About artisticalchemy3

Artistic Alchemy: A Tahoe Retreat for Creative Sewists and Quilters, September 5-9, 2016

Happy Friday

by Sandra Bruce

Happy Friday, everyone! The sun is shining and everything is blooming (achoo!!) I sure hope we get more rain before summer hits. My household is fully vaccinated now, so we celebrated by “going down the hill” (to Sacramento) for a fun day of shopping. In one day we managed Costco, JoAnn’s, Trader Joe’s, Ikea, and Target. To be back in the world! Life’s little (big!) pleasures.

Quick update: the Empty Spools registration is up and running, my workshop is in Session 4, if you are interested.

I want to show you a quilt made by one of my past Zephyr students, France. She came 2 years ago from Canada to work on an image of her dog, Josephine. She recently sent me a photo of the finished piece which I share here…..great job, France!

“Josaphine”, by France Courteau

In my last post I had just started a Matrix quilt of 2 budgies. The background was black in the photo. As it was progressing I felt like the black was…just too much, and not sure what to do. Take off a row? Here you see it in progress:

A blob of black, what to do? The solution was to “unsew” a bit, and insert a few blue pieces. It makes all the difference. Here’s the finished piece, “Beau and Bella”.

My next Matrix piece will be 2 macaws, in my continuation of the bird series I’m doing. But meanwhile…just to shake things up, I like to switch gears once in a while. I have a huge amount of batiks given to me by a friend, so I made 25 blocks of a wonky log cabin which I will make into a quilt. Wonky log cabin blocks are so easy and satisfying.

Meanwhile I continue with my longarm business. I get such an array of quilts to do. I so admire those who have the patience to do paper piecing. This customer makes big ones, they are always perfectly sewn, and not a speck of paper left on the back. How does she do it???

So…I realized recently that I’ve been doing long arming in my little studio downtown for 10 years, it’s unbelievable that that much time has passed. I wanted to do something to spark up my studio space. I’ve had the same 4 quilts hanging on the wall behind my longarm most of that 10 years, and I’m pretty tired of looking at them. Hmmm…maybe a new quilt where I can use up some scraps? What if I made a quilt that is the length of my machine? I was inspired by “MadgeMakes”, whom I follow on Instagram, by this quilt she had posted:

I really liked this idea. Similar to my “Color Dance” quilt I liked the concept of showing a rainbow scheme of colors. Without missing a beat I took the wonky batik blocks off my display wall and pulled out my yellows.

I made a quick sketch and decided to make 13 10-inch by 40 inch panels using the color wheel as my guide. I pulled out Cristine Barnes’ color wheel just to keep me on the straight and narrow, and to have a quick reference for opposites, which I inserted here and there for sparkle.

It’s going to end up being 40″ by 135″, and will just fit on my longarm 😉 It was super fun to watch it grow. I had to overlap the panels on my design wall for the sake of space.

By the time I do my next post I will show you the finished piece on my wall, I hope! In the meantime, I’ll start on my Macaw quilt. Keep on sewing, everyone. And don’t forget to take a look at our offerings for the Fall Retreat at Zephyr in September. I have 3 spaces left in my class 😉

Rainy/Snowy Days

by Sandra Bruce

As I sit at my computer writing this post I can hear the rain outside which is a happy sound, for sure. This is the time of year for us to get the bulk of our precipitation. Since my last post we have had a couple of snowfalls and some much needed rain as well. We need more, but whatever we get is appreciated.

My Matrix online course continues to be popular. I’m getting photos now of the finished course project from students, and even photos of Matrix quilts that have been made as further work. Here’s one that came my way, by Judy B, of poppies….good job, Judy! (she OK’d my sharing)

Anyone who missed my post about my online course in Matrix and is interested, you can view it here:

https://coursecraft.net/courses/z93eK

So far this year I have made 3 Matrix quilts, with a 4th in the works. I’ve been making smaller pieces which, obviously, go faster than the bigger ones…which I’ve been wanting to do. First I made a “commemorative” quilt for a friend who lost her dog Hoochie last year. I didn’t want her to know I was making it so I had to work with a photo of Hoochie that I took a couple of years ago. I would have chosen a different image had I been able to, but I made the one I had work with my process. I mailed it to her in Colorado and she is so happy to have it.

Hoochie had very soulful eyes, that I knew I couldn’t get just right by piecing, so I used ProFab paint to make the eyes just right. Sweet Hoochie!

As I mentioned in my last post, I am teaching at Empty Spools in March 2022, and I had to quickly produce a class project. I started out with a wonderful image of a pelican, only to come to the conclusion about 2 days work into it, that it was a bit too challenging for that purpose. So I put it aside and turned my attention to another image, of a seagull. I named him “Seamus”, and here is the finished piece. I think it will work nicely for Empty Spools. I love his feet 😉

In executing the eye area, I could not resist using a piece of fabric that had the word “bird” on it. After finishing I realized it was too prominent and took away from his eye….so I got out my Profab and painted a fairly transparent layer of white over it, just enough to kick it back a little bit. It’s fun to use fabrics that contain words. The eye is painted over the fabric in yellow with black definition around it. The painting was done after piecing but before quilting.

Here’s the back:

After finishing Seamus I brought the pelican back out to finish. I named him “Petey”. The image is all pieced, with the exception of his eye, the purple in his upper beak, and a bit of yellow in his wing. I used to think painting on my quilts was “cheating”, but it really allows me to create a bit of detail that otherwise would be too difficult to do by piecing. Believe me, I piece every possible place I can, so I have convinced myself that it’s OK to use a speck or two of paint. My work continues to evolve and this is just part of that process. Here is Petey:

And the back:

After doing 2 bird quilts and enjoying it so much I decided to continue and do a few more “smallish” quilts of other birds. Now I’m doing a pair of budgies, such little cuties they are! Here’s the photo I’m using:

I remember seeing a photo of my dad right after I was born, with me in his lap and a budgie sitting on the frame of his glasses. He would like this quilt.

Other birds waiting in the wings on my desktop are: macaws, puffins, toucans, and cockatoos. Oh, and I’m hoping for a good photo of flamingoes, one of the most interesting birds there are. I’ve got my eye out. I’ve had great luck with Pixabay, a site where you can find royalty-free images to use. Jane turned me on to that great site! I want a mama and baby flamingo.

That’s all for now….I’ll sign off here and wish everyone a productive and safe end of Winter. After having both my vaccine shots I’m breathing sighs of relief, as I know many are. I’m keeping positive that by September we will all be vaccinated and life will be truly be getting back to normal. Gathering at Zephyr with other sewing-sisters will be so gratifying! Check out our page on “Workshops” if you’re thinking of joining us, we’d love to have you. As of this writing I have 4 spaces left in my workshop.

Bye for now!

Announcing Our 2021 Retreat!

by Sandra Bruce

Greetings, Sewists! Jane, Heidi and I are pleased to be going forward with our 2021 Artistic Alchemy Retreat at Zephyr Point on Lake Tahoe, September 6-10. If you go to the “Workshops” page on this site it will take you to the information. After a year “off” we’re hoping you will be eager to come to this beautiful place, to gather with other like-minded creatives…..to sew, create, laugh, renew and make new friendships. If you’re new to us, and unfamiliar with what we’re about, be sure to look at our past retreat photos. We always have a blast!

This was the view a couple of years back from my classroom, can’t beat it! I will be teaching Matrix, and will have returning students, I’m happy to say. I hope you’ll consider joining us!

Since we’re hoping you’ll go peek at the offerings for this year, I’ll keep my post short and sweet. What have I been up to? I’ve been asked to teach at Empty Spools in 2022 (March 25-30, Session 4) and I’ll be doing a 5-day Matrix workshop. I wanted to make a good project for the students to do in that time frame, so started an image I loved of a pelican. Alas, only a few hours into it I realized it really wasn’t the right amount of challenge for beginners, so I switched gears and the pelican became….a seagull! The photo: (I love his feet)

I’ve named him “Seamus”, and here’s the top pieced, still a WIP, his eye still needs to be added, and it still needs quilting and finishing, of course:

Because of the size, the eye needs to be painted in. It’ll be good to have a new creative addition to my teaching, I’ll show students how to add the eye. My next post I’ll show the finished piece. Here’s my painting, in progress.

My CourseCraft offerings have been doing well, I’m slowly adding new things. I have so many ideas in my head for new quilt patterns and projects that I want to execute and add. Right now, I have 3: my Material Matrix course which can be viewed here: https://coursecraft.net/courses/z93eK

Also, I pulled out the chapter on “How to Do a Matched Binding” from the Matrix course for those who are not interested in Matrix but would like to know how to make a matched binding, it’s a stand-alone quick course, and it can be viewed here: https://coursecraft.net/c/matchedbinding

Last but not least, a quilt pattern I made a while ago, called “Hugs and Kisses”, just in time for Valentine’s Day. It’s super simple and you could do a version of it even before February 14th, if you hop to it ;-). It can be viewed here:https://coursecraft.net/c/XXOO, and it looks like this:

Lastly, I wish you all love, hugs (and good chocolate) for the upcoming Valentine’s Day, and hope you will look at the offerings we have for this year’s retreat. We 3 are excited to be with the talented and fun ladies we always attract to our event!

Wrap-up 2020

by Sandra Bruce

As you may have read here in the recent past WordPress has totally changed the format for making a post, much to my frustration …my last post seemed easier, for some reason. All the photos I wanted to use popped up as you see below, but when I saw this configuration I kind of liked it and decided to leave them as they are and let you enjoy them as a “collage”. I went through my photos from the year and was determined to pick out photos that represented positive elements of my year. I must admit it wasn’t easy! But there were bright spots which will remain as good memories for me.

Please note, we are in the planning stages for our Fall Retreat at Zephyr Point, September 6-10, 2021. How wonderful it will be to be able to gather together for this event that will be our 8th year together as Artistic Alchemy. We’ll be making announcements soon regarding details.

My online Matrix course has been very successful and I hope it continues to be so. Here’s the link if you want to check it out:

http://coursecraft.net/courses/z93eK

I wish for each of you reading this blog, a happy and safe 2021, when we can put this year behind us. There is plenty to be thankful for, and reason for optimism. A truly new year is upon us, let’s make the most of it. (at the bottom of this post is a listing of the photos for those interested).

Left to right, top to bottom:

My outline for my online Matrix course, the intense but rewarding editing done on the computer, closeup of my Matrix entry for a SAQA exhibit “Wear Your Mask”, how it is possible to play Banangrams in the Covid times by each player using their own game tiles, first most-welcomed rain in November, my quilt of a trout made and given for a good deed done by a friend, enjoying my Featherweight, quilt pattern by Elizabeth Hartman made with Christmas fabrics, food in Israel January 2020, a student in my last Matrix in-person class February 2020, mask making makes you feel usefu!, my son Matteo is my mask tester, Zooming Zumba, social-distanced happy hour, a clean studio, watching “Hamilton” safely outside, enjoying being on the deck in the warm weather, perfecting my pizza making skills, working on a Matrix quilt, “Matteo in the Time of Covid”, Sardinia selfie 1993, fabric selecting for mask making.

Making an Online Course

by Sandra Bruce

Oh, my! WordPress has a whole new layout….can I do this? On top of learning CourseCraft?

Since my last post (and even before) I’ve been working on an online course on how to do Material Matrix. It will not, of course, be quite the same as teaching in person, but it’s definitely the next best thing. I don’t feel like I can teach on Zoom, but doing it this way I can really control what people see and do it with the detail I want to show. CourseCraft is the platform I chose to use….Jane used it for her online class and I liked how it looked. It’s pretty easy to use and the templates are simple.

I made a very specific “outline” of what I wanted in the videos, of which I knew there would be plenty…with thumbnails to show Gary (my trusty camera person) where the camera would need to be.

As it turned out my iPhone took good video and we decided to use it instead of a camera. In hindsight….there were limitations. The iPhone did get hot and had to be stopped after a long bit of filming. And since the mic connection was coming out of it instead of the charger it did run out of juice. Oh….and we had to put it so high up in order to see everything it needed o see that Gary couldn’t see what was being filmed. So we set up a TV to use as a monitor to view what was being filmed. That worked well. We had to configure a strange looking setup in my studio. Ironing board to the rescue!

Nice lighting was a must.

I can’t believe I did it but I had to make another sample of my “Wake Up Cup” piece, as that is the project I chose to demo in the course. I have made so many, and taught it so many times, which turned out to be a good thing, in terms of getting my cookies in a row to prep for filming.

The picture below is a lousy one but you can see what a problem it was trying to put my self-portrait behind me for the video…2 big eyes staring around my head! We switched to my Color Dance quilt, just for the opening sequence. Most of the video is shot from overhead so it worked out.

I wondered how to handle the script. I didn’t want to sound like I was reading it, but needed to to keep on track and not forget anything. In the picture below I tried draping the paper script in front of me….didn’t work. My son informed me that there are apps that turn written word into a teleprompter on an iPad…..voila! It worked like a charm. I went off script plenty of times but I had it when I needed it. This is one of the million pictures we took to find the right background and right thing for me to wear.

There was a lot of list making to keep everything straight. I made 10 “chapters” plus a “bonus”, and 9 of them contain video.

When it came time for “Show and Tell” we had to schlep everything downstairs to the living room to have the space to spread out the quilts on a rack with good light. Gary had to climb onto our roof to cover skylights with blankets to control the light sources.

We uploaded videos daily to my computer and reviewed them for boo-boos.

Editing in iMovie is not too difficult, and you can add captions and all kinds of fun tricks to make a video look professional. We did add a few captions, and used the fade feature.

I made a fun logo since there is a space on CourseCraft for it.

At this point we are uploading the videos and will be done soon! When it’s time I will be announcing on social media that it is ready to go. The way it will work is a url will get you to CourseCraft where you can purchase the course and have it to view whenever you are ready! In the course I cover a lot, including (but not limited to): how to do my technique, how to grid your own photo, what makes a good photo to use in this technique, Show and Tell of my quilts and shots of quilts made by my students for your enjoyment. There’s also a bonus feature on how to make a matching binding. Over 2 hours of video in all. If you are interested in a heads-up on the availability of the course, I have started a list (over 100 already on it!) of email addresses of people who are interested in knowing…..send me an email if you want to be on the list. My email is: sandrabruce@pacbell.net. My past students (guilds and retreats) will get a discount on the course if they would like to have it to finish their project that didn’t quite get done, or they wan to go on and make another one using their own photo.

I am motivated to be done so I can start another Matrix quilt, so stay tuned, it won’t be long!

Diversionary Tactics

by Sandra Bruce

Hello, readers…I’ve been working on an online class in how to do Material Matrix!

Therefore….I  don’t have much to show in the way of what I’ve been up to…it’s been lots of writing, re-writing, experiments with lights, and just plain figuring it all out before we start taping hopefully next week. As you can see below, necessity is the mother of invention, right?

Many people have asked me over the last few years about teaching online…. Zoom isn’t the right platform for me. People need to see up close what I’m doing when I demonstrate, clearly and with precise instruction. That’s why I decided to go the route of CourseCraft. It will be the type of class that can be saved and viewed whenever convenient. I’m putting in a LOT of instruction, tips, and visuals with what I think will be 1-1/2 hours of video. So…stay tuned for the announcement that it is done and ready to purchase, if you are interested or know someone who might be. I will offer a discount for any past students who want a “refresher”, either from Zephyr attendees or people who have taken my workshop with their guild. Zephyr students in 2021 will benefit from this too…they’ll have a leg up come next Fall.

MEANWHILE…….

I haven’t allowed myself any sewing while I’m working on my CourseCraft offering. Delaying gratification! But sometimes I do go off on a tangent and find myself in a rabbit hole. I came across a photo I took in Italy years ago, from a slide, and couldn’t remember the exact location. It was bugging me. Next thing I knew, I had dragged out boxes and boxes of slides from Italy trips I’ve taken, literally hundreds, (slides, not trips!) and was busily scanning my favorites into my computer. My scanner will take slides, but only one at a time. I started sharing them on Instagram and FaceBook, which was fun for me (further diversion) and I made some new friends along the way, while reliving some of the wonderful trips I have had in Italy. Since that is what I’ve been doing, I will share a few here, and hopefully provide you with a bit of diversion too. Keep in mind they were taken with a real camera, and mostly in the late 80’s and 90’s, so the quality isn’t what you get with today’s cameras. Those of you who follow me and have seen those I’ve posted, there are a few new ones here. Here they are, in no particular order:

This has been the most popular of my photos that I posted on IG and FB, and is of a street artist reproducing the painting by Caravaggio (one of my favorite painters), “Judith Beheading Holofernes”, the original of which hangs in Rome. I have no idea how long it takes to reproduce such a detailed painting in chalk, on knees, like this…and the sadness that must come when it rains! He’s done a fantastic job.

Sometimes a photo will really take you back to the time it was taken, as the photo above does for me. Here is my traveling companion, and our friend who lives in Villach, Austria, which is very close to the Italian border. We were walking through this very lush and prolific field of lupine, and being grateful for this beautiful place of nature.

Also from that day…we 4 went to a bistro for snacks of cheese, cold-cuts and local beer. As we were leaving the village Dieter pulled off the side of the road, took lawn chairs out of his trunk, and full of our afternoon snacking we lazily sunned ourselves on this hillside, looking over the valley with Yugoslavia just on the other side of that mountain range.

Back to Italy….and one of my most memorable meals, ever! I have been fortunate to be a guest of this family in Fabriano, the Sorcis, who own a restaurant and hotel. Here is Sunday dinner, polenta being slathered onto a big wooden board that was part of this family’s weekly tradition. On top of this polenta came sautéed young asparagus, which had been picked that morning, and was heavenly. Each of the 6 or so of us gathered around this board was given a fork and napkin, and dinner commenced. Have any of you readers experienced such a tradition?

Fabriano’s claim to fame is its paper making. If you go to any art supply store you will see handmade paper from there. There are paper stores everywhere in Fabriano, and a nice exhibit, as you see here, showing how paper is made. I brought home some wonderful samples and a paper purse.

The Collegiate Church, in the Tuscany hill town of San Gimignano, is one of those churches that looks quite ordinary on the outside, but the view takes your breath away when you step inside. It is filled with frescoes and paintings. I was amused by these gentlemen, sitting outside the church on a Sunday afternoon, smoking cigars, watching passersby, and chatting in the local dialect. A slice of life.

In the “old days” before iPhones and selfies, and when traveling alone, if you wanted your picture taken you had to ask a stranger to please take your picture. I have many of these…here in the Roman Forum I am drawing in my sketchbook.

Although….you could set up your camera and do a timed exposure…which I did here. I spent a week in Sardinia painting and sightseeing. I was there in May and had most of the hotels and beaches practically to myself. I had just taken an Italian language course and got plenty of practice here, as English is not as prevalent in Sardinia.

This very charming statue, “Il Pescatore” (“The Fisher Boy”) by Vincenzo Gemito, resides in The Bargello, one of Florence’s many museums. The Uffizi gets most of the limelight, but I think The Bargello is a gem and sometimes overlooked. Donatello’s “David” is here too. This fisher boy captured my heart and is so sweet. You can really see the fish squirming in his hands as he struggles to hang on to it. 

Another shot from Florence. A “Bar”….I wish we had such places to stop in the morning for a quick espresso, or a mid-day Negroni, perhaps?

Italians are good designers. Here, a sign for a glove shop. I love those colors together.

On this trip, with a friend, I spent most of my time taking shots of our feet and the beautiful mosaic floors that are everywhere.  Romulus and Remus are depicted here.

A closeup of some beautiful stonework.

I’ll bet there are millions of shots like this one, of Vernazza, my favorite town of the Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre is a collection of 5 villages, connected on the ocean by a footpath, or “passeggiata”, that is about 7 miles long. I walked 3 of the 5, and visited the others by train. Truly breathtaking scenery! A friend was telling me she was there hiking, and passed French women on the path wearing heels and smoking cigarettes….I cannot imagine!

I’ll make this the last one…a happy face, obviously in Venice, riding in a gondola at sunset. Our gondoleer’s name was Sandro. I hope you have been able to be diverted for a few minutes from our crazy world right now, and that you are inspired in some small way!

Stay tuned for news about my online course, follow me on Instagram at sbruce1955, and on FaceBook at Sandra Bruce Creative, if you aren’t already a follower. Ciao!

DesignsbyHeidi.wordpress.com Comes to the Artistic Alchemy Blog Post This Week!

by HEIDI EMMETT

This was supposed to be the week of our 8th annual Artistic Alchemy Retreat at Zephyr Point, on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Less than 24 hours after the decision was made for Jane, & Sandra, and me to postpone our retreat until next September,  two of my dear friends from Portland, Oregon (who always drive down for this event), called to boost my spirits and said to me, “we’ll figure something out, how about our own Open Studio?”

Fast forward to the last week of August. These same two friends, Linda and Karenanne, rolled into Grass Valley after 10 hours on the road. They were so excited to be back in the Grass Valley area for a whole week of sewing fun. Are you kidding! I was so happy to have them here too because over the years when they come down two days before the Artistic Alchemy Retreat, THEY COOK FOR ME AND MY HUSBAND! This time it’s many, many gourmet meals to come. They cook, I clean up. Works for me.

The set up was fast. First thing the next morning. We re-arranged as more machines were added. We had a couple of sergers and another sewing machine (mine) a better ironing set up and design walls to come.
The dining table was perfect for cutting out our projects. Open Studio via Heidi’s house, ready to go in under 1/2 hour.  Karenanne began her project immediately, a quilt for her step-daughter and son-in-law. They love everything to do with “Day of The Dead.”
A beautiful book by Tula Pink & Angela Walters from which Karenanne found her “Day of the Dead” project, skulls. It’s the project right in the middle (blues and grays) above.
Design wall up and being used. It’s flannel on a stand. 5’x5′. More about this later. The beautiful blue fabrics are discussed in last weeks post. Go here if you missed it.
Riley the “helper” dog checking out Karenanne’s progress on her sewing table set-up.
Karenanne & Linda were soooo smart. Before we even greeted each other upon their arrival, they had treats for Riley. It’s their first meet and greet with our dog and they knew just how to win him over. Riley is in love! His tail is wagging so fast it’s a blur.
There it is, My “Sweet Sixteen.” I purchased it used, 3 years ago.
Somewhere within the first 6 months I actually quilted this Terrific Tabard on the Sweet 16.
Trying it out, Sadly, I really had no idea what I was doing. I watched 2 short videos. How I managed to get this vest quilted is beyond me. What IS that “thunk, thunk, thunk,” sound? Acckk…Ohhh forget it! Yep, I walked away from it. It has been sitting for over 2 years until NOW!       I LOVE YOU LINDA! She told me on Sunday afternoon, that on Tuesday morning, right after breakfast, be prepared to sit with her and we WILL LEARN HOW TO USE THIS MACHINE! She had the perfect opportunity to see if she wanted one herself. O.K. I’ll do it as I dragged myself up the stairs.  Only 1 hour later, a bunch of videos, sample tests, checking the manual, and Linda was quilting a baby quilt she had put together ahead of time. WOW! I can do this! The “thunking” sound from before, gone! (thinking the needle was placed in the wrong direction).  I have a quilt sandwiched together and will quilt on my own after I get this blog post published.
Another project of mine, a baby quilt. After the 2nd time I blew it on piecing the backing to fit correctly ( I mean REALLY Heidi, you can’t piece the backing properly the first time?…sigh…) It was sort of folded, wadded, in the corner of this same room. “Heidi, let’s get this quilt finished so you can give it to the baby while she is still a toddler,” was Linda’s comment to me. I had actually thought that as long as she got it before college I would be o.k. with that. Ha, Ha. Linda calls finishing projects, “Closing Windows.” Her job at home is in technology (in a very BIG way. She is in charge of soft wear implementation in hospitals and clinics in western states with over 100 people working under her) She said she is sooo tired of hearing people at work tell her, “this or that project is finished, but…  No more BUTS. Let’s CLOSE THE WINDOW!
I did whine about not knowing how to quilt it. Linda said, it’s a baby quilt. Keep it simple. She used a simple serpentine stitch on her super big open armed Janomie and zipped zipped right through this quilt.
Whoo hoo, almost finished. At one point, all three of us were sewing bindings on various quilts at the exact same time. We were in a circle facing each other, and laughing, and talking, and having the BEST time. We thought that this must be what an old-fashioned quilting bee was like.

I cut out this quilt while up at Zephyr Point in June. So I pulled it out (gotta close another window!) and got started on it. Villa Rosa has great fabric and quilting patterns for sale on line. Go here to check out this weeks special.
Looking good. Some progress. Sigh…”I spy” some strips (black ones) that are either too narrow or too wide. “Rippp” goes yee olde seam ripper. That’s o.k. I have always felt that the mark of a good sewist is one who knows how to rip out their seams properly.
How about my cool design wall? It is perfect when you are short on wall space.
I haven’t been able to find a web site for these design walls. Yes, I own 3 different sizes. But here’s a number and address. Love mine and they are really well made.
I was tired of lugging my heavy, older Bernina up and down the stairs for classes or whatever. This Baby Lock “Joy” (I got it 2 days before the shutdown here in CA in March) and it does just what I need for “classroom” sewing. It purrs along very nicely. Some things are in different places than what I’m used to, but for $175. it will pay for itself in no time (no more chiropractic fees for the bad back). Ha, ha.
A few more of Karenanne’s and Linda’s “favorite things” that they gave to me. These little clips are so strong and handy for holding bindings in place. No more blood on a quilt or hand done hem (when using straight pins).
How about this Yo,Yo magnifier/LED light? You NEED one of these puppies. Love led lights.

I have tried oodles of granolas. This one is by far my favorite. Linda made some last year for the first time and ohh yes! They brought some for us this year. We like Muesli for breakfast and with the fresh fruits of summer this granola is perfect. Then add about a cup of 2% plain, Greek yogurt  (good for your gut, high in protein) and on top add a tsp. of cinnamon (lowers blood sugar). Recipe below.

This is just a smidge of all we did at “Open Studio” at Heidi’s with Linda and Karenanne. I can’t wait to share more next week. Please join me at DesignsbyHeidi.wordpress.com if you can. I hope you will have time for some creativity this weekend,  even if it is by yourself. Thank you so much for stopping by. Big hugs to you all, Heidi

The (not so) Lazy Days of Summer

by Sandra Bruce

As I write this it is National Lefty Day (Thursday the 13th) so I wish all you lefties out there a happy year ahead. I imagine many of you are, since creative types tend to be lefties. It is also the day before my son Matteo’s birthday, and I always think back to this day that should have been his birthday, but he was hesitant to come into the world and worked me for 22 hours, so it ended up being the 14th instead. Having kids sure does make you mark time, in so many ways!

In this post I’m going to show you 2 Matrix pieces I’ve completed since my last post. The first, a SAQA challenge, was to create a 12″ by 12″ piece that deals with what you are doing in your studio during the time of Covid. I have never attempted a Matrix piece that small, but decided to do it. I took a selfie that was in color and turned it into black and white.
I painted the circles on the mask with ProFab pant, the mask I was wearing did have those circles and this was an easy way to portray them. Everything else is pieced. There’s to be a show at the Blue Line Gallery in Roseville in November, hopefully, that will have 40 of these pieces. I haven’t named it yet….

Speaking of selfies, my son Matteo took one that I have been really taken with. I made a Matrix quilt of him when he was a little boy, another when he was a teenager, and I thought it was time to make one of him as an adult. He grew a wonderful mustache that would be fun to do. The photo is intense and moody, just like we have all been feeling since Covid came into our lives.

I love all the value changes and cool colors. I knew after doing my RBG quilt that the transitions from light to dark would be tricky.

I blew up the gridded photo (2-8-1/2″ pieces taped together) and attached it to a piece of foam core.

I like all the dark sky-looking blues. Started here…

I started out going vertically instead of horizontally, to complete all the blue on the right hand side.  I stayed with all solid black in the darkest parts, which I don’t usually do….and ended up changing a lot of the squares later to textured blacks. What was I thinking?

You all know how I love doing eyes, this one proved to be fairly simple and straight-forward. It was the other eye, the one you hardly see, that was tricky.

In progress…

See all the pins, below, in the bottom 1/3rd. I usually sew together blocks of 16 but I was so undecided about the neck area, that I put all all the 2-inch squares in place there before sewing anything together. I reworked it a couple of times, and just was not happy but couldn’t figure out why. The purple is pushed to an extreme from the photo. I then decided the problem was there was too much neck showing. It was too much purple and too distracting, and just…unnecessary, so I took off the bottom 3 rows. Voila! That solved it. (hold your hand over the bottom 3 rows and you’ll see what I mean).

Once the top was together it went downtown to be quilted. The first thread I pulled out to use was my favorite Omni thread, “Tapestry Taupe”. This is a wonderful color that I use all the time and it looks good on almost everything (in the foreground near the bottom of the photo).
I matched the binding like I usually do. It is 39″ by 47″Here’s the finish, and a couple of closeups:

I named it, “Matteo in the Time of Covid”, since the photo was taken and the quilt made during this time. Not to mention, Matteo had Covid and was pretty sick for 2 weeks. I’m so thankful he was able to overcome it as he did, being strong and young. His test was negative but we are sure he had it from all his symptoms. He’s fine now! 

Matteo looks so much like my dad, especially now that he is grown. My handsome dad….. here he is at Matteo’s age. I see my dad, who is gone, when I look at Matteo.

That’s it for now…I hope you all are well, and stay well. We are nearing the time that our Artists Alchemy Retreat would have been happening, in normal times we would be gathering supplies and goodies for our Zephyr retreat. Next year will be twice as good for all our waiting! Take care, everyone, and I hope you are happily sewing.

Trip To Zephyr Point – THE HOME OF OUR ARTISTIC ALCHEMY RETREAT!

by HEIDI EMMETT

Some of you may know that my husband, Robert, and I volunteer for one week during the summer at the Zephyr Point gift shop. I run the retail side and Robert is the Frozen Yogurt King! Going up and staying at Zephyr Point during the summer ALWAYS gets me excited about our up coming Artistic Alchemy Retreat. This year, sadly, was quite different.

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A picture from the deck of the gift shop. Now you can see why we want to “volunteer” to work in the gift shop. We sleep down below. So we have the same view from our private deck.

The gift shop is the top floor. Our sleeping area is the lower deck, it’s a studio apt. There are no volunteers this year. But, we were able to come and pay to stay in this very studio apt. from June 19th-26th. It was a REAL VACATION! Haven’t had a total week off in 3 yrs.It was an amazing but oh so different time.
This would have been our 9th year of volunteering during the summer. And of course summer is Zephyr Point’s busiest time.I started my first day there this year by walking around the grounds. The view above is of Tallac Mountain at over 9,000ft. Can you see the cross outline of snow near the top of the Mtn.?
On the walk from from our cabin to Tallac Center and the Dining room. The Dining room is closed this year. Only the cabins are open. They rent out approx. 40 cabins on site.
This is the back of Cabin # 8. It’s the only cabin on the property with the cute, carved shutters. The level you are looking at is the gift shop. Cabin #8 (the studio we stayed in) is now available to rent for the summer months only. There is no insulation.
This is cabin # 28. It is the newly revamped coffee shop on the grounds. Closed for the summer. Miss sitting out on the deck and looking at the “Peek a Boo” view of the lake, watching the birds, chipmunks, people watching, all this while sipping a cuppa.
Wandering around the beautiful grounds of the “hotel” type sleeping rooms of Tallac center. These are rooms Artistic Alchemy retreat students covet. The “Lakeside” rooms! All closed up. This is such a surreal summer.
Above and to the left is Inspiration Point. It is a two story, soaring,open and light filled conference room that is used during the Artistic Alchemy retreat. And 3 stories of more sleeping rooms of which Artistic Alchemy uses all of them. It is so eerily silent.
Go through that archway (Portal of Prayer) and step down a few steps and look at the most amazing view! A prayer of thanksgiving for this amazing place is in order too.
Look how close these rooms are to the lake itself! The views from the sleeping rooms alone are worth the price of admission to our Artistic Alchemy retreat.
Full on view of Inspiration Point. You could be here but sadly, not until September of 2021. What an “Inspiration” Inspiration Point is right now, shhh….it’s SO QUIET! Listen to the sounds of nature and the occasional boat going by.
Total relaxation in my “upcycled” tunic (by The Upcycled Closet via Etsy) and doing some hand work.

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Oh my goodness! Can it be, Heidi working on cutting out a quilt!
Simple running stitches on a piece and contemplating adding a butterfly from scraps. Both of these are home decorating fabric scrap pieces.
My dear friend Linda made me a zippered bag (it is holding all my threads,needles, and beads that I’m working with) that has the cutest panels on it. Yep, this is me.
Or maybe this is me! For the record, I owned a pair of candy striped “cat eyed” glasses in 4th grade.I found out later (my brother married the girl next door) that my sister-in-law was very jealous of my cool glasses and wished she wore glasses. Seriously?! My hair has never been green, but during all that’s going on, I just might dye it that color to hide my dark roots.

I leave you with this inspirational picture.I took it from the deck of our cabin. I spoke with the woman who is SWIMMING! (water temp. 40-46 degrees all year round. Yowzaa!) A family member always followed her. We were at Zephyr Point the same amount of days and without fail, she swam each and every morning. She told me she wanted to push herself EVEN on the mornings she didn’t feel like it. And she always felt so good and so glad when she DID IT.

How about us? During this time in 2020 are we pushing ourselves to do things we maybe have never tried? Or started something and let it slide because we “didn’t feel like it anymore?” I most certainly include myself in this. So let’s all pick something (make a small list, not too long or we’ll be overwhelmed) and let’s “JUST DO IT.”

Blessings and hugs, Heidi

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Lazy Days of Summer (especially now)

by Sandra Bruce

Summer is definitely here, wouldn’t you say? Yesterday my thermostat read 100 degrees at about 2:30 in the afternoon. I’m going to hold this image in my mind as long as I can, our last good rain on May 17th.I’ve been playing nurse to 2 sick boys for the last few weeks (trips to Rite-Aid, driving food and smoothies across town, etc etc.) , so I don’t have a lot of images collected to show you today. Both are getting better so that’s the good news.


What I love about summer is the bounty of fruit and veggies that we get here in California. I have realized in the past traveling to other places how lucky we are to have such plentiful fresh food. Beets are my favorite vegetable. At the bottom of this post I will give you my favorite summer beet recipe. It’s beautiful as well as delicious.

While on the subject of food, we have become popsicle addicts here at my house. I have made special trips to the store for popsicles when needed. When it’s hot there’s nothing better. Life’s little pleasures!

I feel very fortunate during this time of Covid that I am able to work on my longarm machine quilting for customers, especially with all my teaching gigs cancelled for the upcoming future. I have had an issue with my longarm which is not solved yet, but it will be soon. It will require a 3rd trip up by the tech from Meissner’s. It has made me find out the hard way that I can continue to longarm without my up/down switch working. I’ve been using the hand-wheel manually which takes a lot of physical prowess. Any of you longarmers out there know what I mean.  I recently did a custom quilt that had to be done and took quite a while to do and involved a lot of hand-wheel turning….but I did it!

When I do a customer’s quilt that is so beautifully sewn/appliquéd and is totally square it is almost not work.

When I scroll through my photos I realize how changed life has become. Social distancing, in all its forms, is our new norm.

I’ve learned that games often played with friends can be played alone.

I got this very sweet text from my son.

Speaking of him, I am doing my 3rd Matrix quilt of him, I thought doing one of him as a child, one as a teenager, and one as an adult was a fitting thing to do. Matteo took a selfie that I really liked and I knew it would make a super fun and challenging  quilt to do. I will do a post later on it when it’s done, but here’s a couple of shots in the meantime. First the photo:

I love how it’s dark and moody. All those value changes, and all the color changes in the skin…it’s a perfect image. It’s going well so far. I’m having to fudge a bit in the shadows. An artist’s prerogative.More on this later, as I said. It will be done soon at the rate I’m going….working on it is keeping me sane.

So if you made it this far, here is my beet recipe.

SUMMERTIME BEETS ON YOGURT

Ahead of time, roast in the oven 2+ pounds of beets. Mixing yellow and red is pretty. Set aside to cool, and slip off the skins under cool water. Also ahead of time, at least a few hours if possible (but not mandatory), chop very finely several cloves of garlic, I usually do 4-5 depending on size. Stir the garlic well into a large tub of plain yogurt and put back in the frig. (the greek whole milk style yogurt is heavenly).

When the beets are cooked and skinned and the yogurt has had time to absorb the garlic and you’re close to time to eat, you are ready to assemble the dish.

In a wide, flat-ish bowl, spread the yogurt over the bottom. Slice the beets into slices. Arrange the beet slices over the yogurt in a nice arrangement. Mix, in a small bowl, approx. 2 T. of lemon juice and 3-4 T. olive oil. Emulsify with a whisk and pour it over the beets and yogurt, drizzling it all over. Give it all a good couple grinds of pepper and sprinkle on some coarse salt. On top, sprinkle a small handful of fresh mint, chopped roughly. The mint really makes it, don’t skimp. The colors of the beets swirl into the yogurt and is gorgeous. Enjoy.

Till next time, stay safe, wear your mask, and happy sewing. 🙂