Artistic Alchemy Part 1: Quilter Christine Barnes Visits SHWS

Hello readers. We are pleased to welcome our guest blogger this week, Christine Barnes. Christine is a passionate quilter who is an expert in the area of color.  You may remember reading about her in one of our earlier posts. Click here to take another look at some of the work she shared with us in the past. This week she gives us an update of the exciting adventures in her life as well as some new quilts. Please welcome Christine. 

L: Christine Barnes photoIt’s a pleasure and an honor to be a guest blogger for See How We Sew! Many thanks to Laura for the invitation. I’ll be doing two posts this week, about the group I’m a part of, Artistic Alchemy, and about my life as an author, designer, and teacher of color for quilters.

Today, it’s all about AA. No, not that AA, but rather a team of three designers—myself, Sandra Bruce, and Heidi Emmett. More than a year ago we began work on our first Artistic Alchemy retreat at Zephyr Point, South Lake Tahoe, which takes place September 2–5, 2014. It’s been a great experience, with lots of laughter and learning, and we’re eager to welcome our students in a few weeks. You can read all about it on our blog. It’s not too late to sign up for the retreat. If you’ve never been to Zephyr, you’re missing one of the most magical spots on the lake, a real favorite with quilters. We’re already planning another retreat for September 2015.

Sandra Bruce, Christine Barnes and Heidi Emmett.
Sandra Bruce, Christine Barnes and Heidi Emmett.

Artistic Alchemy is a diverse group: I specialize in color, Sandra creates dynamic gridded quilts, and Heidi combines fiber and fabric techniques in her imaginative quilts and wearable art.

I’ll have more to say about my color career in my next post, but here are two quilts I’ll be teaching in my workshop, “Luminosity and Luster: Playing with Color and Light.” An understanding of three simple color concepts makes it possible to achieve both luminosity and luster. However, the easiest way to suggest luster, the illusion of light striking the surface and bouncing off, is with ombrés, fabrics that gradate in color, value, or both.

The blocks in my “Lustrous Squares” quilt use the full width of colorful Gelato ombrés to imply a sweep of light, from the upper right to the lower left. I had so much fun pairing the ombrés with wonderful prints from Kaffe Fassett—they’re a natural together.

Lustrous Squares by Christine Barnes
Lustrous Squares by Christine Barnes

For “Urban Ombrés,” which appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Modern Patchwork, I used a Gelato gray ombré in combination with richly colored Gradations ombrés and Marcia Derse prints. (All fabrics except the black-and-white will be available as kits at the retreat.) Again, orienting the gray ombré strips with the lighter ends in the upper right of each block and the darker ends in the lower left suggests the diagonal flow of light. Check out my website for more quilts with ombrés, and my books, patterns, and fabrics. My work has also appeared in American Patchwork & QuiltingAmerican Quilter, and McCall’s Quilting You can also access my series of color lessons on The Quilt Show; see the home page of my website for details.

Urban Ombres by Christine Barnes
Urban Ombres by Christine Barnes

Sandra Bruce brings a successful career as an illustrator and letterer to her creative quilting life. Artist Chuck Close was the inspiration for her Material Matrix method, which uses 2-inch finished squares to create graphic quilt designs. Here’s her latest piece, a portrait of her son, Matteo. It just won a blue ribbon and Best of Division at our county fair.

Matteo by Sandra Bruce
Matteo by Sandra Bruce

I was with Sandra when she showed her self-portrait, below, at NCQC last year. There was a collective gasp from the audience, and one woman shouted, “It’s her!” Since then she’s been a teacher in high demand. Sandra also has a thriving long-arm quilting business, has designed fabric using Spoonflower, and creates polymer clay jewelry and buttons. See more of her work on her website.

You may recall Jennifer’s previous post that mentions Sandra Bruce and Spoonflower. 

Self-portrait by Sandra Bruce.
Self-portrait by Sandra Bruce.

An article on Sandra appeared in the April 2014 issue of Quilting Arts. She’s teaching her Material Matrix method at the retreat, based on a photo chosen by each student.

Heidi Emmett owned a full-service fabric store for 15 years, had a successful decorating business, and has taught sewing and other needle arts extensively. She admits that she wants to “do it all,” and she has so many skills and so much creativity that I can’t keep up! She’s teaching “Art to Wear, Art on the Wall” at the retreat, where students will learn an array of original techniques that can be applied to quilts and wearables. Heidi’s motto is “It has to be fun!” so you know her students will have a great time. Below are two versions of her “Skinny Vest” and a closeup.

Skinny Vests by Heidi Emmett
Skinny Vests by Heidi Emmett

 

Detail of Skinny Vest by Heidi Emmett.
Detail of Skinny Vest by Heidi Emmett.

Heidi’s work has appeared in Belle Amoire and Modern Patchwork, and a new project will soon appear in Stitch. Her patterns are available on Craftsy. Click here to follow her blog.

Many thanks to SHWS for allowing me to introduce you to Artistic Alchemy and my colleagues. You might also like to follow our AA blog,  where we take turns writing about the things that inspire us, sharing our creative processes, and showing our latest work. After all, the definition of the word alchemy is “the power or process of transforming individual elements into something special.” Isn’t that what we do when we make a quilt, embellish a garment, or fashion anything from fiber and fabric? Come join in our creative adventure!

Please join us again on Friday for Christine’s post on the role of color and value in creating the illusion of depth and layering in quilts. 

Oh, and before I forget, these three lovely ladies are offering a wonderful giveaway for one lucky reader. Simply post a comment by end of day August 21st for a chance to win a polymer-clay art button from Sandra, a vest pattern from Heidi, and four fat quarters of ombrés from Christine. Wow, thanks ladies!

Congratulations to Tabitha Keener, the winner of one of Lori Lott’s new patterns.

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20 thoughts on “Artistic Alchemy Part 1: Quilter Christine Barnes Visits SHWS

  1. I’ve been inspired for years by Christine’s work, have recently become aware of Sandra’s awesome work, and am delighted to now be introduced to Heidi’s work. Will her Skinny Vests make my butt look small? One can always hope!

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  2. Thanks for this intro…so cool to “meet” these 3 creative beings! Wish I could get to the Zephyr…I would want to take each one of the classes! Thanks for the giveaway, too!

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  3. These three women are sooo talented, I have had the good fortune to take a class from Sandra Bruce. It was excellent. If you ever get the chance….l met Heidi last spring when we were both taking a class from quilt artist, Carol Taylor. Yep, these are three very talented artists!

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  4. What a wonderful post! Full of inspiration!
    Christine’s ombré quilts are sensational.
    I look forward to reading about her color career.

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  5. How special to have access to three very talented ladies. It is inspiring to read and see the many things they can do.

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  6. I LOVE this blog! There is ALWAYS something fascinating, inspiring, and joyful! Having just finished my first selfie, the highlight for me was seeing Sandra’s selfie, but then there is the dazzle of the ombre and the great fun of a wild vest! Keep it coming, dear artists and bloggers!

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