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!

Zephyr Point Here we Come!

Packing up for Zephyr Point

Getting my car packed for the Artistic Alchemy retreat

Its Jane here. Just a few more days until our 2019 retreat starts at Zephyr Point, Lake Tahoe and I have so much to do. Over the last two weeks I’ve been away teaching my Love of Pets Fabric Collage class in Santa Rosa, Sunnyvale and Livermore . Today I was finishing up a T-shirt quilt for a customer. With all this behind me I have a day or so to get focused and pack up for our 2019 retreat. I can’t tell you how excited we all are!

Early morning at Zephyr Point

Tranquility at Zephyr Point

Last year was my first year to attend the retreat. I just loved getting up early and walking down to the dock to drink my coffee and this is what I’m really looking forward to again.

I know Sandra, Heidi and Mary have been busy making unique, handcrafted items to put in their stores and these photos are some of the tea-towels and the unique collage bags I’ve been working on for mine. We hope the attendees will enjoy browsing our stores and picking up special pieces.

Artistic Alchemy attendees 2018

2018 Artistic Alchemy Attendees

Here we all are at last years retreat! Looks like we survived and don’t we all look happy and relaxed. Now its time for me to get back to my packing so I’m ready to head up the hill later this holiday weekend.

See you all soon 🙂

Yayoi, and Other News

 

by Sandra Bruce

Before I delve into my post, I want to send out a “Get Well” message to Heidi who is at home recuperating from a burst appendix. She is healing nicely and I’m sure she is storing up ideas in her head for projects to come! Sending you lots of love and well wishes, Heidi!

Our Zephyr Retreat is only about a month away we still have details to prepare, it’s sure to be a fantastic time. Heidi and Jane still have space left in their workshops, it’s not too late, if you hurry!

The main topic of my post today is my latest Matrix quilt, entitled “Yayoi”. But first a few words/pictures about my recent goings-on and travels.

I went to teach in Sammamish, WA recently and took the opportunity to visit my 3 (!) friends in that area, Kathy, Kathy and Cathy. I have tried to get all 3 together but have not been successful, yet. They are 3 of my favorite people. First I taught my Matrix class and did my lecture for the quilters in Sammamish, here is Trish in my Matrix class who was my hostess extraordinaire.

They were a great group and accomplished a good amount on their Matrix cup projects. Cathy #1 picked me up and off we went to Gig Harbor. From there a visit to Vashon Island and Island Quilters, woo hoo! Below, the “Kaffe corner”.

Moving on, to Kathy #2, my CODA buddy (Children of Deaf Adults), our outing to   remember was to “Quilt Barn” in Puyallup (which I can never pronounce), and the cupcake store a few doors down. Batiks and cupcakes, talk about heaven!
Kathy #3 lives in downtown Seattle on the 33rd floor of a building with a view! Wowie! One day we walked over 5 miles. We caught the first day of a fabulous exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum called “Victorian Radicals”, representing the Pre-Raphaelite period of 19th century British art. By far Rossetti is my favorite artist of that period, but in this exhibit my favorite painting was by William Holman Hunt, entitled “The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple”, from 1854. The artists from this period rejected traditional pictorial standards, making them true radicals. In this painting by Hunt, he chose not to follow established conventions but to depict Jesus’s life in a historical context, as a boy: Mary and Joseph have discovered the young Jesus missing but find him in deep conversation with rabbis in the temple. You can see relief in Mary’s face, and I love the beautiful depiction of the young Jesus, the colors! Look at the detail in the background. A really lovely painting. (I suddenly wonder if I’m sounding like Sister Wendy 🙂

It is something else to be on the 33rd floor of a building in Seattle. After our long excursion on foot we relaxed on the tip-top of her building with this view.Tired feet, yes.

In the evening we saw some of the sculpture that dots Seattle. This is my favorite, which consists of letterforms from 7 alphabets in painted steel, which, while not meant to be read, are constructed to create identity and hope that we “can all live together without a common language”. It is titled “Mirall”, by Jaume Plensa. “Mirall” is the Catalan word for mirror. Here is Kathy inside a part of the piece.

Back in California, I did my lecture and taught my “Stitching Words” workshop to the Santa Clara Guild. In my workshop was Mel Beach….she is a natural at writing with her sewing machine! Here’s her work, you can see her enthusiasm.   

I had  lunch and a brief tour of San Juan Bautista while in San Jose. Below a photo from the restaurant where I had lunch with my very kind host Andrea.

On to YAYOI!

So, if you don’t know who she is, here is an excerpt from a film about her that I’m sure you would enjoy:

She is, without a doubt,  a driving force of art culture in our time. She is at present, at age 90, the highest paid female artist living today. I won’t go into a lot of detail about her, watch the movie! You may have seen pictures of her and her art. Her thing is polka-dots. She began to see them in hallucianations as a child and they have greatly influenced her art. She has lived for 40 years in a mental institution, using her art to apply herself to her healing. Every day she walks to her studio to work.

I was invited by Susan Brubaker Knapp and Lyric Kinnard to participate in an exhibit called “A Better World”. We were asked to pick a hero and make an art quilt to reflect that person in our own interpretation. I chose Kusama. Her life story, the challenges she has had to overcome, her incredible talent and drive to make art… these all combined to make her my choice of hero.

I began by making a collage in Adobe Illustrator of pieces of Kusama’s face and inventing a background that resembles the art forms that she makes. She works in bright colors and forms. The quilt had to be 30″ by 50″. I decided to make a border on 2 sides pieced with the letters of her name and fun spiky points. And lots of circles inside. You know how I love circles!

In progress.

When I got the top done and all the circles appliquéd on (by hand) I needed to cut away the quilt parts behind the circles so that I would have a nice flat surface to quilt.

The dots on her sunglasses were drawn on with a pencil, then painted in with “Fabrico” pens (using circle templates saved from my illustration days), and her eye, that is barely showing through the sunglasses was painted on using “ProFab” textile paint. I had just taken a workshop at Empty Spools from Susan Brubaker Knapp on how to use these paints, so it was perfect timing. Painting on top of a quilt that I had spent a couple of months working on was a bit scary but all went well. Relief!

Next came the longarm quilting. I used Superior’s Monopoly on her sunglasses but Omni thread everywhere else. Lots of thread changes.

Since her hair is so straight and vertical I decided to baste the hair and do that final quilting at home on my Bernina.

Here’s the final piece, along with a closeup of the eye I painted.

The schedule of where the “Better World” exhibit will be is on my website, http://www.sandrabruce.com, under “Publicity/News”. It will begin in Houston this Fall. Look out for “Yayoi” to be in Quilting Arts Magazine in the October/November issue.

What’s next in my lineup of creativity? I’m taking advantage of summertime to work on learning my new iPad and how to use the application “Procreate”, along with a bit of lazy time reading (don’t get that very often!) and working on a few projects that always end up on a back burner. Of course I’m prepping for the Zephyr workshop and I’ll be flying to St. Louis towards the end of August to teach Matrix and Stitching Words to the “Bits and Pieces” Guild there.

Happy Summer to you all, here’s wishing you a safe season weather-wise, and lots of sewing time.

Summertime Fun and Inspiration

This is Jane. Its only a month into summer and I have been active; camping, backpacking, and living on a desert island! Now July is here I’m hoping to have more time to catch up with some sewing projects, prep for the Artistic Alchemy retreat in early September before I start teaching again in mid August .

Grouse Ridge by Jane Haworth

If you are still considering coming to the retreat I still have openings. My workshop Pet Portraits will cover making patterns for fabric collage, the technique itself, choices of fabrics and using value in collage. Please consider the workshop if you want to explore other kinds of art quilting. At the moment I am open to working with my students on other projects too, including making T-shirt quilts.

T shirt quilt by Jane Haworth

Consider working on a T-shirt quilt

When I’m not making art quilts I have an Etsy shop where I make custom T-shirt quilts. Quilters love or hate them! So if you have a project that you have been putting off, the retreat could be your chance to get it off the ground. Contact me if you have questions.

Point Reyes full

Packing into Point Reyes

This travel journal quilt I was working on at last years retreat before my appearance on Quilting Arts TV. I just entered it into a SAQA exhibit called Stitching California and I am happy to say it was accepted. I know one of my students in my workshop this year wants to work on journal quilts.

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My recent trip to the Florida Keys with the Boy Scouts of America

I said I had been living on a desert island, actually off the Florida Keys. I was lucky enough to accompany my son and some other scouts from his troop for an outer island adventure on Big Munson Island. This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip that I thoroughly enjoyed but I will say it might not be for everyone! We were able to snorkel with a 300lb Goliath Grouper, go deep-sea fishing 25 miles out to sea, swim in 700ft water, canoe 12+ miles in Polynesian war canoes and live off the grid for 5 days.

 

With no phones aka cameras I took my sketch book and preserved my memories in that way. It was refreshing not to worry about capturing every new sight or event. Also having no sense of time was something I got used to but loved. We learned about sargassum! It was shocking to start with, we grew used to it but never loved it! This was especially true as our conservation project was gathering and moving it to be used as mulch. Look up the link and see how warming ocean temps and climate change are making this a real problem in our oceans and coastlines.

Hearst full

Enchanted Hill

Before taking my break in June I was working on a couple of quilts to enter into juried exhibitions. This one ‘Enchanted Hill’, Hearst Castle I made for the Stitching California exhibit but unfortunately it didn’t make the cut. This quilt I painted as a whole cloth, glued on fabric appliqué details, free-motion quilted and hand stitched.

HaworthNubiangiraffefull

Gentle Giant, Nubian Giraffe Calf

This quilt I recently finished for another exhibit called Better World which was juried and by invitation only. Unfortunately this didn’t make the cut either! It is hard to spend a lot of time working on these projects, when you are busy anyway, and not reap the rewards. I feel it happens to many quilters but I know I will enter them into other quilt shows so they can be seen.

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Detail of Gentle Giant

When it came to appliquéing the tail I decided to make it 3D. So the hairy end of the tail actually hangs loose from the quilt. Fun little detail that you need to see in person! I support the Giraffe Conservation Foundation GCF and as I did with my Melman (my large giraffe quilt) when I sell this one I will again donate half the proceeds to GCF.

 

Catching up on my travels! While camping in Bodega Bay we got to explore the town of Bodega, hike the coast to Goat Rock Beach, eat oysters and watch the local wildlife; actually otters not turtles but I loved that painting!

 

On our overnight backpacking trip to Island Lake on Grouse Ridge we enjoyed beautiful views, peace and quiet and a lot of snow!

King City Quilt Guild

Chicken Class with the quilters of King City

Before all my adventures I was teaching plenty of fabric collage classes including this one in King City. A place I had never visited before but really grew to love.

 

My pet portrait fabric collage class really is my most popular as it gives students a chance to work on something personal. Its just not another class sample! They learn the technique and hopefully will take it home, finish the quilt and maybe give as a gift to a loved one. Here are a few examples of works in progress.

 

And the “pet portrait” class does not have to be of a cat or dog

 

or in a realistic color sceme. I am really enjoying work “outside of the box” and mixing up my color choices in some of my newest projects.

Cow in progress

B for Bovine

I hope I have inspired you to start a new quilt project, look at trying a new technique or sign up for my workshop at the Artistic Alchemy retreat at Zephyr Point, Lake Tahoe this September 2-6th 2019. Contact us as space is still available in my workshop or with Heidi or in Open Studio. Our deadline has closed and full payments are now due but we would hate for you to miss out on the fun. And Lake Tahoe is beautiful in September.

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.

New Workshop Pet Portraits

This is Jane. I have decided to bring back, by popular demand, my workshop for 2019 Pet Portrait Fabric Collage. I get requests from students and people I meet at quilt guilds, “Where I can take your pet portrait class?” So having had little interest in the Travel Journal workshop I have decided at this early stage to change my workshop for the retreat this year. I hope this causes no confusion.

Cover of April/May 2019 Quilting Arts Jane Haworth

Purple version of Tilly by Jane Haworth

I am also especially excited to share the news that I will have a pet portrait article in the upcoming April/May 2019 edition of Quilting Arts magazine and they decided to use one of my quilts as the cover. I am a cover girl! This is beyond what I could have imagined. So if you are interested in making your own pet portrait or learning my technique for fabric collage check out the workshop page. Sign-ups are live and I know at least one class has a waiting list. Don’t forget we also have open studio where you get the experience of Artistic Alchemy but without being signed up for a specific workshop.

Love of Pets Jane Haworth

Nifty, a special Golden Labrador

In this workshop students learn to make their own patterns from photographs. Learn to use the value and patterns in fabric to your advantage, my fabric collage technique, free-motion quilting and how to finish the quilt. We will also spend time using mixed media to create our own fabrics using lino-cuts, gel prints and fabric painting. The retreat is spread over 5 days with evening entertainment and access to the classrooms at night. Nothing could be better than the Zephyr Point Lake Tahoe location, a beautiful tranquil setting and good food as a bonus.

Student work Craft Napa 2019

Life in 2019 continues to be busy for me, traveling and teaching and keeping on top of my memory quilt orders for my Etsy shop. The new year started with 4 nights at CraftNapa  where I took a class from Maria Shell and taught two classes. I have attended this event, organized by Pokey Bolton, for four years and this was my first year to be part of the faculty. I was very happy to join this creative and inspiring event with its wonderful array of talented teachers.

 

The 2300 series of Quilting Arts TV is airing on some regional TV stations and the DVD set is now available for purchase at The Quilting Company I received this DVD set in the mail and it took me over two weeks to pluck up the courage to watch myself! I had a local group of art quilters visiting, so we had a bit of a watch party.

The weather here in Northern California has been crazy this winter. As skiers we like to head to the Sierra Nevada mountains but most weekends its been snowing so much the freeway has been closed. Well that just leaves me more time to work on my sewing! We spent a weekend at Donner Summit and spent most of the time trapped inside clearing decks but we did have fun on a snowshoe hike in waist deep snow!

Snowshoeing Donner Summit

February 2019 Snow-shoeing adventures Donner Summit

My quilting took me to Yuma, Arizona to speak to and teach the Desert Lily Quilters. I stayed with a friend who moved there a year ago and so we had a great catch-up. I learned about “snow-birds” and adored all the adobe houses. During winter guild attendance is high. They meet every week and also everyone seems to belong to “small groups” for sewing, knitting and stitching get-togethers. This friendly guild embraced fabric collage and are well on their way to making some very successful pet portrait quilts.

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Coming up on May 18th Artistic Alchemy has been invited to an event in Roseville hosted by the American Sewing Guild. We will be doing demonstrations, presentations, and a fashion show. So when we have more details we will be sure to post them here on the blog. So if you are looking for a creative, inspiring get-a-way in September be sure to check out the workshop page and sign-up for one of the available classes. We are thinking this year attendance will be high and judging by the current registration trend it certainly looks like it.