Whatsup?

by Sandra Bruce

I hear that word a lot from my son….. “whatsup”?

Well, summer is here (sort of…we’re having a rare chilly spell) and as we roll into the summer season we here at Artistic Alchemy are turning our thoughts and efforts to the retreat this Fall. I want to let everyone in our reading audience know, we traditionally have the deadline for signing up for Zephyr to be the beginning of July, but with this being our last year together teaching (after the year that we’ve all had!) we’ve decided to extend the deadline for those who might have been on the fence about coming. If this is you, please contact one of us for more information, or go ahead and send in your registration form. Having said this, we do have workshop size limitations, and the lake front rooms go first, so don’t hesitate to contact us for further info ASAP. At this moment I have a couple of spaces left in my Matrix workshop…hope you’ll join us! Over the last 8 years it’s been a privilege to work alongside Christine Barnes, Mary Boalt, and of course, Heidi Emmett and Jane Haworth. This fall’s workshop will be special, without a doubt.

I am a Juried Artist Member of SAQA, and am making an effort to be more involved with the local chapter and keeping up with some of the challenges and exhibitions they do, of which there are many. Twice a year a request goes out to make a 12″ by 12″ piece as a donation for an auction. I took an image that I had made before, you may recall seeing it, where I pieced blue squares together and painted an image of 2 pelicans onto it. I realized then that I like to paint on fabric, but it is piecing that I want to focus on. A bit of paint is OK especially to define something that is too tiny or difficult to piece, like eyes. Anyway, I took a portion of that image and reproduced it in Matrix for the auction. It was interesting to me to make a repeat image in a different method. Here’s what I did. Working small is a challenge to me for sure.

Recently, with life returning somewhat back to normal, I got together with my Friends to Dye For, for an outside dyeing day. We began this group about 23 years ago and we still get together, but just not as regularly as we used to. It was so fun to be with these ladies again! I found a stack of white fabric I was saving for a dyeing day, including a piece of velvet. I haven’t been sewing clothes much in the last few months, but now I have a stack to do some clothes sewing with. I came home with my pieces in buckets and pots. Yummy colors!

The velvet came out to be the best surprise, it’s a greenish gold that is one of my most favorite colors.

When I last wrote a post I was working on the big “scrap Vortex” piece that took up most of the length of my longarm, at 130 inches. It was a blast to put together, and no, I didn’t put much of a dent in my scrap bins. I counted the other day, I have 30 Sterilite 16-quart bins full of pieces that are fat quarters on down, in size. I think I could easily make a few more of these.

It made sense to quilt in as many different quilt patterns as I could think of…good for showing customers. I put in lots of words too.

Here is the finished piece on my studio wall. I matched the binding, natch. I have a short video on both IG (sbruce1955) and FaceBook (https://www.facebook.com/Sandra-Bruce-Creative-230949376954447) if you want to take a peek. People who have never seen a longarm doing its thing have been especially interested.

Back to my Matrix bird series….I’m working on a piece of 2 macaws. The photo, which I found on royalty-free Pixabay, made me laugh out loud. In progress:

I have 2 rows of 3 done (not sewn together), I can see I’m going to have to add a bit of paint to help distinguish some areas in the beaks. They don’t have eyes yet…they’ll be painted as well. I lightly drew them in for placement. Stay tuned!

That’s it for now…off to finish this top (hopefully) this weekend, in between my latest passion for Pickleball. Stay safe and happy weekend to you.

Artistic Alchemy 2021- Here’s Something You Won’t Want to Miss!

by Heidi Emmett

If you have considered coming to one of our retreats before, but delayed for one reason or another, thinking one day you would, THIS IS THE YEAR!

From the left Heidi Emmett, Jane Haworth, and Sandra Bruce.

If you have had a desire to take a workshop from Jane Haworth or Sandra Bruce, THIS IS THE YEAR TO DO IT! 2021 will be the last time Jane and Sandra’s “in person” workshops will be available through the Artistic Alchemy Retreat. Heidi Emmett is at the retreat as acting liaison for the whole retreat as well as being in Open Studio.

Both Jane and Sandra are teachers in demand; don’t miss this opportunity to have one-on-one attention and guidance from these two pros.

For more information on pricing of workshops which include all food and lodging, go to the registration page (on the home page).

This year marks our 7th year of Artistic Alchemy Retreats with workshops. Many wonderful memories have been created along the way. What’s better than time spent with amazing creative people and of course all the new friends we have made on this journey. We are making all efforts and planning for this retreat to be as good or better than previous ones. From short evening programs, to giveaways, show and tell, and “break out sessions”, we aim to please.

Ladies, this doesn’t mean that Artistic Alchemy Retreats are ending, just the “in person” workshops. We are already pondering ideas for 2022.  If given the opportunity for a 2022 Open Studio Artistic Alchemy Retreat, would you want to attend?

Here are a few pictures of Jane’s workshop.

Jane Haworth has a fresh approach to teaching fabric collage to create fabulous pet or animal portraits.
Start with your favorite picture of your pet. Awww…that’s a good dog.
Jane offers some very fun ways of “mark making.” Check out her complete workshop description on the home page under workshops Jane Haworth.

Open Studio is another choice. Read on.

Linda is one of THEE MOST productive people in Open Studio that I have ever seen. We still have spaces left. I, Heidi Emmett, will be your facilitator for your Open Studio experience should you choose that.
This is a great time to work on whatever you want to. Sew, and sew some more. Take a walk. Do your own yoga on the dock and of course, MORE sewing. Make new friends all with sewing creativity galore. Whether you want to sew “Art to Wear”, Quilts, hand stitching,or jewelry making, it’s all up to you. Everyone will have a six foot table of their own to use and plenty of irons and ironing boards are available.

Sandra Bruce teaches Material Matrix. Check out some of her students work from past Artistic Alchemy Retreats.

A Material Matrix quilt, “Josaphine”, by student France Courteau.

This student is showing great progress. Check out Sandra’s workshop particulars. On the home page, open the drop down menu labeled, “Workshops.”
Another of Sandra’s students transferring details for fabric placement.

For pricing on the workshops, which include all food and lodging, go to the registration page.

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To the right in the picture are 3 stories of rooms reserved for the Artistic Alchemy Retreat. And it’s just steps to the outside lawn, and to the conference rooms where we hold the workshops, the dining room (Zephyr hired a NEW chef) and the shore of Lake Tahoe. You will never find a more reasonably priced venue than Zephyr Point anywhere else on Lake Tahoe.
There are always special goodies to purchase.

Don’t miss a single sunset this year, September 6-10th.

There are still a few spaces left in Jane and Sandra’s workshops and Open Studio. So don’t delay- SIGN UP NOW! Make this year, 2021, YOUR YEAR to get away, relax, learn something new, enjoy the views, and be with friends, in person. Any questions you might have, don’t hesitate to email any of us: Sandra Bruce, sandrabruce@pacbell.net, Jane Haworth, janehhaworth@gmail.com, Heidi Emmett, hmemmett@gmail.com. Let’s all get CREATIVE at Lake Tahoe this year!

Five New projects.

This is Jane

I am coming to you from an unseasonably hot Spring in California. How I know this? Its because daily I check on our current temperatures as I have started making a Temperature Quilt. If you have never heard about these do a google search and you will find many examples. It was something started by members of the Modern Quilt Guild and they will be having an exhibition of Temperature Quilts at the next Quiltcon in February 2022.

Chosen fabrics sorted for my temperature quilt.

Project 1. Temperature Quilt

I started by figuring out the range of temperatures at my home over the year. Using one fabric per 3 degrees seemed right, so from my stash, I chose about 20 fabrics to use. I also decided to use the Drunkards Path block and made them 4”. Now each day either taking data from our weather station or Weather Underground online I choose the correct fabric for the high and low temps of that day. Getting the right data has been my biggest issue but now I have settled into it. I just have to remember to make one block each day.

I did decide to add data for rain days or nights by using grey through black fabrics. So far we have just had one rain day since I started on April 1st. This will fun to see the progression of this quilt and how many days of rain!

SJSA Quilt of Rememberance

Project 2. Social Justice Sewing Academy Quilt

As a volunteer for the SJSA I was asked to make a Quilt Of Remembrance for a family in Minnesota. The person being memorialized was Matthew Tuhkanen, a dad of five kids who lost has life by law enforcement. I was given some photos to print onto fabric and details of his kids names, favorite colors and activities he liked.

As I had no clothing to work with I started by printing the photos and photos referencing his hobbies. His favorite colors were blue and grey and I pulled orange from the basketball reference. I gathered my fabrics and began making smaller blocks and rows using Maria Shell’s book Improv Patchwork. You will see in the photos my progression as the quilt came together on my “design floor”. I think the quilt was colorful and will be a wonderful memorial for the family. Here is their email.

Making memory quilts is special to me, I think that is why I make so many Quilts from Clothes.

Purple version of Tilly by Jane Haworth

Project 3. Pet Portraits

Finding time to work on my pet portrait collage quilts is hard when I am working on making custom quilts and teaching online. Recently I got a customer order form a man who had watched me on Quilting Arts TV and wanted to buy the purple and yellow Tilly Quilt. This quilt was used on the cover of the Quilting Arts magazine so I couldn’t sell it! I am now in the process of making another one. It’s fun to make it again and since I don’t have all the same fabrics it will be slightly different.

 Anyone wanting to sign up for my Mark-making and Fabric Collage workshop at the Zephyr retreat in September is welcome to bring a photo of their pet or favorite animal and work on that. We start by making the pattern, choosing fabrics and then working on the collage. It really is an addictive and freeing technique. I have plenty of space available in the workshop and I’m looking forward to getting away to Lake Tahoe in September.

Gathering pieces for my Vignettes Quilt

Project 4. Vignettes Quilt

I am a member of the MQG Modern Quilt Guild and have never yet attended a show but this year as it was online I did sign up for a workshop. I really enjoy improv piecing so the class I found was taught by Heidi Parkes and was called a Vignettes Quilt. Th idea was to make a quilt focusing on using the Elements of Art, the Postmodern Principles of Art and Art Vocabulary. This meant we had to include line, shape, color, texture, value, space, form, economy, appropriation, text, representation, gazing, obsessive, juxtaposition and more. 

It was perfect for me as I was able to use many of those saved textiles, quilt blocks, clothes and fabrics that I already have. Heidi Parkes hand-quilts all her quilts and I am proud to say I stitched half and hand stitched half.

Pieces of my Life Vignettes Quilt

I love this quilt and am already planning a couple more.

A few examples of my hand painted wildflower cards.

Project 5. Watercolour Painting

Finally my last project to share is watercolor painting. I tried to do the 100 day project by doing a small painting a day but only lasted about 5 days! I have all my supplies out and have been drawn to paint some of the wildflowers in my yard this Spring. We have lovely lupines, blue dicks, fairy lanterns and more. I did challenge myself to paint some of these using my non-dominant hand which takes away some of the fear. This would be my excuse if it didn’t look so good! Actually I was quite pleased with them. I am now working on making these with fabric or including them in my quilting.

Work-in-progress Wildflower table runner!

I hope I have inspired you to try a new project or have a go at a non-dominate hand painting. And don’t forget to sign up for the retreat if you haven’t done so already. Having had my vaccine I am excited to get away and share my time with other creative friends.

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 😉

Kaffe and Kaffe and MORE Kaffe Fassett!

by HEIDI EMMETT

Welcome to my blog post this week. Our Fantastic Artistic Alchemy retreat is still many months away and because of that, time is on our side for a “BEST EVER” event at Zephyr.

HUGE news up at the Zephyr Conference Center is the arrival of Chef Aaron! Laura(head of conferences) told me that their very first group for the 2021 season has had a fabulous week at Zephyr and go home today, April 16th. Two of the BEST things for this group was A. They actually all met and had a super time (a very large quilting group by the way) and B. Chef Aaron fixed fabulous food. Healthful and quality choices all around. Whoo hoo! I put in a word for all of us from our past experiences with the food that Chef Aaron is a very welcome addition.

Moving forward, lets all spend some time with Kaffe Fassett. Read on. And SIGN UP TODAY! And tell your friends too.

To sign up go to this link.

I “upcycled” this Coach bag 5 years ago. It had sad looking split leather on the bottom so I covered it with Kaffe fabric.
Using my Whisper Blouse pattern, I used ALL Kaffe striped fabrics for this one.
The back piece is a double needled topstitched Kaffe stripe with little squares attached here and there.
Here is the pattern cover for Whisper Blouse. Please visit my Etsy shop to see more of my Art to Wear patterns. My moniker for Etsy is: DesignsbyHeidiEmmett/sewing patterns
And there I am with the man himself. Yes, I was a “groupie” wearing his fabric. I loved what he said to me. He signed my book, looked up and said, “My someone really likes my stripes.”
I could never wear this apron when it was finished. I don’t know why. Maybe a little over the top with the flower and all. So I sold it. Someone was very happy to purchase it I was told(I sold it at our local quilt show). Another Kaffe groupie perhaps.
A close up of the double needled Kaffe fabric and a cute little “Mini” Tuffett pincushion all in Kaffe stripes. It has adorable glass feet aka small drawer pulls.
A portion of my Kaffe (WOW I really have a love of his stripes don’t I) “Rods and Reels” pillow.
I made these pillows as a project for the now defunct “Stitches” magazine. The jean pocket is the back of the pillow.
Getting ready to make some fiber jewelry with this Kaffe fabric that’s called “Shirtings.”

I will be planting my vegetable garden this weekend. This is the first time EVER that I am planting before Mother’s Day. The weather has been mighty fine of late, perfect for digging in the dirt. The creative project above will be on pause until I get the veggies and the flowers all planted. Until next time, Hugs, Heidi

Launching into Spring

This is Jane

Spring is here and I just got back from a short Spring break excursion on the Mendocino Coast. During Covid times options to get away have been limited but we have managed a few camping trips and this time we were not disappointed.

Russian Gulch State Park

Booking tent camping at this time of year can be like Russian roulette but we were lucky to go during a warm and (more importantly) a dry spell. It was cold in the evenings and during the night but by taking along our new Solo Stove for our campfire, it was super efficient and really kept us warm in the evenings. During the day we got the opportunity to explore the coastline between Fort Bragg and Mendocino. We loved the rugged beauty, especially as it had been 20 years since our last visit.

We stayed near Caspar at Jug Handle Creek Farm and I booked our camping through the Hipcamp website. It was a great experience and location. We could walk to Jug Handle Beach and to the Ecological Staircase hike. This hike took us through various terrains including redwood forests up to the Pygmy forest, which was a total surprise.

Hiking on the Mendocino Headlands in our masks.
http://www.foothillquilters.org/2021quiltshow.html

My local quilt guild, Foothill Quilters Guild, just opened their virtual quilt show. It is online for the whole of April. As we cancelled the show last year and it was not going to happen this year we decided to hold it online. Check it out at the link above. It’s easy to navigate with quilts to look at in various categories. Don’t forget to vote for your favorites! Also support the Vendors that have special events, discount codes and links to their websites. If you click on Artistic Alchemy here or on the vendor page you can see our new Promo video. Heidi, Sandra and I had a lot of fun, and laughs, chatting about the upcoming retreat.

Heidi, Sandra and myself at Zephyr Point, Lake Tahoe

We are all getting excited about the retreat this September. Enrollment continues to grow for Sandra’s matrix class, my mark-making and collage workshop and especially for Open Studio that Heidi is going to lead. We are also excited to introduce evening breakout sessions for small groups and small projects. You’ll be able to sign up for those at check-in. Also remember if you are thinking of joining us we do assign lake-view rooms on a first-come, first serve basis.

Beautiful Lake Tahoe

Coming this Spring I am launching some NEW online workshops. If you wish to take the Red-eyed Tree Frog workshop that will be on May 23rd, as part of the Road@Home May event. The Big-eyed Chameleon and my popular Sunflower workshop will be part of the Mancuso’s CREATE event held in early June. Registration has just opened for both of these online events so check them out.

I continue to keep busy with memory quilts that I custom make but when I get the chance I am trying to carve out time for “my work”. This small piece was an experiment using Lesley Riley TAP paper for the nest, a handprinted bird, free-motion stitching and some hand stitching.

‘Spring’ my SAQA Spotlight Auction donation

If you are thinking about joining me for my workshop at our retreat this year my plan is to have a full day playing with paints, inks, printing and generally making our own fabrics. Then we will get into the collage technique. Either using a photo or one of my patterns. I will guide you through the process from creating an enlarged pattern, making the collage to stitching and finishing the piece.

Choice of two sunflower patterns for Fabric Collage

I do have a couple of spots in a small group, online workshop I am hosting on April 21st 1-4pm PST. It is using my Sunflower Fabric Collage patterns. If you are interested contact me and I will give you more details.

Last summer I put together my Love of Pets Workshop as an on-demand, online class on Coursecraft and it has been very successful. I have a few more classes in the works including this baby giraffe collage pattern. I like to support the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and donated half the proceeds when I sold ‘Melman, the Vulnerable Giraffe’ quilt to support this cause. I plan on doing something similar with this pattern. Stay tuned for sneak peeks of the other workshops!

So after my short break I am slowly getting back into the swing of my work and sewing. I have my 1st vaccine on Sunday and pretty soon I will be back in-person talking and teaching to guilds which is exciting. So until next time, remember to check out our new Promo Video on the home page, ‘Stay Creative’ and Happy Easter.

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!

So What Are We Thinking Regarding, “Break out Sessions?”

by HEIDI EMMETT

Hello everyone. While I am taking a break from teaching a “workshop” this upcoming Artistic Alchemy Retreat, I really want to teach techniques in “breakout sessions” during the evenings. Here are some of our thoughts on them so far:

It looks like Jane will teach one (she’ll talk about it at some point), Sandra said not this year, and Heidi, possibly one a night starting Tuesday evening.

  1. We have decided they will be about 1-1 1/2 hours long.
  2. They will be hand work only (maybe some stitching by machine that can be done later).
  3. Each session will come with a (mostly) complete kit to work with.
  4. Basic sewing supplies as in, scissors, pins, thimble, etc. you would bring to the session.
  5. 10 kits for each session more than likely, a more doable size of class for all concerned.
  6. Bring your favorite refreshment and sit, sip, and stitch!
  7. Pricing/signups, all the little details will be posted probably in June maybe even July.
  8. The following pictures are IDEAS that I am THINKING ABOUT. That’s all. Just IDEAS.
You can most certainly bring your latest knitting or crocheting project to do on your own time. I think this lady and/or gentleman got a little carried away with their project.Ha, ha. It’s really the cutest picture and I had to include it (found it on pinterest).
Let’s make a really unique scarf?
Fiber jewelry maybe.
More fiber jewelry.
Fiber jewelry with a mixture of WHAT??? Rubber tire innertubes.
Ribbon yarn, ya gotta love it for fiber jewelry.
Hmmm…Fiber jewelry with beads, wire, and ribbon yarn.
This is a possibility, but wait those are machine stitched. Keeping it as a possible, thinking, I’m thinking.
This is a possibility from my book. My book is called “Fashion Quilted Accessories” Hmmm…again, there is that machine stitching.
Orrr….I can show you what I do with tiny fabric pieces. This one could really work!
The colors are so vibrant in this picture, I just had to include it. These are all Kaffe Fassett stripes. Hmmm…I could include a piece of double needle stitched fabric in the kit and do some handwork on the little squares to hold in place. Thinking, thinking……
I have a really super technique to create these fabric twisted pieces. These are bracelets.

Do you see my dilemma? Soooo MANY IDEAS. In the coming few months I will be testing them all out and others too. My motto in picking them out is: “Make it up, make it fun, and get it done! Hugs, Heidi

Online Teaching and our In-person Retreat

This is Jane. For my blog post this month I am reflecting on what I like about teaching my collage classes. I’ve been thinking about how I have survived 2020 by teaching online and enjoyed the experience. But now, although I am still teaching via Zoom, I’m excited and looking forward to our Artistic Alchemy retreat in September .

Ready to teach Hens and Roosters via Zoom

 It seems a long time since I have gathered with quilters or traveled to visit a quilt guild. I have kept busy presenting and teaching classes to quilt guilds and taught at many online quilt shows. I think this platform is great for sharing information with students, demos are successful because students have the best front row seat and working from home they will not run short of supplies. Also I can set up the day before and be ready at my laptop 30 mins before class starts.

This may look like a crazy amount of fabric but its enough for this fabric collage of Ruby the Cow

I do miss cruising the classroom and chatting with my students, monitoring how their work is progressing and offering tips along the way. When I teach online its harder to see the progress they are making and with collage its tricky to pick the piece up to show on camera. But recently I have received photos via email of finished students work. It makes me feel happy that they have enjoyed the process and then spent their time working and completing the project.

When I am teaching I like to say to my students “Value = Contrast = Dimension”  These words are especially important when making collage and other art practices. I encourage students to” look” at their photo. If you spend 5 minutes really looking at what is going on in a photo your brain will see things that you do not expect. Sometimes when we work we make things as we think they are. By showing what is really going will result in a better and more successful design!

Looking at contrast in a photo

In the photo above I see contrast between the color families of the two types of succulent. I see contrast when looking into the shadows between the leaves of the succulents and I see contrast between what is in focus in the foreground against the blurriness of the background.

Ruby 24″ x 34″

To achieve this I encourage students to exaggerate what they see for a successful piece of work. Where you see the shadows or the areas that are layered this would be where you need to add your dark or black fabrics. For those light reflections or highlights, use your lightest fabrics even going to white or off white. The rest of the time we can use the medium value or our fun fabrics.

Enough of this lesson!

At the 2021 Artistic Alchemy retreat in Lake Tahoe, September 6-10th, I will be teaching collage quilting starting from a photo or you can use one of my patterns.

Little succulent designs in blue and white pots

We will spend time learning to make a pattern, choosing the right fabrics to use and then jumping into my technique for making fabric collage. If you are unfamiliar I don’t use pattern pieces or use fusible on the backs of the fabric but trace the shape onto the fabric and cut it out. It is a little more freeform with fewer rules. Resulting in a finished piece that is fun and unique. I don’t want students to stress over this process as its just “small bits of fabric!”

As well as the fabric collage in my workshop we will be spending the first day playing with surface design and mark making. I love to do this when the opportunity arises. What is better than using your own handmade textiles in your collage. 

Lino Cutting and printmaking

I like to use textural print fabrics in my collage and if I’ve made them myself that is even better. I use paints, fabric or acrylic paints and a number of simple tools to create unique patterns and textures. For my workshop there will be a small fee for materials. I will provide paints, a gel plate, fabrics and other materials. You will have the opportunity to paint on fabric, make your own stamps, lino-cuts, cyanotype prints and monoprints. 

Spring is on its way in my garden.

Now looking at this photo, and I am really looking, I’m thinking about mark-making and collage. I could paint some fabric to make those beautiful violet and lavender petals. Also the texture of the sepal leaves could be created using mono-prints and then there is the blurred background to consider!

So if you are considering attending our retreat this September the registration is already open. Go to the Workshop page on the blog and you will find out more info about the pricing etc if you click on the registration button. Remember priority for lake-front rooms is given to those who sign up first.

My latest recommendation

After my post back in November when I reviewed many of the books that I had read over 2020 this is one of my newest reads. I’m over half way through and am really enjoying the narrative and the rich descriptions in this book. I believe there are plans for a movie in the works.

Let’s hope as Spring arrives we are all more optimistic. We can savor the days when we will be able to socialize and have fun together at the retreat. Keep creative as Heidi, Sandra and myself continue to do.

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!