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.

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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!

 

On the Go

by Sandra Bruce

Above is the Row by Row for Sugar Pine Quilt Shop which I stitched and quilted for the shop.  This morning I am truly “on the go”!  I am leaving literally in minutes to go to Templeton, CA and King City to teach both a Matrix workshop and also my Color Dance quilt.


What makes this trip different is that my son Matteo is joining me, so there should be some fun photos and stories when I get back. He is fairly “free” lately, having recently had surgery on his knee (ACL and meniscus). He’s visiting a friend in Templeton while I’m there. “Mom”, he said to me, “I’ve never seen exactly what it is you do, I’d like to attend your lecture”. So! That’s what we’ll do. Since he’s tall I’ll volunteer him to hold up my quilts :-).

So, stay tuned, and in the meantime, here’s a shout out to anyone who has contemplated coming to Zephyr, as the time will be here before we know it and 3 of us have limited spaces left in our workshops. I am so excited to be doing polymer this year, and we will be  trying lots of techniques and having a blast! Here’s Carolyn from a past workshop, with her beautiful buttons, after just one class!

Gotta run, have a great weekend!

Wilma Flintstone Meets Polka-Dots

by Sandra Bruce

 

I am a sucker for polka-dots. When I saw this tunic on the website http://www.gudrunsjoden.com I knew I must have it. I also knew I had to make a polymer necklace to go with it!


First, I went to my “stash” of polymer canes….I decided what would be best was a big, chunky Wilma Flintstone kind of necklace. No canework, just color.

This required doing one of my favorite things in polymer, mixing polymer colors to match something, in this case the tunic. It had great colors that were fun to mix.

I was happy with my big beads, and I made a few smaller ones to go in-between. I used SoftFlex as the base wire and composed the necklace to see how it all looked together.

Here’s the finished necklace. I used a magnetic clasp and blue spacer beads to fill up the length.

And see how cute it is with the tunic! Wouldn’t Wilma approve!

This is one of the things we’ll be doing at the Zephyr workshop in September. Ladies can bring garments to match colors in polymer to make jewelry or buttons! The deadline is coming up and I have 2 spaces left, if anyone is wondering 🙂

Lastly, here’s a couple other necklaces in the works, also to match garments I already have. More on those later!

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Heidi’s Pattern Meets a Vintage Tablecloth

by Sandra Bruce

I’ve just returned today from Visalia, CA where I taught my Material Matrix workshop and had a great group of enthusiastic quilters. All 16 worked hard and had fun too. Thank you, Valley Oak Quilters! I’m doing a segue today for my post………..wearable art.

I love Heidi’s patterns! This one is my favorite, so far, the Terrific Tabbard. It is flattering and so comfy. She will be teaching her patterns at our retreat at Zephyr in September, come and you can make one of her fabulous designs, this is only one of them! See her “Workshops” page for information.

I have made one already, but I came upon a vintage tablecloth and decided it would make a great Tabbard. It wasn’t wide enough to get the 3 pieces out of, so I added a grey and white polka dot on each side. I also used the polka dot for the inside. (I never met a polka dot I didn’t like 🙂

It has a wonderful graphic in the center that I planted right in the middle of the back.

Once I got the grey panels on each side in just the right positions (so that the seams wouldn’t show later) I put it on my long arm, with a layer of plain white cotton in the middle, to make it lightweight. I just had fun with it, and stitched lots of loops.

Here’s a good shot of the whole piece. I had outlined where the 3 pieces would be cut out so I’d be sure to have enough stitching in all the necessary areas.

I decided to add some applique in the center of that big circle, so I just improvised with the quilting knowing I’d be adding something later.

I brought it home and cut out the pieces. I was happy with the way it was looking. Kind of wild, in a kitchy, retro kind of way.

I fussy-cut a pocket for the front, just the right size for my cell phone.

My fussy cut was close…..close enough! I had planned to use the grey polka-dot for the binding so I finished the pocket and sewed it on.

On the back, I cut out one of the groups of strawberries and hand-appliqued it on. Perfect to fill that space.

I was just about to cut out the binding from the grey polka-dot when I got an idea…………..I found this Christmas red fabric and decided it was perfect for the binding, and thought it really pepped up the vest!

It took a very long strip to go around, as I had lengthened the vest quite a bit and widened the sides so they would overlap instead of just meeting.

I took it with me to Visalia and did some hand work on it, adding loops and sewing on polymer buttons I made. The buttons are not perfect, but they will do until I have a chance to make more custom ones.

Here it is, yay! I think I will add something to the pocket later, since it is not bound in the red, to make it blend in better.

And the back….it’ll be a very fun piece to wear in the summer, and I wonder if it will be identifiable as a vintage tablecloth! The fabric was such a pleasure to work with.

Before I sign off, here’s a picture of me with my mom Charlotte, summer of 1956. In honor of all moms, I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day!

 

The Story of Zahra

by Sandra Bruce

The inspiration for subjects of my Matrix quilts come from many sources. I always have my eye open for possibilities everywhere. I read online daily, and ran across a photo essay by a photographer, Muhammed Muheisen, of Syrian refugee children. below is a link to it:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/03/160318-syria-refugee-children-portraits/

I was captivated by these little faces. How much beyond their years they all look. As a mother they are difficult to look at. I knew right away that I wanted to do the face of Zahra Mahmoud, a 5-year-old refugee from Deir El-Zour, Syria. Her eyes! I knew they would be very challenging to do. Here is the original photo:

My first task was to get permission to use the photo, and it took a bit of detective work. I went to Facebook first, as I had seen that Muheisen had a page there. I located his page and wrote him a message asking for permission to use his photo. His reply was that he worked freelance for Associated Press, who owned the photo. After several phone calls and emails, I finally got the right department at AP and received permission, which came with a fee of course, to use the photo to make one quilt (not to be sold) and also use on my social media. Once I got the contract and paid the fee I got busy working. Here is the crop I decided on.

My deadline of May 1st came about coincidentally with finding Zahra. I planned to enter her into a competition assembled by Susan Brubaker Knapp, Jane Dunnewald, Judy Coates Perez, and several other quilt artists of The Artist’s Circle, called “Threads of Resistance”. Here is their site:
http://threadsofresistance.blogspot.com

With only 2 months to complete a 34″ by 58″ quilt I knew it would be close, but I finished it in a record 5 weeks. Here are some progress shots. The first 1/3rd went easily and quickly. I fudged the background color as I knew the color in the photo would be tough to match and there was no time to go look for it or even to dye my own.

I certainly have a lot of fabric that looks like this!

With the eyes being the critical part, I did cheat a bit and went down the side of the quilt for a while. (I usually work consistently left to right, top to bottom).

I knew there was the Sonoma Quilt show coming up, and I was fortunate to be the Featured Quilter there. I planned to work on Zahra while there, no time to lose! I also knew that I should get the eyes done first, as I needed every bit of concentration I could muster to do them. No distractions, no music, no radio, total quiet.  I got busy and got them done. So, the really amazing things about her eyes: when I first got the high res photo from AP and I enlarged it on my computer to get a closer look at them, I could see the reflection of Muhammed taking the photo, of people in the background, of the blue sky, sand……it gave me goosebumps. I had to simplify those things but still give the impression of what was there. Lots of piecing, despite simplifying!

Here’s the back of one of her eyes.

The Sonoma Show was great! I had a wonderful time, and people were very interested in what I was doing. I accomplished 2 blocks during the weekend. Here is the set up.

I also taught my Matrix class to a great bunch of ladies, including Arlette, who flew up from Houston to take it, and 2 ladies who were back for a second class to make a different sample piece. By the way, I am returning to Sonoma the weekend of June 9-11 to teach Material Matrix again, and my quilt Color Dance as well. For info call Broadway Quilts at 707-938-7312.

Back to Zahra….once I was back home the rest of her went pretty fast as I was in high gear.

Almost done!

Top done. Onto the long-arm. I think I used every shade of pink thread I had.

The finished quilt. The title: “Zahra, Age 5, Syrian Refugee”. She is done, and entered into the competition. I have also entered it into the Pine Tree Quilt show coming up on May. I am happy with the outcome, and at the same time, sad for all the children like Zahra, who have had to endure what no child should have to. In my quilt my love goes out to her.

Close-ups: