No Retreat but fun Sponsor’s Giveaways

No Retreat but we met up at Sandra’s Studio

Sadly our retreat was cancelled due to the Caldor Fire that threatened South Lake Tahoe. The whole area was evacuated and Zephyr Point Conference Center was used for evacuees housing. Happily things now are back to normal and even Hwy. 50 is open.

Before the retreat I wrote to various companies in the textile industry asking if they could donate any giveaways to our retreat. We had a very generous response and I just wanted to give a BIG SHOUTOUT to thank these companies. Also encourage you our supporters to give them some support by checking out their websites.

Using Sandra’s long-arm machine to lay out all our goodies.

Thanks Dharma Trading, Quiltfolk Magazine, and C&T Publishing

One morning a couple of weeks ago, when we should her been at the retreat, we gathered at Sandra’s studio to sort, divide up the giveaways and hold the raffle for prizes. It was bitter sweet. We were just happy that our attendees would receive a surprise package. Later everything was boxed up and shipped on to the attendees.

Marcia Derse packets of fabric

Marcia Derse and Turtehand Batiks both packed up little bundles of fabric, Thank you.

It has made us happy to receive some nice replies from attendees after receiving their packages.

“I almost cried to see all the goodies you sent.  What a dear thing to do.  You are all so generous and gracious.  Thank you for this thought, it made me miss AA even more! Again, thank you, I have been having so much fun looking and testing everything.”

“I received your package yesterday.  That was very sweet of you to send that off to everyone.  So many goodies in the package.  It’s so sad you had to cancel, but everyone did the right thing.”

More goodies

“Last night when I returned home from a long day of volunteer work, the unexpected goody box was waiting for me.  What joy!  My husband said he liked watching my face as I took out each surprise.”

“Your box just arrived. I am so overwhelmed with joy. It was just like Christmas.” 

Mistyfuse donated some of their wonderful fusible web for us to use and Goddess Pressing Sheets for all.

As the retreat was so close to going ahead Sandra made all the name tags, and donated some personalized items. Heidi made everyone little hand sewing kits and I brown-bagged a surprise sewing project for all.

As of now we are in no rush to figure out the future of Artistic Alchemy. This was supposed to be our final retreat but you never know something might happen at Zephyr Point in the future. We will be blogging occasionally and keeping all our supporters up to date with our goings on. For me I have a lot of prep work as I get ready for IQF Houston at the end of October. I will be teaching five different classes over five days.

Thanks everyone, until our next post …..

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!

Heidi’s Pattern Meets a Vintage Tablecloth

by Sandra Bruce

I’ve just returned today from Visalia, CA where I taught my Material Matrix workshop and had a great group of enthusiastic quilters. All 16 worked hard and had fun too. Thank you, Valley Oak Quilters! I’m doing a segue today for my post………..wearable art.

I love Heidi’s patterns! This one is my favorite, so far, the Terrific Tabbard. It is flattering and so comfy. She will be teaching her patterns at our retreat at Zephyr in September, come and you can make one of her fabulous designs, this is only one of them! See her “Workshops” page for information.

I have made one already, but I came upon a vintage tablecloth and decided it would make a great Tabbard. It wasn’t wide enough to get the 3 pieces out of, so I added a grey and white polka dot on each side. I also used the polka dot for the inside. (I never met a polka dot I didn’t like 🙂

It has a wonderful graphic in the center that I planted right in the middle of the back.

Once I got the grey panels on each side in just the right positions (so that the seams wouldn’t show later) I put it on my long arm, with a layer of plain white cotton in the middle, to make it lightweight. I just had fun with it, and stitched lots of loops.

Here’s a good shot of the whole piece. I had outlined where the 3 pieces would be cut out so I’d be sure to have enough stitching in all the necessary areas.

I decided to add some applique in the center of that big circle, so I just improvised with the quilting knowing I’d be adding something later.

I brought it home and cut out the pieces. I was happy with the way it was looking. Kind of wild, in a kitchy, retro kind of way.

I fussy-cut a pocket for the front, just the right size for my cell phone.

My fussy cut was close…..close enough! I had planned to use the grey polka-dot for the binding so I finished the pocket and sewed it on.

On the back, I cut out one of the groups of strawberries and hand-appliqued it on. Perfect to fill that space.

I was just about to cut out the binding from the grey polka-dot when I got an idea…………..I found this Christmas red fabric and decided it was perfect for the binding, and thought it really pepped up the vest!

It took a very long strip to go around, as I had lengthened the vest quite a bit and widened the sides so they would overlap instead of just meeting.

I took it with me to Visalia and did some hand work on it, adding loops and sewing on polymer buttons I made. The buttons are not perfect, but they will do until I have a chance to make more custom ones.

Here it is, yay! I think I will add something to the pocket later, since it is not bound in the red, to make it blend in better.

And the back….it’ll be a very fun piece to wear in the summer, and I wonder if it will be identifiable as a vintage tablecloth! The fabric was such a pleasure to work with.

Before I sign off, here’s a picture of me with my mom Charlotte, summer of 1956. In honor of all moms, I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day!


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: 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!

Are You Ready? September 7th-11th, Artistic Alchemy Retreat #2

by Heidi Emmett

Last week my husband and I did our last volunteering for the summer at The Bear Necessities Gift Shop at Zephyr. And even though the paddle wheel boat makes three trips everyday from Zephyr Cove to Emerald Bay and back, I have to stop what I am doing and take a look. I never get tired of the views of beautiful Lake Tahoe. But, back home now and it’s time to get everything ready for Artistic Alchemy Retreat #2, on September 7th. DSC_0025

I was able to finish a new Whisper Blouse ahead of time for some shots at the waters’ edge. I am sooo excited! The tissue patterns are on the way!! No more taping all the pieces together (unless you want to). So in honor of those tissues (here’s hoping they come before the retreat), I had to make a new Whisper Blouse.


Do I dare say, it’s my wildest one yet? Oh yes it is! I can’t wait to show you all what I have done to make it extra special.

As the day at Zephyr and picture taking of new designs winds down, this is the last sunset shot you will have to look at until you too are up at Zephyr Point and can experience them for yourself!!


Sandra, Christine, and I are working hard these last days before the retreat, to make each of our workshops something special. We can’t wait to meet you all in person.No more posts until September 18th. Please visit my blog: for information on a NEW pattern. Rafiki! (it means “friend” in Swahili).

We’ll see you soon for, creativity,fun, and friendships. Hugs, Heidi

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