The Artistic Alchemy 2019 Retreat in Photos

by Sandra Bruce

Today I am simply going to let the photos I have of our retreat tell the story of some of the fun, creativeness, and learning that occurred in our 2019 Retreat at Zephyr Point. We 4, Jane, Heidi, Mary and myself thank all the participants for giving us yet another successful year! Following are photos of teachers, students, Open Studio ladies, Show and Tell, and some of the fantastic work that was created.

We look forward to 2020!




And last but not least, our annual group shot….the serious one, and my favorite, the silly one!

The SAQA Conference and Pine Tree Show!

by Sandra Bruce

I’m still coming down from the last few weeks…from Empty Spools, to a sewing retreat in San Juan Bautista, to the SAQA conference, to being Featured Quilter at the Pine Tree Quilt Show earlier this month. Throw in a little teaching….ALSO… there’s a quilt I’ve been working on but I can’t show it to you yet. I was invited to participate in a show and the rules prohibit me from showing the work until the quilts that are traveling are selected. But…..plenty else too chat about!

First…my Material Matrix workshop in Zephyr Point at our retreat is full, with one on the waiting list. Those of you who are in my class will be hearing from me in the next few days. Jane and Heidi still have space….hurry! There’s time to sign up!  🙂

The SAQA conference was in San Jose, CA this year so I had to go. If you don’t know, SAQA stands for Studio Art Quilts Associates. It is an international organization of art quilters and the annual conference is always in a different city in the world. I am a JAM member, which means Juried Artist Member. We are juried in with a portfolio and strive to be professionals in the art quilt world.

I drove down with my friend Trish Morris-Plise and we were both newbies, although there were lots of people there we knew or at least had met before. There were 200 in attendance, from as far away as Australia!

As soon as we walked in we spotted Heidi Emmett and Terry McFeeley…there was an area where artists were selling their wares, and Terry came to promote her product “Terial Magic”, along with Heidi’s help. There were lots of beautiful things to be sold in the afternoon that the art market was set up.

The main wonderful part about the conference was meeting and sharing with quilt artists from all over. To see old friends and make new ones. And take silly pictures! Here is Trish, myself and Jane Haworth. Jane and I both were presenters in the “Lightning Talk” segment of the conference, where we gave a 6-minute talk on a subject accompanied by 20 images that changed on the screen every 20 seconds. Jane was first (of 8) and I was last…my topic was “fear”, as it relates to being a quilt artist. I may turn it into a regular lecture on my circuit.

Here’s Pat Porter and Jan Soules…so many smiles and good karma spread around the room!

 

Mel Beach was in charge of the opening night’s entertainment, we played ice-breaking kind of games so we could get to know each other.

There was a fantastic lineup of speakers over the 4 days. They are all so diverse and had much to say. I think my favorite was the Social Justice Sewing Academy.

Their mission statement: ” Piecing together youth voices, textile art and community in a 21st century sewing circle”. There were 3 young people on the panel who spoke about their lives, and what the Academy meant to them. They had made quilts, and most of them had never held a sewing needle, much less made a quilt before! They go into high schools with their program, all over the country. They need volunteers to embroider, quilt, and donate fabric. I handed my card to them after their talk and as a result I have already quilted 6 pieces that they sent to me to finish. I wholeheartedly support this venture, it is a wonderful and constructive way for young people to be active in the art quilt community and speak out about causes they believe in. KUDOS! http://www.sjsacademy.com

I ran into Vivika Denegre at the conference, she is the editor of Quilting Arts Magazine and I met her last year when I was a guest on Quilting Arts TV. We hugged and she handed me a little paper bag. She explained that instead of distributing media at the conference, she made up miniature sewing “kits” to hand out, that consisted of small bits of fabric, a needle, and a couple lengths of thread. On the bag was this quote: “I believe that hand stitching is good for the soul. #makesomethingawesome.” This task was so much fun and helped me deal with the withdrawals I was having of not having sewing to do! Here’s what I made (it’s about 3″ across):
Thank goodness I ran into Marylee Drake who had a pair of little scissors, as I was using nail clippers to cut thread 🙂

A highlight of the conference was a tour in downtown San Jose, the first being the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles.

https://www.sjquiltmuseum.org

There was an exhibit of SAQA work, called “H2OH!”, about water, of course. There were several quilts that I liked very much, and in writing this post I noticed they all had circles in them…yes I do love circles. Here’s “Fishing” by Barbara Watler:

And another, by Linda Colsh, “Past is Present”…do you see the little figures in it?  

One more, by Liz Kuny, “Boiling Point”. So clever…212 degrees is the point where water boils, she she put 212 “O”s into the quilt.

We got a special tour of the back of the Quilt Museum, where I was fascinated by the storage methods of all the quilts they own.

Another stop at Works, a downtown gallery that had another SAQA exhibit. This was my favorite piece, by Carla Stehr, titled “Diatom 8”. (I really must be in love with circles!)

The afternoon did catch up with us…do we look a little tired? (well, I do!)

Towards the end of the conference there was an auction of small pieces made by SAQA members…it raised over $17,000 for SAQA! I’ll be sure to enter a piece next year.

At the very end was a Studio Tour of several local artists, one being Therese May, a longtime friend whom I credit for introducing me to the world of quilting, as she was my next door neighbor 35 years ago (lucky me!). Trish and I went to see Therese before the throngs began. I took this picture of Therese in front of her house where she hung one of her fabulous quilts.

Therese is a founding member of SAQA, and has greatly helped promote the art quilt world, to which we say, “thank you”!!!

Before I stop, a couple of quick words about the Pine Tree Quilt Show. Artistic Alchemy had our usual booth, where we got to talk to attendees and sell our wares, not to mention promote our Zephyr Retreat in September!

Being Featured Quilter I didn’t have any time to spend in our booth, but the other 3 carried on and it was a success :-). I enjoyed seeing most of my quilts up all together for the first time. My favorite part was talking to people, especially about my Matrix quilts.

Speaking of Matrix quilts, I just yesterday mailed a letter to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, telling her about the quilt I made of her, and I enclosed a photo of it. Fingers crossed that I hear back from her!

And if you are thinking about coming to Zephyr, remember…..

Bye for now!  I’ll be posting my new Matrix quilt after June 30th. 🙂

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.

Year 5 at Zephyr with Material Matrix

by Sandra Bruce

Our retreat this September was our 5th, in which we welcomed Jane Haworth into our group. Every year seems to get better than the last, and for me this year was no exception. I have never had a more hard-working group of students. I’ll show you in this post some of their work and you’ll see what I mean.

Here’s a shot of the beautiful “Inspiration Point”, set up before anyone arrived. A gorgeous classroom….….but much better filled with enthusiastic ladies! We shared this room with the Open Studio ladies who were delightful.

Returning for another Matrix experience was Canadian Rejeanne, who brought her Matrix quilt top from her time with me at Zephyr 2 years ago, of her photographer husband Gene. She shared it at Show and Tell, and brought it for me to take to my longarm studio to quilt….a pleasure, I can assure you! Photo to come!

Rejeanne sat in class next to France, also a Canadian, and a friendship began. France worked on an image of her beloved dog, while Rejeanne worked on an image of her grandson.

Ellen, who had taken my Matrix workshop at her guild, brought her “Wake Up Cup” to show, completed.

At Zephyr they have added a coffee bar. A latte in the early morning with a lake view could not be beat.

Here’s a great overhead shot.

Trish Morris-Plise was our helper extraordinaire this year. She was a big help and found a few spare moments to work on her Hawaiian quilt project.

As mentioned, there was an incredible amount of work and concentration in the classroom which was so gratifying to witness. Below, Hazel, Marion and Ellen, intently working.

Some magical moments included finding the perfect fabric among scraps…yay Rejeanne !!

So much was accomplished! Below Beth, and Pam.

Sophia, with her piece so far, of her grandson. A terrific start!

Sue brought a beautiful photo of a landscape that meant a lot to her. It’s a great way to memorialize a favorite photo. I’ve seen Sue since the retreat and she tells me it’s coming along nicely!

Ann worked on a photo of an egret in a very ballet-like position, and was pleased with her progress.

The lake is always calming, and it’s such a pleasure to have this view all week.

We always do a group shot before departing, thanks to Gene for the photo!

Thanks to Heidi, Mary, and Jane, for being the best group-mates. We mesh in a wonderful way, and it’s an honor to spend a week with these talented ladies at Zephyr.

Before I stop, I’ll mention that I have been working on other projects since Zephyr, but will be starting a new Matrix quilt in the next few days. My subject? Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

There’s plenty of time before we start thinking about next year, but I hope you will consider taking my Matrix workshop if you have not taken it before. I already have a few interested people. As we roll into Fall, stay well and happy creating!

Stretching….creatively

by Sandra Bruce

Have you been able to keep cool this summer? It’s been pretty brutal here in Grass Valley, between the smoke and the heat. This very cute squirrel has been hanging out (literally) on our deck railing to try to keep out of the heat. I can so relate!


We’re very close to our Zephyr retreat….only a few weeks away! I have a full class, with ladies working on a varied assortment of quilt subjects for their Matrix quilts. Children, pets, scenes. I look forward to this very much each year.

One of my past students made a wonderful Matrix quilt, which I had the pleasure of quilting yesterday. Here’s the before and after! I absolutely love what Colleen did. It is an homage to a memory she has, and this quilt will keep it alive.


I’ve not been working on a new Matrix project since I finished “Dame Lorraine”. (she and “Summertime” have already gone to Houston). I have had the urge to do something different than what I’ve done in a while. First, I’ve been working on a needle-turned applique Halloween quilt, from a pattern by Verna Mosquera. I absolutely love doing applique and this quilt has fit the bill. About 2 or 3 blocks into it I realized something, that I have some of my own ideas for Halloween quilt designs. I have changed a lot of details in this quilt, and now I have 3 concepts in my mind to create new quilts, and maybe patterns to sell. Here it is so far, on my design wall:

When I went to Cleveland to tape my episodes of QATV in April I met Susan Shie, who I have heard so much about over the years through our mutual friend, Therese May. I was so happy to meet her! When Susan did her taping, the day before me, I was so taken aback by the stack of drawing sketchbooks that she showed us. She draws every day. It lit a fire under me, and consequently I signed up to do an online drawing class with her, with a few others, for 5 weeks, via Facebook. It’s a very interesting concept. First I went to my local art supply store and bought a few new Prismacolor pencils to flesh out my stash of them. Just the sight of the Prismacolor display is enough to make my heart skip a beat!

A bit off subject, but I’d like to share a tip with you about pencils. This will save you a lot of headache if you use pencils often. The best way to buy pencils is individually, such as from this Prismacolor display, when possible. In other words, don’t buy sets. And here’s why: when pencils are made there is the top piece of wood, the “lead” in the middle, and then the bottom piece of wood. If the lead is not dead center, if it is off a bit (which is pretty common) then every time you sharpen it it will break. Then you’ll sharpen it again, and the break will happen again. Etc etc until your pencil is a nub. So, the moral of the story is: be sure the lead is right in the middle between the 2 sides of wood. Below is a photo showing the difference between a good one and one destined for trouble. These are not inexpensive pencils and this tip will save you money and frustration! Doesn’t this make you want to draw??!

My first assignment was to draw a selfie in my new sketchbook using both right and left hands. Interesting exercise! I found I could not hold pencils in both hands and draw simultaneously, but I could switch back and forth. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would….I may draw like this more often. My right-handed marks (non-dominant hand) were bolder and a bit goofy, but I liked them. The light initial sketch was done left-handed, and the inked lines right-handed, with the color back and forth. Here’s my drawing.

Before I go, a couple of news flashes. The Series 2200 on QATV which I appeared in, has begun on PBS, on the 2nd channel. I appear in Shows #2206, 2208, and 2211. Hope you can find them and watch! I talk about Material Matrix, how to match a binding to the image in the quilt, and how to stitch words with your home machine.

Also, I have a new page in my website, called “Publicity/News”, where I list the shows my quilts are currently in, books/magazines featuring my work, and other tidbits.

Now I’d better go work on Zephyr name tags, one of the pleasurable tasks I get to do for the retreat.

Stay cool and smoke-free everyone. Fall is coming.

Sandra

Cleveland to Capitola

by Sandra Bruce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then………bingo, show time!

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

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

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

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

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

The paper version made of torn paper: 

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

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

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

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

Dame Lorraine

by Sandra Bruce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I tried to keep my fabric organized.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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