A Year in Pictures

by Sandra Bruce

Happy New Year to you all! Here’s to a great 2015 coming up. Today, just for fun, I’m posting my 2014 via a series of pictures. Here we go!

First, just a few shots of customers’ quilts I enjoyed quilting over the year:

IMG_7008IMG_7757Robin’s Self-Portrait….she’s a writer, in addition to being a quilter. You can see more about her here: http://robinmartinezrice.comIMG_7347

Trish’s very fun Princess Fishy IMG_7433Jane’s hippo from the Zephyr workshop IMG_8129

There’s always something new to be learned. I took a thread class from Cindy Needham.IMG_6350

I enjoyed visiting many quilt guilds in 2014. I learned so much from them all, and hope I inspired a few! I was surprised at how many Featherweights there are out there. Here’s one painted a special purple! Marty belongs to EBHQG.IMG_6924

I made so many samples in 2014!


Here’s “Octavius”, a close-up of his eye.


His suckers were made with silk organza I dyed outside on a nice warm day.


Also in the summer I took a “one block wonder” class from Cathy Stone, along with my friend Ray who came up to visit. This is a great process if you’ve never made one. Mine has red cardinals on it (made into a Christmas hanging) and Ray used an Alexander Henry print that was just made for this technique. My blocks, before sewing the rows together:IMG_7426

Ray, organizing his blocks:IMG_7997

At the July Northern California Quilt Guild’s “Meet the Teachers” I was happy to see my friend Therese May. You can check out her web site here: http://www.theresemay.com         She and I used to be neighbors and I credit her for getting me on the path to quilting!




Ahhhh…………Fall, and our much-needed rain!!!


Road trip to Oregon and Washington.  I taught in Sisters and Bend, great guilds and enthusiastic quilters!!


I watched my friend Wendy Hill make these beautiful little pies. She has inspired me as a quilter and lover of fabric.IMG_7905

Here’s Heidi when we were getting ready for the Zephyr workshop. We’re gearing up for the 2015 workshop, news and sign-up info coming soon!


This is my son Matteo, up in the air on his bike. I put it in here to see if you were paying attention (just kidding!) Yes, he is responsible for my growing number of white hairs!


My “Christmas on Emerald Court” class was a monthly class in 2014, and I’ll be repeating it in 2015, coming up soon in January. Please let me know if you are interested in taking it! Here’s a couple of shots taken over the months.


Here you can see one of my students’ finished tops on my long-arm, with mine on the wall in the background.

IMG_8275We, Heidi and Christine and I, had a polymer day with a couple of other friends. Here’s Heidi capturing Christine’s lovely makume gane polymer.


December is the time of year for oranges in California. Some friends in Sacramento let me pick to my heart’s content from their tree! They were incredibly big, juicy and sweet!


Christmas at my house. We don’t let a lack of a mantle or chimney keep us from hanging our stockings. Dearly departed loved ones get theirs hung too, in their memory.


Before I end, I want to show you one of my favorite Christmas gifts this year. My son made me a “coupon” for a massage (after a long day at the long-arm my feet will be happy for this!). Using Photoshop, he made this very funny gift. Those of you who have read the “Outlander” series, or seen the TV version will laugh as hard as I did.IMG_8389

In closing, after a great 2014 I am looking forward to an even better 2015, filled with lots of quilting, teaching, traveling, and of course, the Zephyr Point Retreat with my fellow Artistic Alchemy ladies! Cheers!!IMG_8379p.s. Christine here, to congratulate Laurie P. for winning our first giveaway, an ombré and Lustrous Squares pattern kit. Have fun with those fabrics, Laurie! And to everyone who commented, a big thank you for your thoughts. Stay tuned for more giveaways in 2015!

A New Project for the New Year

1 fabrics banner STARTby Christine Barnes

Happy Boxing Day! I love the day after Christmas. No schedule, no commitments, and plenty of leftovers in the fridge. It’s a fancy-free day, which usually involves playing in my fabric and sewing. I hope it’s the same for you.

As you can see in the photos below, I’m still on a solids kick. For my new quilt, I started with “plain” solids from several manufacturers and added some yummy Peppered Cottons from Studio E Fabrics. Then I splurged—and I mean splurged—on hand-dyes by Maureen Hardy Schmidt, below. Talk about “visually delicious.”2 Maureen's fabsI had in mind very simple nine-patch blocks, with one center print. I knew this wouldn’t be my final plan, but I had to start somewhere. Below are Kona solids and one Marcia Derse print. They’re all right but not very exciting.3 MD centersSo I cut squares of a favorite Alexander Henry print and laid them on top of the green centers. I liked the effect—the print lightens and brightens the solids—but I decided to save that wonderful fabric for another project.4 white centersI did, however, get a glimmer of an idea: What if I put squares of similar values and colors side by side? Could I create new shapes within the usual nine-patch structure?

Before I could work on that, I had to find a fabric or fabrics for the block centers. I’ve loved plaid for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been collecting for years. Below are squares cut from some of my favorites. (The large-scale plaids in the top row are new Peppered Cottons.)5 plaid squares on wallI’ve been playing ever since, eliminating many of the plaids because they lose much of their impact when cut up. Below are a few early mock-ups. You can see where I’ve made some squares blend into each other and others stand out in contrast.6 mock ups, good!And below are a few of the sewn blocks. In the top left block, two squares in the bottom row almost become one red-orange rectangle. In the second row, left block, I see a large “L” of dark green and teal. If you squint, the new shapes are more prominent.7 sewn blocksMy goal is to create shimmering asymmetrical color, with bits of unexpected pattern in the center of each block. And how will I set these blocks? Not side by side, that’s for sure. But hey, the day after Christmas is still young, and I’m still feeling free.

May you be having the same kind of day. And may you have a fabulous New Year, one that’s filled with the people and things you love!



Luminosity and Luster: A Watershed Moment

by Christine Barnes

Watershed horizontal sliceA warm hello to all! I had planned to show you the finished quilt from last month’s post, but I’ll save that for another time. With the retreat fast approaching, I wanted to create another quilt option, one that had both luster and luminosity. My goal was a graphic, easy-to-assemble design that showcases the amazing shift of light and color in the Gelato ombrés from E.E. Schenck.

Open and airy was the look I was after. I started by drawing a horizontal unit that measures 15 by 10 inches when finished. (I do my initial sketches on graph paper, not the computer, because I like pencil and paper. The less time on the computer, the better.)PrintPrinted fabrics are great with ombrés—they add pattern and an organic quality to a quilt design. I chose these three prints: a Kaffe Fasset houses design and two colorways of an Alexander Henry print. (It was love at first sight.)6 three prints The Marcia Desre fabrics below have been in my black-and-white bin for more than a year, waiting for the right project. I love the combination of B&W prints and intense colors—non-colors (black, white, and gray) make intense colors look even brighter and offer a bit of visual relief.5 Marcia Derse b&wBelow are the three units I designed, as mock blocks. I almost always do cut-and-paste blocks—they let you audition fabrics without the commitment of sewing.1 watershed, right unit2 other two unitsTo space out the units and suggest luster (light striking and moving across the surface), I called on my favorite gray, Gelato 714. I wondered, what if I staggered the pieced units? And what if I butted the light edges of the gray ombré against the edges of the pieced units? Here’s the result:

Watershed quilt topThe vertical sections of gray have luster, similar to the effect of the Serenity ombrés in my “Brushed Metal” quilt, another option for the retreat. The colored ombrés have luminosity and luster, thanks to their warm, intense colors and the gradations of color and value. I can hardly wait to see what magic Sandra works with her quilting. Heidi suggested the title of Watershed Moment because she said it reminded her of flowing water. I had my watershed moment when I understood how to use basic color concepts to create light effects like luster and luminosity. It’s too much fun!

I’ll have the gray and colored ombrés with me at the retreat, to play with or to purchase. (I’m also willing to share what I have left of the prints and black-and-white fabrics.) Come to Zephyr, bring you own colorful prints and B&W fabrics, and make it your own!



Asymmetrical Color

by Christine Barnes

For this post, allow me to digress from my retreat workshop topic, “Luster and Luminosity,” and focus on “asymmetrical color,” a concept I came up with to describe the way I often work with color. It’s a simple idea: color used in unequal quantities, in an asymmetrical block or quilt design. Let me show you what I mean:

I like funky-flower patterns, so you can understand why I fell in love with this Alexander Henry fabric.funky fowers, lighter

I created this 12-inch block, which is just an isolated section of one of my symmetrical quilts, tweaked and enlarged a bit. With this design I saw an opportunity to use color in different quantities, in a way that looks and feels balanced.Asymmetrica blockPutting the large-scale floral in the large square was a no-brainer, but what to use for the smaller shapes? I chose Kaffe Fassett shot cottons because, like the patterned fabric, they are low-intensity, or muted. The shot-cotton colors are related to the floral colors, but they don’t quite match, which makes the design more sophisticated and keeps it from looking formulaic.just fabrics, modern fleurs, lighter

Here’s the mock-block. The variations in the values of the shot cottons, from the light celadon in the lower rectangle to the dark merlot in the corner square, create a design within the design and enhance the off-center look of the block.mock block, lighter

Next I asked myself, what happens when this block is repeated in a quilt? Here’s how it looks in a straight set, though in reality the floral pattern would vary from block to block:modern fleurs 2, lighter

I found this to be a bit much; there’s no place for your eye to rest. (I’m a huge fan of “visual relief,” providing quiet areas within larger areas.) And when I rotated some of the blocks to vary the layout, the floral squares touched and looked even more fragmented.

So I spaced out the blocks, which begs the question: what to do with the plain squares? If you know me, you know my first thought is usually “stripe.” Now I’m looking for just the right one. Even without a fabric in the alternate squares, I like the light-and-airy look of this layout.

modern fleurs 4 lighter

Finally, my mind turned to thoughts of a wearable, perhaps a vest, with a pieced right front and this Kaffe Fassett stripe for the left front. What fun to see where a fabric takes you!ALL fabrics, lighter

Changing gears, here’s another example, my quilt “Squares and Stripes.” I designed asymmetrical blocks and rotated them for the overall design. I also varied the width of the borders. But notice how I lined up the stripes in the borders to suggest planes of color flowing beneath the blocks. Sometimes you need a bit of symmetry to calm an asymmetrical design.AA Squares and StripesNext time, I promise to show you new ideas for luminosity. Until then, keep experimenting with color. The options really are endless. So long for now!