Dame Lorraine

by Sandra Bruce

Greetings and Happy Spring! As I write this post it is blissfully raining….we’re supposed to get April’s worth of precipitation in the next 2 days. I’ll take it!

Before I go any further, I’ll mention here that in about 2 weeks I’m flying to Cleveland to be a guest on the Quilting Arts TV show with Susan Brubaker Knapp. I’m going to tape 3 segments, so I’ve had a lot of prep to do. I’ll let you know when the show will be aired on PBS, it’ll be sometime this summer.

Also…..there are spots left in my Material Matrix workshop at Zephyr this fall. If you are thinking about it, read my workshop description and join us 🙂

My latest Matrix quilt is done! Today’s post will take you through my process, which people are always curious about. I hope you enjoy it.

First, I saw this photo, taken by my friend Howard Koons. He was in Trinidad, with his wife on a vacation, during Carnival. I was taken by this woman’s image, and her eyes behind the mask. I knew it would be a challenge, with so many subtle variations in values. First I had to address the background, which was so distracting, as you can see. Below the photo are Howard’s comments.

This is the fifth day of Carnival festivities. There were the more traditional parades having historical themes, then competitions in costume and pan orchestras, the Children’s’ Parade, an adult parade/competition and now this parade on the fifth and last day of Carnival. Some participants have a float-like apparatus they carry, all operated by a single person. And, there is the parade of bands.
A band is an organized group of folks. People join certain bands of their liking. Bands provide the music, support personnel and vehicles as the wee-wee wagon, a truck for drink, and sometimes a truck for rest. It can cost upward to $700 for membership. They usually have a particular theme in dress and the uniforms, or costumes, are sometimes provided. The accompanied “music” is a large truck and trailer stacked high with speakers the size of a VW bug and capable of shattering the most hardy eardrum. I wore earplugs. Enjoy the photographs of the last day of Carnival 2015.

I decided a nice simple beach background was needed, so I hobbled together some water and sky using Photoshop (with hubby help) and here’s what I came up with.This is the photo with the grid applied. I wanted big……so planned on 50″ by 80″. BIG!

The beginning is always exciting to me and I look forward to the first progress shot.

I tried to keep my fabric organized.

A block in progress. I used shiny silver fabric that I attached to a knit stabilizer.

Her eyes……always tricky but so satisfying to accomplish.

The tucks in her bodice about drove me crazy..all those diagonals.

I have so much fabric that looks like this……fussy cutting at its finest 🙂

Getting the top ready for quilting meant cutting away the quilt behind all the circles I hand appliquéd on so it would lie nice and flat. It was a bit scary doing that.

As always, it was a pleasure to quilt. I worked with the enlarged photo visible at all times and changed thread a lot.

I made binding to match the image (this will be one of my segments on QATV, how to do this kind of binding). Then, it was sewing on the 85 circles that make up her necklace. On to her bracelet, ring, and hand-embroidery on her arm for the netting she wears. Her pupils and highlights are dots of acrylic paint.

The last part was applying 5 sizes of Swarovski hot fix crystals. I had to go back on some of them with the applicator, I want to be sure none of them fall off. Here’s her mask after applying them. Good bling, eh?

3 months from the beginning to end…here she is, now 49″ by 79″. I’m very happy with the way she turned out. What to do next……….have to go hunting for a photo!

 

 

Polymer Goodies for Sale, Plus News

by Sandra Bruce

At the end of this post I have some polymer goodies to sell…………but first!

The big announcement for our Artistic Alchemy 2018 Retreat is coming next week, on February 2nd. We’ll be giving you lots of news and information about this year’s workshops. We are busy now formulating our workshops and planning a very creative and fun time at Zephyr Point, September 3-8. I will be teaching my Material Matrix technique.

I have an article in the current issue of “Machine Quilting Unlimited”, check it out. I bought a couple of copies from Barnes & Noble, so I know they have it. 6 pages, woo-hoo! And lots of pictures.

I started my year off with a wonderful time with the Pajaro Quilt Guild in Capitola, CA. A 2-day class teaching “Junior Cardinal” for the first time, and I couldn’t’ve asked for a better group of enthusiastic quilters.

Martine even finished her top in the 2-days, which blew my mind. Then, she quilted it and brought it to the meeting the next night. Good work, Martine!

The Capitola area is really wonderful, I love being near the ocean no matter the time of year. I had wonderful hostesses and a great time was had by all. If you are ever there, do not miss Gayle’s Bakery, no matter what. I was fortunate enough to eat there twice during this trip. It is a feast for the eyes as well as stomach!

I wanted to sneak a photo in the blog here….I made my son Matteo a quilt for Christmas and he finally got it in January. He is a bike enthusiast which is reflected in the quilt. He doesn’t live here anymore so it warms his Mama’s heart to know he’s wrapped in it. I make simple quilts too, on occasion.

I went to “Demo Day” at NCQC, where I did a 12-minute demo on my new “Stitching Words” class (6 times, no less)…it was well-received and I hope to have many guilds sign me up for future workshops. If any of you reading this are possibly interested, please contact me 🙂

OK, now for the sale items!

Each item is numbered, refer to the number to let me know what you want (ie: board 1-earrings #3, board 2-pin#5, etc). The prices are in the photos are on the buttons and pins. The earrings are $22 for one pair, $40 for 2, and $55 for 3. The earrings are made with steel posts and wire and are not sterling.

Here’s how you can buy something: email me personally, at sandrabruce@pacbell.net, not through our AA blog. Let me know what you want and I’ll add sales tax (8%) and S&H and email you back the total. I’ll send you a Request for Money through Pay Pal. You don’t need a Pay Pal account to do this transaction. Once you pay, I will send it. Or, if you would rather, send me a check. The first person to email me that they want an item will get it.

Everyone’s computer sees color differently. So keep that in mind. If you purchase something from me and don’t like it, I will take it back within 10 days of shipping it originally. I will refund your money after I receive the item back. I will not be able to refund any shipping charges. I know the pictures are not perfect, if you can’t read a price, or want to see something up close, let me know, and I’ll send you a better picture. The buttons have a quarter laying there to give you scale.

I had fun picking out goodies to sell. I’ll be making a very big new batch in the next couple of weeks, so it feels good to “spring clean” even if it is still definitely winter around here. All the buttons are machine washable, no dry cleaning please. There are flat buttons, and my ever popular chunky ones, which are good for bags, vest openings and anything else you can think of. The pins are all approximately 2 inches wide. See you next Friday on our blog!!

Board #1-EARRINGS:

Board #2: PINS:

Board #3: BUTTONS:

Board #4: BUTTONS:

Board #5: BUTTONS:

Board #6: BUTTONS:

Polymer Play at Zephyr

by Sandra Bruce

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

On the Go

by Sandra Bruce

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


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

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

Gotta run, have a great weekend!

Heidi’s Pattern Meets a Vintage Tablecloth

by Sandra Bruce

I’ve just returned today from Visalia, CA where I taught my Material Matrix workshop and had a great group of enthusiastic quilters. All 16 worked hard and had fun too. Thank you, Valley Oak Quilters! I’m doing a segue today for my post………..wearable art.

I love Heidi’s patterns! This one is my favorite, so far, the Terrific Tabbard. It is flattering and so comfy. She will be teaching her patterns at our retreat at Zephyr in September, come and you can make one of her fabulous designs, this is only one of them! See her “Workshops” page for information.

I have made one already, but I came upon a vintage tablecloth and decided it would make a great Tabbard. It wasn’t wide enough to get the 3 pieces out of, so I added a grey and white polka dot on each side. I also used the polka dot for the inside. (I never met a polka dot I didn’t like 🙂

It has a wonderful graphic in the center that I planted right in the middle of the back.

Once I got the grey panels on each side in just the right positions (so that the seams wouldn’t show later) I put it on my long arm, with a layer of plain white cotton in the middle, to make it lightweight. I just had fun with it, and stitched lots of loops.

Here’s a good shot of the whole piece. I had outlined where the 3 pieces would be cut out so I’d be sure to have enough stitching in all the necessary areas.

I decided to add some applique in the center of that big circle, so I just improvised with the quilting knowing I’d be adding something later.

I brought it home and cut out the pieces. I was happy with the way it was looking. Kind of wild, in a kitchy, retro kind of way.

I fussy-cut a pocket for the front, just the right size for my cell phone.

My fussy cut was close…..close enough! I had planned to use the grey polka-dot for the binding so I finished the pocket and sewed it on.

On the back, I cut out one of the groups of strawberries and hand-appliqued it on. Perfect to fill that space.

I was just about to cut out the binding from the grey polka-dot when I got an idea…………..I found this Christmas red fabric and decided it was perfect for the binding, and thought it really pepped up the vest!

It took a very long strip to go around, as I had lengthened the vest quite a bit and widened the sides so they would overlap instead of just meeting.

I took it with me to Visalia and did some hand work on it, adding loops and sewing on polymer buttons I made. The buttons are not perfect, but they will do until I have a chance to make more custom ones.

Here it is, yay! I think I will add something to the pocket later, since it is not bound in the red, to make it blend in better.

And the back….it’ll be a very fun piece to wear in the summer, and I wonder if it will be identifiable as a vintage tablecloth! The fabric was such a pleasure to work with.

Before I sign off, here’s a picture of me with my mom Charlotte, summer of 1956. In honor of all moms, I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day!

 

POLYMER PLAY

by Sandra Bruce

Imagine this: you wake up to a view of Lake Tahoe in the crisp Fall air, head to the Dining Hall to have coffee and breakfast with some great folks who share your love of creativity, then stroll over to your classroom where you’ll spend the day with a few other like-minded souls, making wonderful things with polymer clay: buttons for wearables, beads and other jewelry pieces, art books, or any other thing your heart desires. After lunch, take a break in the afternoon to walk down to the lake, or take a nap, or chat with your friends. In the evening….more polymer perhaps? One of our programs, shopping in our store, or watching a sunset. Sound good?? Read on!
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This year I am teaching a polymer clay workshop, where a beginner or even a more experienced polymer fan  can spend the week learning many techniques and go home with some goooood stuff! I can hardly wait myself for a solid chunk of polymer time!img_9191

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

img_7795The scraps get chopped into little bits.

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Then, a log is created in your hands, of the bits.img_7797The log is twisted, for a minute or two….then flattened….
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…..and VOILA! Striped buttons! I love this technique.

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

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

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

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

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

The End of 2016

by Sandra Bruce

The year is almost up! Did it ever go by fast, in many ways. I have been reflecting on all the ways I am thankful for my year, in all its ups, downs, triumphs, and lessons!

First, thanks to the 22 guilds who invited me to come teach and lecture this year. I enjoyed the traveling and experiencing the shops, scenery, the quilters, and their quilts. I taught Material Matrix, Color Dance, with a little polymer clay thrown in the mix. Here’s Genelle, Radean, and the group from Pacific Grove. Big smiles!

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img_1061Each location has quilt shops, history, and museums to be proud of, and of course restaurants. I think my favorite museum was the Getty in Southern California.img_0433

I would be at a loss to count all the quilt shops I went into this year!img_0377

I had the privilege of working on some really interesting and creative quilts this year from my long-arm customers. Traditional, art quilts, and many in-between.img_1698img_1289

I took a couple of workshops myself. There’s always room to grow and learn something new. Judy Coates-Perez was especially fun with Heidi, Christine and Mary at my table! I really liked the end product of my class, a collage to be stitched.

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And speaking of my co-horts, there was the day in July (also my birthday!) when we drove down to Meet the Teachers in Fairfield  and got stuck in a horrible traffic jam, making us very late. Well, we managed to go with the flow and were still able to present to the group.

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I did manage to squeeze in some polymer time to make buttons, they’ve been very popular when I go teach. I acquired a pasta machine with a motor….wowie! Is it a pleasure to use!

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Our retreat at Lake Tahoe, was of course a highlight of my year. We’ll be announcing next year’s plans very soon, yay!

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I marvelled at the power of social media all year. I posted a photo of my quilt, “Winston”, completed in the Spring on my Sandra Bruce Creative page on Facebook and was amazed to see so may shares, comments, and people reached.

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6 months of this year was devoted to making “Lemon Tree in Tuscany”. Of course the work time was sporatic, but slowly and surely it was finished. I put the grid on the diagonal, just to try it. That, plus the amount of detail proved to be really challenging but rewarding. Next……………….

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……I have begun “Sushmita”, from a photograph of a young girl by Howard Koons, taken in India. I keep going back to faces, they intrigue me the most.

Of course, the Houston show was very much a highlight! Heidi’s “Terrific Tabard” vest pattern also did a lot of traveling this year 🙂img_1800

I was really happy to have the opportunity to see a show of Chuck Close’s work, in northern Washington. I took a road trip with my son, Matteo, and it was wonderful to see Chuck’s work with his young eyes and comments.

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We did make it to the top of the Space Needle, with my CODA friend Kathy. Space Needle selfie!

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I am thankful that the fire we had this summer in Grass Valley was put out pretty quickly. It was the closest that a fire has come to our house in 26 years and I don’t care to repeat that experience. We have brave and smart firefighters who risk their lives when fires occur. Heartfelt thanks to them.

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I’ll sign off with wishes for all our readers a safe and joyous holiday season and New Year. I  have sincere hope for our planet and the people we share it with, for peace and understanding. See you in 2017!

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Back From Zephyr: Snapshots from my Matrix Workshop

by Sandra Bruce

We are home from Zephyr, and I want to share with you a few pictures of the tremendous group of ladies I had in my workshop, and their work. Thanks to Rejeanne, Jane, Ellen, Doreen, Marti, Paula, Patti, Diane, Audrey and Tiana for being great students who worked hard and produced wonderful results! I can hardly wait to see these quilts in completion.

It was a very rewarding week for us all, with the 3 of us welcoming Mary Boalt for her first year teaching with Artistic Alchemy. Thanks to everyone who worked to make it a successful retreat, the camaraderie was evident and friends were made! Here’s just a few shots from the week in my classroom.

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Here’s Ellen’s nasturtium in the works… beautiful colors!

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Audrey used a photo of a cat to make into a quilt in the likeness of her own kitty. She’s thinking of putting in a butterfly at the top to be the focus of the cat’s gaze.

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Paula loves ladybugs. This will be an homage to her favorite bug.

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There were several faces in this workshop. Here is Doreen’s, in progress. She is definitely capturing her likeness!dsc_0572

 

Rejeanne worked on a face too, one that belongs to her photographer husband, Gene. He was with us and gave a wonderful presentation one evening about photography, including tips on photographing quilts.

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Another face, this one is Diane’s. She approached the technique with such enthusiasm!

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Jane worked on an image of her newborn grandson. The background is the perfect place to begin and grasp the technique of Matrix.

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Patti did a wonderful rendition of a rooster, changing the pool in the photo to a pond. Artistic license at its best!

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Marti worked from a lovely photo of a toucan, lots of opportunity for color!

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Tiana’s dog Juno provided her with a perfect subject.

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Every block is an accomplishment!

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I have to show you this: Rosemary was my student last year, and came back this year as Mary’s student. For Show and Tell Rosemary brought her finished Matrix piece, a very gorgeous bear. I was so happy to see it! She gave it to me to quilt and I can hardly wait.img_1216

Heidi, Christine, Mary and I appreciate you being a follower and reader of our blog. We look forward to sharing with you all the fun and learning, sharing and friendship that we get from teaching our workshops. Thank you!

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I Could Say, “Gone Fishin”……

IMG_1121….we are busy getting ready for our 2016 retreat that begins Monday! We won’t be fishing, though….we’ll be stitching, quilting, cutting, printing, creating marvelous things and having a wonderful time!

Keep up with our week on our social media on Facebook and Instagram.

We’ll see ya soon with lots of pictures and tales of our week at Zephyr.

Till then, Happy September!!