Staying Creative during a Pandemic!

This is Jane. Heidi, Sandra and I have been communicating about the retreat this September and we still feel hopeful. We will keep you in informed of any news we hear from Zephyr Conference Center. Lets keep fingers crossed and positive thoughts during these crazy times. We are still taking reservations, if you feel like holding your spot.

What strange times we are in! When I am told to stay home, with few other commitments to fill my day, what better excuse is there than to SEW. I have spent the last few years trying to catch up with projects and custom orders so having few distractions its good for me. Saying that, I am finding it hard mentally, to stay focused but I tell myself I have time, plenty of time.

California Poppies

Living through this pandemic is hard. But living here in Northern California I appreciate how lucky I am and we are not suffering as hard as many people around the globe. Lets appreciate what we have and quit complaining about hair and nail issues.

Now the weather has improved I have enjoyed the time I spend walking my neighborhood with my son James. He needs to log daily his PE requirements. We like to take photos, look for wildflowers and local wildlife.

 

Lupins by Jane Haworth

Lupines along the NID

I am lucky enough to live close to one of the NID (Nevada Irrigation District) canals and it makes the perfect three mile hike.

As I said I am using this time to catch up! I have some custom quilt orders from 2019 that needed completing!  I am down to finishing my last two. The two photos above were made using T shirts on both sides of the quilt.  I have avoided doing this in the past as I was concerned about the stretch when quilting and what kind of quilting pattern to use.

T shirt quilt by Jane Haworth

Completed queen sized T shirt quilt, Notre Dame University

Actually they both turned out amazing, very drapable and soft. I made the back a little larger, taped it to the floor before layering with the batting and quilt top. I then used many safety pins to hold the layers together. My stitching pattern was a large meander for the quilting and had no problems with stretch. I will definitely do this again.

Fabric collage pet portraits by Jane Haworth

Fabric Pet Portrait, Buddy the Labradoodle

The collage above was a commission I received from one of my Craft Napa students. She wanted me to make the collage and then I sent it to her to stitch and complete the quilt. My plan is to finish many of the pet portrait samples started as demos during class when I teach.

Sewing space or studio Jane Haworth

A lot going on in my quilt making studio

This is a photo of my sewing space right now! I am working on a T shirt quilt, have a couple of projects ready to quilt and also supplies for mask making everywhere!

This was another commission I recently received for a Beagle called Teddy. I am thinking a fun way to focus on my work (as I do have trouble with this) is to set aside a week just to work on a theme. This week has been to complete all the T shirt quilts! Next week is for pet collage and another week will just be free-motion quilting. And then of course there are old UFO’s!  I’ll let you know how it goes!!

facemarks by Jane Haworth

Fitted face masks April 2020

I have plenty of work I could work on but about 3 weeks ago into the mix came mask making! To begin with I wondered is there a real need for this. But after a few days it became clear that local healthcare workers needed our help. I had fabric I could use from my stash, my trusty Juki 2010Q and I was ready to help.

The first appeal came from a Pediatric doctor friend who needed face masks for colleagues and outpatients. So I made a couple of batches for her with the help of my sewing friends. Then my friend Annie, who hasn’t sewn since school, received a request for 300 masks for a local senior care service.  With little time it came down to us to make them. So with social distancing in mind we set up a small production line and banged out 200 masks in two days! The last 100 she did at home with contributions from other sewing friends.

Mask making April 2020

First day of Face mask making 100 masks

I must admit I was a little burned out after that but now it is hard to go a day without making a few masks while the need is still there. I emailed my neighborhood association and my husbands colleagues saying I would make masks for a small donation. I have enjoyed getting to know my neighbors and these monetary donations will allow me to fabric shop and replenish my stash when the time is right.

Honey-pot Design Jane Haworth

Inspired by the honey pot for a stitching design

I will just share a few of the projects I am working on.  This is a sketch for a hand stitching project I am just starting. I do enjoy hand stitching in the evening when I can hang out with the family, be creative and not fall asleep!

These are two projects I recently finished. The Kookaburra Bag is hand stitched onto felt and the Boho Bag is hand stitched on top of various fabrics that cover a flannel foundation. Both were patterns I bought at IQF Houston. Patterns by Wendy Williams for Flying Fish Kits

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This quilt (waiting to be stitched) are beetle designs that I started a year ago. I placed the bugs onto old linens and other unusual neutrals and when piecing them together I reversed the seams so I have the raw edges on the front. If you’ve ever tried this its harder than you think! This is a new series of collage designs that I will have available perhaps for a new class.

Artistic Alchemy Retreat 2019

Artistic Alchemy Retreat 2019

Here is a photo from last years Artistic Alchemy retreat and lets keep our finger crossed that we can all meet up again in September. We are still taking bookings for all the workshops and open studio. If you wish to send in a reservation form and deposit this will ‘hold your spot” I am imagining in September we will all be in need for some creative time and company.

My workshop this year 2020 is Mark-Making and Fabric Collage. Students will have the opportunity to spend at least a day playing with mono-printing, painting on fabric, carving and stamping and creating some one-of-a-kind fabrics to use in collage.

Lino Printing and mark making Jane Haworth

Lino Cutting and printmaking

Keep sewing, keep healthy and lets use this time to be creative.

Kicking off the New Year with Creativity

This is Jane and what better way to kick off the New Year than a few days away at the creative arts retreat ‘Craft Napa’  I am in Napa! This retreat was founded 5 years ago by Pokey Bolton. Pokey is founder of Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors magazines, and founding host of Quilting Arts TV on PBS. More recently she started Crafting a Life and the Craft Napa retreat.

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January 2019 Cruising by CIA at Copia in Napa with Lyric Kinard and Lynn Tubbe after a delicious lunch at the Oxbow Market.

Craft Napa celebrates the crafts of quilting, sewing, surface design, art journaling, and mixed media. It happens early January when we are all looking for a creative kickstart to the beginning of our year. The events location is at the Embassy Suites in Napa, CA and all the workshops, socializing and networking happens in the fountain courtyard around which the classrooms are arranged. Tentative dates for 2021 13-17th January

Jennifer Sampou.

Jennifer Sampou, fabric designer and quilter, and husband displaying her quilts during her lunchtime lecture.

Including the workshops Pokey organizes various events; a welcome dinner, wine blending, and a speakers luncheon. Last year we watched ‘Tim’s Vermeer’ with the inventor Tim Jenison who was present for Q & A afterwards. Then Friday night is always the Makers Market. This event, open to the public, includes tables from many of the teachers selling unique products and works of art, as well as the work and products of other local makers.

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Selling my handmade products at the Friday night Makers Market

I have attended Craft Napa for all five years since its inception in 2016 and highly recommend it. It can be pricy but I give myself an early Christmas present when I sign up in May or June. Sharing a room at the Embassy Suites with their breakfast included and their popular happy hour really helps to keep costs down.

This year I am taking two workshops by Joanne Sharpe and Pat Pauly as well as teaching two classes Pet Portraits and Beautiful Bovines. This year 2020 Craft Napa runs from January 15-19th and I will be there when this post goes out.

As part of my prep for my two classes I have been making samples to inspire my students to let them see the steps involved in fabric collage, hands-on . These samples are made using 8” x 10” photographs. The projects in this workshop are smaller and so hopefully students get finished or close to in the 6 hr class.

Ruby by Jane Haworth

Ruby, a sample of one of my cow patterns for the Beautiful Bovine workshop.

Once I’m home from Craft Napa I have two focuses; my upcoming workshop ‘Faces’ that I am teaching in Dubai at the end of February at the Dubai International quilt Show and then prep for the Artistic Alchemy 2020 Retreat announcement when registration opens  in early February

Over the Christmas break I got to play with surface design with my daughter Lucy. We painted, stamped, carved lino-blocks and generally had fun with fabric paints and fabrics.  Here are a few photos of what we made.

 

From this collection of fabrics I am going to use them in fabric collage. I really like the  layered look of collage on improv piecing. It a great way to use pieces and scraps of fabric you have already or have handmade yourself.

Succulents by Jane Haworth

Succulent Love Fabric Collage

I have started another project with my small sewing group, Sierra Sisters. We have decided to make a shared wearable piece of art. We all submitted a piece of clothing that will be cycled around the group giving us each a month to work on the piece by adding some appliqué, hand stitching or whatever takes your fancy. It will be fascinating to see how these pieces turn out near the end of the year. I hand-painted this apron dress that is pretty wacky to start off!

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Best wishes to all for a creative and inspiring 2020. I like to encourage people to drop fear and just create.  I will leave you with a photo from Serene Lakes taken around 9pm on News Years Eve. Its our tradition to head up the hill and as part of our New Year celebrations watch the fireworks on the Serene Lake.

New Years Eve 2019

View from Serene Lakes, CA on New Years Eve 2019

Keep enjoying the blog and in just a few weeks Artistic Alchemy will be announcing our workshops for the 2020 retreat. How exciting!

Exploring Fun Fabric Collage

This is Jane Haworth and I want to talk about my passion for Fabric Collage. I have been spending my time over the last few weeks teaching collage, making collage and exploring what can be made using fabric collage.

Sasha by jane Haworth
Sasha the Alaskan Malamute

It seems to me that fabric collage is really “in” right now. I am a part of the Facebook group called Collage Quilter which has an impressive 14,700 members. Everyday I see quilts that fabric collager’s have made, works-in-progress where the maker is looking for some input on the design and first timers who are looking for advice or encouragement.

I first learned about fabric collage in 2003 from Susan Carlson. She was on an episode of Simply Quilts with Alex Anderson that I recorded. Susan was making a fish quilt. I went on to make many fish quilts and also make quilts from photos I took while on vacation in Hawaii.

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Hawaiian Church Hanelai Bay, north shore Kauai

Fabric Collage is a method of cutting small pieces of fabric and layering them either using a fusible product on the back or adhering them together using glue. I use the glue technique as I learned from Susan Carlson, actually Aleenes Tacky glue. The fabric pieces are simply cut and are therefore raw edge. Using the colors and the patterns in the fabric is the key to a successful quilt.

I will be teaching Fabric Collage at the Artistic Alchemy Retreat this September at Lake Tahoe and have openings if you are interested in learning this fun, versatile and forgiving technique.

 

This winter and spring I have taught in Yuma, Arizona, Sonora and Chico, CA and just returned home from Boerne, Texas. All these quilt guilds choose the Pet portrait workshop and I am always happy to see how well these students did in class. For most people its a total new technique that they embrace and the results were great.

2019-03-21 Pet Love Class Jane Haworth

Student work completed 1 month after class in Yuma,AZ

When approaching collage there are endless options for subject matter to choose. You can also buy patterns and kits. In these the design is laid out for you, then you just have to find the fabric from your stash. An easier option is a kit that speeds the process up as you are not hunting for that perfect fabric all the time. For a beginner either of these is good and once you start you will be seeing great subject matter all around you.

Fabric Collage Addiction I call it! And a great stash buster also! Part of my workshop is to teach people how to draw their own patterns. I have found ladies who can be so creative in their sewing but crumble when I put a pencil in their hand! I will show you it is not so hard and from the student photos of completed quilts I have been sent I am blown away by how successful these students are.

Pet portraits by Jane Haworth

Crash Helmet by Ginger Barnes

This lady also sent me photos of two more black dog collages that she has completed and she only took my class in Boerne, Texas, three weeks ago!

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This quilt of Mocha was made by Kelly Leith also from Boerne, Texas and don’t you just love how the dog is just loving herself!

Artistic Alchemy has a “big day out” coming up this Saturday. We will be presenting ourselves and our work at the American Sewing Guild’s Sacramento chapter meeting in Roseville, CA. Our presentation includes a fashion show. I have been figuring out ways to include collage on clothing, more specifically jean jackets and shirts. I have used some of my collage samples as a jumping off point. I have daisies, a seahorse and a toucan that are all now stitched onto jackets and a cross-stitch I found at the thrift store.

I got my daughter Lucy to model a couple of my finished jackets. Thanks Lucy!

DAISY BACK jacket by Jane Haworth

Black-eyed Susan’s on the back of this denim jacket

 

At the beginning of the month Artistic Alchemy were out “in the wild” at the Pine Tree Quilt Show in Grass Valley. We were promoting the retreat at Zephyr Point, Lake Tahoe, Sept 2-6 and Sandra was the featured artist and had a fantastic display of all her work.

Artistic Alchemy

“In the Wild” Artistic Alchemy; Sandra Bruce, Jane Haworth, Mary Boalt and Heidi Emmett

Sandra Bruce display board

Pine tree’s Featured artist for 2019 Sandra Bruce

With all the rain we are having right now and snow in the mountains it hardly feels like summer is approaching! But in a couple of weeks my son will graduate from 8th grade and summer vacation will be here. I am looking forward to summer but have many classes to teach before I can think about relaxing by the pool and camping in the Sierras.

The workshops have been filling up for our retreat at the end of summer so look at both mine or Heidi’s workshops which have availability or there is always ‘open studio’ where  you get to work on your own projects. Although my workshop is pet portraits you are welcome to work on any subject matter in my fabric collage class.

Pet Portrait Jane Haworth

Custom quilt made for one of my Etsy clients. Don’t you love the bandana!

Fabric collage is an addiction that uses up your fabric scraps or maybe you are wanting to make a fabric quilt of your dearest pet. So if you want to join in the fun and see what the buzz is about contact me.

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.

 

 

 

 

Autumn has Begun…

This is Jane Haworth and although it is now Autumn or Fall, the weather is just beginning to cooperate and it feels like its been some time since I was enjoying late summer at the retreat at Zephyr Point. It was my first year to visit and to be one of the teachers at this wonderful place. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t ever attended. The surroundings are beautiful, the weather perfect, the food wonderful as you don’t have to think about it, and being surrounded by all those creatives is very inspiring. I loved it and will be back next year, September 2-6 2019 with my fellow teachers; Heidi Emmett, Sandra Bruce and Mary Boalt.

 

These are some of the projects my students worked on whilst attending my Fabric Collage Addiction workshop. I love the variety of images they chose to work on and didn’t they do a great job.

My busy autumn began shortly after the retreat as I was heading to Ohio to tape my three segments for QATV, then off to visit family in England, I was teaching in Auburn and visited the PIQF quilt show in Santa Clara. I have now been preparing for my upcoming classes at IQF in Houston in just a few days time.  Not to mention keeping up with my Christmas orders for T-shirt and memory quilts for my Etsy shop. It is so hard to say no to customers who want a quilt made for a Christmas gift!

Quilting Arts TV recording series 2300

Susan Brusker Knapp host of QATV, Zeke and I

My time spent in Ohio was an amazing experience and taping went pretty smoothly and I’m happy to report I didn’t feel that nervous. I traveled out from Sacramento with Kris Sazaki and Deb Cashatt, the Pixeladies, what a laugh we had! From the variety of Uber drivers we met, the ribbing I got for scoring an upgrade on our flight and then exploring  and eating in Little Italy, Cleveland.

QATV series 2300

Before the taping at Quilting Arts TV

As I said I recorded three segments. This one is for my upcycled tote bags I make using left over food wrappers/bags and denim from old jeans for handles. Its funny I took 2 dresses I made over 10 years ago from plastic carrier bags that fitted the theme perfectly and so we put them on these 2 manikins as props for the background.

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I also got to work with Jeanine the Bernina rep who was lovely and helped me familiarize myself with the Bernini sewing machine. I don’t use one at home and here I used it in all three of my projects. I think this next series 2300 is out in the new year. QATV can be watched on PBS2 or if not you’ll have to buy or borrow the DVD set.

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I did get back to England for a week and was lucky to take my eldest daughter, Lucy who was between jobs! We traveled to Tiverton, Devon which is in the Westcountry, almost Poldark country, to stay with my family. It was also a girls weekend as I booked an Airbnb on a small deer farm, just a few miles from my mums house, where my daughter, sister-in-law, best friend and my niece all stayed together. We couldn’t avoid the rain so in this photo we are standing outside Exeter Cathedral on our shopping trip. Heres a few more shots of Devon and London.

 

I also got to do a presentation and teach my workshop, Love of Pets, to my own local guild, Foothill Quilters Guild here in Auburn. The first lecture I ever did was in 2014 and that was to the aforementioned guild and I must say this time I was far less nervous. It was a lot of fun sharing the progress of my work with friends. And here are some of the portraits they made in class.

Love of Pets workshop Jane Haworth

A sampler of some of the “works in progress” from Foothill Quilt Guild

This next photo is a quilt I recently made and is to be a special gift to someone.

Love of Pets Jane Haworth

A special Golden Labrador

In preparation for Houston my bags are not packed but my quilts are! I’m still working on some samples to take that I can demo on and then a bit more prep for my ‘Meet the Teachers’ presentation and Demo and then I will say I’m ready. I am very excited to meet all the new quilters and teachers but I know my schedule is going to be grueling especially with class start times of 8am ET!

 

Finally I still having openings in my Succulent class at Craft Napa in January 2019 so click on the link to read more details. This is a retreat I have attended for the last three years and again highly recommend. If you are interested in seeing where I am teaching before next years retreat look at my website and even read my blog to see what I’ve been up to.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy our wonderful Autumnal weather.

My Process of Making Fabric Collage

Hi    This is JANE HAWORTH  writing this weeks post 

Sometimes coming up with the idea for my next collage quilt is hard but other times I am awash with ideas. Then having enough time is my next problem! A couple of years ago I saw a documentary about giraffes and I was shocked to hear that their numbers are really low and giraffes are on the endangered species list. The BBC documentary was Giraffes: Africa’s Gentle Giants and follows the work of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation

Giraffe image from Pixabay.com

Giraffe Image

I was inspired and needed to make a giraffe quilt. I found this image on Pixabay which is a copyright free resource for images. I printed it out as a full page and then had to decide how large to make the quilt. This time I wanted it big, and I mean really big. I always get that feeling when I see one of my quilts out in the wild, at a quilt show, that the quilt looked so much bigger at home. So instead of increasing the size by 3 times or 6 times I decided 10 times. I was now making my giraffe image about 90″ x 70″.

Giraffe by Jane Haworth

Giraffe Tongue

My usual method of making my pattern is to draw a grid on newsprint. I drew 10″ squares and then transposed the lines from the 1″ grid that covered my photograph.

I began work on the tongue and that was 12″ long. The fabrics I decided to use for the giraffe included many upholstery and furnishing fabrics, as well as linen, burlap and regular quilting fabrics I had in my stash. I was not thinking about the background at this stage.

 

 

Working on a large scale was hard. On my usual worktable the collage would be falling off any chance it had and keeping all my fabrics close had its challenges too. I first completed the head as a single unit and then I tackled the neck, that would lay behind the head and then be glued in place.

Completed giraffe head by Jane Haworth

Completed head laid out onto batting.

Once the giraffe was made I was very happy and had now to figure out the background. I cut a piece of batting to the approximate size of the completed quilt and using my family room floor laid it out with the giraffe in it place. I decided to go with green patterned fabrics that I been setting aside and these included hand-dyed and over-dyed, batiks, African fabrics and other pieces I again found in my stash.

Work in Progress by Jane Haworth

Using the floor space in my family room.

To complete this quilt I made up my backing and taped it down to the floor. Lay the batting over the top, positioned the giraffe it its spot and then lay out my background fabrics. These I cut to size and pieced together as I went making sure they tucked behind the giraffe. Eventually all the batting was covered and I could glue the giraffe in place. I took my iron and pressed it all while it still lay on the floor, finishing with safety pins to hold the three layers together.

IMG_7072Quilting by Jane Haworth

Quilting using my Janome 6500

To quilt all my quilts I use my regular sewing machine and this quilt was hard work I will admit. I think using the heavier upholstery fabrics and burlap made the quilt stiffer, harder to handle, fit under the machine and generally hard on my body. So I do remember working for only a hour or so at a time especially on those tricky parts in the center of the quilt.

Finished by Jane Haworth

Finished quilt at the FQG Show April 2017

My husband decided the giraffe needed to be called Melman after the giraffe in the movie ‘Madagascar’. So the quilt is named ‘Melman, The vulnerable Giraffe’. I decided if I sold the quilt I would donate half the money to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. It was juried into IQF Houston in 2017 but didn’t sell and this summer it will be at Sisters, Oregon for their outdoor quilt show on July 14 2018. So he’s still for sale!

Having explained my process of making a fabric collage art quilt I must say making a smaller quilt is easier, fun, less daunting, and easier on the body. So join me at my workshop Fabric Collage Addiction, if you can, September 3-7 2018 at Zephyr Point for the Artistic Alchemy Retreat.

Artistic Alchemy will be “out in the wild” this coming weekend, May 5 & 6 at the Pine Tree Quilt Show at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley. So come down and meet us, chat about the retreat, hear about our show special and see what ‘goodies’ we have for sale. Here are a few of the things I have been working on for that sale.

 

 

Lake Tahoe is beautiful in September so combine a trip to the mountains with sewing and play time. Check out the 4 workshops on offer from Mary, Heidi, Sandra and myself, or just work on your own projects. What could be better than taking a break from the heat and surrounding yourself with creativity.

Winston Debut

by Sandra Bruce

A quick note before I get into my post….we want to let your know that our Artistic Alchemy gmail account was hacked, so please trash suspicious emails that seem to be from us. This doesn’t affect the security of our posts, and and we’ve taken measures to prevent this from happening again.

Just in time for the Pine Tree Quilt Show, coming up April 30-May1st, a Matrix quilt of Winston, a very sweet Great Dane. This photograph is so perfect for the technique…..fantastic composition, some areas of detail, and some areas of just color. I love the value changes in the grey, perfect for my stash of greys!  I knew the eyes would be the biggest hurdle. Photo courtesy of Jenipher Lagana.

winstoncloseupI pulled out all my purples and greys, using the photo for reference.IMG_0408

The beginning was easy, and got me in the rhythm of things. His head appeared quickly.IMG_0449

Enter: his eyes. This is where things got interesting, and in this case, challenging! He looked a little “mad” to me, although I followed the photo precisely. I’m a stickler about eyes, they are so important. The pupils are black “Perfect Circles”, which I appliquéd on by hand.IMG_0517

Had to take some artistic license, and attempt another eye, or two. They sure do look funny without pupils!IMG_0662

The finished top before quilting, it’s about 38″ by 52″. The wooden couch arm was an unexpected challenge, it’s a little wonkier than I wanted it to be, hoping some intense quilting will help it.

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Now, for some fun with thread, picking out colors to use. You know how I love colors opposite each other on the color wheel.

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Couldn’t resist this shot, the batik back mounted on the longarm and ready to go!!

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Always exciting, the first go round. Left to right, top to bottom.

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Here is the finished quilt. Come to the Pine Tree Quilt Show at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, April 30-May 1….you’ll see Winston (and Chuck Close Two!) and Artistic Alchemy will have a booth in the Vendor building, stop by and say hello to us!P1000204

A Word (or Two!) About Composition

Sandra Bruce posting today. I have had many people ask me in the course of teaching my technique “Material Matrix” about what makes a good photograph to turn into a quilt. I would like to do a brief “Show and Tell” using photographs from my own library of photos to illustrate a few points that I think are helpful, both in making quilts and just taking photos in general.

First, I feel strongly that scale is one of the most important elements of  good design. It’s OK to get CLOSE. Plopping your subject in the middle of your background with space all around can be pretty boring, especially if it’s dead center. (There are exceptions to this, however.) Getting close to your subject brings the viewer into your quilt or photo. Here’s an example below:  It’s nice and close, but the cropping is awkward, especially on the right, where his mouth gets chopped off.

: asleep floor:in red pjs4

What happens when we get even closer? Whoops!! Too close! Let’s try again.

: asleep floor:in red pjs 3 Perfect! This is now a great photo and would make a good quilt design. Nice balance of elements, a couple of diagonals lines (always good in a composition) and good values of light to dark.

: asleep floor:in red pj copy

Here’s a photo taken at Fort Ross State Park here in California. It’s a nice enough photo, but there isn’t much of a focal point, and your eye doesn’t know where to go first. The fort is too far away and the trees dominate the image.

10 2002_0221_114334AAThis is much better. The scale of each item has more variety, and the diagonal of the fence makes a nice complement to the vertical trees and brings you into the scene. With some tweaking this could make a nice quilt.15 2002_0221_114756AA

Flowers are such a popular subject for photographs and quilts. Here are 3 examples of nice compositions that have a lot going for them. Notice they’re fairly close up.IMG_4355IMG_0524_2

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The quilt I made called “Matteo and the Amaryllis” is a good example of cropping to get to the essence of the image. Here’s the original photo I took, and below it, the cropped version. I wanted to focus on his profile, and the flower. The background and hat are unimportant. Notice the tip of his nose on the flower in the cropped version is not dead center, it’s a better place for the focal point!IMG_5898

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 Here’s a photo of an old car that could be interesting in a quilt, but you have to use your imagination to think of how it might become a better composition. Off the top of my head, I would take out the bikes and the houses in the background, focusing on the car only, and change the car color to give more contrast between the grass and the car. What I’m getting at is that sometimes a photo needs work but has potential to become a good composition. Playing in Photoshop or even cutting out color copies to get what you want can make it work for you.

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Sometimes something as simple as changing the vantage point of the camera can make a better photo. Here I put the camera on the counter looking up at these pickle jars. Wouldn’t this make an interesting quilt?IMG_2879_2Lastly, here’s the photo I’m using for the quilt I just started, my son Matteo again, in black and white this time. I wanted to challenge myself to work in black, white and grey only. I love this photo for its simplicity, value changes, and how it captures his expression, which will be the biggest challenge.M quilt b:w ideaBe brave in taking photographs to use in quilts. Play around until you have what you want. Get close. A good quilt image starts with a good photo! All the photos in this post were taken by myself or Gary Pierazzi.

I hope you have gained a little something from this post. We all (Artistic Alchemy) appreciate hearing from you. We’re getting excited about our Zephyr Cove Retreat and I can’t wait to see what participants create! Have a good week, everyone.

 

Material Matrix, Redux

Sandra Bruce here today, to tell you a bit more about my Material Matrix technique. I’ve touched on it before, and I discussed Chuck Close in my last blog, but I thought today I’d give a little more detail about my process for those of you who might be curious. It might pique your interest enough that you would want to try it! Consider taking my workshop at Zephyr Cove in September. You will be able to work with a photo you want to turn into a very unique quilt.

Recently I wrote an article about my process and work that is going to be featured in the April/May issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, coming out late in March (yippee!!) Writing the article made me stop and really think about how I do what I do. Here’s a little mini trip through my process, with pictures to illustrate.

I’m going to use my Self-Portrait quilt as an example since I have the most photos of it to show you. Inspired by Chuck Close, this is the photo I had taken to work from. Working in Adobe Illustrator, I applied a grid that was 40 squares wide by 40 squares tall, making it a whopping 1,600 squares total. I was not daunted.

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I pretty much jumped in. I had thought a lot about it, wondering how to interpret the squares with fabric, and finally decided to be wonky and as loose as possible. This requires discipline, and thinking, as the natural inclination is to match up and be pretty about it. Below is the first photo I took of my progress, the top of the hair, and at this stage I wasn’t at all sure I was doing the right thing. One square on the photo equals one 2-inch square of fabric.

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Fortunately I had the top of the hair and background in the top third of the image to decide if what I was doing was working like I wanted it to. It helped to use a reducing glass and stand back a lot to view it from as far away as I could get.

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I realized I was going to have to do some curved piecing. For those of you who have not tried it, I can tell you truthfully it is a wonderful thing to know how to do and is very liberating in technique…..and not hard!!!

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The eyes were the hardest part, which is also typically true in a painting or illustration. I just had to keep at it and refer to the photo, a lot.

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I sewed 4 by 4 blocks, then sewed the blocks together into rows, then added the rows to the existing rows already sewn together. I fell in love with Best Press, which helped keep my rows and blocks square and crisp.

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There were…………….mistakes. I did some ripping out, but not a lot. I use a small stitch length, about a “2” on my Bernina, so the seam ripper has to be my friend! I press open my seams. That you have to press to one side is just an old wives tale, as far as I’m concerned. Pressing open makes the quilt nice and flat and easier to quilt.

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Here it is on my long arm, where I had the most fun, writing (stitching) words into the background and doing swirls and all kinds of thread changes.

I have to say, the main thing I love about this technique is the element of surprise, not being absolutely sure what you’re going to get when you play with the wonkiness and placement. But when you stand back, and you’re happy with the results….what a great feeling!

 
Here’s the finished quilt, 80″ by 80″.
Full Size Self Portrait
 

I’ve been enjoying teaching this technique, and have had students make beautiful quilts with it! Here are 3 samples:

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Here’s a sneek peek at my present project, a 70″ octopus in water, I’m naming “Octavius”. His eye follows me around my studio and we are quite attached.

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Before I sign off, I want to wish you all a very Happy Valentines Day! Here’s my “Love and kisses” quilt, my valentine to you. X O X O X O

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