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 ūüôā

Time to Breathe


Heidi, Mary, Sandra and Jane want to say a huge “Thank You” to all the students who attended our 5th annual retreat at Zephyr Point. We all had an amazing, creative and inspiring time and we will be back with our usual blog posts come October. Now we are taking a well deserved break.

Looks like all our attendees had wonderful fun time too!


Sign up or keep looking up the blog for details of when to sign up for the retreat 2019

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 appliqu√©d 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.


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


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


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


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

Inspiration for Zephyr

by Sandra Bruce

After a busy weekend teaching a wonderful group of quilters (including my 2 youngest students to date, 13 and 16 years old!) I’m hitting the road again today, headed for Concord and Visalia, CA.

I’ve been getting steady sign ups for Zephyr, but I do have spaces left. To inspire you to possibly come and take my Matrix workshop in September, here’s a few photos of student work that I hope will do just that!IMG_5400DSCN3645IMG_9366IMG_9353IMG_8195IMG_9692IMG_8862IMG_7347IMG_5928IMG_5901

Thanks to Trish, Kate, Jill, Pat, Janet and Robin for the great work. I am really excited to see what my Zephyr students will come up with this year. I’ll have more upcoming photos of student work as they are sent to me.

Time to pack the car, see you next time!




Las Vegas Girl Trip

by Sandra Bruce

For over a year I have been excited about going to Las Vegas to visit the Desert Quilters of Nevada. It came up in conversation when I was hanging with my friends Marlene, Robin and Michelle, and it was decided then and there that we would make it a girl trip. They volunteered to help me during my lecture/presentation and 2 days of workshops with the guild. We drove, as we wanted to enjoy the scenery which is beautiful and so different from what we have here at home in Northern California. (Yes, the snow was mostly absent, sadly!)IMG_8470

It has been over 15 years since my last visit to Vegas. The area is such an interesting juxtaposition of 150 million-year-old rock formations, expanses of land and sky, the “Strip” (old and new), and people on the street from every imaginable strata of humankind. This is in front of the Bellagio at night, where they have water shows set to music. Lovely!!! It was interesting to note that The Flamingo Hotel and Casino (seen in the photo, tiny, behind the water), for which I lettered/illustrated¬†a logo “update” many years ago, is still using both the old and new logos on their building and everything else.


At the Bellagio Casino they have a conservatory decorated top to bottom in celebration of the Chinese New Year. Flowers everywhere!IMG_8496

We were fortunate to see an¬†exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s work. Here¬†are¬†a few¬†shots:


Lots of sights to see. Look at the display of chocolate below! I confess to picturing in my mind being inside that window and availing myself somehow of it ( face into it, mouth open and catching it, swimming in it…..whatever!) How could you not!IMG_8514

My presentation¬†with the Desert Quilters went very well, and I was glad to have my friends with me, who were mentioned of course, in my lecture. Robin showed her video at the end,¬†of¬†the¬†making of her¬†80-inch Matrix Self-Portrait. Fabulous! The Desert quilt ladies made me feel very welcome, and bought buttons, earrings, and my 2 latest patterns, “Hugs and Kisses”, and “Color Dance”.

The first workshop day was “Wake Up Cup”. Diana exclaimed¬†right away, “Look!! I did it!” with her first Matrix square. It feels great to see that enthusiasm.IMG_8527IMG_4370

I had one student¬†who worked at half size (1″ squares, instead of 2″)….IMG_8533

……and 2 ladies who tried their own color schemes. I’m happy to see the variations, and applaud all the hard work!IMG_8536

Next day, “Sew Ready” and a new group of ladies (including one who came back for more from the day before….kudos to you, Penny!)

A special thanks to Laurel who contacted me initially to come to Vegas. She saw my quilts online¬†as a result of an interview that a blogger in India, Shruti Dandekar, did on my work (“13 Woodhouse Road”) some time ago. Love that social media at its serendipitous best!IMG_8540

That night, finished with teaching,¬†Marlene, Robin, Michelle and I¬†went to a fabulous show, Cirque de Soleil’s “Zarcana” at the Aria Casino. I have seen Cirque de Soleil twice before, but they never cease to amaze me. I spent some¬†of the performance holding onto Marlene’s arm (tightly!) while these talented athletes¬†twirled….and leapt…with such balance and beauty! Some of the acts left me truly speechless.IMG_8594

One more shot of decadent desserts. Works of art, aren’t they?¬†IMG_8610On our final day we took a short trip outside of Vegas, past Lake Mead to the Valley of Fire State Park where we took a hike back into time, so to speak. Rock formations millions of years old marked with petroglyphs came around each turn on the rocks as we walked. The rock is red, mostly, set against a brilliant blue sky.IMG_8628IMG_8639IMG_8658

A great trip. Thanks to the Desert Quilters of Nevada (all 400 of you!) and to my friends: Michelle, Robin and Marlene, for all your help, sisterhood, and female energy! IMG_8520

A quick note about the Zephyr workshop in September…we have been working on the registration form and all the details, coming to you next week! For now, have a good weekend and those of you here in California, do a little rain dance, will you?

A Year in Pictures

by Sandra Bruce

Happy New Year to you all! Here’s to a great 2015 coming up. Today, just for fun, I’m posting my 2014 via¬†a series of pictures. Here we go!

First, just a few shots of customers’ quilts I enjoyed quilting over the year:

IMG_7008IMG_7757Robin’s Self-Portrait….she’s a writer, in addition to being a quilter. You can see more about her here:¬†http://robinmartinezrice.comIMG_7347

Trish’s very fun Princess Fishy IMG_7433Jane’s hippo from the Zephyr workshop IMG_8129

There’s always something new to be learned. I took a thread class from Cindy Needham.IMG_6350

I enjoyed visiting many quilt guilds in 2014. I learned so much from them all, and hope I inspired a few! I was surprised at how many Featherweights there are out there. Here’s one painted a special purple! Marty belongs to EBHQG.IMG_6924

I made so many samples in 2014!


Here’s “Octavius”, a close-up of his eye.


His suckers were made with silk organza I dyed outside on a nice warm day.


Also in the summer I took a “one block wonder” class from Cathy Stone, along with my friend Ray who came up to visit. This is a great process if you’ve never made one. Mine has red cardinals on it (made into a Christmas hanging) and Ray used an Alexander Henry print that was just made for this technique. My blocks, before sewing the rows together:IMG_7426

Ray, organizing his blocks:IMG_7997

At the July Northern California Quilt Guild’s “Meet the Teachers” I was happy to see my friend Therese May. You can check out her web site here:¬†http://www.theresemay.com ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† She and I used to be neighbors and I credit her for getting me on the path to quilting!




Ahhhh…………Fall, and our much-needed rain!!!


Road trip to Oregon and Washington.  I taught in Sisters and Bend, great guilds and enthusiastic quilters!!


I watched my friend Wendy Hill make these beautiful little pies. She has inspired me as a quilter and lover of fabric.IMG_7905

Here’s Heidi when we were getting ready for the Zephyr workshop. We’re gearing up for the 2015 workshop, news and sign-up info coming soon!


This is my son Matteo, up in the air on his bike. I put it in here to see if you were paying attention (just kidding!) Yes, he is responsible for my growing number of white hairs!


My “Christmas on Emerald Court” class was¬†a monthly class in 2014, and I’ll be repeating it in 2015, coming up soon in January. Please let me know if you are interested¬†in taking it!¬†Here’s a couple of shots taken over the months.


Here you can see one of my students’ finished tops on my long-arm, with mine on the wall in the background.

IMG_8275We, Heidi and Christine and I, had a polymer day with a couple of other friends. Here’s Heidi capturing Christine’s lovely makume gane polymer.


December is the time of year for oranges in California. Some friends in Sacramento let me pick to my heart’s content from their tree! They were incredibly big, juicy and sweet!


Christmas at my house. We don’t let a lack of a mantle or chimney keep us from hanging our stockings. Dearly departed loved ones get theirs hung too, in their memory.


Before I end, I want to show you one of my favorite Christmas¬†gifts this year. My son made me a “coupon” for a massage (after a long day at the long-arm my feet will be happy for this!). Using¬†Photoshop, he made this very funny gift. Those of you who have read the “Outlander” series, or seen the TV version will laugh as hard as I did.IMG_8389

In closing, after a great 2014 I am looking forward to an even better 2015, filled with lots of quilting, teaching, traveling, and of course, the Zephyr Point Retreat with my fellow Artistic Alchemy ladies! Cheers!!IMG_8379p.s. Christine here, to congratulate Laurie P. for winning our first giveaway, an ombré and Lustrous Squares pattern kit. Have fun with those fabrics, Laurie! And to everyone who commented, a big thank you for your thoughts. Stay tuned for more giveaways in 2015!

Return from Zephyr, and Fall Begins

By Sandra Bruce

It’s been a few weeks since we had our retreat at Zephyr Cove and I’m still smiling. The fond memories and great satisfaction I got from my students is going to last me a while. The combination of such a magical and beautiful place, perfect weather, and the camaraderie that the 3 of us had (Christine, Heidi and myself) ¬†plus our great students make me look forward to next year with much anticipation. Can’t wait!

The first evening after dinner I took the first of many sunset photos.



I really love teaching and when I do a workshop where ladies bring their own images to turn into Matrix quilts it’s an extra special treat. In my class we had a variety of¬†subjects: an African hippo, koi fish, 2 kinds of dogs, a pair of flip-flops in the sand, and a son with a mischievous smile. Everyone brought enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn that made my work joyous.

How can you beat this view from the ironing board? The color of the water!!!!IMG_7591Everyone worked hard and the efforts paid off.IMG_7686IMG_7648IMG_7649IMG_7585

It was so satisfying¬†for¬†us¬†to see results start to¬†unfold! (bottom left corner…..see it?)IMG_7609Nothing says success and accomplishment like these smiles.IMG_7646IMG_7726


The most reoccurring comment¬†we got was that everyone would have liked to have had one more day in class. Heidi, Christine and I are working hard with the Zephyr Point folks to make this happen for next year. I will teach Material Matrix again, and hope for as¬†wonderful¬†a class¬†as this year’s was. Special thanks to Jane, Cheri, Liz, Lindsey, Nancy, and Pat.

As we proceed with our plans for next year, we welcome feedback and comments from our interested blog readers about¬†what you’d like to see at the Artistic Alchemy Retreat in¬†beautiful Zephyr Point.

Meanwhile, I feel like celebrating the first soaking¬†rain of the season which came today. Fall is here, after the driest spring/summer season we’ve ever had here in the Sierra Foothills. May the fires go¬†out quickly, and I hope¬†for the safe return of all our firefighters. Here’s a couple of before and after pictures, taken¬†about¬†a day apart. The first, the beginning¬†of my¬†driveway with smoke illuminated by the sun, and the second, my new studio deck getting wet for the first time.¬†What a difference a day can make!



Happy creating until my next blog post!