Polymer Play at Zephyr

by Sandra Bruce

Our 2017 Artistic Alchemy Retreat is over for another year, and a great time was had by all! I decided to teach polymer clay this year, a change from Material Matrix. It was so wonderful to have a nice stretch of time to teach it, play with polymer, and enjoy the 10 ladies who came to learn about this versatile and amazing craft. It just made me smile!!

I was blown away by what everyone produced. This, on Day 2, from someone who had never used polymer clay before, my student Sandra. Such enthusiasm is contagious! Sue is an accomplished quilter, and will incorporate polymer buttons into her quilts. I can’t wait to see what she does. Look at the periwinkle pieces she’s working on.
We did a “cane exchange” so everyone would have a variety to work with.
It’s great when roomies became friends! Penni and Shelley.
Several ladies were new to polymer and took to it quickly, as it is an easy medium to work with. Here’s Cecilie, becoming familiar with the pasta machine.Janet, below, came with her friend Sandra, and both of them went to town making jewelry pieces.
Sandra with her polymer creations. Woo-hoo!
Trish, although not new to polymer, learned some new tricks and made some great pieces.

Mukhya was determined to get some gold polymer conditioned. She persevered!

Linda shows us her polymer beads. She is a jewelry maker too, and I’m sure will be making some fabulous things with her beads!

We always enjoy Show and Tell. My student Cherie, who came to do polymer this year, had been with me before at Zephyr and made a beautiful Matrix quilt top which she brought to share. I was thrilled to see what she had done, and to hear she will have me quilt it, can’t wait!Here are Marti and Paula, who came this year to do Christine’s class. They took my Matrix class last year, and look what they made and brought to Show and Tell!

On the last day I got out my jewelry making supplies and we made earrings, drilled holes in buttons, and finished a few pieces.I can’t leave this story with giving credit to our helper this year, Kathy Spoto, who took all the photos in this post. she was a great help and was super fun to have with us all week. Thank you, Kathy! Here’s Kathy on the right, with Trish and myself.

 

Our annual group shot, happy ladies after a week of creativity, friendship and learning.I would like to make a bit of an announcement….starting with our next blog post, we will be posting every other week, to accommodate our teaching schedules, and give us even more time to create new techniques and designs.  Along with our posts, we will be having a virtual studio sale! That’s all I will say for now, but you’ll want to check in and see what goodies we have in store.

Thanks to all the participants of this year’s retreat, and for the surveys that you filled out for us. We always strive to make your experience with us a great one, and welcome your feedback.

And last but not least, I will be returning to Material Matrix next year, for those of you who have been asking :-). Here is my latest class sample, “Junior Cardinal”, which is an abbreviated version of “Mr. Cardinal”. I’m happy to have him join my cache of class projects. Bye for now!

 

On the Go

by Sandra Bruce

Above is the Row by Row for Sugar Pine Quilt Shop which I stitched and quilted for the shop.  This morning I am truly “on the go”!  I am leaving literally in minutes to go to Templeton, CA and King City to teach both a Matrix workshop and also my Color Dance quilt.


What makes this trip different is that my son Matteo is joining me, so there should be some fun photos and stories when I get back. He is fairly “free” lately, having recently had surgery on his knee (ACL and meniscus). He’s visiting a friend in Templeton while I’m there. “Mom”, he said to me, “I’ve never seen exactly what it is you do, I’d like to attend your lecture”. So! That’s what we’ll do. Since he’s tall I’ll volunteer him to hold up my quilts :-).

So, stay tuned, and in the meantime, here’s a shout out to anyone who has contemplated coming to Zephyr, as the time will be here before we know it and 3 of us have limited spaces left in our workshops. I am so excited to be doing polymer this year, and we will be  trying lots of techniques and having a blast! Here’s Carolyn from a past workshop, with her beautiful buttons, after just one class!

Gotta run, have a great weekend!

Wilma Flintstone Meets Polka-Dots

by Sandra Bruce

 

I am a sucker for polka-dots. When I saw this tunic on the website http://www.gudrunsjoden.com I knew I must have it. I also knew I had to make a polymer necklace to go with it!


First, I went to my “stash” of polymer canes….I decided what would be best was a big, chunky Wilma Flintstone kind of necklace. No canework, just color.

This required doing one of my favorite things in polymer, mixing polymer colors to match something, in this case the tunic. It had great colors that were fun to mix.

I was happy with my big beads, and I made a few smaller ones to go in-between. I used SoftFlex as the base wire and composed the necklace to see how it all looked together.

Here’s the finished necklace. I used a magnetic clasp and blue spacer beads to fill up the length.

And see how cute it is with the tunic! Wouldn’t Wilma approve!

This is one of the things we’ll be doing at the Zephyr workshop in September. Ladies can bring garments to match colors in polymer to make jewelry or buttons! The deadline is coming up and I have 2 spaces left, if anyone is wondering 🙂

Lastly, here’s a couple other necklaces in the works, also to match garments I already have. More on those later!

Save

G R E E N

by Sandra Bruce

Happy Saint Paddy’s Day! I am not Irish, I’m half Scottish, half British….I think. My Ancestry DNA test results are due back any time so I’ll let you know if it changes after I see them! In any case, today’s post is brought to you by the color green. It was my favorite color for a long time, and I realized today how many things I have made for myself or acquired because they are green. Here are a few….but first! Heidi had her book signing last Saturday at Sugar Pine Quilt Shop. Her new book is called “Fashion Quilted Accessories” and we are excited about her latest achievement. I went by to pick up one of her books and she was wearing her quilted vest that is adorned by my polymer buttons. Congrats Heidi!

On to my collection of green things! This is one of my favorite pairs of earrings, I made them different from each other which sometimes makes people stop and take notice. It’s fun to wear them. They are polymer mixed with regular beads.

Spring is here! This orchid just bloomed and I love the touch of green inside the blossom. I have been puzzled by those root-looking things that poke out of orchids. A woman told me recently when I asked her about it that it’s the same as when we’re in bed and we like to have our arms out of the covers! That made me laugh and it’s a nice way to think about it. Any orchid pros out there? Let me know if you have an explanation 🙂

Also in the same vein, this plant in a mosaic pot that lives in our kitchen made with celadon-colored pieces of plates. Mosaics are a creative way to cover plain pots and make them special. I especially enjoyed putting the plates into a paper bag and banging on them with a hammer to create the shards. Good therapy!

This pincushion was made from a teacup and saucer I found in a fabulous thrift store last summer. I made a bunch and saved this one for myself while giving the rest away as gifts. I’m going to make more to sell at the Pine Tree Quilt show boutique in May. Very easy to do and who can’t use another pin cushion?

Oh my, my bin of green fabric is overflowing!

A Vogue pattern, made into a blouse using rayon I dyed, screen printed, and sewed beads along the neckline.

A wonky log cabin quilt, in many shades of green.

I kept a few leaves on my design board from one of my recent quits, “Lemon Tree in Tuscany”.

I think I make more green polymer buttons, pins and earrings than any other color, and I don’t know why, it just happens.

Since I’m teaching polymer clay at the Zephyr Retreat in September I’ll show you a  bag of mostly black and white polymer I made recently. Woo-hoo! I am so excited to have that time coming up this Fall to be surrounded by polymer for a few days. I have only 3 spaces left in my class if you are thinking about taking it, c’mon and join us!

I have been feverishly working on a couple of deadlines aside from my long arm business and teaching. I am making a new Matrix portrait quilt for a competition whose deadline is May 1 and I only started it a couple of weeks ago. Also I am preparing for Meet the Teachers with NCQC (Northern California Quilt Council) on April 8th and I am going to be announcing a brand new class I’ll be teaching, called “The ABC’s of Stitching Words” and I’ll be talking more about it in weeks to come. Stay tuned!

Have a great St. Patrick’s Day and don’t forget to wear green. 🙂

 

POLYMER PLAY

by Sandra Bruce

Imagine this: you wake up to a view of Lake Tahoe in the crisp Fall air, head to the Dining Hall to have coffee and breakfast with some great folks who share your love of creativity, then stroll over to your classroom where you’ll spend the day with a few other like-minded souls, making wonderful things with polymer clay: buttons for wearables, beads and other jewelry pieces, art books, or any other thing your heart desires. After lunch, take a break in the afternoon to walk down to the lake, or take a nap, or chat with your friends. In the evening….more polymer perhaps? One of our programs, shopping in our store, or watching a sunset. Sound good?? Read on!
img_1152

This year I am teaching a polymer clay workshop, where a beginner or even a more experienced polymer fan  can spend the week learning many techniques and go home with some goooood stuff! I can hardly wait myself for a solid chunk of polymer time!img_9191

Let me show you just a few examples of what is possible. Here is a necklace made by a student after a 1-day polymer class. She made the beads and then took them home and made the necklace. Stunning!! These polymer beads are made with the “Mokume Gane” technique which I will be demonstrating.

img_3125

Another visual of some of a student’s work at the end of a one-day class:img_3441

You can even make a little figurine. I made this in a workshop with teacher and polymer artist Dayle Doroshow. My little Italian cook resides on my kitchen shelf.img_3451

Here is a purse I made and then I made the button to go on it. Buttons can be made in almost any shape, size and color(s) to match a purse, sweater, jacket, blouse, or any garment. Knitters and crocheters, you too!

img_5435

I bought this blouse recently, it had a very boring set of white shell buttons on it, so I replaced them and here is the blouse now. Voila!p1020423

Necklaces are so easily made to go with an outfit, since you can make the colors match and get it just the way you want it. I’ll bring my jewelry-making supplies and we will make some one-of-a-kind pieces.

img_7563

Big beads like this are fun to make, and very “Frida Kahlo” inspired!img_7476

Earrings can be long, short, fancy, simple….what’s your favorite?p1030984-filtered-copy

 

 

So that you can see the “magic” of polymer clay, I’ll show you one of the easy techniques, step-by-step:  There’s no waste with polymer clay. Look below, here is a little pile of scrap pieces. The colors don’t even look like they go together, do they?

img_7795The scraps get chopped into little bits.

img_7796

Then, a log is created in your hands, of the bits.img_7797The log is twisted, for a minute or two….then flattened….
img_7798

…..and VOILA! Striped buttons! I love this technique.

img_7799

Canework is the “backbone” of polymer clay work, I like to say. We’ll be making them in many styles.

img_7059

You can see how easy it is to get carried away making things with polymer. Really and truly!

img_8880

Making gift “books” is a wonderful idea. The front and back covers are polymer, with blank accordion pages inside to write on. Very unique!img_1917

I could go on and on, as there are endless possibilities. If you want to see more, I encourage you to go to my Pinterest account, and on my Polymer board I have over 3,500 pins of polymer clay. Techniques, videos on “how-to”, and many beautiful pieces created by all the polymer fanatics out there (I’m one too!) Check it out! You can find me under my name, then the polymer clay board.

So, if this sounds fun to you, if you want to try polymer or continue your love of the craft please consider signing up on our “workshops” page under my name. I am happy to gear the workshop to what you want to make. I guarantee you will have a ball and enjoy yourself in this beautiful, inspiring place. Class size is limited and I already have sign-ups so make your plans soon!

POLYMER LOVE xo

by Sandra Bruce

When Artistic Alchemy has its retreat at Zephyr Cove in September we plan on bringing goodies and having some nice surprises for everyone. I plan on bringing my polymer buttons and earrings that will be for sale. When I take them with me when I teach quilting  at guilds they are always popular, especially with those who make wearable art and purses/bags. Let me introduce you to polymer, if you are not familiar with it. If you are already I hope these images will be eye candy for you!

Polymer clay comes in big chunks, and my favorite brand is Kato Clay. It is easiest to handle and comes in great colors.

IMG_7063

It’s difficult to describe in words how polymer clay is formed into beads and other beautiful objects. Suffice it to say it is one of the most versatile and forgiving mediums and totally (TOTALLY) addicting. Canework, such as you see below, is the bedrock of making beads and buttons, as very thin slices of canes are used to produce a beautiful surface.


IMG_7059

I enjoy teaching polymer clay classes, people are always amazed at what they can make, even in the very first class!

IMG_3442_3

 

IMG_3441

 

Earrings hang in my studio downtown for sale.


IMG_3598

Polymer clay comes in handy for unlikely things, such as “feet” and handle for this decoupage purse I made from a pre-made plain wooden box.

IMG_6929
For the disc necklaces that I make, varying discs are cut out with petit-four cutters and baked.
IMG_7525 Then wires and beads are added to each piece, and they are finally strung onto a necklace.IMG_7537_2IMG_2993Other shapes of beads are easy to make, too. Here’s a piece I made inspired by Frida Kahlo, who loved wearing big, chunky necklaces.

IMG_7476

Buttons were an obvious segue after making jewelry for a while. These are fresh out of the toaster oven and ready for the Dremmell (holes).

IMG_6907IMG_6080IMG_5619For sure, they are as addicting as quilting!

In my “Christmas on Emerald Court” quilt I gave Santa’s suit some custom-made polymer buttons.
IMG_6188

On a recent hot summer’s afternoon, Sharon, Heidi, Christine and I got together to play with polymer. Christine, until now a novice, didn’t know she’d be hooked by the end of the day, which she definitely was! Now all 4 of us have “polymer fever”.IMG_7066

I’m looking forward to stocking up on my polymer collections, to bring up to Zephyr in September. Remember too if you have a couple of friends interested in learning how to use polymer I am happy to teach a class here in Grass Valley or at your location. I have several toaster ovens and pasta machines which are needed, and I can order polymer for you as well. Contact me for further info.

In the meantime, Happy Friday the 13th, and Happy Father’s Day, coming up Sunday.