Wrap-up 2020

by Sandra Bruce

As you may have read here in the recent past WordPress has totally changed the format for making a post, much to my frustration …my last post seemed easier, for some reason. All the photos I wanted to use popped up as you see below, but when I saw this configuration I kind of liked it and decided to leave them as they are and let you enjoy them as a “collage”. I went through my photos from the year and was determined to pick out photos that represented positive elements of my year. I must admit it wasn’t easy! But there were bright spots which will remain as good memories for me.

Please note, we are in the planning stages for our Fall Retreat at Zephyr Point, September 6-10, 2021. How wonderful it will be to be able to gather together for this event that will be our 8th year together as Artistic Alchemy. We’ll be making announcements soon regarding details.

My online Matrix course has been very successful and I hope it continues to be so. Here’s the link if you want to check it out:

http://coursecraft.net/courses/z93eK

I wish for each of you reading this blog, a happy and safe 2021, when we can put this year behind us. There is plenty to be thankful for, and reason for optimism. A truly new year is upon us, let’s make the most of it. (at the bottom of this post is a listing of the photos for those interested).

Left to right, top to bottom:

My outline for my online Matrix course, the intense but rewarding editing done on the computer, closeup of my Matrix entry for a SAQA exhibit “Wear Your Mask”, how it is possible to play Banangrams in the Covid times by each player using their own game tiles, first most-welcomed rain in November, my quilt of a trout made and given for a good deed done by a friend, enjoying my Featherweight, quilt pattern by Elizabeth Hartman made with Christmas fabrics, food in Israel January 2020, a student in my last Matrix in-person class February 2020, mask making makes you feel usefu!, my son Matteo is my mask tester, Zooming Zumba, social-distanced happy hour, a clean studio, watching “Hamilton” safely outside, enjoying being on the deck in the warm weather, perfecting my pizza making skills, working on a Matrix quilt, “Matteo in the Time of Covid”, Sardinia selfie 1993, fabric selecting for mask making.

Some New Zephyr Jackets and I want to Show Them Off!

by HEIDI EMMETT

Hello everyone. It has been a quiet teaching time these past months and months (as it has been for all of us in the teaching world) But many, Jane being the first of our group have been quietly creating a new niche market for themselves. Everything ONLINE! Classes, lectures, etc. Sandra has just finished creating her class too. Go to CourseCraft.com to see Jane and Sandra’s classes that are available NOW! Mine is started but you wont see the finished product until the first of the new year.

A quick word about Artistic Alchemy 2021. We on track for our Retreat at Lake Tahoe for September 6-10th, 2021. I have been in touch with Zephyr Point Conference Center and they want to be completely up and running in April, 2021. We will keep the faith.

As you know, I am the “Art to Wear” instructor for Artistic Alchemy. I want to get right to it this week. My Zephyr Jacket “Art to Wear” sewing pattern is the perfect topper for where YOU live.

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I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! my newest Zephyr Jacket. I finally got with the program and have pulled out my “Kantha” cloth. It was time to cut them up. This was an inexpensive “printed” not pieced, bed topper.
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A close up of a section of this “kantha” cloth. Kantha cloth is usually made in India. Know in advance that it is made of thinner cottons, two pieces and then hand stitched together with a thicker cotton thread (short staple cotton that shreds).
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This is the back side of this particular Kantha cloth. It is a solid black.
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I like the wool (yes, I mix cotton and wool often) flat trim on the shoulders with a small piping that I added on either side of the plain wool trim.
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I added pockets on this Zephyr Jacket. you can barely see them as the fabric is a little busy.
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A better view of what the Kantha cloth looks like. Whoops, uhh…my pocket is NOT straight. I looked at it and asked myself if it would be worth taking it apart and re-make it. Nope. It would take too much time and I put it on the jacket and voila’ it blends right in. Crisis averted.
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I wanted BIG pockets! To make these I put the Kantha and a lining right sides together, stitched all the way around leaving about a 2″ opening. Turn inside out, stitched opening closed and topstitched onto the jacket.
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My Zephyr Jacket pattern. Contact me at my email: hmemmett@gmail.com and hear about purchasing directly from me. ORRR….go to my Etsy shop and see all “Art To Wear” patterns. Etsy shop name: DesignsbyHeidiEmmett
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Purchase my patterns from me by contacting me at hmemmett@gmail.com OR from my Etsy shop: DesignsbyHeidiEmmett
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Zephyr Jacket can be layered (like a Bell sleeved sweater underneath), or made in a heavier weight fabric for added warmth. Yep, an older picture with me in braces! Glad I did it, but EXTRA GLAD it’s over. Ha, ha.
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I like how it flutters to a longer length in back. This is the jacket pictured on the pattern back (that picture is really soft in color). The main body is a Kaffe Fassett fabric called “Turkish Delight.” They just brought it back and in some new colorways. Check your local quilt shop. The front pieces are made from a silk piece (o.k., o.k., I found a brand new pair of silk pants at the Thrift shop).
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The quilting cotton weight is perfect for warmer days and evenings.
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Shoulder work on the Kaffe Zephyr Jacket. I explain it all in the instruction section.
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The body of this Zephyr Jacket is a heavier cotton/linen blend. An unusual netted “scuba fabric” was placed over the top of a turquoise green cotton and treated as one piece of fabric.
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I added length to this Zephyr Jacket by splitting the tissue pattern pieces across horizontally and added the same amount on each piece.
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Check out all the stitching I did on the back (and some on the front too). I used orange quilting thread. It is a running stitch BUT I cheated! I used my Sashiko machine. More about it below.
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The Sashiko Machine is a very COOL TOOL! It is made by Baby Lock. It makes the BEST “Shashiko” stitch (running stitch that looks hand done) and you can use different weights of thread. Sadly, it is a big and bulky machine (weighs close to 35 pounds).On the left side I added little tied pieces of floss on top of the scuba netting.
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The body of this Zephyr Jacket is another Kaffe Fassett fabric. I like how the fronts fold back just a little to reveal a different parasol fabric.
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I mixed silk and cotton and a rayon (the black background parasols) for a unique late summer top The solid aqua green silk came from a silk skirt . On the upper postion of the Zephyr jacket front I have a dragonfly pin.
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This dragonfly pin was a really fun find. I tried and tried to find a company name for you all but to no avail. My pin landed on a beautiful hand embroidered fiber/bead necklace. This necklace was my very first purchase on Etsy some 10 years ago from a shop in Australia. I’d give you her shop name in a flash but she took it down. Sooo sad.
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I leave you with this quote. Let’s all follow it. Hugs and much creative energy to you, Heidi

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!

It’s Time to Take a Break!


by HEIDI EMMETT

Acckk.. I wouldn’t have to hear the bang, bang, beep , beep, beep(equipment going backwards. Don’t they EVER go forward?), the LOUD (and sometimes quite vulgar)talking and noise (they call it rap), and the smells (toxic paint products, instant headache, asphalt). For 32 years we have enjoyed an empty field on one whole side of our property. Well, not anymore. Of course the home being built “feels” like it is right on our property line, but it is very large. I needed to get away! NOW!

With the shutdowns here in CA we ventured to our favorite place (that’s only 2 hours away), Zephyr Point, Lake Tahoe, Nevada side. Nevada has lifted or at least really softened their restrictions. O.K. enough of all that, let’s go relax.

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Our first full day, we drove up to Sand Harbor ( the most pristine and building free shoreline is the entire Eastern shore which is all in Nevada) and walked the new trail that stretches from Sand Harbor, 3 miles to Incline Village.
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I am not faking the color of the water! I take all my pictures now on my “Google Pixel” phone. Best camera on the market right now.
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This trail is wide and mostly level. We saw bicycles, people jogging, walking, and of course lots of “puppskies!” It was a doggie fashion show. We lost track of the different breeds. Wish we could have brought Mr. Riley. Believe me, he was “Living the life of Riley” at doggie day/night care. BUT, we have plans to do a day trip back to this trail (before the snow starts to fly) so we can show off our dog too.
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Every vista is a treasure.
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There is a spot on the trail that goes under the highway and goes up and up so the vistas become higher and broader.
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A gust of wind across the water adds sparkling diamonds to the view.
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All to soon the trail was reaching its end with the docks coming into view (this is the beginning of Incline Village). 3 miles one way. But WAIT. It’s all good because we just turned around and saw new vistas as we made our way back to Sand Harbor. 2 hours it took us to walk almost 6 miles. There were many many stops along the way.
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Look closely. That’s my husband on board “The Professor.” And Captain Andy is at the helm. Robert’s going fishing! They are zipping along to find the Minnow traps that Andrew uses for bait. Live bait to a depth of 200+ feet. Robert texted me later that he caught the first fish. It was his only fish. 18″+ and a Mackinaw (native to Lake Tahoe). Captain Andy said the deep water fish and the clear water make for very tasty fish. There were a total of 5 people fishing + the captain.
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After Robert went flying by the lower deck of our cabin I grabbed my “handwork” and went to the upstairs deck for some sunshine. First time EVER that I didn’t bring a machine of some type (sewing, felting, Serger,etc.). And not the usual 5 bags of paraphernalia to go with the machines. I brought one small bag of books/magazines and one bag of handwork projects. Perfect.
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I almost took this scarf back to the Thriftshop (in a bag with other stuff to go to the TS). How boring I thought, it’s off white. J.Crew, super soft wool (no tag, but thinking baby Alpaca) and I like the crinkly look. Perfect for using some of my expensive threads that are ombre’ dyed. The running stitch was the “mindless” choice. And the crinkly fabric just adds to my wonky stitch work.
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I am also using a tapestry needle for ease of going through the wool and the giant eye (for ease of threading). Ha, ha.
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Check out this super old poster that hangs on the back of a door in our Cabin #8. Now scroll down one picture to see the same view today.
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O.K. I really need to move to the right a bit. But if I did that I would be on a giant boulder that is now surrounded by shrubs and a couple of shorter deciduous trees and would I wouldn’t get the shot. Isn’t this a great Fall look? A couple of Aspens add the finishing touch.
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On one of the 3+ walks a day. We’re on the dock at the private beach at Zephyr Point. Very few were braving the water (as in no one on this day). Brrrrr….
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Can you even believe the color of this water? It’s about 8 feet deep and I took it on the other side of the same dock . There are only rocks and sand at the bottom.
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Walking up “Robin’s flight.” Only a gazillion steps (or so it seems at 6,300ft.) Blue salvia? Maybe?
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This one I know, California Poppy.
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Project # 2. I wanted to make another pair of fingerless mitts(just like the ones I’m wearing). I chose yarn by Plymouth Yarns called, “Gina.” It is 100% wool. Lovely to work with. I chose to crochet (again, a mindless, project) using single crochet throughout. Ombre’ yarn is my favorite (ombre’ yarn in the mitts above (that yarn is by Noro). I guess it’s the lazy way to change colors. No make that the SMART way.
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Awww….sitting outside on the deck with glorious weather and doing my mindless crocheting and listening to the gentle lapping of the water against the rocks.
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It just doesn’t get any better than this. So happy, happy, happy. I will trust that you will have a chance to get away from it all even if it’s only a walk. Breathe deeply, the clean air, and take the time to count your blessings. Hugs, Heidi

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

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?

 

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.