You’re Invited! Two special events featuring Artistic Alchemy!

by HEIDI EMMETT  Mark your calendars. Pine Tree Quilt Guild in Grass Valley, CA is having their annual “Springtime in the Pines Quilt Show” and you’re invited! It is being held at the Nevada County Fairgrounds on May 4th & 5th.

Artistic Alchemy will be there. We are a group of four women who each have a unique style in their quilting and stitching (wearables/accessories) areas. Come and see our booth and we can answer any questions you might have about our annual sewing/quilting retreat. This year it will be Monday, Sept. 2nd-Sept. 6th at the Zephyr Point Retreat Center on the shores of Lake Tahoe, Nevada.  Go to for more information.

Sandra Bruce, Mary Boalt, Jane Haworth, & Heidi Emmett the four teaching enthusiasts!
Sandra-Material Matrix, Mary-Steam-a-Seam, Jane-Pet Portraits, & Heidi- Upcycling clothing, Wearable Creativity & Fiber Jewelry!
Our booth at the Quilt Show last year.
Sandra Bruce will be the “FEATURED QUILTER” this year at the Pine Tree Quilt Guilds Show! This is a BIG deal. Here is her quilt Chuck Close.
Some of my “Art to Wear” sewing patterns. Try them on and see which patterns you need to own!
One more of Featured quilter, Sandra Bruce’s Material Matrix quilts- Dame Lorraine.
One of Mary Boalt’s creative hand painted canvases. This year it will be “all about Steam-a-Seam” and creating your own fabulous fabric.
One of Jane Haworth’s Amazing Pet Portraits.

Another of Jane’s Pet Portaits.  I love the colors in this guy.
Some of Jane’s student’s work.
More student’s own Pet Portaits- a class taught by Jane Haworth.
Here I am wearing my Terrific Tabard pattern- a new look for it using one of Mary Boalt’s hand painted canvas pieces.
This vest is from the “Wearable Creativity” portion of my workshop. Take one of my Wearable Patterns and let me help you create your own Designed by YOU look. Heads will turn when you wear it and you’ll be able to say, “I designed and made it myself.”
One more version of the “Wearable Creativity” section of my workshop. Let me help you fit one of the patterns you pick to your body type. And with YOUR fabric choices, design the perfect wearable that YOU will WANT to wear.


One of my patterns that you  might pick for the Wearable Creativity portion of Heidi’s workshop at the Artistic Alchemy Retreat this year.

I just had to take a moment to show you that Jane Haworth, one of the teachers at our Artistic Alchemy retreat made the  cover of  Quilting Arts  with “Tilly,” one of her Pet Portraits. This is a really BIG DEAL! A very, small, percentage of talented artists make the cover of a magazine. Look at all the talent available in one wonderful retreat. Come join us!

COMING ON SATURDAY, MAY 18th- ASG Spring Event! Featuring Artistic Alchemy! Read on: This is the Sacramento chapter. Click on anything in blue to take you to the ASG site.

What is ASG? It is a nationwide sewing group and the ASG stands for: American Sewing Guild  

WHEN: May 18, 2019   9:00a.m.- 2:00p.m.

WHERE :Spring Event with Artistic Alchemy
Timberlake Ballroom
7050 Del Webb Blvd.
Roseville, CA

WHAT: Artistic Alchemy will present an EXTRAVAGANZA of all that we are and do. Enjoy a fashion show from each of us. As you watch, learn about each of the teachers that make up Artistic Alchemy. We will offer demonstrations to give you a taste of the workshops offered at our annual retreat. We will also have shopping time! Mary will have some “new painted offerings” , Heidi will have “Art to Wear” sewing patterns and her book, Jane will have Pet portrait jackets and such, and Sandra will have her famous Polymer clay earrings, buttons, and pins. All this ladies, and a beautiful lunch too! Join us and get a taste of what you can enjoy at our Annual Artistic Alchemy Retreat at Lake Tahoe!

$35 ASG Members
$50 non-Members
Online Registration

Additional Details

Thanks for stopping by. Don’t forget to visit my personal blog:  to see what I’m up to. I post each Friday afternoon. Hugs, Heidi

Painting on fabric, a new skill!

by Sandra Bruce


Greetings from Grass Valley, where Spring has sprung and we’re waiting for blue skies and sunshine. This photo of my dogwood tree is from last year, but I am patiently waiting. Dogwood is the state flower for Virginia where I am from, and it always makes me nostalgic when I see dogwoods blooming here. I favor the white ones.

First, a word about our Zephyr Retreat…in my workshop I only have a couple of spaces left, in case you’ve been contemplating a Matrix experience in beautiful Lake Tahoe 🙂  Jane and Heidi have spaces left as well, so think about it and check out the info on our “Retreat” page.

Today I’m going to show you the results from a workshop I took at Asilomar at Empty Spools in March. It was my first time going.  I met Susan Brubaker Knapp when I was a guest on QATV last year. It was great to meet her, and I became intrigued by her technique of painting on fabric. She taught at Empty Spools so that enticed me to go. I have not painted on fabric, except for making highlights on eyes of my Matrix portraits, and painting on fabric seems like a good skill to have. Before I left I assembled the items on the supply list, including the photo I selected to paint, a photo I took in the Japanese Gardens in Seattle last year of koi fish. I knew I wanted to finish it in the workshop, so I chose to work fairly small, about 13″ by 15″. Here’s the photo and some of the threads I selected.

I started out tracing my image onto PFD cotton. We all used the windows of our classroom for a light source.

I have some painting experience with watercolor, but not much with acrylics. It seemed a bit foreign at first, but I pretty quickly got into the swing of things.The fabric is taped onto foam core.  I started with the fish.  My palette was so colorful!

The water came afterwards. I tried to improve upon the water where I thought it needed it.

Here’s the finished painting…it took a bit less than 2 working days in class. It was fun!

Next was stitching. It’s a bit weird to stitch through paint. But you get used to it.

Trimming was SO satisfying.

Here’s the finish, next to the photo:

And the back….Susan has a finishing technique I have not tried before, so I did it on my piece.

Here’s a few of the other students’ work. As you can see, foliage was popular.

Susan is a great teacher, and we all really enjoyed her class. Below she’s helping my table-mate Roberta work on hers.


Asilomar is a very beautiful location. I loved being near the ocean, which I miss, living inland. I look forward to trying some painting on fabric in my work. Stay tuned!

Before I go, a quick note: I am the featured quilter at the Pine Tree Quilt Show here in Grass Valley, CA May 4-5 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. I’ll have about 28 quilts on display! Hope if you are in the area that you’ll stop by and say hello.


Are you a pluviophile or a heliophile? To all of you pluviophiles, your ugly days are nearing an end! And I will be rejoicing! To set the record straight, lest you think I’m some sort of morbid freak, pluviophiles are people who love the rain and heliophiles are sun seekers. I am so happy to have spring around the corner after these many, many, many weeks of clouds and rain…and snow. What a long winter this has been. Here are some pictures around my house.So in my effort to find the humor in it, I share these thoughts with you.I will finish this weather rant by saying that this cloud-induced-lack of creativity slowly came to an end as two garments were finally finished. Whew! 

The first source of inspiration was Heidi’s Rods and Reels Pillow featured in the Winter 2015 issue of Stitch magazine. Here’s a picture to remind you.

All of the fabrics for this top came from that Great Fabric Source: My Stash. It included men’s ties, scraps of dupioni silk and some polka dot fashion fabric, all set on a mystery blend of lightly corded black fabric. Rayon embroidery thread was used in a triple stitch to make the cardiac stitch over the strips of silk.

Always on the lookout for clever new detail treatment, channels were made in the collar for a drawstring made from the polka dot fabric. It loops around two stacked buttons attached with embroidery floss.

You know that little strip of fabric that keeps the back part of men’s ties in place? Here is a new home for it.

This pattern is an Issey Miyake from Vogue #1476. It is no longer in print.

Again, after scouring my stash of freebies, donations and scraps, I went back to my roots of wearable art. I sold pieced garments for about ten years and still am drawn to them. This piece includes linen, silks, men’s suiting, light weight upholstery fabrics and brocade. I love the mix of incongruous materials, all in grays and pale yellows.

This is a ”Franken-pattern”.  The same Issey Miyake pattern as above was used for the body but the sleeves are changed, the neck is made into a V shape and the front band is triangle shaped with the buttons placed down the center.

A huge thank you to Heidi for the pictures and our friend for the use of her beautiful yard on an unusually warm 72 degree day!  And then it dropped thirty degrees and rained!   Sigh!

And now for an update on our September retreat at Zephyr Point. I am overwhelmed, pleased and grateful for a very full class. Thank you. There are still a few spaces left in the classes for Heidi, Jane and Sandra. Be sure to read their class descriptions and be inspired. Click on Workshops under the home page banner.  We would love to have you join us for five creative days in the most beautiful place on earth where the weather is delightful.

Carry on creatively, Mary


New Workshop Pet Portraits

This is Jane. I have decided to bring back, by popular demand, my workshop for 2019 Pet Portrait Fabric Collage. I get requests from students and people I meet at quilt guilds, “Where I can take your pet portrait class?” So having had little interest in the Travel Journal workshop I have decided at this early stage to change my workshop for the retreat this year. I hope this causes no confusion.

Cover of April/May 2019 Quilting Arts Jane Haworth

Purple version of Tilly by Jane Haworth

I am also especially excited to share the news that I will have a pet portrait article in the upcoming April/May 2019 edition of Quilting Arts magazine and they decided to use one of my quilts as the cover. I am a cover girl! This is beyond what I could have imagined. So if you are interested in making your own pet portrait or learning my technique for fabric collage check out the workshop page. Sign-ups are live and I know at least one class has a waiting list. Don’t forget we also have open studio where you get the experience of Artistic Alchemy but without being signed up for a specific workshop.

Love of Pets Jane Haworth

Nifty, a special Golden Labrador

In this workshop students learn to make their own patterns from photographs. Learn to use the value and patterns in fabric to your advantage, my fabric collage technique, free-motion quilting and how to finish the quilt. We will also spend time using mixed media to create our own fabrics using lino-cuts, gel prints and fabric painting. The retreat is spread over 5 days with evening entertainment and access to the classrooms at night. Nothing could be better than the Zephyr Point Lake Tahoe location, a beautiful tranquil setting and good food as a bonus.

Student work Craft Napa 2019

Life in 2019 continues to be busy for me, traveling and teaching and keeping on top of my memory quilt orders for my Etsy shop. The new year started with 4 nights at CraftNapa  where I took a class from Maria Shell and taught two classes. I have attended this event, organized by Pokey Bolton, for four years and this was my first year to be part of the faculty. I was very happy to join this creative and inspiring event with its wonderful array of talented teachers.


The 2300 series of Quilting Arts TV is airing on some regional TV stations and the DVD set is now available for purchase at The Quilting Company I received this DVD set in the mail and it took me over two weeks to pluck up the courage to watch myself! I had a local group of art quilters visiting, so we had a bit of a watch party.

The weather here in Northern California has been crazy this winter. As skiers we like to head to the Sierra Nevada mountains but most weekends its been snowing so much the freeway has been closed. Well that just leaves me more time to work on my sewing! We spent a weekend at Donner Summit and spent most of the time trapped inside clearing decks but we did have fun on a snowshoe hike in waist deep snow!

Snowshoeing Donner Summit

February 2019 Snow-shoeing adventures Donner Summit

My quilting took me to Yuma, Arizona to speak to and teach the Desert Lily Quilters. I stayed with a friend who moved there a year ago and so we had a great catch-up. I learned about “snow-birds” and adored all the adobe houses. During winter guild attendance is high. They meet every week and also everyone seems to belong to “small groups” for sewing, knitting and stitching get-togethers. This friendly guild embraced fabric collage and are well on their way to making some very successful pet portrait quilts.


Coming up on May 18th Artistic Alchemy has been invited to an event in Roseville hosted by the American Sewing Guild. We will be doing demonstrations, presentations, and a fashion show. So when we have more details we will be sure to post them here on the blog. So if you are looking for a creative, inspiring get-a-way in September be sure to check out the workshop page and sign-up for one of the available classes. We are thinking this year attendance will be high and judging by the current registration trend it certainly looks like it.





We Are Almost Ready to ‘Go Live!’ for Our Artistic Alchemy Retreat 2019.

All of us at Artistic Alchemy (Heidi, Sandra, Mary, & Jane) welcome you to our site. We are finalizing all the details for our 6th Annual Artistic Alchemy Retreat. It will take place  September 2nd-6th, 2019, at Zephyr Point Conference Center, which is located on the south shore of beautiful Lake Tahoe, on the Nevada side.

Next Friday, February 1st, revisit this site to see what all of us are offering in our workshops for this year’s retreat. Each of our four workshops promises much creativity, learning, and fun. All this is in a peaceful, blissfully quiet (we are usually the only large group on the entire 128 acre site), exquisitely beautiful Alpine lake view property. We are a small retreat on purpose. Each workshop has a student limit of 10-12. We strive to have the BEST student to teacher ratio. We teachers LOVE what we do and want to give you the BEST experience possible.

Our retreat also offers short evening programs, with a chance to learn more about the teachers, as well as to enjoy the creativity of the students through “show and tell.”

Every evening there is a chance for you to continue stitching/sewing/creating as LATE as you want in your classroom. Also, every evening, after the short program, you can make new friends and/or do some handwork together in the large room (complete with couches, comfy chairs, and a fireplace) in the foyer.

The four of us teachers will have an Artistic Alchemy “store” with many one-of-a-kind items (just for our retreat guests) as well as our own patterns, accessories, fabrics,etc, for sale.Our store is open every day of the retreat (pay up on the last evening). There will also be two visiting “stores” on two different days this year! There will be a scissor sharpening service available. And there will be several days filled with opportunities for massages.

The following Lake Tahoe pictures are to get you excited for the views you will have as you travel on the Eastern shore of the lake to Zephyr Point, the home of the retreat.

You HAVE ARRIVED! at your destination! Zephyr Point. Deep breathing of the delicious sights, smells and rarefied air will have you relaxed and ready for your time at our Artistic Alchemy Retreat.

Sew, MARK your calendars. Next Friday, February 1st, visit this site and reserve YOUR spot at our 6th annual Artistic Alchemy Retreat. And one last important note: Lakeview rooms are LIMITED! So if a beautiful, Lake Tahoe view outside your sleeping room window is important, sign up sooner than later (we give room assignments according to the postmarked date of deposits).

Celebrating Christmas the English Way

Christmas Dinner

This is Jane. In the UK Christmas is not over in a day. We start celebrating on Christmas Eve all the way through to the New Year. We have lived in California for 20 years now but still like to keep our English traditions especially around the Christmas holidays. Christmas dinner is eaten around 1-2pm, so you are done by 3pm ready for The Queen’s Speech and then a chance to nap while Wizard of Oz plays in the background. Dinner includes turkey, Paxo stuffing, bread sauce and not forgetting the crackers on the table. December 26th or Boxing Day is another public holiday and is the day to celebrate Christmas with friends or relatives. Its the time to serve leftovers; cold turkey and ham, take a walk, open more presents and chill out watching Christmas specials on the telly.

Boxing Day walk

With friends we took our Boxing Day walk, just a stroll down the local canal, before our early afternoon dinner, then games and a little celebratory glass of sherry.

Family time

Family photo time. When our kids and friends kids grow older together its fun for them and us to see them change. And of course as parents we never grow older or change!!

Perfect location Juki 2010Q

Its been 5 days now and I haven’t powered up my Juki 2010Q, “Julie”. I am actually itching to get back to finishing some projects but am giving myself a break. Recently we have had some wonderful sunsets and the location of my sewing machine in my new studio/workspace is perfect. No longer am I tucked away in the bedroom in the back of the house but at the front in the “formal lounge”


I continue to teach my monthly Kids Sewing Class at Howells in Auburn. I have some very charming and enthusiastic girls that embrace all of the projects that I give them. November we made pajama pants and December Christmas stockings. I love the way they bring their own personalities into their projects.

Fabulous Fish Fabric Collage Jane Haworth

I have been working on planning and making samples for a couple of new classes I will teach in 2019. This one Fabulous Fish is a wall hanging version of Rainbow Fish, the king size raffle quilt I made in 2017 with the Foothill Quilt Guild. As a Pisces I feel these fish are something I fall back on and have been doodling and painting for 30+ years so its only natural I plan a workshop around them.

2018 was my busiest year so far for teaching and presenting at Quilt Guilds. I also taught my Love of Pets workshop at In-between Stitches in Livermore and am scheduled to teach it again in 2019. Look up my calendar to check up on dates for upcoming classes. These photos are from Livermore, students at work and students work! I’d also like to thank the following guilds for hosting me this year: Folsom Quilt and Fibre Guild, Country Crossroads Quilters of Modesto, Marin Needle Arts Guild, River City Quilt Guild, Foothill Quilt Guild, Santa Clara Valley Quilt, Diablo Valley Quilt Guild, Oroville Piecemakers Guild and In-between Stitches Livermore.


My next engagement is one I am very excited about and that is to be on the faculty for Craft Napa 2019. I have attended this fun, creative retreat over the past 3 years taking classes from some incredible teachers. I am teaching Pet Portraits Fabric Collage and Succulent Love, draw, paint and collage succulents. These little dog collages are fabric postcards that will be auctioned off as a Stay Pawsitive fundraiser for Wags and Whiskers in Chico, CA

A couple of the highlights from 2018 was filming tv segments for the Quilting Arts TV show that will be coming out sometime in 2019 and meeting Susan Brubaker Knapp, the staff of Quilting Arts TV and the other quilt artists that recorded for that series. Then in November being part of the faculty at the International Quilt Festival and teaching 4 classes was tiring but wonderful.

Quilters L. Tahoe 2018 _6

And of course not forgetting my first experience of  joining Artistic Alchemy. Teaching and generally having a great time with staff and students at the 5th annual retreat at Zephyr Point was another highlight. With the New Year right around the corner I am putting plans together for my workshop for 2019 and encourage anyone interested to watch out as as we will be announcing workshops and sign-ups early in February.

Finally I like to make a summary of the work I have created over the year and some of my other achievements. I made 21 T-shirt quilts and 4 necktie quilts for my Etsy shop customers, 19 art quilts, won Best of Show with Bullseye x Nine at the Foothill Quilt Guild show, exhibited Melman, the Vulnerable Giraffe quilt at Sisters, Oregon and sold it, and also exhibited quilts juried into Road to California, PIQF and IQF Houston.

Thanks to all the students who have attended my classes and I plan to very soon start a newsletter for my website

Mary Boalt, Sandra Bruce, Heidi Emmett and I want thank all you supporters of Artistic Alchemy and wish everyone a Happy New Year for 2019. May it bring peace and creativity to you all.


There’s A Whole Lot of Piecing Going On

My fall sewing retreat took place in October. The autumn group is called The Hauties. The spring group is called Sew Sistas. Many of us attend both. It always amazes me how many new ideas spring up from twenty women who have taken classes or tried something new in the previous six months. We come together to share these marvelous fiber adventures, new patterns, purchased treasures and unconventional ideas in this safe environment with others of like mind.

This year seemed to be the year for piecing fabric together. Some random. Some planned. All embellished! Most of it made and layered with raw edges and meandering stitches. A delightfully freeing exercise for using up those precious scraps and seeing them come to life in a new way. Hang on for the barrage of pictures….50 of them!

I’m going to begin with Helen because, well, Helen is awesome! A diminutive dynamo of creative energy. She can and will use everything and anything to express herself. She can take a man’s suit vest and give it nine lives. We love her.

A bounty of buttons and a boa on her blouse.

Do you have some old gloves you’ve inherited? Want to give yourself one continuous hug?

Now let’s head on over to the hardware store for some cables and flexible tubing.

And now one last piece from Helen. It’s still in the “pinned” stage in these pictures. What a great way to use up those precious pieces of ribbons and trim.

Sharon always brings good examples of her workshop projects. This simple pullover vest is a creative way to contain disparate pieces from your stash. Here is the front.

Here is the back.

And here are some close ups. It made me wonder how many sample and practice pieces of screen printing do we have tucked away? A logo from a beloved t-shirt? Or what if you screen printed over a t-shirt logo?

And there’s cardiac stitching everywhere to hold it all in place.

Heidi’s Terrific Tabard would be the ideal pattern for this surface design. Here’s another super creative vest featured in an older Threads magazine. It’s a Vogue pattern, 8430, without the sleeves. It’s been raw edged pieced and it’s reversible.

Gayle is our cashmere queen. She eco dyes recycled cashmere sweaters, cuts them up and pieces them back together with hand stitching. They are gorgeous to look at and even better to touch. Here she displays a large throw. Can you imagine cuddling up under that?!?

This darling little vest is from Diane Ericson’s Faultline pattern.

Don’t you love that running stitch throughout the whole piece? The little squares of cashmere are sewn onto a backing of netting. It was so soft and drapey.Gayle’s next top is a dream for any of us who like black and white and red. There were so many clever little places to look on this piece, I had to share them all.Front


Tiny running stitches!Cardiac stitching!Striped piping!All three! Be still my heart!

Here’s Sarah making easy work of embellishing. Buy printed fabric and just take a black marker to it with random abandon. Why didn’t I think of this?

Daniella modeling her kantha jacket.

A true artist, Daniella brought some silk she had “embellished” at home by BURNING it! Yup, those are burned holes. Cool, eh? Can’t wait to see what she makes with it and what she chooses for lining.

Gwen quietly sits and hand stitches many of her projects. They are absolutely gorgeous and thoughtful. She chose to work on a tea cozy pieced together with random fabrics, mostly decorator pieces. Then she began embroidery embellishments to tie them together. 

Some more of her work with leaves.

Using duct tape and plastic, Gwen created this rain coat and shared it with us. I know this is a Marcy Tilton pattern. I’m guessing Vogue 9287. If someone knows differently please let me know.

She also brought another rain coat made from a taffeta type polka dot. Embellished with simple tulle donuts, I must put this on my list of things to try.

Jenny attended a wool bead jewelry class in Mendocino. They made the beads themselves, beaded the balls, threaded them and built the necklaces. These are just so cute and colorful.

Vicky looked so put together with her purchased necklace and her repurposed men’s shirt top. Excellent creative vision.

 If you want to try this piecing idea on a small scale, this journal cover is perfect. Cute and clever.

Wynne, Helen’s daughter, spent her time embellishing onesies. We affectionately called them Wynnesies as she gave each one a new and different personality.Another small but effective detail that I want to try are these tiny tiny strips sewn on in a series of stripes. 

And this fabric necklace reminded me of Heidi’s necklaces. Cute! These could be made with scrapbooking paper too.

And finally, a nod to the freebie table. No one had any idea what this was but I thought it was amazing. I felt I had won the jackpot. Just look at all those treasures on it! Who knows what could be done with those! Dice, mah jhang tiles, scrabble letters and pieces of yard sticks. 

Outside of sewing machines and sergers, these tools get plenty of use.

Keep creating!