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

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. 🙂

Let’s JUST DO IT!

by HEIDI EMMETT

With all my “gigs” canceled or postponed, I’m seeing it as a great opportunity. The purging and cleaning part, JUST DO IT! I am starting to feel that I can accomplish more within my creative life as the slate is being “wiped clean” so to speak.

I just “purged” my email account. Oh my! I was going to be so good to keep that one up…I have 4 categories in my email account and just to give you an idea of how many emails I keep around, in the “Updates” category alone, I had 20,639 emails. Whoo hooooo! All gone! (I did save important emails but, I might have missed some). So if you don’t hear from me and you wrote to me via email about something, try again.

It is so hard to work from home people! And that brings up something else, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, can really take a chunk out of ones “working” time.  I only really use Pinterest and only in the mornings, 15 minutes, well it has stretched to 40-60min. ha, ha.  I don’t message on FB, Pinterest, or Instagram. I honestly don’t know how and have no time for it (I know, your saying, she’s too busy on Pinterest). I’m not saying these platforms aren’t good, I like them for my business’ sake but not for messages.

Email me if you want to ask me a question or whatever. And now that I have cleaned out my emails I will see your email that much faster. So, JUST DO IT! I know,email is so “last year” but it is MY way of communicating. Here is my email address: hmemmett@gmail.com  P.S. I do respond to my blog post comments.

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I am so excited to tell you that, I JUST DID IT!, my Etsy store has been UPDATED to now include every one of my patterns in a pdf/digital format. Now you have two choices, “hard copy” (everything in a plastic sleeve), or pdf/digital (cheaper but you print it out at home).  You can always buy directly from me as well for either a hard copy or pdf. Email address again: hmemmett@gmail.com   ESPECIALLY good for overseas orders. I can save you $ in shipping charges.  

I have also been looking into creating on-line classes. I want them fun and informative. They will be technique oriented. I’m very excited about it and now I have time so I will JUST DO IT!

And I have a couple more patterns that need to be finished too. Heidi, JUST DO IT!

Please peruse through my “Art to Wear” pattern line below and to get more information about them, tap on the Etsy icon (sprinkled throughout this post).  Remember, my patterns are all “blank canvases” for you to use your own techniques, fabrics, and color schemes.

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Having a year off from  the Artistic Alchemy Retreat is going to put new ideas into the mix to truly make 2021 the best retreat ever!  So keep coming to our blog (tap on the icon in the “lineup” of icons above). We will continue to bring you things that are happening in all 3 of our creative filled lives that make up the whole idea of ARTISTIC ALCHEMY.

It’s time people! JUST DO IT! Get your creative going this weekend in the garden, at your sewing machine, with your knitting needles, etc.

I leave you with these thoughts: Wherever you are today, may the sun shine on you. Whatever you do today, may it give you a sense of peace and completion…Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God!

Hugs, Heidi

What Day Is It??

by Sandra Bruce

I know those of you who are planning to come to Zephyr to our retreat in September are anxious to know the scoop. May I assure you, we are as well, and are in close communication with Zephyr on plans going forward. They plan to open in June. They are having a board meeting in the last week of May at which time they will be making decisions, and have promised to get back to us regarding any impacts that these decisions will have on us. We really want the retreat to happen, in a safe and relaxed atmosphere. So, please stay tuned and we will let you know as soon as we hear anything. Fingers crossed all goes well and the virus has hit its peak.

When it is my turn to post here the first thing I always do is to go to my photos, which is a good indicator of what I’ve been doing. This morning I did so…and what you will see here is a pretty good representation of my last few weeks. Every morning I wake up and say…”What day is it”? If I had to sum up my time since my last post it would be: making masks, cooking/baking, sewing anything I can think of to make that I have supplies for, spouse having open heart surgery (yes you read that right), making grocery lists, being a nurse, and visiting with son at a safe distance.

This shot from our May calendar says it all. Cancelled quilt show, Gary having surgery. It was quite discombobulating to drive him an hour to a hospital in Sacramento to drop him off, and not see him again until a week later when I went to pick him up. That week I was home alone I was a force to be reckoned with…cleaning out drawers, sewing several garments, making masks, baking bread….anything to keep busy until I fell into bed at night. I got so much support from friends, using Zoom and of course talking on the phone. Thankfully he is home now and doing great, although he has a long recuperation ahead. But what better time to do that? I have gotten so much pleasure from preparing meals and checking on him to make him comfortable.

My town, Grass Valley, is just starting to open up. I’ve been doing a bit of long arming , since I work alone, but my longarm is getting a new motor next week after stumbling along for some time. Dixie will be all tuned up and ready to go, and I’ll be able to get back to that work next week. It’s definitely been strange being downtown (where my long arm studio is) with such an absence of cars and people.

I’ve been trying to get outdoors with spring here. I took a safe walk with a friend and her horse Wendell, and saw so many flowers and green leaves appearing on trees. Wendell was most interested in the snack I packed to eat on the way.

In my mask making I have tried different patterns and materials…I’ve made lots. My son has been my guinea pig in trying different patterns. He works in a grocery store so needs a mask that is comfortable for hours. I dug out some fun fabrics for him ( took this with my close up lens).

He’s only allowed at the door of the garage and at a safe distance. I wish I could hug him but it’ll have to wait. He’s buying our groceries for us and dropping them off. I noticed in my photo library I had so many grocery lists! I message the lists to him. We’ve had some good talks in front of our house, making the best of the situation.

I also noticed a lot of recipes in my photo library. I’ve sent a few to friends. Here’s one of my favorites for you 😉

I think in my last post  I said I would show you the small quilt of giant lily pads I made from a photo I took in Philadelphia last Fall. I did use my Matrix technique and painted on top of the fabric after piecing. Now that it’s done, I’m not enthralled with it, it definitely has problems, but I learned a lot and it was enjoyable.

I  also made a quilt from a pattern one of my longarm customers had brought me that I was so attracted to. It was a good project as it didn’t require lots of thinking and it was fun picking out fabrics for each bird, and making those cute goofy legs.

Speaking of birds……….I’ll sign off this post with a photo of one of my recent pastimes, watching the birds at my feeder on the deck. We have to appreciate the little things these days, and this is one I enjoy so much. Binoculars help.

Thanks everyone, for reading our posts and keeping up with Artistic Alchemy. We will be in touch!!!! Take care, be safe, and happy sewing.

Friday FEATURE: Off The Grid Vest from Anchorage, Alaska!

by Heidi Emmett

Before we get started on this Friday’s “FEATURE”, a few words from the Artistic Alchemy team. We are in touch with Zephyr Point Conference Center quite often to find out the status of our Artistic Alchemy Retreat this September 7-11th. I last spoke with them just yesterday 4/30 and they are excited to see us all in September. So yes!! we are still a GO for the Artistic Alchemy Retreat. And there is still room for you in all the classes so, knowing you will be ohhh sooo ready for a retreat this September to the Mountains and Lake Tahoe, and all the SEWING/CREATIVE time you could want, SIGN UP NOW!

Hello spring! It has really sprung here in Northern CA. Record highs for the end of April. But wait, it’s May 1st. The dates and days are all running together in my opinion. Have you noticed that too?

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I know it’s HUGE! Surprisingly, “hugely” sweet too.
The color! Luscious.
I like how my super amazing tasting, first of the season strawberries look on my vintage tea towel. And these beauties tasted even BETTER than they look here.

Candy Tuft NEVER disappoints. Grows well in many zones. It blooms without fail every single year. I have some that is at least 25 years old. And the deer don’t like it!

And now I want to introduce to you Sandy W. from Anchorage, Alaska who made this wallhanging. Isn’t this quilt STUNNING! It is titled  “Girl With a Pearl by The Sea.” The composition, the colors, the design, the 3-dimensional quality, all come together to make for a lovely creation. It is her own design and quilting is just one of the things she does. She also creates AMAZING watercolor paintings. I can’t show you her latest as it is going into a show and can’t be seen by anyone until the show starts.  And sewing is something else she does.

Sandy, using my Art to Wear, “OFF THE GRID VEST” pattern made NOT just One, not even Two  OFF THE GRID’S, but FIVE of them, one right after the other!!  Yes, she had some time up in Anchorage, Alaska.

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Please read what Sandy had to say about her versions of OFF THE GRID VEST.
Regarding the vests, I worked steadily on each one for two and a half days. Was just on a roll, as I haven’t had so much fun sewing in years. The green one, where I put the fronts to the sides before cutting and made the collar longer, actually gave me the most trouble. Reversed front of binding multiple times.
Watercolor painting has pretty much what I have been doing daily for 20 months, being retired. I have fabrics picked out for a blue version, and might send the purple one to my 94 year old Mother.

Don’t you love how she used to basic pattern pieces and did her own thing!
I like the cool pocket Sandy added to this OFF THE GRID VEST.

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Sandy kept with the ombre’ fabric that I used in my cover shot, but the splitting of the fabric  and inserting long curving shapes gives some real depth and drama and of course the long and lean look I’m always talking about in all of my Art To Wear sewing patterns.
“Purple passion with patch pockets.” That’s what I call this OFF THE GRID VEST. I like the over and under strips that showcase the front panels.
This OFF THE GRID VEST features an Ombre’ fabric that is used so effectively in this version. It is one piece of fabric deftly cut to its’ best advantage. I think the black trim is the perfect color choice for this “Simply Elegant” look. Check out the pocket that moves over to the far side of the front, and is held in place by the finishing trim.

What’s different about this OFF THE GRID VEST? Sandy eliminated the collar piece. That’s what you do when you are on vest # 5, yes, FIVE.
The color choices for this OFF THE GRID VEST make it a stand out! Well done Sandy.
When this OFF THE GRID VEST is opened and laid out you can see all the detailing minus the collar. Sandy, SANDY! Thank you SO MUCH for this eye opening fashion show of 5 OFF THE GRID VESTS! What an amazing job! Your creativity and color sense and beautiful stitching show off my vest pattern so nicely.  You are the BEST!

Hey everyone I know this fashion show will give you ideas for your own OFF THE GRID VEST. Contact me (Heidi Emmett) at my email: hmemmett@gmail.com for ways to buy this Art to Wear pattern (or any of my others) and save $ on shipping.

Please visit my own personal blog at: DesignsbyHeidi.wordpress.com for more sewing and creative adventures. Go here!

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I leave you all with a song to put you in a Zen mood to get you ready for your next creative adventure. Hugs, Heidi

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In These Times We Create

by Sandra Bruce

Our Zephyr Retreat in September feels so far away right now. We are all wondering how to fill our time at home, and what is in the future with the Corovirus upon us. It feels so surreal. Jane, Heidi and I had a group meeting, each of us in our homes, instead of physically together as we usually are. It was heartening to talk and compare our lives at the moment. We want you to know we are still frequently in touch with Zephyr, and we are thinking how good it’s going to be to be together with other like-minded sewers in September. If you are unfamiliar with Zephyr Cove, they have a super website with pictures of the breathtaking views that you might want to check out. 

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And…what better time to have something to look forward to than to sign up for our retreat!! Consider it a “placeholder”.

So…I’m going to start my post with a beautiful photograph taken by my son, Matteo Pierazzi. It captures my feelings lately. Dark clouds, yes, but the sun peeking through.As is typical around here spring has been full of this……and this.

Like so many people I know, since being homebound I’ve been doing a lot of sewing. I’m making masks for my local hospital, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. They put out a call on their website for masks and provided a video and explanation of what they wanted. I dug up enough elastic to make about 10. Then I switched to ones with ties.I’m using my  bias tape makers for the ties, they really help. In case you are unfamiliar, and are making masks (or not) here’s what they look like.They come in several sizes and I love them. You put a strip of fabric in on the ironing board, pull the strip through the tape maker pressing as it appears, and it comes out folded perfectly on 2 sides. To make the ties I fold the strip again and press, and have ties.

I completed my “Yayoi 2” quilt and it has gone to its new owner in Houston. It was satisfying to make another one of these images, and have the freedom to change little things that I wasn’t too thrilled with in the first quilt. I’m happier with the 2nd one.

Before my plans for March and April went haywire I made a big bunch of polymer clay earrings and buttons to take to a retreat I was going to, that was cancelled. But now I’l have a nice batch to be ready with when my teaching and lecturing gets back into motion. I really enjoy matching colors and making color “families”.

My son tells me I really need to get these onto my website for sale. Maybe now is a good time to investigate how to make that happen.

I was gifted a few large bags of batiks. The minute I got them home I grouped them by color. This made me want to make something with them, so I quickly made a version of my quilt “Color Dance”. But without the border. I’m looking forward to quilting it, and it will make a super sample when I’m teaching and selling the pattern.This is a section.

Having time in my studio has been really wonderful and cathartic. I’ve been wanting to experiment more with painting on fabric. In the workshop with Susan Brubaker Knapp we painted on white cotton. I wondered, what would it be like to paint onto printed fabric, or even a Matrix quilt? This piece is made of just blue squares put together, no piecing inside squares. The reference photo:

How is it to paint on top of color, and seams? It’s tricky, for sure.The fabric pokes through a bit.  

Do you know about Bo-Nash powder? I used it to adhere the top of my piece to the batting and back. For a small project it works great, and does not clog up the needle at all. Much easier than a spray. I’m just now starting to quilt this on my Bernina. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

I started another one, this time from a photo I took in the Longwood Gardens in Philadelphia. I am fascinated by these giant lily pads. Some of them were 6-7 feet across.

The pads look prehistoric to me. I wanted to mix the piecing and paint more than in the pelican piece. Here it is before paint.

With paint but before quilting. Quilting will be critical to its success.

I am learning a lot about the paint, ProFab.

When I teach I always tell my students about my Strip Sticks. Here’s a shot of my lilies on the ironing board having seams open up…the Strip Stick makes it easier.

When I have a busy teaching/lecturing schedule I rarely have time for those home chores that happen on occasion, like pantry cleaning. My pantry got a thorough cleaning last week and it felt great to have my spices back in alphabetical order again (this is the result of living with a Virgo for 37 years). While cleaning it I came across a bottle of champagne, at least 30 years old, that had a label that I designed in my life as a commercial illustrator. The champagne had gone bad long ago, but I could never bring myself to throw it out. What I have decided to do with these old sentimental things is to take a picture of it, and then get rid of it. So that’s what I did. When I uncorked it I laughed as it gave out a little “pfffft” and that was it. More room in the pantry and in my life.

I hope everyone reading this post stays healthy and is able to channel some creativity from this crazy time we’re living in. Keep sewing/gardening/dancing/singing or whatever makes you happy.  Till next time.

 

Adventures in Israel

by Sandra Bruce

Israel is a fascinating country, as I discovered in January when I went there for 2 weeks to teach and explore. This post is about my trip and contains lots of pictures. Go ahead, get a cup of coffee or tea and get comfy…I hope you enjoy my visuals and story! All the photos were shot with my iPhone.

One thing, quickly, before I get into my post…I have 6 spaces left in my Artistic Alchemy Zephyr workshop for this Fall. If you are thinking of attending, now is a great time to sign up.

First, everyone wants to know how I landed a gig in Israel. It’s a long story, but basically: Joel and I consider ourselves cousins, and Joel is cousins with Gail on the other side of his family who is a quilter in Jeruselem.  I met Gail and her husband Avi a few years ago when she and her husband were visiting the US. She is on the board of IQA, Israel Quilters Association, the guild of Israel. They are very active and bring in international teachers.

Gail fondly referred to me while I was there as her “cousin”. To my happy surprise Joel decided to meet me there to hang out with us. Gail is a truly giving and sweet person who worked very hard to make my trip memorable. She accompanied me to my 4 teaching cities and graciously had me as a guest in her home for the week following my teaching.

I began the Argonne Jet Lag Diet 3 days before my trip, which I have always had success with in international trips. It worked like a charm. It IS weird, but I recommend it highly.

Packing for a long trip like this, with winter weather and 2 different classes to teach was a challenge. I got it all in my 2 big suitcases.

This was my view for the 12+hours over (and 15 hours back)…the back of the seat in front of me. It’s always good to know where you are! I did watch a lot of movies too.

Arrived! The airport in Tel Aviv…beautiful mosaics on the wall.

Here is the wonderful Sunday morning view from Gail’s balcony, of Jerusalem.

Gail and I left Jerusalem for my first teaching spot in Tiberius, which is on the Sea of Galilee. On the way we stopped to visit her friend Hava, who is an art quilter and teaches in a studio in her home, complete with an array of Berninas. I met some of her students and we had fun chatting.

One of Hava’s quilts (looks a bit familiar in her technique, eh?)

Here is the location of Tiberius, on the Sea of Galilee.

I love this shot I got of the water. Dreary days can make for good photos.

We walked around Tiberius for the afternoon. Two diners were brave to be sitting outside.

My first class was a small but very enthusiastic group, who worked studiously on my “Color Dance” quilt pattern. Here is Hagar working.

We were looking out the classroom window onto the Dead Sea. When lunchtime rolled around I got my first look at how Israelis do a spread of food. Wowie !!

After class ended we left to head to our next stop, Zikhron Yaakov.

Signs in Israel are in 3 languages: Hebrew, Arabic and English.

The hotel in Zikhron Yaakov had  beautiful floors throughout.

I can’t say enough about the spreads of food. Varied, fresh, and always delicious. This is part of breakfast in the hotel. Part!

My class here was Matrix…these ladies were eager and happy.

On to my next destination, Ashdod, on the Mediterranean. “Color Dance” was the choice of workshops here.

Happy quilters, and hard working!

Somehow I neglected to take any photos in my last workshop, in Jerusalem. It was also a great group of ladies and a good time was had by all. Some of the ladies traveled so that they could take both Matrix and Color Dance workshops. To all of the IQA ladies, I say thank you for having me visit and teach to your guild, you were the best!

Back in Jerusalem with my teaching concluded, it was time for exploring and adventures. Our first night back we headed to the Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Goush for a fantastic dinner at the Arabic restaurant “The Caravan”. In Israeli restaurants small plates are brought out before the entrees appear. The best hummus I ever ate, hands down, was in Israel.

Traffic in Jerusalem…just like other big cities, snarly and a bit crazy!

The annual IQA quilt show was hung at The Jerusalem Theatre while I was there and I was so glad to be able to view it.

Here is Gail with her entry.

Gail, Joel and I ventured out Saturday morning to the famous market, Machane Yehuda. Here are a few shots of this ancient, whirling, bustling place:

Check out that juicer, it works even with pomegranates.

The “cones” below are paprika. No, I don’t know how they did that!

Baklava, below, in its many forms. Yuuuuuumy…

Below, olive heaven.

On our walk I even spotted Jerusalem’s Bernina store!

From here, on to the Old City of Jerusalem. We brought our umbrellas.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in the Christian quarter, contains 2 of the holiest sites of Christianity, the sites where Jesus was said to have been crucified and his tomb. This is a major understatement, but history abounds here in this beautiful church. A few shots:

And of course, the Western Wall. The space allowed for men is way bigger than the space allowed for women.

I loved all the beautiful stone that I walked on, all over this country.Think over the centuries how many have walked here. If these stones could talk….

Moving on….we visited The Israeli Museum on a very cold and windy day. The Dead Sea Scrolls (replicated) are housed in this unusual building.

There were many soldiers at the museum this day. Israeli kids out of high school are required to serve for a certain length of time, and in many capacities, I was surprised to learn.

Some of my favorites from this museum, first,a sculpture by Rodin.

 

A delightful travel poster from the 1920’s.

What’s not to love about a mosaic with birds?

A painting by one of my favorite painters, Egon Schiele, from 1915.

Gail and Joel, the cousins, posed for me in the museum 😉

We were fortunate to land on the last day of an exhibit at the Italian-Jewish Museum, of textiles made by Italian Jewish women in the early part of the 1900’s.

Below, a  little wallet made by a bride for her new husband, pictured here.

Such intricate embroidery!

On to The Islamic Museum.

The founder, Sir David Salomons, had a clock and watch collection which was housed in the bottom floor of this museum. It was fascinating and beautifully displayed.

The most famous watch here, called The Marie Antoinette, has an amazing story, which I will tell you in brief. Made by the Swiss watchmaker Breguet (and finished by his son), purportedly commissioned by Marie’s lover Count von Fersen in 1783, it took 40 years to complete….of course Marie Antoinette never received it. It was stolen from this museum by a master thief in 1983 but recovered in 2013, and is valued at 30 million dollars. It contains every device known at the time it was made, and contains gold, platinum, rubies and sapphires. The best part…you can see through it.

Also at the Islamic Museum are some examples of beautiful calligraphy, which I was most interested in, having spent a career as a calligrapher and illustrator. I can picture the artist and his pen in motion.

Moving along….to Tel Aviv, and the Tel Aviv Museum, and a welcoming from Roy Lichtenstein.

A couple of my favorites from this huge museum. A painting by Klimt, “Friederike Maria Beer”, from 1916, which I was not familiar with. Large, and wonderful to see in person. It was a commission by Austrian socialite Friederike Beer. Klimt asked her to turn her jacket inside out because he liked the pattern of the lining better than the outside! The background motifs were taken from a Korean vase she owned.

Also, here, an exhibit of the wonderful painter Hilma af Klint. Her story is so unique. She was a Swedish painter who was involved with various spiritual movements,  and way, way ahead of her time.This is a large piece also, from 1907.Museum-hopping always requires coffee breaks, doesn’t it?

One more…a very large  photo (several feet wide) by an upcoming Israeli artist, Daniel Tsal. Of course the subject matter attracted me, a young man sewing.

A shot of Tel Aviv’s skyline.

What got into us? We stopped in a fun food court to have a hamburger 😉

I must show you this…Israel has some of the most organized parking garages I’ve ever seen. You could almost eat off the floor of this one. Lights tell you which spaces are available up ahead. Tires squealed on the polished floor.

My time is almost up…we walked Jerusalem one last time. Blue skies peeking!

My last breakfast in Israel, in a warm and cozy cafe.

This smart bird snagged a bag of chips from a market on the street and retreated to a wire where he pecked it open and enjoyed its contents, spread on the ground!

My last shot, checked into my flight home. Left at 1:00am, arrived in san Francisco at 6:00am. I was very glad to be home after that long flight, but happy after this memorable trip! If you made it this far I say, “thank you”, and I hope you enjoyed my story. Shalom.

Announcing our 7th Annual Artistic Alchemy Retreat – September 7th-11th, 2020

Welcome everyone to our 2020 line up of workshops and Open Studio!

We accidentally hit the “PUBLISH” button the other night before everything was perfectly in place. So, here’s a chance to view the IMPROVED version. And we’re here to answer questions.

Please note that the date seems later, but it’s just the way the calendar worked out this year. Arrive on Monday (Labor Day), the 7th and return home late morning of Friday, the 11th.

Mary Boalt will not be with us for 2020 because of personal family obligations. We have REALLY enjoyed working with Mary and she will be greatly missed.

Another change this year for 2020 is that we are planning on having Open Studio in its own room. We want you to enjoy working at your own pace, staying up all night (if you want); bring all your UFO’s, and enjoy being with other Open Studio attendees. Be inspired by the nightly programs, the scenery,and the new friends you will make. To enable this “private space” to happen we will need a good showing of attendees. So sign up early! Open studio prices are listed on the registration form and the prices include your sleeping room and your working space, etc.

As you check out the workshops, please read all the way through each one. All the workshops have sewing skill parameters and we want you to be aware of each teacher’s needs for the BEST possible experience for YOU! If you have any questions, email that teacher before you sign up. We’ll get back to you asap.

Thank you for stopping by. Start by perusing the updated 2020 drop down Menu Bar. We hope to see YOU at our Artistic Alchemy Retreat this year.

All the best from Sandra, Heidi and Jane.

Artistic Alchemy Retreat – September 7th-11th, 2020.

by HEIDI EMMETT

It’s coming! All the details concerning our Artistic Alchemy Retreat for 2020! This will be our 7th year.


The dates for this years adventure into the world of all things fiber is, Monday, September 7th (Labor Day) to Friday, September 11th.

Our “GO LIVE” for this years retreat will happen on Friday, February 7th. This is when all the information becomes available.

We hope to see YOU at our Artistic Alchemy Retreat, Sept. 7-11th, 2020! Until next Friday, Feb. 7th, get some creativity with fiber going! Hugs, Heidi

A New Year, a New Decade

by Sandra Bruce

I wrote my first check today including the new year, 2020, and did it ever feel strange to write that number. Years ago I certainly did not accurately envision what this time would look like. Do you have the same feeling?

I don’t really believe in making New Year’s resolutions. However, a new beginning in January of each year does give one a mental frame of mind to consider ways to be happy and fulfilled, and a better person in the coming year. I’m going to try to let the little things that bug me evaporate into thin air. It’s those little annoyances that add up, and I’m determined to let some go.

Before I get any further into my post….very soon in February we will be launching the announcements and registration form for the Artistic Alchemy Retreat for 2020, set for September 7-11. Many people have expressed interest in my Matrix workshop, so if you are interested get your deposit in the mail pronto after the reg form is available to secure your spot.

In case you are unaware, you can find me on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/sbruce/1955/

…and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/sandra-bruce-creative/

It’s January 2nd as I write.  In my last post in November I was about to go to my last teaching gig of the year in Toronto. Since returning, and after finishing the end of my customer quilt queue, I have enjoyed a lot of quiet time at home. Having arrived to the middle of my 6th decade I have come to really appreciate and savor my quiet alone time. As a matter of fact, the last few months have been for me creatively quiet. At least where my Matrix pieces are concerned. I believe it is positive to have a once-in-a-while period of just absorbing everything visual, along with mental contemplation, which always leads to ideas. This works for me and always something new comes spilling out.

Toronto was a wonderful experience. The guild was appreciative, eager to learn, and having 2 gentlemen in my workshop was a treat!

I spent a whole day in AGO, the Art Gallery of Ontario. 

Although it was only the middle of November Toronto was in full-blown Christmas mode. When I left Grass Valley it was warm and dry, with threats of power cut-offs…and in Toronto it was 14 degrees when I arrived, and Christmas was everywhere. Segue!

My friends Rejeanne and her husband Gene, who came down from Sault St. Marie, spent a day showing me around Toronto. They have come to the Artistic Alchemy Zephyr Retreat 3 times which is how I met them, and it was so fun to be on their turf for a change. Rejeanne joined the guild in Toronto so that she could take both workshops I taught, and she brought her Matrix quilt “Gene” for show and tell. That way the new Matrix students could see what is possible from taking my workshop. Here is a charming photo Rejeanne sent me of herself with her quilt “Gene”.

For walking all day in Toronto we needed comfortable shoes, overcoats, and umbrellas.

Back home I jumped into winter and the holidays. As part of my creative “break” I pulled out a UFO from several years ago and finished it, a one block wonder quilt made from a kooky vintage-looking Alexander Henry Christmas fabric. It went right onto the back of the couch and I snuggled in it all of December.
One of the things I love about my longarm work is being able to help people make quilts with very special significance. Here is one example: my customer (and friend) has 3 sons-in-law who lost their dad years ago. This dad was known for his Hawaiian shirt collection. 3 quilt tops were made, each one different, out of the shirts. The theme of each quilt corresponded to the son and his interests. The 3rd one I completed in December just in time for it to be mailed back to Nebraska to be bound and finished. It was a pattern of shelves of books, and I had such enjoyment quilting it.The boys received their quilts on Christmas Day.  Here it is on the longarm:

A special message was “written” into the quilting on the spine of 2 of the books. The back was almost as fun to look at as the front:

It’s projects like this that make my longarm work so rewarding.

In addition to the above I have been working on a customer’s hand-appliqued quilt. I haven’t hand-appliqued in many years but when she brought this quilt to me to longarm I knew hand-quilting would be the best solution and she agreed to let me go for it. I’ve had many happy hours working that rocking motion of the needle and trying to make the smallest stitches I can. Many episodes of “Father Brown” got me through those hours.

So…………..What’s next?  I am headed in one week to Israel. I’ll be blogging about it my next turn, and posting in the meantime on IG and FB. I’m so excited to visit this foreign land so full of history, art and culture. I’m beginning a commission Matrix piece, a reproduction of “Yayoi” for a client in Houston. Speaking of Houston, I’ve applied to teach there this fall, hopefully they will accept me, I’ll know mid-February.  I look forward to a year filled with quilts, quilting, travel and joy in daily rituals.

Till then Happy 2020!