Balancing Summer with Quilting.

This is Jane. Summer is here and I have been thinking about how to combine my quilting business with taking time off. Whilst running a quilting business from home it is too easy to spend all your time working and not taking a break. My sewing space is located at the front of the house, so its very easy to slip in and get sewing! My high school aged son is still home so I want to do fun things with him this summer. We are currently planning a couple of road-trips so really when I’m not traveling I can work. It’s about finding the right balance.

Camping at Long Lake June 12th 2021 Photo by James Haworth

Since Covid I have received many custom orders from customers around the USA. They send me t-shirts or neckties to make into quilts. Although I am trying to cut down on this type of work it still flows in. Ideally I would love to have more time to spend developing new ideas for quilts, playing with fabric and making new work to enter into exhibitions or quilt shows. Writing this I am sure that is what many of us crave.

Playtime with my Gelli-plate and leaves

Part of my workshop at the Artistic Alchemy Retreat this year is a day of mark-making. I plan on spending time this summer exploring the various mediums and techniques I will teach at Zephyr. I think it’s all about having the materials at hand and inspiration to kick start your creativity. One of the materials I will provide will be gelli-plates so we can explore how they can be used. In the photo above I gathered leaves to print in layers.

This small quilt is the 12″ x 12″ donation piece I submitted to the SAQA Benefit Auction that happens in September every year. This piece I called ‘Keep Calm and Sloth On’ I have been meaning to make a large sloth quilt but “have no time!” and so at least I started with this small piece. It does include a lot of messy stitching, hand stitching and unusual materials. I used leaves I had leftover from a 2011 reptile quilt, some silk necktie off-cuts and threadwork I made using ‘solvy’, a dissolvable interfacing.

Inspiration photo for a new quilt

Often I will look at Pixabay.com for copyright free images for subjects that I aren’t able to take myself. Otherwise I will look over my own photo library for ideas. This picture I took at my neighbors house while letting out her dog. I love the contrast in colors and textures. This would be a great image for a fabric collage.

KitKat keeping during our hot spell.

In the same way this photo would be good for a fabric collage. I would probably crop it a bit. Again there are nice contrasting textures and lines and then the focal point KitKat, my cat. If you wish to start your own fabric collage of any subject or my favorite topic; pets and animals, think about signing up for my workshop at Zephyr Point. It will be my last year teaching here but I am looking forward to attending at a later date when I can work on a project like this.

I do love making quilts for customers using their saved clothes or ties. It is meaningful for them to preserve those memories especially of loved ones that are no longer around. For the first photo I made three of these lap quilts for three sons from their dads old polo, flannel and button-up shirts. I still have a pile of fabric left that I intend on making a surprise quilt for the lady (mom) who sent them to me. The middle quilt is a king-size necktie quilt that I am still working on and the last a t-shirt quilt made from a husbands collection of old rock music shirts.

Long Lake near Royal Gorge, CA

We recently spent a lovely weekend camping, hiking and backpacking with family and friends. It was a time to enjoy nature, friendship and life returning to normal. This spot is just an hours drive up I80 from our home into the Sierra Nevada mountains near Donner Summit. The hike is just over 1/2 a mile so we were able to take in extra supplies that normally when backpacking you couldn’t take! From our camping area we had amazing views of Devils Peak and could relax by this cold body of water.

I have spent this last year teaching online classes for the Mancuso’s at their various online quilt shows. This was the last workshop I taught called Big-Eyed Chameleon Fabric Collage. These photos include the inspiration photo, my sample and student work by Gayle. I love what she did and I think hers is better than mine. Hopefully that’s a sign of a good teacher! I have just a couple of online classes on my calendar and I believe as the Mancuso shows happen in-person they will still continue to host a portion of the show online, as requested.

My set up for the Road to California online event in May.

Although I do enjoy teaching online and students are able to get a great view, use their whole stash and favorite sewing machine etc it will be great to meet in person again. On Saturday I am teaching to a local guild which will be my first time in about 16 months. I hope i’m not too rusty!

My first in-person gathering was at the Carson Valley Quilt Guild in May. I got to speak at their guild meeting and share my quilts. I was very happy to see so many members brought in their animal quilts that they made after signing up for my on-demand class. In 2020 my workshop Love of Pets was cancelled so the guild signed up as a group and took the class online. The link is here Love of Pets

Demonstrating mono-printing using Botanicals.

It was a nice break this week to gather with the Mountain Art Quilters for an outside meeting in a members beautiful backyard. This was our first in-person meeting and was a chance to breath, relax and enjoy time with other creatives. This reminds me of that feeling I get when at Lake Tahoe at the Artistic Alchemy Retreat. I love the quiet of the lake early in the morning, the buzz in the dining hall when you chose new friends to meet and sit with. Heidi says they have a new chef so thats something to look forward to! Seeing what people are working on and how creative they can be is always inspirational.

Thanks for following along with my post this month and if you are interested in the retreat there is still time, so reach out to Heidi, Sandra or myself with any questions.

The (not so) Lazy Days of Summer

by Sandra Bruce

As I write this it is National Lefty Day (Thursday the 13th) so I wish all you lefties out there a happy year ahead. I imagine many of you are, since creative types tend to be lefties. It is also the day before my son Matteo’s birthday, and I always think back to this day that should have been his birthday, but he was hesitant to come into the world and worked me for 22 hours, so it ended up being the 14th instead. Having kids sure does make you mark time, in so many ways!

In this post I’m going to show you 2 Matrix pieces I’ve completed since my last post. The first, a SAQA challenge, was to create a 12″ by 12″ piece that deals with what you are doing in your studio during the time of Covid. I have never attempted a Matrix piece that small, but decided to do it. I took a selfie that was in color and turned it into black and white.
I painted the circles on the mask with ProFab pant, the mask I was wearing did have those circles and this was an easy way to portray them. Everything else is pieced. There’s to be a show at the Blue Line Gallery in Roseville in November, hopefully, that will have 40 of these pieces. I haven’t named it yet….

Speaking of selfies, my son Matteo took one that I have been really taken with. I made a Matrix quilt of him when he was a little boy, another when he was a teenager, and I thought it was time to make one of him as an adult. He grew a wonderful mustache that would be fun to do. The photo is intense and moody, just like we have all been feeling since Covid came into our lives.

I love all the value changes and cool colors. I knew after doing my RBG quilt that the transitions from light to dark would be tricky.

I blew up the gridded photo (2-8-1/2″ pieces taped together) and attached it to a piece of foam core.

I like all the dark sky-looking blues. Started here…

I started out going vertically instead of horizontally, to complete all the blue on the right hand side.  I stayed with all solid black in the darkest parts, which I don’t usually do….and ended up changing a lot of the squares later to textured blacks. What was I thinking?

You all know how I love doing eyes, this one proved to be fairly simple and straight-forward. It was the other eye, the one you hardly see, that was tricky.

In progress…

See all the pins, below, in the bottom 1/3rd. I usually sew together blocks of 16 but I was so undecided about the neck area, that I put all all the 2-inch squares in place there before sewing anything together. I reworked it a couple of times, and just was not happy but couldn’t figure out why. The purple is pushed to an extreme from the photo. I then decided the problem was there was too much neck showing. It was too much purple and too distracting, and just…unnecessary, so I took off the bottom 3 rows. Voila! That solved it. (hold your hand over the bottom 3 rows and you’ll see what I mean).

Once the top was together it went downtown to be quilted. The first thread I pulled out to use was my favorite Omni thread, “Tapestry Taupe”. This is a wonderful color that I use all the time and it looks good on almost everything (in the foreground near the bottom of the photo).
I matched the binding like I usually do. It is 39″ by 47″Here’s the finish, and a couple of closeups:

I named it, “Matteo in the Time of Covid”, since the photo was taken and the quilt made during this time. Not to mention, Matteo had Covid and was pretty sick for 2 weeks. I’m so thankful he was able to overcome it as he did, being strong and young. His test was negative but we are sure he had it from all his symptoms. He’s fine now! 

Matteo looks so much like my dad, especially now that he is grown. My handsome dad….. here he is at Matteo’s age. I see my dad, who is gone, when I look at Matteo.

That’s it for now…I hope you all are well, and stay well. We are nearing the time that our Artists Alchemy Retreat would have been happening, in normal times we would be gathering supplies and goodies for our Zephyr retreat. Next year will be twice as good for all our waiting! Take care, everyone, and I hope you are happily sewing.

What Day Is It??

by Sandra Bruce

I know those of you who are planning to come to Zephyr to our retreat in September are anxious to know the scoop. May I assure you, we are as well, and are in close communication with Zephyr on plans going forward. They plan to open in June. They are having a board meeting in the last week of May at which time they will be making decisions, and have promised to get back to us regarding any impacts that these decisions will have on us. We really want the retreat to happen, in a safe and relaxed atmosphere. So, please stay tuned and we will let you know as soon as we hear anything. Fingers crossed all goes well and the virus has hit its peak.

When it is my turn to post here the first thing I always do is to go to my photos, which is a good indicator of what I’ve been doing. This morning I did so…and what you will see here is a pretty good representation of my last few weeks. Every morning I wake up and say…”What day is it”? If I had to sum up my time since my last post it would be: making masks, cooking/baking, sewing anything I can think of to make that I have supplies for, spouse having open heart surgery (yes you read that right), making grocery lists, being a nurse, and visiting with son at a safe distance.

This shot from our May calendar says it all. Cancelled quilt show, Gary having surgery. It was quite discombobulating to drive him an hour to a hospital in Sacramento to drop him off, and not see him again until a week later when I went to pick him up. That week I was home alone I was a force to be reckoned with…cleaning out drawers, sewing several garments, making masks, baking bread….anything to keep busy until I fell into bed at night. I got so much support from friends, using Zoom and of course talking on the phone. Thankfully he is home now and doing great, although he has a long recuperation ahead. But what better time to do that? I have gotten so much pleasure from preparing meals and checking on him to make him comfortable.

My town, Grass Valley, is just starting to open up. I’ve been doing a bit of long arming , since I work alone, but my longarm is getting a new motor next week after stumbling along for some time. Dixie will be all tuned up and ready to go, and I’ll be able to get back to that work next week. It’s definitely been strange being downtown (where my long arm studio is) with such an absence of cars and people.

I’ve been trying to get outdoors with spring here. I took a safe walk with a friend and her horse Wendell, and saw so many flowers and green leaves appearing on trees. Wendell was most interested in the snack I packed to eat on the way.

In my mask making I have tried different patterns and materials…I’ve made lots. My son has been my guinea pig in trying different patterns. He works in a grocery store so needs a mask that is comfortable for hours. I dug out some fun fabrics for him ( took this with my close up lens).

He’s only allowed at the door of the garage and at a safe distance. I wish I could hug him but it’ll have to wait. He’s buying our groceries for us and dropping them off. I noticed in my photo library I had so many grocery lists! I message the lists to him. We’ve had some good talks in front of our house, making the best of the situation.

I also noticed a lot of recipes in my photo library. I’ve sent a few to friends. Here’s one of my favorites for you 😉

I think in my last post  I said I would show you the small quilt of giant lily pads I made from a photo I took in Philadelphia last Fall. I did use my Matrix technique and painted on top of the fabric after piecing. Now that it’s done, I’m not enthralled with it, it definitely has problems, but I learned a lot and it was enjoyable.

I  also made a quilt from a pattern one of my longarm customers had brought me that I was so attracted to. It was a good project as it didn’t require lots of thinking and it was fun picking out fabrics for each bird, and making those cute goofy legs.

Speaking of birds……….I’ll sign off this post with a photo of one of my recent pastimes, watching the birds at my feeder on the deck. We have to appreciate the little things these days, and this is one I enjoy so much. Binoculars help.

Thanks everyone, for reading our posts and keeping up with Artistic Alchemy. We will be in touch!!!! Take care, be safe, and happy sewing.

A New Year, a New Decade

by Sandra Bruce

I wrote my first check today including the new year, 2020, and did it ever feel strange to write that number. Years ago I certainly did not accurately envision what this time would look like. Do you have the same feeling?

I don’t really believe in making New Year’s resolutions. However, a new beginning in January of each year does give one a mental frame of mind to consider ways to be happy and fulfilled, and a better person in the coming year. I’m going to try to let the little things that bug me evaporate into thin air. It’s those little annoyances that add up, and I’m determined to let some go.

Before I get any further into my post….very soon in February we will be launching the announcements and registration form for the Artistic Alchemy Retreat for 2020, set for September 7-11. Many people have expressed interest in my Matrix workshop, so if you are interested get your deposit in the mail pronto after the reg form is available to secure your spot.

In case you are unaware, you can find me on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/sbruce/1955/

…and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/sandra-bruce-creative/

It’s January 2nd as I write.  In my last post in November I was about to go to my last teaching gig of the year in Toronto. Since returning, and after finishing the end of my customer quilt queue, I have enjoyed a lot of quiet time at home. Having arrived to the middle of my 6th decade I have come to really appreciate and savor my quiet alone time. As a matter of fact, the last few months have been for me creatively quiet. At least where my Matrix pieces are concerned. I believe it is positive to have a once-in-a-while period of just absorbing everything visual, along with mental contemplation, which always leads to ideas. This works for me and always something new comes spilling out.

Toronto was a wonderful experience. The guild was appreciative, eager to learn, and having 2 gentlemen in my workshop was a treat!

I spent a whole day in AGO, the Art Gallery of Ontario. 

Although it was only the middle of November Toronto was in full-blown Christmas mode. When I left Grass Valley it was warm and dry, with threats of power cut-offs…and in Toronto it was 14 degrees when I arrived, and Christmas was everywhere. Segue!

My friends Rejeanne and her husband Gene, who came down from Sault St. Marie, spent a day showing me around Toronto. They have come to the Artistic Alchemy Zephyr Retreat 3 times which is how I met them, and it was so fun to be on their turf for a change. Rejeanne joined the guild in Toronto so that she could take both workshops I taught, and she brought her Matrix quilt “Gene” for show and tell. That way the new Matrix students could see what is possible from taking my workshop. Here is a charming photo Rejeanne sent me of herself with her quilt “Gene”.

For walking all day in Toronto we needed comfortable shoes, overcoats, and umbrellas.

Back home I jumped into winter and the holidays. As part of my creative “break” I pulled out a UFO from several years ago and finished it, a one block wonder quilt made from a kooky vintage-looking Alexander Henry Christmas fabric. It went right onto the back of the couch and I snuggled in it all of December.
One of the things I love about my longarm work is being able to help people make quilts with very special significance. Here is one example: my customer (and friend) has 3 sons-in-law who lost their dad years ago. This dad was known for his Hawaiian shirt collection. 3 quilt tops were made, each one different, out of the shirts. The theme of each quilt corresponded to the son and his interests. The 3rd one I completed in December just in time for it to be mailed back to Nebraska to be bound and finished. It was a pattern of shelves of books, and I had such enjoyment quilting it.The boys received their quilts on Christmas Day.  Here it is on the longarm:

A special message was “written” into the quilting on the spine of 2 of the books. The back was almost as fun to look at as the front:

It’s projects like this that make my longarm work so rewarding.

In addition to the above I have been working on a customer’s hand-appliqued quilt. I haven’t hand-appliqued in many years but when she brought this quilt to me to longarm I knew hand-quilting would be the best solution and she agreed to let me go for it. I’ve had many happy hours working that rocking motion of the needle and trying to make the smallest stitches I can. Many episodes of “Father Brown” got me through those hours.

So…………..What’s next?  I am headed in one week to Israel. I’ll be blogging about it my next turn, and posting in the meantime on IG and FB. I’m so excited to visit this foreign land so full of history, art and culture. I’m beginning a commission Matrix piece, a reproduction of “Yayoi” for a client in Houston. Speaking of Houston, I’ve applied to teach there this fall, hopefully they will accept me, I’ll know mid-February.  I look forward to a year filled with quilts, quilting, travel and joy in daily rituals.

Till then Happy 2020!

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!

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.

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.

RBG and Matrix News

by Sandra Bruce

The registration form and information about our 2019 retreat (our 6th) is out and we are rolling! The forms are arriving in the mail and we are excited to receive them. Congrats to Donna from Canada for being my first sign up!

You all know how beautiful it is at Zephyr Point, don’t you?You only have to look out any window there for an outrageous view. I love being there and teaching in this special place.
Friendships form there. Last year I had 2 Canadians in my workshop who did not know each other, Rejeanne and France, but they sat side by side and enjoyed getting acquainted (and chatting in French, naturally).And speaking of Rejeanne, she finished her Matrix quilt from an earlier retreat and sent it to me to quilt for her. It’s of her husband, Gene, who has come to our retreat too, and been an asset to our group. Rejeanne sent me this very charming photo of her, with her completed quilt, “Focus”, on the wall of her home. Love it! Great work, Rejeanne.I have enjoyed every workshop I have taught at Zephyr. I learn from my students as much as they learn from me. From last year, here’s Ellen, sharing her project.Learning a totally new technique….it can make you smile.

I hope you will consider coming to take my workshop if this intrigues you at all.

So….what have I been working on? Any of you who follow me on FaceBook or Instagram will have seen some of these images. I enjoy posting them in progress. (Sandra Bruce Creative on Facebook, sbruce1955 on Instagram).

I am in the process of finishing up a quilt of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, from one of her official photographs from the Supreme Court, with permission from Associated Press, who owns the photo. I am so fond of her, she has been very instrumental in the advancement of women’s rights, dating back to the 60’s. The films out now about her, “RBG” and “On the Basis of Sex” both tell the stories of this amazing woman. The other day in the gym I was in the middle of doing a plank and while thinking of how hard it was, I decided, “if Ruth can do this at 85, surely I can do it too”.

I changed the background of the photo to make it dark red. Dark reds are hard to find in fabric these days.

The eyes…..yes, challenging, but in a very satisfying way.

Eyes on the ironing board.

On my display wall, coming together.

Orderly 1/4″ seams on the back of the quilt.

A funny thing happened. 2 friends were holding up the finished top in front of my kitchen window and it created almost a stained-glass effect, so I took a picture of it. All the “outlines” are my very small piecing seams!

On to the long arm. It is 50″ by 73″.

So…….I’ve been ruminating for some days now about the finishing of this quilt, which I have named “The Notorious RBG”. My original intention was to attach one of her famous collars to the quilt with either beads or hand-applique. I’ve been around and around, with starts and stops, pencil sketches balled up in the trash, and lots of thinking about it. My decision is not in stone yet but I am leaning towards leaving it just the way it is, without any collar. Every time I started one it took away from her face and was distracting. I feel sometimes the best artistic decision is……..to leave it be.

I’ll post a photo in my next blog post of the final image.

Now, just for fun, I’ll share these 2 photos. The first, a picture from 1999, of me in my studio with my baby son clinging to my leg under my sewing table. I have this image in my slide lecture and it always gets a laugh. We mothers can all commiserate! I’ve had the urge for a while to recreate the picture, with my grown son now 6’3″. Second photo: same sewing room, different Bernina, older me, older son. It is funny! Thanks to my son Matteo for being a good sport and helping me make it happen.

That’s all for now, hope you’re staying warm and dry in this blustery winter, and have lots of creative time. Feel free to email me if you have any questions about my Zephyr workshop. All the details are in the “Workshops” page of this blog. Bye for now!