Meet the Newest Alchemist

Let me introduce myself I am Jane Haworth, the newest Alchemist. The Artistic Alchemists have their retreat coming up September 3-7 at Zephyr Point so click on the Workshop tab to see all the workshops on offer for 2018.

I live in Auburn, CA but moved from Devon, England in 1998. This year my family and I will be celebrating our 20th year of living here in beautiful California. A yearly trip back to the UK allows me to catch up with family, visit a pub or two and enjoy all those British foods that I crave.


I am a Pisces, I love to swim and snorkel in the ocean and since discovering Kauai in 2003 my family and I love to visit Hawaii. After that first trip to Kauai I began to make art quilts. I had seen Susan Carlson making one of her fish quilts on Simply Quilts with Alex Anderson and so I began to experiment with fabric and make small fish quilts. Then using my photos from that vacation I started to design and make my first real art quilts, using both raw edge and turned edge appliqué.


Waioli Huiia Church in Hanalei Bay, North Shore, Kauai

We love to stay on the North Shore and driving through Hanalei Bay you cannot help but notice this church and of course I had to take a lot of photographs. Then back home over a number of years I have made many quilts of it. Here is a selection of just a few.




Returning in 2007 we stayed at a VRBO house on the beach in Haena, its called Hale Kilo I’a’ which means The house where you watch Fish. It is still our favorite place to stay, and comes highly recommended, although we haven’t been back in a few years. Its owned by the family of the artist Tambi Larsen and has an eclectic mix of original Hawaiian art The House where you watch Fish


Hawaiian Appliqué Fish Quilt

In my years of quilting since 2003 I have returned to making fish quilts on a number of occasions. It must be the Pisces in me. In 2004 I wanted to submit a quilt to a show so I combined many smaller fish to make a larger quilt. I came up with Pacific Oceanlife. I entered it in the local county fair and won 1st place for novice quilter and a sewing machine! I also entered into the quilt show in Paducah and it got juried in.


Pacific Oceanlife before quilting.

In 2016 I was asked by my guild to design their opportunity quilt for 2018 which I was quite honored to do. Rather than look for a pattern to use I decided I would design it myself and then invite guild members to help work on it. I came up with Rainbow Fish. It has rows of varying sized raw-edge appliqué fish each placed onto an improv pieced quilt block. My fish designs came naturally to me especially when I looked at the bathroom I had painted for my children back in 1999.




And also this gouache painting I made in 1991, that hangs on my living room wall


The photo is not great because of the lighting and the glare of the glass but you can see I am still drawn to those same fish designs and use of  bright colors. I realized I could make the same kind of image using not paint but fabric.


Rainbow Fish, 2018 Opportunity Quilt for Foothill Quilt Guild

My favorite way to work is still raw edge fabric collage or appliqué and that is what I will be teaching at the Alchemist’s retreat this September at Zephyr Point, Lake Tahoe. I am still making fish quilts but have branched out to work on reptiles, birds, flowers, faces and now my biggest love is pet faces mainly dogs in both realistic and abstract color ways.  Look at my website for more photos of my work janehaworth


Winston, British Bulldog in progress

I will close with a photo of my family when we posed for photos, at sunset, on Tunnels Beach whilst staying in Haena, Kauai in 2008. I will dream about our next stay at The House where you watch Fish but keep making art quilts in the meantime. Message me if you have questions about my workshop, Fabric Collage Addiction.


Wilma Flintstone Meets Polka-Dots

by Sandra Bruce


I am a sucker for polka-dots. When I saw this tunic on the website I knew I must have it. I also knew I had to make a polymer necklace to go with it!

First, I went to my “stash” of polymer canes….I decided what would be best was a big, chunky Wilma Flintstone kind of necklace. No canework, just color.

This required doing one of my favorite things in polymer, mixing polymer colors to match something, in this case the tunic. It had great colors that were fun to mix.

I was happy with my big beads, and I made a few smaller ones to go in-between. I used SoftFlex as the base wire and composed the necklace to see how it all looked together.

Here’s the finished necklace. I used a magnetic clasp and blue spacer beads to fill up the length.

And see how cute it is with the tunic! Wouldn’t Wilma approve!

This is one of the things we’ll be doing at the Zephyr workshop in September. Ladies can bring garments to match colors in polymer to make jewelry or buttons! The deadline is coming up and I have 2 spaces left, if anyone is wondering 🙂

Lastly, here’s a couple other necklaces in the works, also to match garments I already have. More on those later!


Introducing Our 2015 Workshops

IMG_7699By Christine, Sandra, and Heidi

Greeting, everyone!
This week we wanted to give you the scoop on what we’ll be doing in each of our workshops in September. Check out the Workshops page and the reg form (located on the Workshops page) for more info and images, and be sure to get in touch if you have questions. We love hearing from you!

Christine: Transparency, A Very Special Effect

Transparency, the illusion of see-through color, is one of my favorite special effects in quilt design. It takes some planning, but when it works, wow, it’s dazzling. “Parent/child” transparency involves a light parent, a dark parent, and, where the two parents overlap, a medium child. When the design lines flow from the parents through the child, the illusion is even more convincing. With “layered” transparency, a shape of transparent color seems to float above or below another area of color. The effect can be graphic or ethereal, but it’s always magical.

The workshop starts with a crash course in color, followed by three simple mock-block exercises and three more challenging ones. On Day 2 or 3, depending on how you like to work, you’ll begin a transparency quilt. Here’s my “Transparent Squares” quilt, which will be in the Spring issue of Modern Patchwork:

Trans Squares 10"


Heidi: Art to Wear, Art on The Wall 2015

Sewing and quilting have been lifelong passions for me. In my workshop we will explore several of the techniques I use in my clothing and quilting designs. Some of them will be new to you, and some will be new twists on classic ideas.

Techniques we will explore include deep space spirals, sketch stitching & easy stamping, and layered and shaped appliqués, to name a few. Our time together will be spent making samples of these techniques, culminating in actual small, usable, projects. They include but are not limited to: a tote bag, a pillow, a centerpiece, and/or a wearable art piece (which you will complete at home).

Besides using quilting cottons, I have ideas that include denim, linen, and textured cotton, (all of which I will provide).

This workshop will take you on a new journey in your quilting adventures.



Sandra Bruce: Material Matrix

My love of the painter Chuck Close’s work was the influence in my development of “Material Matrix” as a technique using fabric. It works best using a photograph that is graphic and contains a large central element, along with areas of value and color changes, and some detail. Having a workshop of this length allows time for you to work and gain a concrete grasp of how to do this technique. Seeing what other participants are doing and how they are interpreting their photographs is also invaluable for learning what works and how differently we all “see”. This is a fantastic opportunity to go outside the typical, to do something completely different than you have done before.

Below, see an example entitled “Matteo and the Amaryllis”, showing the finished piece and the photo I used to execute it. I welcome any questions, and hope to see you at Zephyr this Fall!


MP amaryllis cropped

“Do You Sleep?”

by Sandra Bruce

First,some  good news about Artistic Alchemy… hot off the press! We have officially been given the extra day by Zephyr Point for our 2015 retreat in September, so we will go from September 7-11th! We are really excited about this, and we’ll be talking about it in upcoming posts, of course.  More time with our classes, and hopefully you’ll consider joining us!IMG_7487

Today I am compelled to talk about time management. At a recent lecture I gave to the Fremont, CA quilt guild, I got a question from the audience that I get quite often: “Do you sleep”? I know from my presentation it must appear that I do not have much time for sleep. It got me thinking. In truth, although I do feel that I get a fair amount done from day to day, I do stop and reflect once in a while and ponder how I can become more efficient, while at the same time enjoying life and having some time to myself. Even being able to do “nothing” if I so choose (OK, so that’s a tough one, but I’m working on it). So, I’d like to write today about this subject, and I’d love to hear from you, readers, about how you manage time and feel fulfilled with the amount of each thing you do, in other words….what works for you?


First, the things I think I do well. I am a list maker. I buy a fat notebook at the end of each year as a planner for the year coming up. Every day gets a page, and every morning I drink my coffee and write a list of all the things I want to accomplish that day. Typically I make the list longer than I know is possible, knowing that I won’t cross off every item, but it gives me incentive to be busy and get a lot done. All notes from the day, phone numbers, etc. go on the page.  I get great satisfaction from the simple act of crossing off something I’ve gotten done (life’s little pleasures, eh?)


I also make other lists. “Big picture” lists. What I need to do before Christmas, for example. What thread I need to order. Stuff I need from the grocery store. Lists are everywhere. But for me, they work.

I think having been self-employed for so many years has helped me a lot. When you have deadlines that need to be met in order to make a living it makes you do what you need to do. On the important stuff I don’t procrastinate, for the most part. I try to delay gratification, such as “if I finish this part of the project I can meet a friend for coffee”.

Let’s face it, there is an expression “there are only so many hours in a day”, and it is true. I wish I could be satisfied with 2-3 hours of sleep per night, but that’s not reality nor will it ever be, so I know sleeping 7 hours a night is what I need to function and be my best every day. I do what I can to make that happen as much as possible. Sleep is a topic of conversation with many of my friends, it seems like no one is getting enough rest!


Also it must be admitted that there are different phases of our lives where we are faced with different challenges. Some of us are retired, some are working all the time. Some have family responsibilities, some do not. There are many factors that enter into our time management, and each of us has to figure out what we need and what works best. Juggling home and work is always on my mind… my house is not always as sparkling clean as I’d like it to be, and I do not typically fix fancy dinners, but I have a supportive family for which I am grateful. They know when I am working on a Matrix quilt, for example, I will excuse myself from the dinner table and go directly to my studio where I’ll work until bedtime.

One thing that has been really hard to get used to for me is not having big chunks of time to work on a project. It seems like those days ended over 16 years ago when my son was born. I’m still getting used to it, but I have had to learn to be content sometimes with a spare hour or two to work towards something. That’s when it’s most challenging to get my motor going and do something constructive. Or not. Those also seem to be good times to putter around the studio or…..look for inspiration for a future project. Or……………do you know where I’m headed…???

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 9.01.30 PM

Temptation!  Pinterest and Facebook, where time goes down a rabbit hole. I spend time on them both, and find benefit in using them as a tool for business, inspiration, and pleasure, but I have to be careful to hold myself to a limit time wise. It’s just too easy to get lost swimming in pins and posts. So, early morning and late at night, and that’s pretty much it. I recognize my addiction and make it a limited treat. (I don’t watch TV-except for Downton Abbey- nor am I interested in sports, I figure that saves me bundles of time!)

Balance. I guess that’s what it’s all about. Cooking dinner vs. going to a wine-tasting fund raiser. Going to Jazzercise vs. taking a nap. Talking to a friend who needs an ear vs. doing overdue paperwork. Making decisions every single day about what has to be done, what would be nice to get done, and letting go of the items that don’t get crossed off the list at the end of the day. I do wish for more time to read books, and getting exercise has become much more difficult, but I think, important. Recently I had to let go of a pleasurable group activity that I will miss, but hopefully I can return to it at a later time. Admitting I just don’t have time for it was hard, and learning to say “no”.

Approaching a big number birthday next year has me thinking too. I feel a new urgency about accomplishing what I want to do as an artist. I know I have (hopefully!) plenty of productive years left in me, but I do have a different attitude now about getting work done. I’m going to take another look at my time and reflect how I spend it. I think part of my outlook will be that I will choose what I need to be doing at any given time, and find value in it, whatever it is. All in all, I have to say, I love what I do, and am grateful to be able to support myself doing the creative things that really matter to me. That’s the most important thing.

What can you share about your attitude about time and how you spend it?

Thanksgiving is coming up next Thursday. I’m headed to a friend’s house with my family and 2 pies. I sure look forward to a day off with those I love, enjoying the time-honored tradition of turkey dinner. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Time to say bye for now………..till my next post.



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!


Snapshots of the Retreat

It’s official: The first ever Artistic Alchemy retreat is history! The three of us had a great time, and judging from our students’ comments, so did all of you who came. The creativity quotient was high, the laughter was contagious, and the projects—wow! Below are some class images, lunchtime show-and-tell pics, and shots of Lake Tahoe and the Zephyr grounds.

Watch for details about next year’s retreat. Heidi is working with Zephyr on the dates, and we are hopeful we can add an extra day, for a total of three full days in class.

Take a look at who was there and what we did. (We were missing a few when we took this group pic.)IMG_7690IMG_7642IMG_7718IMG_7648IMG_7611IMG_7644IMG_7584IMG_7699IMG_7628

show & tell 3show and tell 4IMG_7660IMG_7716IMG_7738IMG_7710This could be YOU, next year! Stay tuned. . . .

My Sewing Machine has Been Smokin’

by Heidi Emmett

Every day I have been sewing on samples for my workshop, “Art on The Wall, Art to Wear”. There is still time to sign up for one of our workshops or Open Studio. DSC_0458

There is so much going on in this tote bag and that’s why I love it. All that you see here is just a small portion of the techniques that you will make in my workshop.



This is the back of the tote and one of the straps. I can’t stop making and designing with these fun little folded “Petals”.


The straps are a what I call “Twisted”. They are so addictive to make.


A new “Twist” on bracelets. Here are four (same method as the straps on the tote), light weight, and oh so fun to wear.I use a product called Terial Magic in my “Twisted” projects. Go to to see my “Guest Blog Post” on other things I use Terial Magic for. It will be posted the very end of August.


The nights will be cool! So bring something to “wrap up” in! We can’t wait to see you! It’s pedal to the metal on creativity at Zephyr Point.Hugs, Heidi


“Matteo 2014” in Short Order

by Sandra Bruce

Very much wanting to try a Matrix quilt in black and white,  I saw this photo of my son Matteo and knew it was perfect for the job. Nice contrasts, good composition, and interesting value changes. Plus it’s a good picture of him! I also wanted to try a 50-inch format, which proved to be a perfect size for this technique.

Screen shotMP B:W photo copy


Below is my first in-progress photo, taken on May 6th. Yup, I was a possessed woman for about 2-1/2 months working on this project!



I made a couple of “artistic license” decisions, including making the left side/top background white so that I could use easily found fabrics in white with black prints for the edge of the hair.


As with my Self-Portrait I had a lot of fun with the curly hair an using a wide variety of prints.







I knew before I even got started that the eyes would be the most challenging, and I did them over a couple of times to get them right. People don’t have perfectly matching eyes anyway, and capturing the right “look” requires some trial and error. I decided to make the pupils by appliqueing black circles by hand, using my Perfect Circles. (the highlights, absolutely necessary, were added at the end using white acrylic paint)



It’s funny how you always start out with neat piles of fabric and a wide working area and before you know it you’re throwing fabric over your shoulder because there’s no room for it and you’re working in a tiny space!



Here I am getting close to done. This is June 12, only about 5 weeks since I started. My poor family didn’t see much of me especially in the evenings.


Top done! Now, to the long-arm.




Threads selected, and a shot of the back. Since Matteo is crazy about bikes, I put bike wheel fabric on the back, along with a strip of gradated fabrics I used on the front. There’s 15 bars since he is 15 years old.IMG_7189


ere’s the finished piece with a couple of close-up shots. I very much enjoyed this challenge! I loved working in the absence of color, but I’m ready now to go back to it and am planning my next Matrix piece.

I have space left in my workshop at Zephyr Cove in September if you want to try this technique, contact me if you’re interested! In the meantime, happy summer and stay cool.

smaller file MP2014 copyIMG_7201IMG_7263

Heidi, means, “A Field of Pretty Flowers”.

by Heidi Emmett

Hello! My  name is Heidi . I am Austrian, Swiss, and Norwegian. A friend who is German told me that my name means, “a field of pretty flowers”. I have decided that it suits me just fine (whether it is true or not)! Please visit my personal blog: and you will see flowers everywhere, whether real or fabric.It’s just who I am.


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I used this pillow on the left to key off of and found fabrics similar yet different from my stash for the representational flowers.



I decided that I needed some fabric paint behind those flowers. And the close up view I am showing you is what I call, “sketch stitching”. It’s fun and easy to do. When I sketch out a design, I draw many lines to represent a leaf or flower. I will show you how to do this in a fast and fun way.



I LOVE this pillow. It is done on 100% Linen with some great stenciling behind the flowers. The stenciling makes the flowers pop.



Yes, I am keying this next pillow off of the pillow above. I LOVE these colors too. AND, I am getting really good at cutting out free form circles. Notice the dots behind, the fabric flower shapes. They are stenciled. I thought these shapes alone would be enough. But…..DSC_0925


Wow, what a difference with the leaves. I think leaves add more texture and life. Too many circles before. Please visit my Personal blog: next week to see this piece finished. And of course, I can’t stop with just this pillow. I have two skirts in mind to add the funky flower shapes too. So check back. One more peek….


Aaaarrrggghh! I CAN’T SHOW this WAY COOL project to you! It goes back to Boston on “Spec” for a possible project in Stitch magazine. If YOU join MY workshop up at Zephyr, you will see it in person!

In the meantime, if you are in the Grass Valley, Nevada City, CA area, on Sunday, June 1st please consider this fun opportunity below. Until next time, enjoy the weekend. And God bless those who sacrificed their lives for the freedoms WE ALL enjoy today in these GREAT, United States! Be sure to take a moment and remember these brave people on Monday, May 26th. Hugs, Heidi





“Style is a Simple Way of Saying Complicated Things.”

by Heidi Emmett

“Style is a Simple Way of Saying Complicated Things.” – Jean Cocteau.

I think this thought can be attributed to Art, Furnishings, Clothing, and of course, Quilting! The following pictures will show you a way to create style, using large scaled printed fabrics. It is done simply, but oh, so, complicated looking. This technique is perfect in a vest, wallhanging, or any number of creative projects.

DSC_0181A complicated Marcia Derse all over printed, large scaled fabric.DSC_0184 (2) Gathering other Marcia Derse fabrics and Kaffe Fassett “shot cottons.” And of course, I pick out possible jewelry to go with…DSC_0202 (2)I like to look at things on angles and take digital pictures. It helps me get a sense of proportion, scale, design, and colors. I have added some, taken away some, all to go with the first large scale print. DSC_0673

DSC_0674Close ups of sections of the “Skinny Vest” I created using this technique.I have to say, my sewing machine was giving me FITS while making this vest. It will be worth your sanity to have your machine in tip top shape. Skinny Vest pattern available at Craftsy.comDSC_0228


I love the complex look of this vest, “Skinny Vest”, using Marcia Derse fabrics.




A beautiful Aboriginal fabric. Don’t be afraid of stripes (this one is believe it or not) that go from selvage to selvage. I’ll show you how to make long, lean, pieces with it.



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“Skinny Vest”, Aboriginal Angle. Love, these colors.


Another FABULOUS Aboriginal that I am working with. I pull EVERYTHING I think might work and then begin to edit. I’ll bring this to Zephyr to show you in person. DSC_0803

The other day I went to my studio to iron shirts for my husband to wear for work. I abandoned the ironing (I made him wear sweaters) when I saw this Anna Maria Horner, moths and butterflies. Oh my, what will I create with this? Stay tuned. Better yet, sign up for my workshop at Zephyr and while the light breezy wind (that’s what Zephyr means) from Tahoe, washes over us, you will be creating your own style, complicated looking, yet simple. Hugs, Heidi