Mixing Work with Pleasure

by Christine Barnes

A mixologist is someone who mixes drinks, right? But aren’t we all mixologists when it comes to our quilting/sewing/artistic lives? We must balance work with creative pleasures, or we’d lose our minds, to put it mildly. One of the many benefits of teaching is that I can often schedule some fun before or after a gig, especially if I have a buddy.

That’s what happened a few weeks ago when I set off for Mendocino with my friend Kari to teach Transparency for the Ocean Waves quilt guild in Ft. Bragg. (Ft. Bragg and Mendocino are on the north coast of California.) The class happened at Sew ‘n Sew, a wonderful quilt shop. Needless to say, I came home with some fabric treasures.

Here’s our class hard at work. I LOVE the mineral-green color of the walls at Sew ‘n Sew.img_1697

The nine-patch structure is perfect for a transparency using a light “parent,” a dark “parent,” and the logical “child” of the two.img_1560

The color wheel comes in handy when doing transparencies: yellow + blue = green.img_1561

This block gets “extra credit” for sure! See how the design lines appear to flow from the light parent through the child? Lucking out and having just-right fabrics makes all the difference.img_1564

Although the “child” fabric is an aboriginal pattern, this block works well, especially from a distance. The light splotches in the light parent repeat in the child, helping to fool the eye.img_1593

The objective in this star block was to make it appear as if light and dark triangles overlap, creating a smaller, transparent triangle. It’s really effective in the upper star unit.img_1612

The next day Kari and I bummed around Mendocino, visiting my favorite shops. This crocheted and beaded necklace was in the window of The Great Put On, Art to Wear, a delightful shop. I didn’t buy it but did get a fabulous Boho Chic shawl.img_1708

Heading out of Mendocino, we stopped for a quick photo. The light, the sky, the water were spectacular early that morning. I never get tired of the coast.img_1711

A stop for lunch at the Culinary Institute of America just north of Saint Helena was a real treat. The beautiful stone buildings were once the Christian Brothers winery.img_1650

While sitting in the cafe, we could watch a class in session behind glass. Don’t you just love the chefs’ hats?? No such thing as too many cooks spoiling the broth here!img_1660

The next week I was in Stockton teaching Modern Color for the Tuleburg Quilt Guild. What a great group—a big “thank you” to my intrepid students!

The Granny Square block has become my new favorite design for working with color combinations because all the squares are the same size. You just cut the fabrics and start playing with the placement of value and pattern. Take a look at a few mock-blocks:

Linda keyed off the center fabric to make a near-complement of red-violet and green. Extra credit for the organic “stripe.”img_1673

Sandy achieved what I call accidental transparency with red and red-violet. So vibrant.img_1676

Kevin’s split complement of blue-green, red, and orange is hot, hot, hot! And what a perfect fabric for the center.img_1686

I don’t recall who made this block, but it’s another great example of transparency, as if a large, on-point square of bright green is on top of a blue “X.”.img_1688

Sorry I can’t remember who did this charming block, but it’s been more than three weeks, and students sometimes forget to put their names on their exercises. (Teacher also forgets to remind them :-). I love the freshness of this complementary blue-green and red-orange combination, with an intense yellow-green check/plaid. I hope you like the “eyeball” fabric in the center as much as I do.img_1691

Last but not least is another complement of blue-green and red-orange (here a color I call salmon). Extra credit for the stripes and the way the squares are oriented. Look how well they echo the center fabric.stockton-1-gs

Once again, my students displayed a creativity I could not have imagined. What’s next? I’ll be in Las Vegas teaching soon, but once I get home I plan to work on a quilt made up of transparent Granny Squares. Sometimes, work becomes pleasure!

And finally, Heidi and I are both in the Fall issue of Modern Patchwork. (She’ll tell you all about her fabulous project.) Here’s the first page of my article: module-quilt-mp-scan-2

Thanks so much for reading and looking about my latest travels. Until next time . . . .



I Could Say, “Gone Fishin”……

IMG_1121….we are busy getting ready for our 2016 retreat that begins Monday! We won’t be fishing, though….we’ll be stitching, quilting, cutting, printing, creating marvelous things and having a wonderful time!

Keep up with our week on our social media on Facebook and Instagram.

We’ll see ya soon with lots of pictures and tales of our week at Zephyr.

Till then, Happy September!!

Judy Coates-Perez Inspiration

by Sandra Bruce

A couple of days ago all 4 of us AA-ers were fortunate to be together taking a workshop by Judy Coats-Perez. My head is still reeling with all the fabulous techniques we learned and spending the day with Judy.

But first, Judy came to the Pine Tree Quilt Guild the night before to give us her very interesting presentation. She had a few of her quilts hanging, which I photographed with my phone, not doing them justice! I encourage you to look her up and view then online. Here is my favorite, “Primordial Sea”. I love the sea creatures and flora of the ocean! It is painted on silk and very expertly quilted. Here’s a photo and closeup:



Wow! And here’s another one, “Moon Garden”, which I remember seeing at PIQF a few years ago. It is black paint on white fabric, with some doosey quilting, which shows up on the back almost like another quilt altogether.IMG_0762 IMG_0763Yowza! We knew after her presentation that we were in for a fun-filled and informative day, and we were not disappointed.

Next morning, we 4 shared a table and our supplies with each other. I started out with this simple piece of fabric.IMG_0766The first technique was Thermofax images screened onto the fabric with fabric-friendly paint. Then, images either hand-drawn or copied from a printer onto tea-bag paper….yes, you read correctly! IMG_0767

The collage-ish part started here. Finding what Judy calls “ephemera”, bits of paper to add in, using all kinds of paper including cocktail napkins, ticket stubs, pattern paper, to name a few.


Here’s Judy doing a demo on how to paint on top of the teabag images, that have been affixed to the fabric with medium.


Here’s my finished piece, ready for quilting, can’t wait!


Here’s Christine, working on her piece.


Heidi, photographing hers.


Mary, with her finished piece, she’s happy! I think I need to give her my “paint splatter” rubber stamp!


Here’s 2 of Judy’s pieces. Love them! The second one was made from pieces she cut out of samples from classes, that she assembled, stitched together, and painted over again, with the bird image.


At the end of the day we laid them out on the floor to look at each other’s work. Every one was different and filled with wonderful images and such a variety of creative ideas. Happy day for us, indeed!DSC_0040

Hard to believe it’s June already…….the spaces for Zephyr signups are filling up! Please consider coming to take a workshop from one of us, we guarantee a very creative-filled week with others who will inspire you. It is one of the highlights of my year. I have 2 spots left, and will be teaching polymer next year so now is the time for a Matrix experience. I would be truly happy for you to sign up for any of the workshops….Mary’s, Heidi’s, Christine’s, or mine. Check out the workshop descriptions in this blog for more info! Whether you are interested in color, wearable art, fabric manipulation/painting or my Matrix technique, there is something for you. We also welcome Independent Study ladies who want to work on their own projects in a beautiful, peaceful location with other like-minded sewists and artists.

For now, I’m signing off, time to work on my latest Matrix quilt. I hope you enjoyed looking at Judy’s work and our endeavors in her workshop.

On the Road, On the Go

by Christine, Sandra, and Heidi

The three of us have been super busy lately, taking or teaching workshops. We thought you’d like to see where we’ve been and what we’ve been up to . . .

Christine here, back to earth after a great retreat with art quilter Sue Benner. What made it even better was the location—Zephyr! I left my camera in my friend Kari’s car, so I don’t have photos of what we did in the workshop yet, but I’ll give you a feel for what it’s like at Zephyr in November. Here’s the view on the walk to our classroom at 8:30 a.m. It snowed and rained and snowed some more. Zephyr Nov. 2015 Brrrr!The class, “Mono Printing the Quilt,” was in Dobbins Hall, and with 21 students we filled the room to the edges. It’s a wonderful old lodge, with gorgeous views, as some of you know from our first Artistic Alchemy retreat.Zephyr Nov. 2015 DobbinsThe last morning we woke up to gorgeous sun, blue skies, and hooray, snow on the mountains. We said goodbye, and I thought how much I love being there—and how much I look forward to coming back in September for OUR retreat. Save the dates, September 5–9. We’ll announce the details and start taking signups after the holidays. Zephyr Nov. 2015Hello from Heidi Emmett. Have I been having some fun! I am the Program Chair for Pine Tree Quilt Guild. I invited one of our own, Ingrid Cattaneo to speak on Collage Quilting. And the next day we had a workshop in the Susan Carlson method taught by Ingrid. Wow, did I learn a lot. Visit Ingrid’s blog: fabricandthreadpassion.blogspot.com for more of her GORGEOUS pieces. Below is Ingrid’s Juvenile Garibaldi Fish. Perfect in every way.
Ingrids Garibaldi FishRemember Trish Plisse’ from my workshop at Zephyr who finished her “Off The Grid Vest” at the retreat?  Well this is her fish, already finished!! No fair (hear that whine in my voice?) Uh oh, her fish is NOT dead (see, it’s not floating), just cruising upside down. Sometimes technology does not do what I asked it to do! Sorry Trish. fishyHere is my fish. LOVE him even though he is still on the board. I walk by him everyday while finishing other projects. What a fun process. I felt as if I were “painting with fabric.”

And finally, Sandra Bruce here to wrap up our post for today. I spent Halloween in Las Vegas with my friend Ray, we were celebrating a big new number we reached this year for our birthdays! What a blast we had! Everyone should go to Vegas for Halloween at least once in their lives. Put it on your bucket list!

Here’s a very silly picture of Ray and I, we are practicing our pirate grimaces. I look more like Lucy Ricardo, oh well! We went down to Fremont Street where it was really hopping!!


I was happy to see the logo design update I did for The Flamingo Hotel about 20 years ago still in use.


From Vegas I traveled to Redding, Mount Shasta, and then Klamath Falls to teach my Matrix workshop. My hosts in Weed, Susan and Larry, took me up for a nice shot of Mount Shasta. We were so glad it has a good layer of snow on it!


In my workshops there were several “renegade” ladies who tried a different color scheme on their cup pieces. It’s always interesting to see what students come up with!


Back home I am busy with customer quilts in my longarm studio downtown. Christmas is around the corner and I have lots to do. My longarm, Dixie, just got a tuneup and is purring like a cat, ready for the work to come!

That’s it for now, everyone. Stay tuned through the rest of the year for exciting news about Artistic Alchemy in 2016!

Road Trip

by Heidi, Sandra and Christine

Greetings from all of us! It’s a rare occasion when we 3 can spend a day together. Christine and Sandra were on the July roster for the NCQC (Northern California Quilt Council) Meet the Teachers in Pleasant Hill, CA, a week or two back, and when it was discovered that Heidi was available for that day it became a road trip for Artistic Alchemy! Heidi is, after all, acting Program Director for our local guild, Pine Tree Quilt Guild, so she’s always on the lookout for teachers and presenters.

We actually got a selfie in the car on the way down. IMG_9278

In case you don’t know, Meet the Teachers is an opportunity for guilds in northern California to send representatives to scope out the talent available to come to their guilds to teach. There are 3 times a year to present, with 30 people each time, selected by lottery. July was the month that Christine and Sandra were selected.


Here’s Christine at her table, with her latest quilt behind her and a stack ready for her presentation!


Sandra shared a table with Marcia Stein, whom she met at the Southern California Meet the Teachers, in April of this year. Good to see her again!

Each presenter gets 3 minutes at the podium to tell her (or his) story and show her stuff. The 3 minutes are kept very careful track of by someone in the front row brandishing a green, then yellow, then red sign. Beware the red sign, or Beth will come for the microphone!

Quilter Therese May came to the event to network and visit, and came to lunch with us. She and Sandra have been friends for over 30 years and are always glad to catch up in person. She joined us for lunch and brought Sandra a one-of-a-kind Therese May birthday card and some wonderful fabric wrapped in the most fabulous big bow!



It’s impossible to travel to the Bay Area without checking out a couple of fabric stores. First stop: Cotton Patch in Lafayette. Fabric love! Carolie has a beautiful store.



IMG_9291We leave Cotton Patch with our goodies and head for Wooden Gate, in Danville. More goodies to be found! Gina is a fairly recent new owner and has quite an array of modern fabrics which we find difficult to resist!DSC_0368Alethea cuts fabric for Heidi, she is a wealth of information and help.


As is Jamie. She’s cutting a beautiful piece of linen by etsuko furuya for Kokka. Sandra sees a vest to be made. Jamie even gave us directions to cut through a bit of the traffic we knew we’d encounter on our way home, given the time of day. The Bay Area, whew! We are spoiled in the Foothills. (Thanks, Jamie.)


Time to head home after a very long day. It was great to have a day just to play, we needed that!

Zephyr is coming up soon! The summer is going by way too fast.  Stay tuned!!!

Happy weekend from Heidi, Christine, and Sandra

PS: Readers in the Pacific Northwest, there is space available in Sandra’s Matrix retreat at the Treacy Levine Quilting Symposium in Mount Vernon, WA, September 21-25. This is an opportunity to make a Matrix quilt with a favorite photograph! Contact Sandra for info.

Introducing Our 2015 Workshops

IMG_7699By Christine, Sandra, and Heidi

Greeting, everyone!
This week we wanted to give you the scoop on what we’ll be doing in each of our workshops in September. Check out the Workshops page and the reg form (located on the Workshops page) for more info and images, and be sure to get in touch if you have questions. We love hearing from you!

Christine: Transparency, A Very Special Effect

Transparency, the illusion of see-through color, is one of my favorite special effects in quilt design. It takes some planning, but when it works, wow, it’s dazzling. “Parent/child” transparency involves a light parent, a dark parent, and, where the two parents overlap, a medium child. When the design lines flow from the parents through the child, the illusion is even more convincing. With “layered” transparency, a shape of transparent color seems to float above or below another area of color. The effect can be graphic or ethereal, but it’s always magical.

The workshop starts with a crash course in color, followed by three simple mock-block exercises and three more challenging ones. On Day 2 or 3, depending on how you like to work, you’ll begin a transparency quilt. Here’s my “Transparent Squares” quilt, which will be in the Spring issue of Modern Patchwork:

Trans Squares 10"


Heidi: Art to Wear, Art on The Wall 2015

Sewing and quilting have been lifelong passions for me. In my workshop we will explore several of the techniques I use in my clothing and quilting designs. Some of them will be new to you, and some will be new twists on classic ideas.

Techniques we will explore include deep space spirals, sketch stitching & easy stamping, and layered and shaped appliqués, to name a few. Our time together will be spent making samples of these techniques, culminating in actual small, usable, projects. They include but are not limited to: a tote bag, a pillow, a centerpiece, and/or a wearable art piece (which you will complete at home).

Besides using quilting cottons, I have ideas that include denim, linen, and textured cotton, (all of which I will provide).

This workshop will take you on a new journey in your quilting adventures.



Sandra Bruce: Material Matrix

My love of the painter Chuck Close’s work was the influence in my development of “Material Matrix” as a technique using fabric. It works best using a photograph that is graphic and contains a large central element, along with areas of value and color changes, and some detail. Having a workshop of this length allows time for you to work and gain a concrete grasp of how to do this technique. Seeing what other participants are doing and how they are interpreting their photographs is also invaluable for learning what works and how differently we all “see”. This is a fantastic opportunity to go outside the typical, to do something completely different than you have done before.

Below, see an example entitled “Matteo and the Amaryllis”, showing the finished piece and the photo I used to execute it. I welcome any questions, and hope to see you at Zephyr this Fall!


MP amaryllis cropped

Our 2015 Lake Tahoe Retreat: Details! Details!

DSC_0530An Invitation to Creative Sewists and Quilters, September 7-11button

by Christine Barnes, Sandra Bruce, and Heidi Emmett

Hello everyone,

We fixed the technical glitches.

Last year’s Artistic Alchemy retreat, our first ever, was a great success! Lunchtime show-and-tell on the lawn was a blast, and we all enjoyed having a quilt shop on the premises so we could supplement our stashes. And the sunsets . . . beautiful! We learned so much from the experience and appreciated your feedback.

This year, we’re excited to announce an extra full day of teaching, plus the following perks:

  • Limit of 10 students per workshop.
  • An evening lecture/trunk show by each of the teachers.
  • Everything will be in Tallac Center, a newer building with better lighting. Tallac has fantastic lake views from the classrooms, sleeping rooms, and dining room.
  • Restrooms and dining room in close proximity to the classrooms and sleeping rooms. There’s an elevator to go from the first floor to the second.
  • If it rains, you won’t get wet (everything is covered).
  • The quilt shop will have longer hours.
  • Special diets can be accommodated.
  • An on-site massage therapist (one of our personal favorites) will be available for chair massages (several time lengths to choose from).

Check the Registration Form near the top of this page for details. Because of the yearly increase in Zephyr’s rates, an extra day of teaching, and a better workshop venue, the total cost has gone up.

In addition to the three workshops, you’ll have the option to choose Independent Study, where you bring your own projects. You’ll still be part of the group, and enjoy all the activities and giveaways.

More particulars about the workshops are coming in our February 13th post.

We’re looking forward to a fabulous retreat in September, and we hope to see you there!


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!

Christmas Stockings and Pretty Little Things by Heidi Emmett


Zephyr Point and LakeView Lodge, 2012. The biggest snow storm of that winter. And we were there, our family, for our Christmas (Dec. 22-24th).

DSC_0455A little perspective, the snow plow is going past Dobbins (the big old building where we all met at our first annual retreat. I took this shot from the steps of LakeView Lodge.

DSC_0620Snow sculptures on the edge of the dock!


Our trucks are all packed. We’re ready to tackle all roads that lead to Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center and LakeView Lodge for our  Family Christmas. We aren’t expecting this much snow. But I had to show you some shots of the beauty of Zephyr in the winter, 2012 that is.


Before we leave we had a chance to get this cool stocking over to Debbie who helped us with the Artistic Alchemy retreat this past September. AND we even gave it to her on her birthday, December 17th. Happy birthday Debbie!


Raw edge stitching and fun, spiral quilting make up this lively stocking. Make your own with all your favorite scraps.

DSC_0719One of Sandra’s signature polymer clay buttons is the finishing touch. It was very fun to fill with all kinds of sewing treasures.


From fabric pieces, a book mark, socks, felting tools, yo-yo makers, napkins, stickers,an ornament, soap, hand knit face cloth, napkins, and even more, all to keep Debbie busy sewing and quilting up a storm.


Another gift idea for busy little boys. There are polar fleece blankets for building forts, flashlights, books to read, stickies for windows and beautiful hand made star ornaments for the tree. Ornaments and blankies are fun to make.

DSC_0466One more gift idea. O.K., they aren’t quilted, but many of the pictures in the necklaces are quilts. These are sooooo easy and fun to make. I’m so bad, one for me, one for her, one for me,……ha, ha.


Aren’t they beautiful?. Each kit comes with everything you need, even the chains. Here is where you can get them:


There is still time to get creative before Christmas. Make it up and above all, HAVE FUN! Merry Christmas everyone. Hugs, Heidi

Artistic Alchemy Retreat, Zephyr Point, September 2-5th, 2014, SUCCESS!

DSC_0638Here are some of my ladies in the “Art on The Wall, Art to Wear” workshop taught by me, Heidi Emmett. They are working hard. Go to DesignsbyHeidi.wordpress.com to get some in-depth pictures of our techniques. I’ll bring some pictures to Artistic Alchemy too, at a later date.

DSC_0730Margaret Vodika brought a couple of fun quilts for show and tell. She was my student too.

DSC_0715Kathy McDaniel, my student as well, created this quilt using a “piece as you go” method. Delightful.


Margaret showed another fun, challenge quilt that she made. Check out that Tahoe view.


Another “Piece as She Goes” from Kathy McDaniel. You saw it last week as a stain- glass quilt. All our students showed great things. More next time from other students.


Here is Carey Daly, part of the O.S.(open studio) group. Look who is right behind her. Pinto, the resident cat. She would sleep by her every day. She has the touch!


Heidi and Christine showing off Sandra’s beautiful quilt.


Christine with one of her cool Circles quilts.


That’s me, showing how I can twirl in my Whisper Blouse. Buy this pattern at Craftsy.com. Type in Heidi Emmett and my patterns will come up.

DSC_0680Showing my “Mommy & Me & My Quilt” , a new pattern to be on Craftsy very soon. Easy for Mommies and their daughters to sew.



That’s us! Your Terrific Trio of Teachers. Thank you all for coming! I have been working with Zephyr Point for next year, our 2nd Annual Artistic Alchemy Retreat. Tentative dates are Tuesday,September 8th – Saturday, September 12th. Keep your fingers crossed that we get that extra day. So far, it looks like your T.T.of Teachers will each be teaching the same workshops. We want to keep the fun going. Mark your calenders and tell your friends. What a great way to kick off the fall season. We will keep you posted! Hugs, Heidi.