Time to Breathe

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Heidi, Mary, Sandra and Jane want to say a huge “Thank You” to all the students who attended our 5th annual retreat at Zephyr Point. We all had an amazing, creative and inspiring time and we will be back with our usual blog posts come October. Now we are taking a well deserved break.

Looks like all our attendees had wonderful fun time too!

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Sign up or keep looking up the blog for details of when to sign up for the retreat 2019

A Long Weekend at High Altitudes

by Sandra Bruce

A quick hello and a few pics from my latest jaunt coming up!

This is the time of year that the 4 of us in Artistic Alchemy start getting into gear for our Zephyr workshop in September. My class is full now, and I’m starting to grid the photos for my students who will be making wonderful Matrix creations. I have 2 international students, and 2 from the East Coast this year. I’m getting excited to meet the newbies and greet people from past years too! I believe there are a few spaces left, in Jane and Heidi’s classes, they are wonderful teachers with so much to share, so don’t hesitate to sign up with one of them.

I taught a couple of weeks ago in Monument, Colorado, south of Denver near Colorado Springs with the Palmer Divide Guild. I have not meet a more enthusiastic bunch in this small but talented group of ladies. Thanks to them for a wonderful time!

Afterwards I stayed the weekend to visit with a friend of over 40 years that I have not seen in a long time. Over the long weekend we went to a street fair, met with friends, and had a great trip to both the Denver Art Museum (fabulous) and the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden. What a wonderful collection of quilts. They had a special exhibit of Hollis Chatelain’s work, which unfortunately we were not allowed to photograph. It was named “Stories of West Africa”, and contained amazing images from Africa with very intense quilting. In the main hall is a collection of quilts from artists all over the country, including 2 made by good friends of mine who have been influences and inspirations to me: Therese May and Wendy Hill. I photographed theirs and a couple other of my favorites in the exhibit.

First, Therese May’s “Basket”, 1981. As the information on the wall stated, (on the off-chance that you do not know,) Therese is recognized as a guiding light in the art quilting world and began making art quilts in 1965. I love how Therese focuses on transformational healing, exploration, and creativity in the art making process. Her work is magical. I consider myself to be very lucky to have been her neighbor many years ago and would probably not be a quilter today if not for her. She is one of my favorite people in the whole world. Her website: http://www.theresemay.com
Next, a quilt by Wendy Hill, “Falling Into Liquid”, 2003. I became friends with Wendy many years ago when we lived in the same town and she belonged to my quilt guild. She has written many books for C&T Publishing, one of them about thread texturing. She asked me to make a quilt to go in her book and I was just getting out of the traditional quilt mode….permission to play with my sewing machine… what a concept it was to me! We stay in touch even though we’re in different states now, and I’m always intrigued by what she is up to quilt-wise. I was taken by something she said in the verbiage next to her quilt: “With art quilts, form takes precedence over function, but quilts as blankets are also a kind of canvas. If there is a line between art and craft, it is a difference built out of debate, not something tangible. The important thing is to do the work, just keep doing the work, and let the perspective that comes with reflection and the passage of time make sense of it all.”

Here are a few others of my favorite from the exhibit:

“Abstraction/Diffraction”, 1994, by Judith Tomlinson Trager

“Reflections #3”, 1998, by Patty Hawkins

“Tallahassee Lassie II and lll”, 1991, by Marilyn Dillard

“Desert Storm”, 1993, by Terrie Hancock Mangat

For now, I hope you are staying cool, today is the first day of summer. Keep creating!

Cleveland to Capitola

by Sandra Bruce

My suitcase has not been put away much in the last 2 months….it’s been a super busy time but filled with wonderful experiences and people. Before I get into my story, I will mention that I have ONE space left in my Material Matrix workshop for our Artistic Alchemy retreat this September. So….if you’ve been thinking about it now’s the time!

Cleveland was my destination in late April to be a guest on the Quilting Arts TV show, or QATV. Susan Brubaker Knapp, the host, invited me early in the year and I have been planning and practicing diligently my 3 segments. My 3 segments were: 1. Material Matrix, 2. How to Match A Binding to the Inside of a Quilt, and 3. How to Stitch Words with Your Home Machine. I have never been on TV before so I wanted to do a good job and leave my trepidations at home. My taping was on Thursday and I arrived late on Tuesday, so that I could practice Wednesday on the fancy new Bernina that I would be using in the taping. Also it was an opportunity to watch some of the other guests being taped which made me more relaxed when it was my turn. Here is the Bernina 570. Jeannine the Bernina rep helped me become comfortable with it. Talk about bells and whistles!!

    There is a TV screen in the lobby where we could watch what’s going on in the taping studio. Here is the screen, with Susan and guest Lesley Riley, smiling for the camera.

Susan’s website: http://www.bluemoonriver.com

I also got the chance to meet artist Susie Shie, with whom I share a dear mutual friend (Therese May)……it was wonderful meeting everyone. Here’s Susie with Lesley.

Susie’s site:  http://www.turtlemoon.com

Lesley’s site:   https://lesleyriley.com/?doing_wp_cron=1527819441.1061520576477050781250

When it’s time for your segment, all your “stuff” is carried onto the set, and a quick verbal run-through lets the crew know what you’re going to do/say. I had 12-1/2 minutes exactly to fill in each segment.

Jeannine came onto the set to make sure I was confident in my Bernina skills.

Then………bingo, show time!

I had to change clothes so that in each segment I was wearing something different, Susan too. My 3 segments may end up in 3 different episodes.

One last shot from the taping, of me with “Dame Lorraine” which was in the background. Thanks to Susan Brubaker Knapp, Vivika Negre, Kristine Lundblad  and the crew at KS Productions for everything! The episodes will be on TV in August, on PBS,  it is QATV Series 2200 to look for. I’ll post more when I have more information.

The following week was the Pine Tree Quilt Show and our Artistic Alchemy booth. It was great for the 4 of us to talk to attendees about Zephyr and sell wares.

Jane even brought her finished Material Matrix piece for me to see that she made in my workshop with her guild last year. Good job Jane!

A few days later, I left for Capitola, to take a workshop from the renown quilter, Rosalie Dace. She comes from South Africa to the US part of the year to teach. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a workshop from this wonderful artist. She did not disappoint. Going pretty far outside my box, at least considering what I have been doing for the last 6 years, we worked on abstract designs using paper concepts at the start, and incorporating contrast, color, line, mood, and value into our pieces. My favorite was this one.

The paper version made of torn paper: 

I brought some silk pieces that fit the bill, and adapting the paper shapes was not difficult.

Here’s my finished piece. Although working in paper first was not my “thing”, I can see the value of doing it, and was glad to be able to work outside my box as I had wished. Doing something different is always a valuable learning tool. Looks like I was in a “stripy” mood!

I learned from Rosalie, absorbing all I could, and enjoyed her and the Capitola ladies very much. Below: me, Lorie, Rosalie and Pat.

I’m headed next week to the Denver, CO area to teach, then to Southern California…… in July my pace slows down. I look forward to trying new techniques, working on my “Stitching Words” workshop and lecture, and enjoying summer.

Dame Lorraine

by Sandra Bruce

Greetings and Happy Spring! As I write this post it is blissfully raining….we’re supposed to get April’s worth of precipitation in the next 2 days. I’ll take it!

Before I go any further, I’ll mention here that in about 2 weeks I’m flying to Cleveland to be a guest on the Quilting Arts TV show with Susan Brubaker Knapp. I’m going to tape 3 segments, so I’ve had a lot of prep to do. I’ll let you know when the show will be aired on PBS, it’ll be sometime this summer.

Also…..there are spots left in my Material Matrix workshop at Zephyr this fall. If you are thinking about it, read my workshop description and join us 🙂

My latest Matrix quilt is done! Today’s post will take you through my process, which people are always curious about. I hope you enjoy it.

First, I saw this photo, taken by my friend Howard Koons. He was in Trinidad, with his wife on a vacation, during Carnival. I was taken by this woman’s image, and her eyes behind the mask. I knew it would be a challenge, with so many subtle variations in values. First I had to address the background, which was so distracting, as you can see. Below the photo are Howard’s comments.

This is the fifth day of Carnival festivities. There were the more traditional parades having historical themes, then competitions in costume and pan orchestras, the Children’s’ Parade, an adult parade/competition and now this parade on the fifth and last day of Carnival. Some participants have a float-like apparatus they carry, all operated by a single person. And, there is the parade of bands.
A band is an organized group of folks. People join certain bands of their liking. Bands provide the music, support personnel and vehicles as the wee-wee wagon, a truck for drink, and sometimes a truck for rest. It can cost upward to $700 for membership. They usually have a particular theme in dress and the uniforms, or costumes, are sometimes provided. The accompanied “music” is a large truck and trailer stacked high with speakers the size of a VW bug and capable of shattering the most hardy eardrum. I wore earplugs. Enjoy the photographs of the last day of Carnival 2015.

I decided a nice simple beach background was needed, so I hobbled together some water and sky using Photoshop (with hubby help) and here’s what I came up with.This is the photo with the grid applied. I wanted big……so planned on 50″ by 80″. BIG!

The beginning is always exciting to me and I look forward to the first progress shot.

I tried to keep my fabric organized.

A block in progress. I used shiny silver fabric that I attached to a knit stabilizer.

Her eyes……always tricky but so satisfying to accomplish.

The tucks in her bodice about drove me crazy..all those diagonals.

I have so much fabric that looks like this……fussy cutting at its finest 🙂

Getting the top ready for quilting meant cutting away the quilt behind all the circles I hand appliquéd on so it would lie nice and flat. It was a bit scary doing that.

As always, it was a pleasure to quilt. I worked with the enlarged photo visible at all times and changed thread a lot.

I made binding to match the image (this will be one of my segments on QATV, how to do this kind of binding). Then, it was sewing on the 85 circles that make up her necklace. On to her bracelet, ring, and hand-embroidery on her arm for the netting she wears. Her pupils and highlights are dots of acrylic paint.

The last part was applying 5 sizes of Swarovski hot fix crystals. I had to go back on some of them with the applicator, I want to be sure none of them fall off. Here’s her mask after applying them. Good bling, eh?

3 months from the beginning to end…here she is, now 49″ by 79″. I’m very happy with the way she turned out. What to do next……….have to go hunting for a photo!

 

 

Polymer Goodies for Sale, Plus News

by Sandra Bruce

At the end of this post I have some polymer goodies to sell…………but first!

The big announcement for our Artistic Alchemy 2018 Retreat is coming next week, on February 2nd. We’ll be giving you lots of news and information about this year’s workshops. We are busy now formulating our workshops and planning a very creative and fun time at Zephyr Point, September 3-8. I will be teaching my Material Matrix technique.

I have an article in the current issue of “Machine Quilting Unlimited”, check it out. I bought a couple of copies from Barnes & Noble, so I know they have it. 6 pages, woo-hoo! And lots of pictures.

I started my year off with a wonderful time with the Pajaro Quilt Guild in Capitola, CA. A 2-day class teaching “Junior Cardinal” for the first time, and I couldn’t’ve asked for a better group of enthusiastic quilters.

Martine even finished her top in the 2-days, which blew my mind. Then, she quilted it and brought it to the meeting the next night. Good work, Martine!

The Capitola area is really wonderful, I love being near the ocean no matter the time of year. I had wonderful hostesses and a great time was had by all. If you are ever there, do not miss Gayle’s Bakery, no matter what. I was fortunate enough to eat there twice during this trip. It is a feast for the eyes as well as stomach!

I wanted to sneak a photo in the blog here….I made my son Matteo a quilt for Christmas and he finally got it in January. He is a bike enthusiast which is reflected in the quilt. He doesn’t live here anymore so it warms his Mama’s heart to know he’s wrapped in it. I make simple quilts too, on occasion.

I went to “Demo Day” at NCQC, where I did a 12-minute demo on my new “Stitching Words” class (6 times, no less)…it was well-received and I hope to have many guilds sign me up for future workshops. If any of you reading this are possibly interested, please contact me 🙂

OK, now for the sale items!

Each item is numbered, refer to the number to let me know what you want (ie: board 1-earrings #3, board 2-pin#5, etc). The prices are in the photos are on the buttons and pins. The earrings are $22 for one pair, $40 for 2, and $55 for 3. The earrings are made with steel posts and wire and are not sterling.

Here’s how you can buy something: email me personally, at sandrabruce@pacbell.net, not through our AA blog. Let me know what you want and I’ll add sales tax (8%) and S&H and email you back the total. I’ll send you a Request for Money through Pay Pal. You don’t need a Pay Pal account to do this transaction. Once you pay, I will send it. Or, if you would rather, send me a check. The first person to email me that they want an item will get it.

Everyone’s computer sees color differently. So keep that in mind. If you purchase something from me and don’t like it, I will take it back within 10 days of shipping it originally. I will refund your money after I receive the item back. I will not be able to refund any shipping charges. I know the pictures are not perfect, if you can’t read a price, or want to see something up close, let me know, and I’ll send you a better picture. The buttons have a quarter laying there to give you scale.

I had fun picking out goodies to sell. I’ll be making a very big new batch in the next couple of weeks, so it feels good to “spring clean” even if it is still definitely winter around here. All the buttons are machine washable, no dry cleaning please. There are flat buttons, and my ever popular chunky ones, which are good for bags, vest openings and anything else you can think of. The pins are all approximately 2 inches wide. See you next Friday on our blog!!

Board #1-EARRINGS:

Board #2: PINS:

Board #3: BUTTONS:

Board #4: BUTTONS:

Board #5: BUTTONS:

Board #6: BUTTONS:

A Post of Potpourri

by Sandra Bruce

Following is my “potpourri” of a post. I can hardly believe we’re into December. Wow, wow, wow! It’s been a few weeks since my last post…. where does the time go?

A fairly clean studio!!! How did THAT happen?

Fall came to Grass Valley in such beauty this year, the trees were even more intensely colored than usual, it seemed to me. I always see the first Fall color in the parking lot behind my long-arm studio downtown. The maples there start to change early.

And then the first rain, or two…such a wonderful sound to wake up to….that soft pitter-patter. The view from my home studio, shiny with rain, always makes me smile. The fire season could not have been over soon enough.

May I digress for a moment. Many of you know whether or not I am in my long-arm studio downtown by the presence of my car sitting in my parking space. I now have a new space, on the other side of the lot, closer to my building. You’re always welcome to stop by!

A couple of quilt show notations: My quilt “Lemon Tree in Tuscany” will be in a regional SAQA show (Studio Arts Quilt Associates) opening in Santa Monica on December 9th, at the California Heritage Museum, until March 18th, 2018.

I wish I could attend the opening, but unfortunately I won’t be able to. I am feverishly finishing up customer quilts that need to be done for Christmas! Here’s the announcement, in case you are in Southern California:

Also in show news, “Zahra, Age 5, Syrian Refugee” came to PIQF with the Threads of Resistance exhibit in October in Santa Clara. Since it was my only opportunity to see it during its 2-year national tour I went to see it. I really enjoyed seeing the quilts in person, and getting a group picture with the other quilters from Northern California in the exhibit. “Zahra” is in good company! And PIQF was a great show, as usual. PS: I am wearing one of Mary Boalt’s fabulous creations, a blouse she made from tea towels. Only Mary!

My latest Matrix quilt, entitled “Summertime”, is from a photo by Suzanne Semnacher. I started it at the beginning of summer, but it languished on my design wall for the entire season until I had time in the fall to finish it. Finally! Here’s the original photo, and then the quilt. You can see that I took some liberties with the colors. I think it was a great composition to work from.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of teaching, but I’m done for the year now, with the beginning of January my next gig in the Santa Cruz area. I’ve taught 2 workshops in Southern California, and several up north closer to home. At the meeting in Mission Viejo, CA I saw a wonderful Matrix quilt made by Angela Miller, a student I had last year in another guild, who brought her finished piece to Show and Tell. I love what she did. It’s so gratifying to see what people go on to make after taking my workshop. Nice job, Angela!

I’ve had a few gentlemen lately in my workshops, that is fantastic too!

And………..speaking of workshops, I’ve introduced my newest workshop, “The ABC’s of Stitching Words”. This is a one-day class where the basics of stitching words with a home machine is explored. Having had a 30+year career in commercial lettering (and illustration) has given me a good foundation for how to do this, and I do quite a bit of “writing” into my customers’ quilts. Connecting words, dotting “I”s and crossing “t”s, I cover it all. There are so many possibilities for incorporating words into quilts, also……making labels, fabric postcards, wall-hangings, etc.  I’m excited to have this new offering, and will be doing a demo in January with NCQC’s “Demo Day”.

Below is Cathy Stone, who has taught me so much in her classes, who took my class in stitching words. She is moving from the area and we are going to miss her!

Also, while on the subject of teaching….I have added a 3rd possible project for a Matrix workshop, along with the “Wake Up Cup” and “Sew Ready” (pincushion) projects. I have created an abbreviated version of Mr. Cardinal, as seen below. I call it “Junior Cardinal”, and will be teaching it in January for the first time. AND… NOTE! I will be teaching my Material Matrix technique next year at our Zephyr Retreat in September, and I already have 3 interested ladies. We will be announcing all the pertinent information early in 2018, keep an eye out on this blog.

I’ve been busy as usual with customer quilting on my long-arm. I am constantly delighted at what my customer come up with for me to create, as with this beautiful batik quilt I did recently for someone.

Totally out of my usual “box”, I am working on a Halloween quilt that will hopefully be done for next Halloween. It is from a pattern by The Vintage Spool, which I spotted at a booth at PIQF. I love doing hand work so a quilt chock-full of hand-applique is just the thing to keep my hands busy on the cold winter nights ahead of us. Here is just one block I have completed, it is really a wonderful design. I can’t keep from adjusting it, though, to suit my own tastes and sense of humor. I will have so much fun quilting it, and it will be a nice “quilting sample”.

Not to forget polymer in my list of what I’ve been doing! Surprisingly, almost every pair in the photo below has been sold, and my inventory is LOW. I had hoped to put polymer into this post to sell, but I’ll wait until my next post when I’ve had a chance to really turn out a good batch. It will include pins, buttons, and earrings.

My last photo, below, is from the holiday season 2 years ago. My friends were at my house and we were creating prayer flags. I had 2 weeks before fallen and broken my scapula, but despite this managed to sew something! Neither sleet nor rain……                                                  I wish for you all a happy December, in whatever way you celebrate it (or not), and hopes for a 2018 that will bring some peace and positivity to our world.

Polymer Play at Zephyr

by Sandra Bruce

Our 2017 Artistic Alchemy Retreat is over for another year, and a great time was had by all! I decided to teach polymer clay this year, a change from Material Matrix. It was so wonderful to have a nice stretch of time to teach it, play with polymer, and enjoy the 10 ladies who came to learn about this versatile and amazing craft. It just made me smile!!

I was blown away by what everyone produced. This, on Day 2, from someone who had never used polymer clay before, my student Sandra. Such enthusiasm is contagious! Sue is an accomplished quilter, and will incorporate polymer buttons into her quilts. I can’t wait to see what she does. Look at the periwinkle pieces she’s working on.
We did a “cane exchange” so everyone would have a variety to work with.
It’s great when roomies became friends! Penni and Shelley.
Several ladies were new to polymer and took to it quickly, as it is an easy medium to work with. Here’s Cecilie, becoming familiar with the pasta machine.Janet, below, came with her friend Sandra, and both of them went to town making jewelry pieces.
Sandra with her polymer creations. Woo-hoo!
Trish, although not new to polymer, learned some new tricks and made some great pieces.

Mukhya was determined to get some gold polymer conditioned. She persevered!

Linda shows us her polymer beads. She is a jewelry maker too, and I’m sure will be making some fabulous things with her beads!

We always enjoy Show and Tell. My student Cherie, who came to do polymer this year, had been with me before at Zephyr and made a beautiful Matrix quilt top which she brought to share. I was thrilled to see what she had done, and to hear she will have me quilt it, can’t wait!Here are Marti and Paula, who came this year to do Christine’s class. They took my Matrix class last year, and look what they made and brought to Show and Tell!

On the last day I got out my jewelry making supplies and we made earrings, drilled holes in buttons, and finished a few pieces.I can’t leave this story with giving credit to our helper this year, Kathy Spoto, who took all the photos in this post. she was a great help and was super fun to have with us all week. Thank you, Kathy! Here’s Kathy on the right, with Trish and myself.

 

Our annual group shot, happy ladies after a week of creativity, friendship and learning.I would like to make a bit of an announcement….starting with our next blog post, we will be posting every other week, to accommodate our teaching schedules, and give us even more time to create new techniques and designs.  Along with our posts, we will be having a virtual studio sale! That’s all I will say for now, but you’ll want to check in and see what goodies we have in store.

Thanks to all the participants of this year’s retreat, and for the surveys that you filled out for us. We always strive to make your experience with us a great one, and welcome your feedback.

And last but not least, I will be returning to Material Matrix next year, for those of you who have been asking :-). Here is my latest class sample, “Junior Cardinal”, which is an abbreviated version of “Mr. Cardinal”. I’m happy to have him join my cache of class projects. Bye for now!