2014

My daughter is moving across the country this week. It’s exciting for her – graduate school, a road trip with one of her dearest friends, all that stuff. Me – not so much. As happy as I am for her, I will miss having her and her dog at home. My usual response to these situations is ice cream and retail therapy (aka buying stuff I don’t need). This time, I’m doing a little self-help therapy in the studio.

Lani Longshore works in progress

We’re headed to a family reunion in a couple of weeks, so I will need some hand-work for the trip. I bought the lime green Aida cloth thinking to cross-stitch space ships and bug-eyed monsters. I have no idea where the project will go from there, but the panels are small enough to include in a larger quilt or as part of a jacket.

Lani Longshore sci fi project

I got this fabric from Carol of Quiltfever, a great quilting blog. The circles looked space-y to her, and I have to agree. I’ve been waiting for the perfect project, but I think using it to help get over being sad about my daughter moving is good. I have an article to inspire space-related fiber art, and an embellishment.

Such a cute face

Such a cute face

I got this necklace from Free Hippie Bohemian Jewelry on Etsy, with matching earrings. The charms glow in the dark.

The last item on my to-do list was to get the supplies for a decompression project.

Lani Longshore hat box wool applique

I always need a few days to remember what I do when I return from vacation. The wool applique was made by my friend Lori Vogel. I thought it would make a great lid for a round box, and I have a gray window scarf to use for the rest of the box. The only thing I didn’t have was the box. Of course, I can’t find the fabric at the moment, but I suspect it will turn up in the next week. I’m keeping some of my daughter’s furniture, including a bookcase that my husband has wanted out of the garage for the entire time she’s been here. If I’m not mistaken, I’ll be spending the weekend shifting enough stuff out of the way so my husband can install the case in the studio. Who knows what lost treasures I’ll find?

Luck and wisdom!