Packing for a Creative Retreat

September 30th, 2015

Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal owner Judy Gula at her on-site satellite store at Art & Soul Virginia Beach
As long-time readers know, each year I set up as a “satellite” on-site store for the Art & Soul events that take place in Portland, Oregon and Virginia Beach, VA. I have often written about the work of packing for these events, as well as for the many quilt shows I exhibit at…shortly after arriving home, I’ll be working on stocking up and packing for the International Quilt Festival (October 29–November 1) in Houston.

So, other than telling you to be grateful you don’t have to pack an entire trailer full of EVERYTHING, what are my recommendations for packing supplies for attending an art retreat? This the alphabetical text version (originally published as a cute graphic) of the basic supplies recommended by Art & Soul. If these items aren’t already on your class supply lists, you likely won’t regret packing them. (Pictured are the adorable tags Mindy Lacefield used as examples as she taught her fun class on Monday.)

Hippity Hop Tags created by Mindy Lacefield

  • a few special trinkets, treasures and beads
  • awl or needle tool
  • basic ink pad
  • bone folder
  • cutting mat
  • glue stick
  • hole punch
  • needle and heavy thread
  • needlenose pliers
  • notebook
  • paint brushes: regular, foam, stipple
  • pencil and eraser
  • popsicle sticks
  • ribbons, yarns, fibers
  • ruler
  • scissors
  • tape: double stick and regular
  • toothpicks
  • Xacto knife and extra blades

My recommendations for additions to this list? Well, of course, some fabric! When I am teaching a class that requires fabric as a supply, I recommend just a sandwich baggie size amount of scraps, of a variety of types and weights (unless it is a quilting class that requires yardage, of course). You will be really surprised how far just that baggie can take you with a project!

What else? Golden Soft Gel Medium — this can used as be an embellishment adhesive, a a collage medium, a final sealant, etc. And of course you are packing light, but one or two stencils, especially those that can be used for background layers and textures, won’t add much weight. A couple favorite rubber stamps and/or wooden printing blocks, and a favorite color/brand of paint. A handful of buttons…great embellishments!

What supply or tool have you learned to always take to a class, even if it’s not specifically listed?

Every Art & Soul event includes a Vendor Night that is also open to the general public

P.S. Remember that every Art & Soul event includes Vendor Night, inviting many of the instructors and other creative individuals and stores to sell supplies, jewelry, ephemera and finished artwork. The public is welcome with a $10 admission (free for attendees) — well worth the cost to have this special access. Art & Soul Vendor Night Virginia Beach is this Saturday, October 3 from 6:00-9:00 pm — if you are located anywhere within a reasonable drive, plan to attend!

More Art Journaling: Altering Cut-outs, Using Pan Pastels

September 23rd, 2015

My studio at the moment continues to have journaling supplies and papers front and center on the table. I’ve enjoyed experimenting with creating a variety of art journal pages.

This session I played with Pan Pastels. I consider this product a “fine art medium,” so that means it is intimidating to me! My comfort zone is in creating backgrounds, so that’s where I began. I ended up experimenting with two types of backgrounds that used Inkssentials Watermark Resist Ink and Golden Brand Gesso for effects.

I would recommend working with the Pan Pastels on watercolor paper, because it has a nice “tooth” to it. Since I didn’t have any at handy at home, I used pages from a Strathmore 400 Series Mixed Media Paper with fine results.

Inkessentials Watermark Resist Ink with TCW Mask

I took a TCW Mask (TCW2023 Petri Dish) designed by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer and stamped over the mask using the resist ink pad (holding the pad right side down and pouncing). Then I used one of the Sofft tools packaged with all Pan Pastels to add color and gently moved it in circular motions over the stamped image…the result is magic! The resist ink stamping intensifies the Pan Pastels color and coverage and gives you a crisp design line.

Resist ink stamping intensifies the Pan Pastels color and coverage and gives you a crisp design line

My next layer was created using that same watermark stamp and the Cover-a-Card French Text Stamp, then a brown shade of Pan Pastel.

Watermark stamp using the Cover-a-Card French Text Stamp, then a brown shade of Pan Pastel

I experimented with using a purple color of Gelatos through the mask. I wanted to see if there was any resist when the Pan Pastels was gently rubbed around it. The answer was, not so much. But the Gelatos did add a more intense color of purple to the Pan Pastels, so I was happy with that.

Here’s my full page…I love the texture and imagery. This will make a great base to add additional art to, or could even be cut up to Artist Trading Card (ATC) size.

Watermark resist ink pad, Pan Pastels, stamps and masks

For the following pages, I used various cutouts of models from fashion ads. Because magazines are usually printed on slick paper, they need to be primed in some way to accept other medium, so I used gesso on selected areas. This gave me a base to add my own color with my Pan Pastels and Gelatos. It can also mask out an area I don’t like as much.

Gesso on selected areas of magazine page

I selected all of the magazine cut outs and adhered them to my page using Golden Soft Gel Medium. Then I selected additional colors from Pan Pastel, applied with the Sofft tools.

Art journal page by Judy Gula in progress

Like her new red/orange shirt? Next up, altering her hair…

Gesso is a great medium to use with Derwent Inktense Blocks or pencils, Pan Pastels, and Gelatos. Water the gesso down a bit, and mix it with the colors using a paint brush. When my color mix turned out too light, I applied a bit more of Gelato over top.

Art Journal page by Judy Gula in progress

I only had white gesso handy as I was creating these —what would happen if you tried using clear gesso?

Finished art journal page by Judy Gula

Finished art journal page by Judy Gula

Above, the finished page. Below, another page with the same techniques. I mentioned the magazine pages are slick, so there are some light/camera flash reflections…but I think you get the idea.

Art journal page by Judy Gula

One of the members of our JAMs Round Robin Art Journal Exchange has selected Outrageous Inspiration as her theme — I think these two qualify as outrageous! What do you think?

Page painted with two coats of Chalky Vintage-Look by Viva Decor in Aqua

In another experiment, I took a page (above) I had previously painted with two coats of Chalky Vintage-Look by Viva Decor (in Aqua), which gave my page more tooth.

Pan Pastels over Chalky Vintage-Look paint

I added additional color with my Pan Pastels using the Sofft tools. Then I added another fashion photograph cut out. This page (below) is now ready for me to continue playing the next time I’m in my studio!

Pan Pastels over Chalky Vintage-Look paint, magazine cut-out

Journaling, a Mixed Media Affair: Fabric Included!

September 16th, 2015

In recent blog posts about my art journaling, I have shown you how I use stencils to add texture to my pages, and how to create your own tissue paper with wooden printing blocks.

This posting is about the next step in the layering process of creating these journal pages. And I need to add the same disclaimer I have before: these pages are not finished yet…there is more to come.

Portion of art journal page by Judy Gula

Pictured above is a portion of a page I have been working on. I wasn’t unhappy with it, but wanted a little something extra, and realized a Pearl Pen from Viva Décor was the perfect solution. Below is the after — I used the Silver color (we just added five new colors to our online shop; now there are 30 to choose from).

Portion of art journal page, with Pearl Pen embellishing, by Judy Gula

This product takes just seconds to apply! What’s great is how perfectly the product forms the half-round “pearls.” There’s none of those spiky peaks you try and mush down, ruining your shape.

Portion of art journal page, with Pearl Pen embellishing, by Judy Gula

In fact, it’s important to let the pen and the product do the work. I applied the pearls to one of my fabric postcards, and without thinking, immediately tapped the card down on the table, the way you would to remove air bubbles or settle a product? Neither was the reality…it was just instinctual, I guess. The result was actually kind of cool…but undeniably flat.

Fabric postcard by Judy Gula, with flattened Pearl Pen
Fabric postcard by Judy Gula, with flattened Pearl Pen

FYI, I am teaching my fabric postcard class on Saturday, October 10. Join me!

So, as mentioned many times over the years on this blog, I got my start as a fabric/textile lover. The surge in mixed media as an art form and the release of a lot of cool products has taught me a lot about paper, and I do enjoy working with paper…for instance, creating these art journal pages has been a really enjoyable process.

But yes, at heart fabric is my true love… and so yes, I often include fabric on my paper journal pages.

Art journal page by Judy Gula with TAP flower

The above journal spread was creating from flower and gardening ephemera. The flower is a photo that my son took. I printed it on Transfer Artist Paper (TAP) onto a piece of muslin, then applied it to my page using Golden Soft Gel Medium (spread the medium onto both the painted journal paper and the back of the transferred photo).

Art journal page by Judy Gula with violet  vintage ephemera

On this above page, I created a tab extending from the page using part of a vintage greeting card. I included a vintage book text/illustration page as well as a fabric coaster of violets with a wonderful frayed edge. All were adhered with soft gel medium.

Art journal page by Judy Gula with lace and trim

This page has bits of white trim again attached with soft gel medium.

For me, sorting and organizing ephemera is a never ending process. I actually have a type cabinet that is completely full, and boxes overflowing with those perfect bits and pieces of fabric and paper I want to use in my journals.

I am trying! Sometimes I think of organizing as an act of procrastination, instead of tackling what I originally intended to do. But the reality is that digging through those drawers and boxes and files brings me back in touch with items I had forgotten I had — including some you see here.

How do you organize your journal bits and pieces? I would really love to know — your system might help me with my treasures! Please leave a comment on this posting and share!

P.S. for those of you who are local, or who will be in the area, a reminder that this Sunday is our monthly JAMs meeting.

More Thoughts on Creativity and Health

September 9th, 2015

In a previous blog posting, we shared thoughts about a recent health study extolling the benefits of creative endeavors and hobbies, and creativity in general: Why Quilting Improves Your Health in Ways Even Exercise Can’t Manage,

Interviews of quilters found that the hobby “helped their cognitive, creative and emotional well-being…[that] the use of bright colors was ‘uplifting,’ the activity distracted from the stress of work, and … offered challenges such as maths and geometry. It also increased confidence and had an important social side.”

Healing through stitching art in progress by Julie B. Booth

A note: Julie will be teaching her Fabric Printing at Home: A Kitchen Sampler class for us on September 19 & 20. On Day 1 you will paint and print fabrics, recycling and “upcycling” household materials to make print blocks, stencils and fabric resists as you learn techniques from Julie’s book, Fabric Printing at Home. On Day 2 you will create a hand-stitched wall hanging using your fabrics. Your head will swim with the creative possibilities! Visit Julie’s blog to see some of the wonderful fabrics generated the last time we had the class!

When we posted, one of the comments from from surface design artist and author Julie B. Booth. Julie wrote, “feeling on the same wavelength and hope you saw my post about the piece I started about my Dad [in process photo above]. I find hand stitching very powerful…healing. Once a month a group of my students and I get together for a “Stitch-In”. Lots of sharing and story telling and of course, stitching! I look forward to spending that time together.”

Fiber and mixed media artist Linda Morgan emailed us after reading the study: “When I’m engaged in creating art, solving design and construction issues, I feel challenged for a while, then happy and proud of my accomplishments. This kind of positive energy keeps me engaged and gives me something to look forward to.”

Under the Sea art quilt by Linda Morgan

Linda adds, “More is always good. I work on a piece until I just can’t put another thing on it. I’m still adding items to my Under the Sea art quilt! [pictured above] I have made some amazing friends through art and found that we are each others support group and cheerleaders. I love trying new things and taking a variety of classes.
I am a very messy worker — I look at this as a sign of a creative soul —and hate to clean up as I go. (I cook this way too!) Art keeps my spirit Happy and Healthy ….. plus I love to shop for new art supplies, which is extremely healthy.” Visit Linda’s Purple Cat Cards blog.

Mixed media collage by Wendy Sittner

In the comments to our original post, collage/mixed media artist Wendy Sittner wrote, “as a mental health therapist, my role is to support people through some of the most difficult times in their lives. I use art as a way to take care of my own mental health outside of work. One way I prevent ‘compassion fatigue’ is by balancing the stories I hear at my job with lighter-themed artwork for clients who commission my work. Creating mixed media pieces about festive occasions like weddings [example above] and family vacations gives me the necessary reminder that life gives us a range of experiences rather than all highs or all lows.” Visit Wendy’s Etsy site for more of her mixed media art.

Handfelted stitchwork by Chris Vinh

“It seems that I have always done some sort of fiber work as a ‘hobby’ and a way of giving part of me to those I care about,” reports textile artist Chris Vinh. “Gifts to family and friends for many years were something handmade in the project du jour — clothes, cross stitch, crewel, needlepoint, and quilting. It was in a class over 20 years ago where I discovered that I had a voice which was best expressed in color and texture. It was then that I realized there were many kindred spirits out there who sang in the same choir. The membership of that choir has grown over the years and my artist friends have been my main stay through good times and bad. With their support and encouragement, I have used fiber, color, texture to express myself in ways I never dreamt possible. [One example of Chris’ felting and stitching work is above.]

Chris continues, “When I need to retreat and center myself, I turn to knitting or hand stitching and when I am bursting with ideas, it’s the fabric stash that calls. And when I need inspiration, I turn to my friends. In addition to the personal benefits, both have provided me avenues for touching a wider community through coordination of charitable projects in memory of one of my early quilting buddies. I simply cannot imagine my life without the benefits I have gained through the use of needle and thread.” Visit Chris’ Etsy site for her Modern Log Cabin Quilt Square [below] and more of her fiber art.

Modern Log Cabin Quilt Square by Chris Vinh

“The first time I thought about the connection between creativity and health was when the child of a good friend was very ill,” shares Artistic Artifacts customer and JAMs member Judy Grumbacher. “My friend said, ‘I can survive anything as long as I have art.’ I know creativity has contributed to my mental health (such as it is!) Soon after I was divorced, I read Circle of Stones. There was a passage that moved me to create six large mixed-medial panels centered around that passage. And I made a fabric piece, using a section of my surgical bra, [pictured below] as I recovered from breast cancer.

Mixed media art by Judy Grumbacher

Judy continues, “another health benefit: when I’m sewing or painting, I’m not snacking!” Judy laughs.

Finally, we want to close with the comment that Martha Irish made to the original post. We were shocked to learn recently that Martha passed away unexpectedly last month. Martha was a loyal customer, frequently attended classes and How Do I Use This? sessions, and will be missed! Martha wrote:

“Color is a vibration. We remember that from elementary school when we learned that each color has a different wavelength. These wavelengths are vital to the physical and emotional health of the body. Reiki therapists and other energy workers, for example, channel energy to the patient to activate the patient’s own natural healing processes….
But back to art. We can stimulate our own natural healing processes by surrounding ourselves with color. Some days we might need the wavelengths of bright warm colors. Other days we are drawn to the cool colors. Maybe that’s why quilters and other artists seem to be working on many projects at one time!”

Quilting with a Walking Foot

September 2nd, 2015

In my sewing past, I had always found using my walking foot difficult — I definitely did not like it, even having been told that it would be one of the most valuable tools in the sewing box if some understanding could come between it and I.

I think the first thing is the name of the foot… Walking. That means slow and steady, not fast and crazy. Slow and steady is a good point to remember when sewing with a walking foot. A walking foot’s claim to fame is that it feeds the top and lower fabrics through your sewing machine together, at the same pace and tension. And I do know that my bottom fabric sometimes gets away from me when sewing without it.

Walking foot and accessories

The next thing to remember is that the extra pieces in the box are there for a reason! My walking foot came with a second sole plates, two arms, and something with a screw… I won’t get into the specifics: please read the directions that come with your walking foot and machine. But suffice it to say if you, like me, have only had limited experience trying this tool (or had avoided it altogether), today I am going to recomment that you try it! You might like it! As I found out!

Fast Forward to my recent vacation. The first item I packed was my sewing machine!
But before doing so, I pulled out several large tops. Okay, they were large to me … which means that the prospect of machine quilting them was intimidating to me. And thus, they were ignored until now.

I made quilt sandwiches of the tops, adding batting and backing. And I asked for quilting tips and ideas from my good friend Cyndi Souder of Moonlighting Quilts. (Cyndi is teaching another one of her wonderful machine quilting classes here at the shop on September 12, so take advantage if you can.)

So, armed with information, inspiration, my walking foot and its accessories accompanying my sewing machine, off to the beach I went!

The first project was to quilt a gift for my siste Julier’s friend who had adopted a little girl in Kenya, and yes, they live in Kenya! This was a group project with Julie and her children Celia, Layla and Evan. We collected all the pieces of African fabricI had in my stash, and the kids laid them out and sewed strips. We used an Indigo fabric as the base, and once the strips were done I sewed it all together into a modern quilt. (Click photo for a larger view.)

African fabric quilt by Judy Gula and family

Now mind you, the original plan was that this was supposed to be a small quilt, like a blankie, but in our enthusiasm it grew to be more than a twin size bed quilt. Definitely OUT of my usual comfort zone for machine quilting! But by using my walking foot, we criss crossed throughout the quilt, and we think it turned out great! Trixie and her daughter Anaya, now 3 years old, were thrilled, as you can see in the photos below here.

Anaya playing with her new quilt
Anaya playing with her new quil

She’s just beyond adorable, right?

Anaya playing with her new quil

My Next Vacation Quilting Project

In a previous blog post, I wrote about how I pieced a star quilt using directions from Scraps & Shirttails: Reuse, Re-purpose, Recycle! The Art of “Quilting Green.” by Bonnie K. Hunter. I wanted to encourage my readers to begin looking at traditional quilt patterns to use with non-traditional fabrics, such as the Australian Aborigine designed fabric from M&S Textiles. And now that it has been quilted, it’s finished!

Australian fabric string pieced quilt by Judy Gula

Click for a larger view of the completed quilt  »

Australian fabric string pieced quilt by Judy Gula

This machine quilting project was a bit trickier, but my plan was to straight stitch the star and triangle shapes. I even changed the thread colors while machine quilting! I used variegated Star Thread in 848 Blue Pacific for the dark stars and inner border, and 835 Vanilla Cream for the light diamonds (see above and additional closeup below).

Detail, Australian fabric string pieced quilt by Judy Gula

To keep the stitching lines straight for this project, I used the edge of the foot as a guide, aligning it with the design shapes and seams. I used black Aurifil thread to machine quilt the border, finishing it off.

Completing this quilt took much longer than I anticipated, but I am very happy with the results!

Now go. Make friends with your feet!

Using Rusty Paper and Rust Patina

August 26th, 2015

Items painted with Rusty Paper and Rust Patina are weather resistant

Rusty Paper by Viva Decor is a paint product that will give a realistic rust appearance, complete with a rough surface, to paper, cardboard, wood, metal, plastic and more. Use Rusty Paper in conjunction with your choice of Rusty Patina to achieve even more interesting color effects. The finish is even weather durable!

I was excited to begin stocking the Rusty Paper, as it is the first one-step (and non-corrosive) product I’m aware of that can be used on paper and with rubber stamps and/or stencils. The vintage tag created by Viva Decor (click photo below for larger view) is an example of some exciting possibilities with these new products! I think they’d be perfect used on the Relic & Artifacts by Sandra Evertson. We will be experimenting with this new product during our October session of How Do I Use This?…join us!

Rusty Paper Tag Tutorial

The following tutorials are courtesy of Viva Decor. Rust effects can be achieved by wiping or pouncing product on, or applying with a palette knife. You may also choose to use any product that can give you three dimensional texture prior to using the Rusty Paper, to give an authentic, disintegrating look.

Vintage look tag collage by Viva Decor

Materials used here are Rusty Paper, available in original (dark rust) or Rust Orange and Rusty Patina (available in Copper and Oxyd), torn watercolor paper, cling rubber stamp on acrylic block, vintage book text and a vintage photo (both accented with stitching), burlap, decorative ribbon, twine, clothespin, scissors, palette knife and sponge pouncers.

Materials to create Rusty Paper tag

Stir your jar of Rusty Paper thoroughly before applying. Here the product is being applied to the paper (torn into a tag shape) with a sponge applicator, swirling it in. If necessary for coverage, apply a second coat after the first has dried.

Applying Rusty Paper to tag

Add desired amount of Rusty Patina (below, in Copper; Rusty Patina is also available in an orange Oxyd shade) to the still wet tag. Working wet on wet gives you the more organic look. You can mix both colors of Rusty Paper, the Rusty Paper with the Rusty Patina, both Patinas…whatever you like to achieve a wide variety of rust effects.

Adding Rust Patina to painted tag

Below, apply additional Rusty Paper over areas of the Patina with a palette knife.

Applying additional Rusty Paper with palette knife

Apply additional Rusty Paper and Rusty Patina as desired to achieve an organic, layered look of distress.

Adding additional Rusty Paper product

Below, pounce Rusty Paper onto a clear polymer stamp with a sponge applicator. As with any paint or ink, you want full coverage on the stamp area, but not an excessive amount of product that would ruin your imprint. (Wouldn’t the new Finnabair stamps, from this week’s enewsletter, be amazing stamped in rust?)

Applying Rusty Paper to clear polymer stamp

Stamp onto a smaller tag or paper torn to size. Cut and fray burlap to size, and begin arranging your trimmed materials onto your rusted tag as you please. Use additional Rusty Paper or Rusty Patina, or your favorite inks and paints, to distress edges and add additional color, if desired.

Arranging all tag materials

Completed tag using Rusty Paper and Rust Patina by Viva Decor

Once you have an arrangement you like, affix all materials into place with glue or stitching.

More on Applying Rusty Paper and Rust Patina

Tray and flower pots, before and after Rusty Paper and Rust Patina

From Viva Decor, here is the step by step process to create a decorative plate using Rusty Paper and Rusty Patina.

Rolling on first coat of Rusty Paper

Coat your surface with Rusty for Paper thoroughly, and let dry. If you can’t achieve full coverage with one coat, apply another after the first dries. Immediately clean any application tool with cold water after use. The cured product is not water-soluble.

Painting on Rusty Paper

Rust effects can be achieved by brushing, wiping or dabbing product on, even applying with a palette knife. Use both colors of Rusty for Paper, or mix with Rusty Patina for even more dynamic and realistic rust appearance.

Sponging on and blending both Rusty Paper and Rust Patina

Puddle some Rusty for Paper and your choice of Rusty Patina on a separate plate, and use a sponge for these additional applications.

Adding Rust Patina

Apply Rusty Paper to select areas. While the Rusty Paper is still wet, pick up some Rusty Patina and wipe it into the Rusty, swirling and mottling. For this plate, the designer is working in a circular pattern to mimic how rust could actually form.

Adding Rust Patina and Rusty Paper together, wet on wet

One after another, wipe Rusty and Rusty Patina, wet on wet, into each other until the desired thickness of color has been achieved. Let dry.

Finished display plate

Layered Art Journal Pages: Block Printed Tissue

August 19th, 2015

When I am creating pages for my own art journal, or those for the round robin journal exchange currently going on within our JAMs group, I prefer to work on several pages at a time in steps. In previous blog posts (e.g., here and here) I showed you some of my techniques to create backgrounds for pages. A great way to build in layers and interest is applying printed tissue paper to your painted backgrounds..

Of course there are commercial prints available, and I do use them, but most times I love stamping plain white tissue paper using my wooden printing blocks and whatever paint I have handy in my studio.

Supplies to create block printed tissue

Above, you will need wooden printing blocks, a dense foam mat for a stamping surface, tissue paper and your choice of paint.

The block printing/stamping techniquess are the same, whether you are printing fabric or tissue paper:

  1. Apply paint to the wooden printing block with a sponge.
  2. Lay the tissue over the foam mat and then place the wooden printing block down and press once.
  3. I usually stamp my block once and then apply paint again to continue, but sometimes you can get a ghost print too by pressing the block again on a different area of the tissue without reapplying paint.

Apply paint to the block

Apply paint to the block

Dab the entire block with paint, but do not overapply

Dab the entire block with paint, but do not overapply

With tissue on the mat, place the block down and press firmly and evenly

With tissue on the mat, place the block down and press firmly and evenly

Block printed tissue

Block printed tissue

Various block printed tissue papers

Print a bunch of tissue sheets at one time. It's a quick process and they are wonderful additions to your collage stash!

A new trick I recently learned is to apply the tissue paper to the journal page using gel medium instead of using matte medium.

The gel is applied with a stiff bristle brush: first to the back of the tissue, then after the tissue has been placed in your journal or on your page, then applied over the tissue to seal it. After the gel medium dries, the tissue is translucent, and you can see through to your painted background.

In the past I had used matte medium and would get frustrated with the tissue frequently ripping as I applied it. I have found that when I’ve used the gel medium, that didn’t happen.

Block printed tissue paper adds translucent color and texture

Also, when you are applying the painted tissue, don’t worry about creases and wrinkles. For one, it’s next to impossible to place the tissue with no wrinnkles, so there’s no point stressing yourself out about them. For another, creases and wrinkles add texture — and texture is good! You can see both the translucency and texture in the above closeup of one of my pages.

On the below page (click for a larger view) I first used a stencil to apply the turquoise circles, then when that was dry, I applied a yellow paint.

Block printed tissue on stenciled art journal page by Judy Gula

The next layer is the stamped tissue paper — the blue circle with stars (this is the WB310 Star Field wooden printing block). Notice that you can see through the blue to the background. I applied some bits of our Web Weave Ribbon at the same time using the gel medium.

There is still more to do with this page, but again, we are building in layers! Here are some other pages that are at the same stage that I’ve created using printed tissue paper.

A combination of commercially printed tissue paper and block printed tissue

This page is a combination of commercially printed tissue paper (the black and white floral) and block printed tissue (the large leaf) over a stenciled background

Art journal pages with block printed tissue

Vacation Quilting

August 12th, 2015

In May I wrote about how I pieced several quilts for samples, using our hand drawn batik panels while I was attending my quilt guild chapter’s annual retreat. Before leaving this week for my family beach vacation, I assembled several quilt sandwiches in hopes of getting stitching done.

Of course along with towels and sunscreen, I packed my sewing machine and all necessary tools. Doesn’t everyone take their machine along when they travel?

Just before I left, the new fabric collection from Frond Design Studios arrived, and I thought the Tree Trunk, Alive stripe was the perfect addition to finish this quilt off. (View larger photo)

Mahyar Batik Panel quilt by Judy Gula

We stock a wide variety of batik panels from a number of Indonesian artists. This particular panel is from Mahyer, his two dog (and one rooster!) design.

I free motion stitched my quilt sandwich, following the pattern of the dogs. I love the leaves in the plants Mahyar draws! The orange batik fabric was a good match for the warm colors Mayhar features. I like the idea that the Australian fabric, Sand Hill Charcoal, imitated waves of stitching. Finally, the striped binding from Frond had the great greens to blues coloration that echoed the colors in the panel.

Stenciled Art Journal Pages

August 5th, 2015

For the last couple years I have committed to creating a blog post at least once a week, so it is a regularly scheduled (and predictable) task. But still every week I struggle to get it done in a timely manner! There’s always something…this week I began cleaning off my work table on Sunday evening… continued all day Monday… and finally by Tuesday evening I had room to work on my project to document for the blog.

Part of my clean up/organizing session was to take all of my small 6" x 6" size stencils (on sale this week!) and place them in an old photo album — remember the kind with the ‘magnetic’ pages? We know now not to damage our photographs using these, but they can make great organizers for stencils!

Organizing stencils in an old photo album

I placed two stencils per page. It remains to be seen if they will be returned to their place in the album after use. Anyway, on to the meat and potatoes of this posting! I wanted to illustrate create a two-page spread in an art journal so that the backgrounds connect.

I have several pages already painted in my stash. Remember to pull out your art journal or loose pages as you finish up any painting project: use them to get the excess paint off your brushes or applicators, rather than washing all that color down the drain.

Stencil atop two aligned pages

Above, I have aligned two loose pages together, and then placed a large 12" x 12" stencil so that it the design will appear (asymmetrically) on both pages. Notice off to the side the Colorbox stylus (black handle) with a small foam tip on the top. This is the tool that I use to apply my paint through the stencil, using in soft rotating circular motions. (The Artistic Artifacts website sells the Colorbox stylus handles and reusable foam tips.)

I do spray my stencils using 404 Spray and Fix Repositionable Craft Adhesive, and I have an important tip for you: let the sprayed stencil air-dry before placing it on your journal page. If you don’t, it will stick! (Ask me how I know.)

Silver paint applied through stencil

Above, inset, I have applied a silver metallic through the stencil, and the result once the stencil is picked up.

Take paint off your stir stick -- no waste!

Above, I have placed a portion of a different stencil so that it is positioned off the page. This gives the design some movement and a natural look. This photo also shows another way I save paint: I used the wooden tongue depressor to stir my paint up, and am taking the paint left on depressor up with my stylus tool to apply it.

Using more than one stencil, and moving it around

Above, one page completed with several colors of paint, and after moving the stencil around several times.

Beginning the other page of the spread

Working on the second sheet of this spread, I positioned the entire TCW522 – Rock Crystals stencil down on the page. After painting (above), I thought it looked a little bare at the top, so I moved the stencil around again, resulting in the below. Better balanced, wouldn’t you agree?

Moved the stencil to fill in a blank area

Below, the background stenciling and painting of this spread is completed. There is cohesion between the two pages, and the pages are now ready for me to continue on, adding photos, drawings, ephemera and more.

stenciled/painted background spread completed

P.S. If you were wondering…when I have the time to work on pages for the round robin art journal that is currently goining on through JAMs, but don’t have a journal in my possession, I work on a spread of two loose pages. That way when time is at a premium, I only need to glue in the completed pages.

Thoughts on the Health Benefits of Creativity

July 29th, 2015

Earlier this week on our Facebook page, we posted a link to Why Quilting Improves Your Health in Ways Even Exercise Can’t Manage, health study extolling the benefits of quilting (they also refer to other creative endeavors and hobbies) and creativity.

“The University of Glasgow team concluded that all hobbies — ‘from reading to train spotting’ — should be looked at for their mental and physical benefits. They interviewed quilters and found the activity helped their cognitive, creative and emotional well-being, particularly among older people. The use of bright colours was ‘uplifting’, the activity distracted from the stress of work, and quilting offered challenges such as maths and geometry. It also increased confidence and had an important social side. Professor Jacqueline Atkinson, co-author of the study and a quilter herself for five decades, said: ‘Doing something that engages you and that you enjoy is key. As adults, we don’t often do enough that includes fun and play.”

Interviews of quilters found that the hobby “helped their cognitive, creative and emotional well-being…[that] the use of bright colors was ‘uplifting,’ the activity distracted from the stress of work, and … offered challenges such as maths and geometry. It also increased confidence and had an important social side.”

As I have transitioned to my “Dream” business of Artistic Artifacts, I find that my time to create is very limited. If I continue to let the paperwork control my life, the “dream” business will turn into the nightmare. I have to schedule time to create, make sure I touch some fiber and have a portable project. I get cranky, and more, if I ignore these things.

With a Little Help From My Friends, art quilt by Judy Gula

The quilting world specifically has broadened my circle of friends across the country, and the support, encouragement and exchange of information between members in this community of artist business has been unmatched in any other industry I have worked in (and there have been several)! That quilting keeps me healthy can only be enforced by the care of my friends. I created the quilt pictured above for Donna DeSoto’s Inspired by the Beatles: An Art Quilt Challenge, choosing the song titled A Little Help From my Friends. It illustrates how important creativity and friendships are to me.

In this blog posing I’m sharing some thoughts from creative friends about the study’s findings, and we’d love to know what you think too — leave us a comment below, or email us, especially if you’re including a photo of your art (please do, and let us know if we can share it). Comments or emails received by Monday, August 3 will be eligible for a random prize drawing: I’m putting together a little surprise creativity project starter package!

Fiber art by Kathlyn “Kat” Avila-Reyes

Kathlyn “Kat” Avila-Reyes (art quilt pictured above and below; visit her website for more) is an amazing artist! She says, “I’ve always enjoyed gathering, touching, and placing bits and pieces of fabric together; it’s cathartic! I especially love vintage fabrics that have come from an old dress or blouse…every small scrap of fabric holds a memory, it’s a small treasure with a linage of times gone by. Placing each little piece together is like a puzzle of goodness, of ‘I remember when….’ or an imaginative time of dolls, tea parties, and aunties stitching hems. I get totally lost in the stories my fabrics tell, they are as comforting as a grandmother’s hand and hot tea on a cold night. What can get any better than that?”

Fiber art by Kathlyn “Kat” Avila-Reyes

Fiber and mixed media artist, author and teacher Diane Herbort thinks that one big benefit to being involved in quilting and other types of fiber arts is “I always have something to look forward to. It is an incentive to get all the ‘regular’ work done. You could say it is the nice colorful carrot dangling from the stick that is the drudgery of life and work.”

Creating as a form of motivation…I can get behind that concept! Diane’s art quilt Reverie is pictured below, consisting of painted and printed paper, cotton fabrics and metallic trims and machine stitching (click photo for a larger view). Visit Diane’s website for more of her lovely work.

Diane Herbort’s art quilt Reverie

“I believe friendships are formed through shared experiences,” writes Cyndi Souder of Moonlighting Quilts. “The friends I’ve made through quilting are the core of my social circle. I care about them, I rely on them, I treasure them. When I lost my sister to ovarian cancer, my quilting friends kept me afloat. When I need opinions, help, or good conversations, they are there. They are my tribe. I would not have found these amazing friends if we did not have quilting in common.”

Pictured below is a celebration quilt Cyndi created, a portrait of her sister Vicki that is titled Memories. (Click on the photo for a larger view)

Memories by Cyndi Souder, Moonlighting Quilts

On Saturday, August 8 Cyndi will be teaching Designing Meaningful Memory Quilts at our shop, where you can learn to draft an original quilt design that pays tribute to the memories of the original owners of treasured linens, clothes, photographs, etc.

“The happy dance I do when my quilt project
is coming together is far more beneficial than
the exercise tapes gathering dust on my shelf.”

The above quote is from Chris Vinh of StitchesnQuilts. Okay, so now who out there is going to cross-stitch that into a sampler for me?

Mahyar cat batik panel quilt by Chris Vinh

Chris does amazing quilting and fiber art — visit her Etsy site to view. Above is a quilting and beaded batik panel by Mahyar. Chris has created so many beautiful samples for me to display in the shop and show off how creatively these materials can be used.

Kaleidescope of Colors, first prize, group quilts, 2015 Quilt Odyssey

“Art has a great effect on my mental, spiritual and physical health,” writes Etta Stewart. “I have learned that I need that time each day to focus on something other than daily living, and the other is to take myself on an art date. Last week, my art date happened to be going to Quilt Odyssey with friends. I wanted to share the experience of seeing our Blue ribbon with other quilter friends.” (Etta and her friends won First Place in the Group Quilt category for Kaleidoscope of Colors, pictured above; detail below.)

Detail, Kaleidescope of Colors, first prize, group quilts, 2015 Quilt Odyssey

Etta shared that she and her friends spent a total of seven hours at the quilt show, between viewing the quilts and perusing the merchants mall. Obviously that counts as physical exercise too! Visit Etta’s Pinterest boards to see some of the many ways she fills her creative well.

“Managing stress isn’t always easy for me,” shares Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution. “First born, over achiever, go, go goer that sort of says it all. The best medicine I have found is what I call Stitch Meditations. I tried for years to do ‘real’ meditation. It just never took and I always felt like I was doing it wrong. But, I knew I needed a stress reducer that was simple and didn’t take much time to do. I love both machine and hand stitching and I find both very relaxing. However the tactile nature of hand stitch won over and I started creating simple small collages using only hand stitch.”

Stitch Meditation by Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution

One of Liz’ stitch meditations is pictured above — visit her website gallery to see many more. “These meditations are really important to my mental health not only because I slow down and enjoy the meditation,” says Liz, “but they give me a sense of connection to my art on a daily basis…even when life has me otherwise occupied.”

NiYa Costley, a friend from Judy’s Altered Minds, (JAMs) notes that “I can’t quilt when I am upset — spend too much time with the seam ripper if I do. I can crochet though. Get lots done because I move even faster than normal when I am upset….and it does serve to calm my nerves.” Below, some of her beautiful crochet work.

Crochet by Niya Costley

“I also will do Zentangle as a way to calm and allow my mind to freely roam,” says NiYa, who feels that her membership in JAMS has allowed her “to meet new artists who do different kind of things that I had never considered before, like Kinetic Quilting, and entering juried shows like the recent Mixed Media show at Del Ray Artisans Gallery.” NiYa has tons of photos of her work on her PhotoBucket site.

Please leave us a comment below (or email us) with your thoughts on creativity and health. Remember, comments or emails received by Monday, August 3 will be eligible for a random prize drawing.