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.

How Things have Changed!

This is Jane. A year ago (to the day) I was on Rhode Island visiting Newport and taking a tour of The Breakers. I was hosted by the Narragansett Bay Quilters Guild and taught two different one-day workshops. I keep thinking about all the unique opportunities that being a quilt teacher has given me. But now in our new Covid/Zoom world I am getting new but different opportunities.

Views to the mansions on the Cliff Walk

What a beautiful day, it was so unexpected. I will say my next three days were not so perfect as it rained, a lot!

The Cliff Walk at Newport, RI

Before my visit to Rhode Island I knew nothing of “The Mansions” and The Cliff Walk but was highly recommended by my host from the quilt guild. The Breakers is a Vanderbilt mansion built between 1893-95 and is worth $12.8 million today. The footprint of the building covers 1 acre and stands overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. During my visit it was decorated for the holidays and was just exquisite.

Workshop photo from my Travel Journal Quilt class.

See I really was working!

So now we are settled into our Covid/Zoom lifestyle I will catch you up on some of the things that I have doing and share some new opportunities open to us all. This morning at 7am I was the guest teacher for a quilt group in Massachusetts who usually host a Cape Cod retreat. I was honored to be asked and will be up bright and early again tomorrow, to continue my workshop.

My on demand workshop https://coursecraft.net/c/loveofpets/splash

My on demand workshop has had a steady stream of new students sign up and I am planning on putting together a new course in the New Year. I know Sandra has just released her workshop called Material Matrix and she must be feeling happy and relieved after all the effort putting it together. Her link is https://coursecraft.net/courses/z93eK I know Heidi is also working on one too. We know this does not replace an event like the Artistic Alchemy Retreat but it means our teaching is available to people who probably could never have attended an in-person event. Next years retreat will be Sept 6-10th 2021.

For those of you looking for online classes that you can sign up for independently of a quilt guild, look up Global Quilt Connections. It’s a great resource, put together by Sue Bleiweiss and Lyric Kinard. Here you can see quilt teachers from around the world presenting via 3 minute videos online classes they have available. Yesterday I presented my Coursecraft Pet Portrait workshop. Its hard making your own videos about yourself but I guess this is one of those new experiences I’ve had to get used to!

This is my fabric sketchbook

Through social media I found out about a November sketchbook challenge presented by Laura Kemshall on a website called Design Matters. It contains a wealth of videos and tutorials on surface design, crafts and quilting too. Laura and her mother Linda have been making online art and craft classes for over 15 years and are from Herefordshire, England. The workshops are very reasonably priced and given the time I would love to try more of these. I did join the sketchbook challenge!.

Sketchbook Challenge by Laura Kemshall

As a full time quilter and teacher my days are filled with either making custom t-shirt or necktie quilts, collage quilts, or prepping materials for new online classes. Over the last few months I have managed to squeeze in time to make these quilts to memorialize this time.

6” Rice pouch hand stitched.

Another small project I’ve been work on in the evenings is making these Asian inspired bags, postcards and wall hanging (in progress). I find hand stitching calming and keeps me awake!

These pieces are made using the stabilizer from neckties, craft felt, linen, Asian fabrics and sashiko cotton threads in blue, navy and cream. My stitches are simple and repetitive. The Japanese rice bag is a pattern from Kzstevens

Sheltering in Place

Even during lockdown I have stayed involved with my local quilt guild, Foothill Quilters Guild who switched to a Zoom format in July. I am co-ordinating a group effort to make these house blocks for their opportunity quilt 2022. The pattern is Villages by Pat Sloan and if you search online the free pattern is available.

Daisey

This is my latest custom quilt order of a dog called Daisey. I’m not sure of her breed but my customer told me how she is known for lying in this pose with her paws crossed. I have since quilted it which gives a different look as it helps to blend the fabrics.

After no summer vacation I did get a short getaway with two of my children, James and Lucy during Fall Break in October. Pinnacles National Park has been on my radar for a few years after I read about it in Sunset magazine. From my home it was an easy 4 hour drive to Central California. It is an amazing, small National Park that has incredible vistas of beautiful colored boulders and rock formations at every turn. The weather was incredible for October. At the end of our 4 hr hike up to the Pinnacles, around and over the boulders, down the ‘high and narrows trail’, it was 92′. We even got to see Condors! I highly recommend a visit and during weekdays camping reservations were easy to secure.

My crazy family!

Finally, it seems covid lockdown is taking an effect on us! My families bi-weekly chat has grown quite hilarious as we try out the special effects on the messenger app!

From Heidi, Sandra and I best wishes for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. I’m sure many of us will be celebrating via Zoom. Hang in there as it won’t last forever. Stay creative till we can safely gather together again.

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!

Life’s not All about Sewing!

This is Jane. My post this week will not only be a catch-up of what I have been up to these last few months but I will talk about some of the books I have read this year. Normally I read about 6-8 books a year but looking back at my Kindle I was surprised to see I have already read 14 books.

I have been trying to get out and walk most mornings but with the California wildfires leaving us with unhealthy air and smoky skies it has been hard to do! This morning the sun looked like a red halo behind the smoke.

Smoky Skies in Christian Valley, Auburn, ,CA

Another nice thing about walking and exploring my neighborhood streets is that I get to visit with the local animals. A shortcut from my house takes me down a quiet irrigation canal, the NID and I get to visit with these goats and alpaca. They make me laugh.

Look at this guy, I think he is going to have to be in a quilt!

2020 has left me at home working on custom quilt orders, and lecturing to quilt guilds online and also teaching classes via Zoom. I really don’t have much free time to finish off my own work or even start new projects. This leaves me little time to spend on chores around the house 🙂 or reorganize and tidy, as I have a desire to do! My plan is to take December off from sewing which is something I haven’t done in years!

It seems like other people have the time to sort and gather old shirts ready for a quilt. I am getting plenty of people contacting me wanting to get these projects started. I enjoy making these quilts as they are all unique and its quite a challenge to unify this items into a lovable heirloom. I just don’t want to be kept so busy that I can’t work on my own quilts too!

This quilt was an interesting one. It combines a lot of items from the career of a Minnesota Vikings cheerleader. She sent me a knit hat, jean jacket, socks, fake leather booties and some small and shiny athletic clothing as well as a couple of T-shirts! It turned out great, totally unique and I got a nice thank-you note from the recipient.

Another challenge I have been enjoying is taking silk neckties, deconstructing them, then using a string piecing method to construct blocks. My daughter Lucy, who is not working right now, has been coming home to help me out. We spend a lot of time trying to make all these random colors and patterns blend together to make the perfect quilt!

Amazing sunsets happen when you get smoke filled skies!

Now I’ll get to share a few of the books I have been enjoying this year. I like to read but the only time I get to is before I fall asleep at night and then if I wake during the night. I think in my menopausal state I have trouble sleeping and rather than lie awake stressing about not sleeping I just fire up the Kindle and read. I love it for that reason!

Have you heard of Bookbub? Every Friday I receive a weekly email from Bookbub with ebook offers that show selected books that are on sale for that week. Either from Amazon or wherever you download your ebooks. Many of these I purchased, at the time, for $1.99 instead of $12-14. You just sign up and check all the genres that you like to read and wait to see what’s on offer.

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. This story is set in England on the south coast of Dorset and follows the early life of Mary Annings. Growing up in England I was intrigued by her life as she discovered many of the early famous fossils in her home town of Lyme Regis.

Ruthless River by Holly Fitzgerald was real page turner. A true adventure of a newly wed couple who end up on a raft in the middle of the Amazon trying to survive.

The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd. Having recently got into playing with Indigo and dyeing my own fabrics I was intrigued to read about an early history of this plant. The story of Eliza Lucas as she steers her way to running one of her fathers plantations in South Carolina in the early 18th century and her desire to make this crop successful is powerful.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi The story of two half sisters born in Ghana in the 18th Century, one will marry an Englishman and the other sold into slavery. They are not aware of one another but over the generations their lives twist and turn in different ways.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. I loved this book. A story about family, love, tradition, tea farming and the bond between mothers and daughters.

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See. When I read this I hadn’t realized it was by the same author as the above and maybe that’s why I loved it so much. When we aren’t able to travel reading about places I’ve never seen makes me an armchair traveller. This one I highly recommend although I remember a very disturbing scene.

Last one. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. This book, released this summer was on various recommended reading lists and book club choices. Another book of parallel lives. It took a little to get into the characters but once I did it was hard to put down, even at 4 in the morning!

I added the links to Amazon to make it easier, although I am not affiliated with Amazon in any way.

I hope you have enjoyed hearing about these books and I do like receiving good book recommendations. Maybe in another post I will tell you about my all time favorite books. All of which I still own and don’t want to throw away.

My Coursecraft workshop

Just a short plug for the online workshop that I put together back in June, (seems so long ago now!). Love of Pets is available for purchase and you will have access to it 24/7 for as long as you wish and you get to work at your own pace. Through photos, videos and step by step instructions I guide you from the photo to collage to finishing your quilt. I know Sandra Bruce has been spending a lot of time working on her Material Matrix course, Heidi has started on hers and I know Christine Barnes is working on an online color course too.

Check out my website for any upcoming events I am teaching for online or look in my shop for kits and patterns that I sell. Although we can’t meet on person it is so good for Artistic Alchemy to still be able to share our creativity during Covid times.

Reflections on the Artistic Alchemy Retreat

by Jane Haworth

Lake view from Zephyr Point

We have reached the end of August and during normal times we would all, students and teachers, be prepping for the Zephyr retreat but these aren’t normal times. Sadly Labor Day weekend will come and go without the excitement of driving to Tahoe, unpacking, settling in and meeting all the students. Alas we will have to wait until September 2021 for this. My post this time will be reflections about the retreat and I am happy to share I have some guest writers to help with me this.

Fallen Leaf Conference Room

If you have never joined us for a retreat Artistic Alchemy is a group of of three but previously four teachers that host a selection of workshops from quilting, collage, upcycling, designing and making wearables and surface design. This would have been the 7th year for Sandra Bruce, Heidi Emmett and I to organize and host this retreat for about 40-50 students.

Early morning solace at the lake

One of my favorite things to do while staying at the Zephyr Point Conference Center is to take an early morning walk around the property, then sit on the dock and look out at Lake Tahoe. 7am is a quiet time and this particular morning unfortunately a smoke haze could be seen in the distance. 2020 I was going to do an organized early morning walk with those who felt the urge or needed the exercise!

Postcard circa 2018

I was lucky enough to join Artistic Alchemy in 2018 after Christine Barnes stepped down. I knew Christine, Sandra and Heidi from the local teaching circuit and the day we took this photo was the day I met Mary. I was honored to join these wonderful ladies and be able to add another creative thread to the retreat.

Guest post from Christine Barnes

“There’s something magical about Artistic Alchemy at Zephyr Point. I think it’s a combination of the higher-altitude air, the amazing “water colors,” and a simplicity like no other place on Tahoe. When you add in the energy of committed sewists and quilters, all happy to be a part of the collective creativity, the result is a very special experience. In each of the four years I taught color workshops, I came home tired but on a high, thrilled to be a part of AA and excited to go after new ideas that came from watching my students work with color. (Getting somewhere with color takes practice, but gosh, the result is worth the effort!) I confess to feeling a bit down the year after I retired, but the memories and the insights I gained stay with me. I hope it’s been the same for my students—you can’t see me, but when I look at my pictures, I’m smiling at what you did and who you are.” Christine

Our design wall was color on display!
A whole of of auditioning went on at the wall. Here is one of my students from the Dakotas working on her Spumoni blocks. I think this is Gail, or Laurie—sorry I can’t quite recall.:-)

Guest post from Mary Boalt

“I want to thank Jane for asking me to reminisce for a moment or two. About now it’s good to spend a few minutes thinking about some happier times. I have fond memories of our retreats at Zephyr. The camaraderie among the women was amazing. Whether a quilter, art quilter, or wearable artist, the relationships built during that week were undeniable. We all shared a love of creating. What could be more fun? To spend four days immersed in learning a new technique and adding it to your repertoire of skills feels like pure joy and indulgence! I think the most exciting year was the five year anniversary of Artistic Alchemy. What a testament to the vision that Heidi, Christine and Sandra had to create a retreat for like minded women and have them “play” together for a week! Additionally, that first week in September has the best weather ever to be enjoyed along with the best view ever! I hope by this time next year you will be able to have this pleasure again. In the meantime, be careful, be safe and carry on creatively.” Fondly Mary Boalt.

Gail showing off her vest
Mary and some wonderful painted canvases

Guest post from Heidi Emmett

“I will TOTALLY miss the camaraderie that is developed during this time with each of my students and how we become a cohesive group with ideas bouncing off the walls for something that’s upcycled or a new technique to try. Everyone is enthusiastic in their own way and it is so fun to be a part of. I will miss the “ahha” moments when it is discovered that they CAN make and ENJOY a garment that they sewed themselves using my Art to Wear patterns. AND that it IS O.K. to break some sewing garment rules. They finally feel free to get some creativity going and it feels mighty fine!” Heidi. 

Sunset over Lake Tahoe. This happened during our nightly program

Sharing the lake with others is what Lake Tahoe is all about.

Guest post from Sandra Bruce

“One of my favorite parts of being at Zephyr with Artistic Alchemy is the shot we get of everyone at the end, on the last day. We don’t always get every single person, some ladies have to scoot early to catch planes, for instance, but it is so fun to gather as a group one last time for this picture. Friendships have been made, stories told and shared, and the week has been diffused with lots of creativity, learning, and laughs! Here’s the collection…2015 is missing from my photo library, but the rest are here.” Sandra

Group Phot0 2014
Group Photo 2016
Group Photo 2017
Group Photo 2018
Group Photo 2019

What a great look back over the years! Unfortunately Sandra couldn’t find the group photo for 2015. It is nice to see so many friendly, familiar faces and returning students too. Has anyone been to every retreat!

I remember in maybe 2015 looking at the Artistic Alchemy website and contemplating signing up for Open Studio. I joined the group in 2018 and it was my first retreat, first time at Zephyr Point and first time in this group. For the Artistic Alchemy 5th anniversary I contacted various quilt companies and individuals to see if they would donate some free swag for giveaways and I was totally surprised how generous people were. Thank you sponsors. It was so fun each night at the program/show and tell to be able to share all this swag!

Everyone looks happy with their free swag!!

I was looking forward to my workshop this year it was called Mark-making and Collage and would have included a day of playing and printing with fabric paints. I started to put together a fabric journal with some of my samples but I suppose now I have another year to work on this.

Working to combine the pages of this fabric Journal

Best wishes to you all for following along with our journey and although we won’t be at the Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center this year we can all dream about it. We are planing to return next year September 6-10th 2021. Keep safe, keep well and keep creating.

Jane, Sandra, Mary and Heidi Sept 2019

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.

Going Virtual is our “new normal”

This is Jane. Can you believe it is July! When I think back March, April, May they all seem to have blended into one. Last week I released the online workshop ‘Love of Pets Fabric Collage’ that I have been working on for the last six weeks. In my last post I had just started working on this project.

Being a creative person, used to making and using my hands it was hard to be on the computer for much of my time. I was craving just to sit at my sewing machine and work on making a T-shirt quilt!! There was one week where I worked on my samples, took photos and didn’t actually work on the class.

This is Duncan who is featured in my workshop in a timelapse of his construction.

Right now the workshop is on sale at an early bird price of $50 and will be going back to its regular price of $65 at the end of next week. Below is the link for the workshop.

Love of Pets Landing Page This is the page where you can see a welcome video, details of what you will learn and table of contents for the workshop. This would be at least a 3 day workshop and is divided into 10+ lessons, 80+ minutes of video and then descriptions and photos.

Have you tried the Layout app? Its a must for a quilter. How you may be asking?

You can take one photo or a number, up to 9, and make them into a grid or other layout. Using 4 you get a four-patch or 9 a nine-patch. Then you save that layout block and then use it again to make another layout grid. Above I selected 4 photos of pizza our friend Zac made us, then I repeated the image 8 times using a mirror image layout. You can also rotate the photos.

Here I took a 5” string pieced diagonal block and made a four patch with it but I rotated two of the photos so it produced a diamond. Then I saved this image. For the next photo I repeated that same block nine times, as in the nine patch and saved it again. Then below I used this same image that I saved and made a four-patch. It is great to see how if you just make one block you can see how a full size quilt will look as it is repeated.

This whole repeat began with one 5” string pieced block in the Layout app.

I usually use this app to show photos of my work or students work so that I can just upload one image which features nine pieces of art. The image below I combined nine different eyes and was a very popular post when I shared it on social media. Its also in the “Its all about the eyes!” lesson in my workshop.

Nine different pet eyes combined into a nine-patch.

This week I presented at a virtual Meet the Teachers event that the Northern California Quilt Council put on for teachers, quilts guilds and quilt shops. NCQC has done an excellent job during these difficult times for quilt guilds to help them to adapt and continue using Zoom. They have put on a number of virtual events of education, sharing and connecting guilds and teachers. I have heard from other teachers on the East Coast and there is nothing similar and guilds are just on pause with teachers being cancelled. What is nice now is that guilds can invite teachers nationally and internationally to share and teach without any of the travel expenses!

This is my teaching/demo set-up for filming and Zoom.

Next week I will be doing a studio tour and trunk show of my latest work to my guild, the Foothill Quilt Guild and also sharing my trip to Dubai. Then the following day will be my first online class which will be a practise run for other virtual classes I’ll be offering via Zoom. I have been invited to teach at the Mancuso Virtual Quilt Show that runs August 12-15th. The classes will be announced mid July.

I call this workshop Pink Cosmos Fabric Collage and is about a 20” quilt that could be used for a wall hanging, bag or pillow.

We spent July 4th weekend up at a friends cabin in Serene Lakes, CA which is up on Donner Summit. We spent 3 days exploring trails, hiking and generally relaxing, which makes a change for me! The wildflowers up there are incredible, the trails around the Royal Gorge Cross country ski resort quiet and well maintained.

Incredible wildflowers on Donner Summit right now.

Finally I almost forgot last week I took my son James and Zac for a hike in the Auburn Confluence area. We were hiking the Lake Clementine trail to the left of the American River and there we noticed down across the river a mother bear with her two cubs playing in the water. It was a true David Attenborough moment! We watched for a long time as the cubs exited the river, climbed up onto the trail on the other side and then disappeared into the tree growth. A once-in-a-lifetime sighting.

Black playing with her cubs in the American River

Check out my workshop if you are interested since sadly no retreat this year and keep inspired and creative.

Changing Times. Embracing Technology!

This is Jane. My blog post this week will start from a message from us all.

 It is our utmost desire when having our retreats at Zephyr to give you the optimum experience….where you are able to learn, laugh, and enjoy the company of the other sewists in the beautiful setting of Lake Tahoe. We three, Jane, Heidi and Sandra have been in constant communication with Zephyr, and between ourselves, about the fate of the September retreat in light of the Covid virus. We want, more than anything, to be able to go forward there in safety and assurance of a positive experience for you all. When we were in discussion about this issue we came to the ultimate conclusion that we cannot assure these objectives. In many ways it is out of our hands and for that reason we are postponing our September retreat until 2021. Your safety and positive experience are our primary goals.
  
We know how disappointed you are, as are we, but you surely understand where we are coming from in postponing the retreat. Please email us for any questions you may have. This is unprecedented territory for us, and we pledge to be fair and equitable going forward. We want 2021 to be a fantastic year with a retreat that is the best yet.

Artistic Alchemy retreat Zephyr Point

Lake view from Zephyr Point

It makes us sad to have made this decision but I feel we can all now move forward and focus on the retreat for 2021. As a traveling quilt teacher I have just about written off 2020. I still have a few things on my calendar but I shall have to wait and see if they go ahead. As I said in my blog title, even I am now having to jump on the technology bandwagon, something a few weeks ago I just wasn’t interested in doing.

Mark-making and Collage Jane Haworth

Fabric Journal, one of the samples for Artistic Alchemy retreat

As for technology I recently presented my lecture ‘Living a Creative Life’ to the San Francisco Quilt Guild using Zoom! My Power Point lasted 30 minutes, followed by Q & A, and went down well, I believe!  We had 138 attendees and all stayed till the end. I will say I did miss the audience reactions and participation though.

Pet Portrait Fabric collage Jane Haworth

Precious

And I am now working on putting together an online class called Love of Pets Fabric Collage. This wasn’t something I had considered but as time goes on and reality sets in I know I won’t be teaching in person for a while. When I think about the opportunities that this opens up, its pretty good. Quilters from all around the country and world will have the chance to take my class.

Fabric Jane Haworth

Fabric selection ideas for Love of Pets online class

The good thing that has come out of this pandemic is reconnecting with family, and friends using either Messenger video groups, Instagram Live or Zoom. I come from a large family, all of them in the UK and for the first we have been catching up virtually. Pokey Bolton has a daily chat with quilters and artists on Instagram Live at 1pm pacific time and I was on with her a few weeks ago talking about this very subject, teaching cancellations and ways to move forward. Then lets not mention the funny glasses my close friend Ronnie and I found on Messenger video!

Hanging out on the porch May 2020

Porch time during lockdown

Staying at home I think is made easier by creating routines. I will work in the morning, have a family lunch and play Yahtzee on the iPad, listen to Pokey’s 1pm chat, work the afternoon till about 5 when its “Beer O’clock”. This is our family time for a beer on the porch and daily card game challenge! Our favorites are Wizard, Knaves and Phase 10.

Big Frank Jane Haworth

Big Frank 46″ x 69″

Now that I have had more time for sewing I will share what I’ve been working on over the last couple of months. With the deadline to enter the World of Beauty quilt competition at IQF Houston coming up, I decided to make a couple of large quilts. I always think a quilt needs to be big to look impressive hanging in a quilt show. So Big Frank was created! I’m pretty happy with him and am now working on Little Frank and perhaps pattern I can share.

Big Franks Eye Jane Haworth

Detail of the eye, approx 9” x 6”

Here is a detail of his eye and really I don’t think it looks as impressive close-up as you just see the different fabrics I included. Some are pretty random! When I started this quilt my intent to use scraps and those old fabrics I have but never use. Pretty much the ugly ones! I started with a grey, brown and blue palette but as the quilt grew I would get bored with using these same fabrics and so I’d look through my stash and grab a bunch in another color. So now as he progressed I added those greens, ochres and even pinks!

Notes of Hope Jane Haworth

Notes of Hope 81” x 61”

This is the other large quilt I have been working on and just finished.  I made it in response to the Mountain Art Quilters Spring challenge. The category that spoke to me was ‘Colors of Emotion’

Forestall Bridge

Small ‘messages of hope’ attached to the railings on the Foresthill Bridge, CA

The story behind this quilt. In 2018 I remember hearing on the news that a lady from Auburn, Brittney Hendricks, organized for volunteers to make ‘Notes of Hope’ that they attached to the railings on the Foresthill Bridge. This bridge is located just outside Auburn, CA is the highest bridge in California and fourth highest in the USA and has been the scene for 90 suicides since it was built in 1947. These ‘messages of hope’ attached to the bridge are an attempt to convince people that life continues to be worth living. I walked the bridge with my son James in the new year and took many photos.

These photos I printed onto fabric sheets and then Improv pieced everything together. Starting with the words, the dark black fabrics around them, included a small colorful border and then more black border. I will say it was a little tricky to square it up!

This little ‘Yorkie’ quilt is one of many samples started whilst demoing in the classes I teach. Having more time now I want to work on these. Once the collage was finished it was time to choose the background. I put these photos on my new Facebook group Fabric Collage School asking for opinions and although I love the busy background on the left I settled with the more restful blue one on the right. Its so fun to get peoples ideas and opinions while you are still working on something!

Dirty Machine Jane Haworth

Time to clean this machine!

After spending a month making masks, and sewing everyday I finally decided it was time to clean out my sewing machine. I have a Juki 2010Q which is a straight stitch semi-industrial machine and I love it. Its a workhorse. Everyday I oil my machine and clean out around the bobbin but it has this little hatch underneath that was last cleaned out around Christmas. I think it was time!

Now its time to get back to sewing, video taping my work in progress for my online class and entering my quilts into World of Beauty. Although sadly we won’t be holding our retreat I do want to devote some time to fabric play and mark-making and come up with some great samples for next time. Out of interest is anyone up for some kind of virtual Artistic Alchemy event?

 

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.

Staying Creative during a Pandemic!

This is Jane. Heidi, Sandra and I have been communicating about the retreat this September and we still feel hopeful. We will keep you in informed of any news we hear from Zephyr Conference Center. Lets keep fingers crossed and positive thoughts during these crazy times. We are still taking reservations, if you feel like holding your spot.

What strange times we are in! When I am told to stay home, with few other commitments to fill my day, what better excuse is there than to SEW. I have spent the last few years trying to catch up with projects and custom orders so having few distractions its good for me. Saying that, I am finding it hard mentally, to stay focused but I tell myself I have time, plenty of time.

California Poppies

Living through this pandemic is hard. But living here in Northern California I appreciate how lucky I am and we are not suffering as hard as many people around the globe. Lets appreciate what we have and quit complaining about hair and nail issues.

Now the weather has improved I have enjoyed the time I spend walking my neighborhood with my son James. He needs to log daily his PE requirements. We like to take photos, look for wildflowers and local wildlife.

 

Lupins by Jane Haworth

Lupines along the NID

I am lucky enough to live close to one of the NID (Nevada Irrigation District) canals and it makes the perfect three mile hike.

As I said I am using this time to catch up! I have some custom quilt orders from 2019 that needed completing!  I am down to finishing my last two. The two photos above were made using T shirts on both sides of the quilt.  I have avoided doing this in the past as I was concerned about the stretch when quilting and what kind of quilting pattern to use.

T shirt quilt by Jane Haworth

Completed queen sized T shirt quilt, Notre Dame University

Actually they both turned out amazing, very drapable and soft. I made the back a little larger, taped it to the floor before layering with the batting and quilt top. I then used many safety pins to hold the layers together. My stitching pattern was a large meander for the quilting and had no problems with stretch. I will definitely do this again.

Fabric collage pet portraits by Jane Haworth

Fabric Pet Portrait, Buddy the Labradoodle

The collage above was a commission I received from one of my Craft Napa students. She wanted me to make the collage and then I sent it to her to stitch and complete the quilt. My plan is to finish many of the pet portrait samples started as demos during class when I teach.

Sewing space or studio Jane Haworth

A lot going on in my quilt making studio

This is a photo of my sewing space right now! I am working on a T shirt quilt, have a couple of projects ready to quilt and also supplies for mask making everywhere!

This was another commission I recently received for a Beagle called Teddy. I am thinking a fun way to focus on my work (as I do have trouble with this) is to set aside a week just to work on a theme. This week has been to complete all the T shirt quilts! Next week is for pet collage and another week will just be free-motion quilting. And then of course there are old UFO’s!  I’ll let you know how it goes!!

facemarks by Jane Haworth

Fitted face masks April 2020

I have plenty of work I could work on but about 3 weeks ago into the mix came mask making! To begin with I wondered is there a real need for this. But after a few days it became clear that local healthcare workers needed our help. I had fabric I could use from my stash, my trusty Juki 2010Q and I was ready to help.

The first appeal came from a Pediatric doctor friend who needed face masks for colleagues and outpatients. So I made a couple of batches for her with the help of my sewing friends. Then my friend Annie, who hasn’t sewn since school, received a request for 300 masks for a local senior care service.  With little time it came down to us to make them. So with social distancing in mind we set up a small production line and banged out 200 masks in two days! The last 100 she did at home with contributions from other sewing friends.

Mask making April 2020

First day of Face mask making 100 masks

I must admit I was a little burned out after that but now it is hard to go a day without making a few masks while the need is still there. I emailed my neighborhood association and my husbands colleagues saying I would make masks for a small donation. I have enjoyed getting to know my neighbors and these monetary donations will allow me to fabric shop and replenish my stash when the time is right.

Honey-pot Design Jane Haworth

Inspired by the honey pot for a stitching design

I will just share a few of the projects I am working on.  This is a sketch for a hand stitching project I am just starting. I do enjoy hand stitching in the evening when I can hang out with the family, be creative and not fall asleep!

These are two projects I recently finished. The Kookaburra Bag is hand stitched onto felt and the Boho Bag is hand stitched on top of various fabrics that cover a flannel foundation. Both were patterns I bought at IQF Houston. Patterns by Wendy Williams for Flying Fish Kits

IMG_E9164

This quilt (waiting to be stitched) are beetle designs that I started a year ago. I placed the bugs onto old linens and other unusual neutrals and when piecing them together I reversed the seams so I have the raw edges on the front. If you’ve ever tried this its harder than you think! This is a new series of collage designs that I will have available perhaps for a new class.

Artistic Alchemy Retreat 2019

Artistic Alchemy Retreat 2019

Here is a photo from last years Artistic Alchemy retreat and lets keep our finger crossed that we can all meet up again in September. We are still taking bookings for all the workshops and open studio. If you wish to send in a reservation form and deposit this will ‘hold your spot” I am imagining in September we will all be in need for some creative time and company.

My workshop this year 2020 is Mark-Making and Fabric Collage. Students will have the opportunity to spend at least a day playing with mono-printing, painting on fabric, carving and stamping and creating some one-of-a-kind fabrics to use in collage.

Lino Printing and mark making Jane Haworth

Lino Cutting and printmaking

Keep sewing, keep healthy and lets use this time to be creative.