Our Final Row by Row Color/Design Variation

August 20th, 2014

Artistic Artifacts Red Row by Row Experience Design

This summer’s Row by Row Experience shop hop has been so enjoyable for those of us at Artistic Artifacts! We have met so many people, both local and many from out of state and Canada, who have visited us to pick up our free pattern.

Artistic Artifacts Row by Row Experience fabric kits

Artistic Artifacts Row by Row Experience fabric kits are available in four colorways

We created four different fabric colorways (these fabric kits are now available to order online) and have previously posted photos of three: the orange and blue kits were completed with Thermofax screen printing and hand stamped with our wooden printing blocks. For the green sample, we added a monoprinted background created using a Gelli Arts™ Gel Printing Plate.

In this posting I am finally featuring the fourth colorway, red. I am actually happy that we waited to complete this sample, because it has allowed us to respond to some customer discussions we have had in the store.

We have been delighted with the customers with no previous experience who embraced trying something new; many are experimenting with block printing and screen printing with the Thermofax screens we used. But there were also people who hestitated over those techniques, so we have continually brainstormed options for the background: use rubber stamps or stencils that you already own. Or purchase fabric that has words on it, such as Tim Holtz designs. Or thread paint, or hand-stitch a design. Or do no surface design at all and replace the white fabric with another of your choosing. The winner of our fabric prize, Jana Franklin, used her computer to print springtime poems and facts onto her white muslin, and then stamped with wooden printing blocks over that. What was important to us at Artistic Artifacts was that you made this row your own.

For this red Sample I used a rubber stamp and Memento Luxe Mixed Media Ink Pads to stamp the background before adding block printing. (I have previously blogged about using Memento Luxe Mixed Media Ink Pads in block printing, so take a look.)

Cover-a-Card rubber stamp and Memento Luxe Mixed Media Ink Pads

The stamp pictured above is the French Text Cover-a-Card Stamp. The Cover-a-Card company makes the Mega Mount Acrylic Block for use with these 5¾" square rubber stamps…it sure makes the stamping process easier than manhandling a non-mounted stamp! Pictured are three colors of ink pad… yes I did use all three! Notice the yellow foam printing mat. Every tool box needs one!

Applying Memento Luxe Mixed Media Ink to the Cover-a-Card rubber stamp

As you can see above, the stamp pad is much smaller than the stamp, so I turn the stamp facing up and apply the ink pad to the stamp, rather than applying the stamp to the ink pad. Much better coverage.

Using the Mega Mount and Cover-a-Card stamp

The base of the Mega Mount Acrylic Block is slightly curved so that even the largest stamp only contacts the paper one section at a time, requiring less pressure and resulting in clean, even impressions.

In the above photo you can see the Mega Mount acrylic handle. It is curved so that I “roll” the stamp onto the fabric. I will continue to turn the stamp every which way, because I am creating a background texture…I’m not creating text that is meant to be readable.

Completed stamped background

I stamp the whole background. Once the Memento Luxe Mixed Media Ink is dry, I ironed the fabric, which eat set the ink for permanence and washability.

My previous row designs have been recognizable animals and leaves — the “flora and fauna” of spring. I wanted to do something a bit more abstract for this red colorway, while keeping with the spring theme. We have a large number of paisley designs of wooden printing blocks, and they are such a favorite of mine! You can see that the ones I have chosen have a floral/leaf look to them, so I think it works well with our other rows.

Paisley block stamped in red

With my previous Row by Row samples, I used opaque PROFab Textile Paints for the block printing. In keeping with the idea of working differently, for this sample I used my other favorite textile paint from Stewart Gill.

Another paisley block stamped in shades of red

Using Stewart Gill True Color, Opaque Matte Paint Color # 1 True Red, I applied it to the wooden printing block with sponge, and then stamped.

Using shades of red, including pink, purple and even a bit of blue adds visual interest to the background

While I used a lot of red, I also added some blue and purple into the mix. Mixing different shades of red, including pink and purple, adds visual interest to the background and keeps the design from looking too static.

Red fabrics from kit and scraps from stash for free-form piecing

The next step is to create my strip piecing. Here’s the link to my previous freeform strip piecing tutorial. In addition to the Combanasi and commercial batiks that are included in each fabric kit, our row pattern instructs you to pull coordinating fabrics from your stash. So I went from these pictured piles of fabrics and strips…

More red fabrics from kit and scraps from stash for free-form piecing

To the below freeform pieced width of fabric. Then I cut my Row by Row strips from this larger pieced work.

Red freeform pieced fabric

Below is the final row assembled.

Completed Red Row by Row from Artistic Artifacts pattern

Click photo for a larger view.

Exploring the Possibilities of Gelatos: Part 2

August 13th, 2014
Gelatos tag created by Marjie Curia

Gelatos tag created by Marjie Curia

— View Part 1 of Exploring Gelatos

Tomorrow night, (Thursday, August 14) our monthly “How Do I Use This?” product demonstration will take place. We are having Jen Bell, one of the members of Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs) come in to lead us in using ICE resin and Susan Lenart Kazmer’s latest Art Mechanique products, ICED Enamels Relique cold enameling powders and inclusions on paper/illustration board to create Artist Trading Cards (ATCs). Jen brings her creative efforts every month for exchange and everyone goes nuts for them, so she has generously agreed to share her processes. Join us!

So, now that we are a month away from the previous session, it is long past time for Part 2 of our posting describing the versatility of Gelatos® from Faber-Castell, isn’t it? (Part 1 is available here) I was busy packing merchandise up for the CREATE art retreat in New Jersey, so Sharon McDonagh took over leading the group. We’ll begin with her continuation, and conclude with my “assignment,” which I undertook with my personal creative team!

Exploring Gelatos Part 2, section A, by Sharon McDonagh

Gelatos love texture, so they work beautifully on velvet. We took some pale pink velvet ribbon and completely transformed it.

Applying Gelatos to velvet ribbon

Above, stroke different colors of Gelatos directly on ribbon and blend with your finger. Mist with water if desired for blending. As noted in Part 1 of our article, you can also apply just a few strokes of Gelatos onto your non-stick ironing and craft sheet (or freezer paper) and mist that with water to create a puddle of beautiful dye-like color that can be applied with a brush, by sponging it on, or by dipping the fabric in, etc. Vary the intensity of your color by altering the amount of water added.

Gelatos on velvet ribbon

Above, quite a transformation from the original pale pink (top), wouldn’t you agree? (The heart is a punched piece of watercolor paper: this had several colors of Gelatos stroked on without any blending, then it was misted with water. The bit of color meld and texture you see was created simply by the water application.)

Gelatos with Wooden Printing Blocks

Tag colored with Gelatos and stamped using wooden printing blocks

Tag colored with Gelatos and stamped using wooden printing blocks

Okay, so onto our discovery, as promised in Part 1. As noted then, Gelatos are ideal for use on foam stamps, because of the foam’s texture…and thinking of surface texture got me wondering about using wooden printing blocks.

Rather than risk it with Judy’s extensive stash, I first tried this with my own block, a mermaid. It worked! After success with a solid color print, I realized that withthe Gelatos’s stick form and thick consistency, I could color areas of the block selectively. Painting selectively is hard to do when using textile or acrylic paint on your block, as by the time you get to one area, the paint is drying up elsewhere. With Gelatos being “activated” with the addition of water, you have a longer working time.

Below, a mermaid print on paper. The background was lightly colored with Gelatos and stamped with a foam circle for bubbles. The bottom ‘ocean floor’ is homemade washi tape, artist tape colored with Gelatos. Below the mermaid you can see the wooden printing block used to create her.

Mermaid stamped using a wooden printing block colored with Gelatos

Below, Beth Richardson’s mermaid print, on Roc-lon® Roc-rol™ Multi-Purpose Cloth™.

Beth Richardson's Mermaid stamped using a wooden printing block colored with Gelatos

Selectively applying different colors of Gelatos to a wooden printing block

Above, selectively applying different colors of Gelatos to a graphic circle wooden printing block.

I’ve applied Gelatos to a number of types of fabrics/weights, with beautiful results. But my experiments with fabric had previously all been done with the intention of using the material in either a mixed media piece or an art quilt that wouldn’t be laundered.

To answer a customer who emailed us asking whether Gelatos could be used to draw on fabric for a quilt, I took a piece of a heavy cotton fabric I had “dyed” with Gelatos and soaked it in cold water… I saw little to no color discharge. Using warmer water and a detergent, and scrubbing at it, did remove some color, but the overall look of the fabric was still bright — so there is certainly a strong degree of color permanence, even without planning for it or pretreating the fabric in any way.

But how about treating the fabric to purposefully create colorfastness?

Because Gelatos can be activated by and mixed into any acrylic medium, I wanted to try using Jo Sonja’s Textile Medium to treat the fabric and activate the Gelatos. This is a water based acrylic medium used to convert acrylic paints into fabric paints that, once heat set, are permanent and able to be laundered.

Gelatos stamped on fabric and paper using a wooden printing block

Above, a comparison of results. The top right corner is the wood block printed onto paper. Below it, the block misted with a sprayer filled with a mixture of roughly half water and half textile medium. On the left is a swatch where the fabric was dampened with the textile medium mixture, and the Gelatos-covered block stamped onto it (not misting the block with water). As you can see this resulted in the most bleeding and spreading.

Both swatches shown here were later washed with cold water and mild detergent and the color and print were permanent; no bleeding or run-off. I think this concept certainly bears further exploration. Because Gelatos are in a near-solid stick form, the ratio of textile medium to water to Gelatos is still up for experimentation to determine what works best….applying it to the fabric versus the block or stamp, the ratio used, etc.

Since Judy hadn’t been able to indulge in our experimentation on the “How Do I Use This?” night, she wanted to explore Gelatos on fabric further. Take it away, Judy!

Wooden printing blocks ready to stamp

Exploring Gelatos Part 2, section B, by Judy Gula

Our mission, as accepted, was to play with wooden printing blocks (pictured above), fabric, and Gelatos. My team members are Layla, Evan and Celia (pictured below, left to right).

Layla, Evan and Celia help Aunt Judy experiment with Gelatos

With the goal of achieving color permanence, we prepared a length of muslin by soaking it in Soda Ash and letting it air dry. If you feel that ironing is needed after the treated fabric dries, use a medium heat iron, as high heat might burn the soda ash and cause a brown mark on the fabric. (If this does happen to you, my experience has been that the brown marks will wash out.)

Then, laying the muslin over our foam printing mat, we were ready to apply the gelatos to the wooden printing blocks.

Step 1: Apply Gelatos to wooden printing blocks. Cover the block surface well.

Evan applying Gelatos to bird block

Step 2: Spritz block lightly with a mister of water. We found this the most difficult to gauge…frequently we put too much water on the block.

Misting the wooden printing block to activate the Gelatos

Step 3: Apply the moistened, Gelato-coated wooden printing block to the fabric. Below, Evan is stamping on Multi-Purpose Cloth.

Evan stamping onto fabric

Below, Layla stamping with a wooden printing block.

Layla stamping

Below, Celia is creating a background by rubbing Gelatos on the Multi-Purpose Cloth and then adding water with a paint brush.

Using Gelatos to paint Multi-Purpose Cloth

Using Multi-Purpose Cloth, Layla painted a background by applying Gelatos and then using a wet brush. Below, she is pictured ready to apply the Gelatos through the stencil.

Layla ready to stencil with Gelatos on her Gelatos painted cloth

Below  are several of the fabric pieces we created, combining several techniques. You can see the kids experimented with using PITT Artist Pens by FaberCastell to outline some of the stenciled and wood block printed shapes:

Stencil and block prints with Gelatos

Below are our treated fabric samples; all of these were done with the soda ash prepared fabric. As I mentioned, the learning curve was definitely the spritzing of water, as it was difficult not to put too much on the woodblock, which resulted in some smears (hey, that’s arty!). Look for the finest spray mister top you can find.

Fabric samples before laundering

But as you can see below, even after washing in cold water with gentle detergent we did not have any additional bleed or run-off. Even the Pitt Pens (small outline in turquoise bottom right corner) did not bleed.

Fabric samples after laundering

So based on the results of both of us experimenting, Gelatos can be made permanent on fabric. As with the manufacturers caveat of using rubber stamps, if you are using wooden printing blocks, expect a watercolor effect rather than the sharp crispness you would receive from an ink pad.

If you are interested in using Gelatos in a fiber project that needs to be washable, we recommend experimenting yourself with these methods to determine the best way to proceed.

In conclusion…Gelatos are a fun way to add color to a wide variety of surfaces, as illustrated below. Left,more homemade washi tape, top right is corrugated cardboard and sheet music topped with children’s air-dry modeling clay (stamped with a shell wooden printing block), all colored with Gelatos, bottom right is embossed Grungeboard.

Gelatos on a variety of surfaces

Below right, tag washed with Gelatos, topped with modeling paste applied through a TCW stencil. The white modeling paste was mixed with Gelatos to tint it blue prior to application.

Modeling paste tinted with Gelatos

Have fun playing and experimenting yourself!

Making a Pattern Your Own

August 6th, 2014

Artistic Artifacts and the Row By Row Experience: Congratulations Jana Franklin!

This summer Artistic Artifacts has been participating in the Row by Row Experience, a shop hop event, and it has been a lot of fun to design our unique row, select fabrics for the kits we are selling, and most of all, meeting both old and new friends as they embark on their shopping expeditions.

Jana Franklin holding her prize-winning quiltEach participating shop agreed to make a prize of 25 fat quarters of fabric available to the first person who turned in a completed (quilted, bound, and labeled) quilt using at least 8 different 2014 row patterns. Yesterday (Tuesday, August 5) we were delighted to welcome Jana Franklin to the shop and award her our prize, with a bonus gift certificate prize for using our row in her quilt!

Jana collected eight different row patterns from eight shops, all in the Northern Virginia area. A member of the Burke Chapter of Quilter’s Unlimited (that’s my chapter too!), Jana put these disparate rows together beautifully, creating an wonderful springtime quilt. And she has very kindly allowed us to keep it on loan for display, so please stop by the shop to see it — the photographs we have here are not doing it justice! Click the photo below to see a larger view.

Jana Franklin's prize-winning Row by Row Experience quilt

One of the things we appreciate about Jana’s quilt is how she made the patterns her own. While there is of course nothing wrong with following directions and kits to the letter, from my own standpoint as a shop owner and a teacher, it is important to encourage artists (and yes, you all ARE artists) to put their own spin on a project or technique.

Her row patterns are from the following shops:

Top row: The Quilt Patch in Fairfax, “The Book Shelf.” How she made it her own:
Jana added spine titles that reference local areas and topics of interest.

Detail, Jana Franklin Row by Row quilt

2nd Row, The Quilters Studio in Fairfax, “Spring Cardinal Row.” How she made it her own: She used large round beads, instead of buttons, to create her berries, and gave her cardinal a strong button eye.

Detail, Jana Franklin Row by Row quilt

3rd Row: Our own “Springtime Flora and Fauna.” How she made it her own: Jana selected the butterfly wooden printing block, which I had combined with orange fabric, and chose to work instead with our purple fabric kit (which I had designed with birds). Jana didn’t use the Thermofax screens but instead computer transferred springtime poetry and text onto the provided white muslin, then block printed her butterflies in a variety of pretty pastels. So springtime!

Detail, Jana Franklin Row by Row quilt

4th Row:Old Town Needlecraftsin Manassas, “Summer Hummers.” The shop created three versions of their pattern: one pieced, one for machine embroiderers and one fussy-cut using Benartex Fabrics Glorious Hummingbirds, which is what Jana used.

5th Row: Suzzie’s Quilt Shop in Manassas, “Spring is Here!!!” How she made it her own: She switched the dimensional flower style the kit offered, and also added her own appliqué cardinal sitting on the branch, to tie in with the Virginia state bird and the other portions of her quilt.

Detail, Jana Franklin Row by Row quilt

6th Row: Circle Sewing Studios in Woodbridge, “Dancing Pineapples.”

Left border: Bonnie’s Sewing & Fabric in Alexandria “Amber Waves of Grain.” How she made it her own: Jana used red and cream fabric to match the rest of her quilt, and made extra blocks to elongate the row to serve as a vertical border.

Right border: Aurora Quilts in Manassas, “X-mas Block.” How she made it her own: Elongating the row to serve as a vertical border, and we suspect that she chose her own fabrics for this row, as the cardinal fabric in it is the same as the fabric used in the Circle Sewing Studios’ “Dancing Pineapples.”

Detail, Jana Franklin Row by Row quilt

(By the way, Jana’s piecing and craftmanship is straight and true throughout…our photos can make some seams and joins look a bit off because her quilt was so large we had to hang it to get a full size photo, and there’s a bit of bowing from the hang).

As you know from previous postings, I was inspired by Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts: a Stress-Free Journey to Original Design by Rayna Gillman to piece our row. The thermofax screens “art” and “stitch” that I used are just two of the amazing designs created by the talented women of PG Fiber2Art, Susan Price and Elizabeth Gibson. We’ve enjoyed explaining how to use the screens to Row by Row shoppers, and some have selected other designs to use…that “make the pattern your own” thing again! (But if you prefer to learn in a class environment, (plus have the opportunity to print with a huge selection of their designs) then join us on Saturday, September 27.)

Here’s Susan’s take on our pattern (this is a portion only, so you can see it better):

Detail, Susan Price's Artistic Artifacts row

Visit her blog and click on the photo she has of her row to enjoy a complete, and larger view!

And here’s Elizabeth’s:

Detail, Elizabeth Gibson's Artistic Artifacts row

Click the photo for a full view of her row! She used the PG Fiber2Art “craft” screen, graphic rectangles screen and overprinted with the fish wooden printing block. Her colorful batiks are from India (and her stash).

Elizabeth also made an additional piece of fabric for her mother Barbara to use when making her version of our row. Elizabeth first used a green spray paint on a yellow background, then screened her “craft” definition and a butterfly screen the PG Fiber2Art team recently made.

Elizabeth Gibson's screened fabric

Isn’t is amazing how different the pattern can look…and how beautiful ALL of the surface design variations are?

We have been asking all our Row by Row customers to send us photos of their row, their quilt, their designs. Please do email us … we can’t wait to see —and share!

Plus, even though we have awarded the official Row by Row prize, I have a surprise for you. Anyone who brings their Artistic Artifacts row into the shop to show us, whether in a full quilt or finished as a table runner or wall hanging (or even just sewn together!) will get a small prize from me for playing along. As per the official Row by Row rules, you have until October 31, 2014 to bring in your handiwork from our pattern!

Jana Franklin with her prize of 25 fat quarters and a gift certificate from Artistic Artifacts

Jana Franklin holding her Row by Row Experience prize of 25 fat quarters and a gift certificate from Artistic Artifacts

More than 1,250 quilt shops are involved in Row by Row Experience this year, each creating their own unique pattern for a row so that you can create your own Sew a Season quilt. Each shop chose one of the four seasons to represent in their row. Visit a participating store from now until September 2 to ask for your free pattern. The Row by Row website has completes lists and addresses of participating shops in 34 US states and Ontario, so you can map out your summer trips to visit as many participating quilt shops as possible.

There are still shops out there who haven’t awarded their prize yet, so all of you keep on quilting! Use any pattern to layout your rows: Stack them, arrange around a center medallion, make them horizontal, vertical (like Jana did), upside down, on the front, on the back, whatever! You are the designer….be creative and have fun!

Life on the Road with Artistic Artifacts

July 30th, 2014
Artistic Artifacts sign at Quilt Odyssey

We’ve been in the same location for years, first as Artistic Artifacts and now as Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal.

Last week, July 24-27, my husband Dave and I vended at the Quilt Odyssey Quilt show, held in Hershey, PA.

It takes several days to prepare and pack for a show, and then an entire day (sometimes more) to set up. The show ran from Thursday to Sunday. No matter how tired vendors are after a long and busy show, we have to pack up our booths on Sunday and then drive home. And then, once home, there is the unpacking and putting the store back together. A vendor’s work for each and every show requires additional days of preparation and work before and after.

A view of the Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal booth

Our booth (pictured above and below) is 10 feet deep by 20 feet long. The Goal is to pack as much into our traveling store, but still allow customers to enter and shop!

A view of the Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal booth

Along the back wall we exhibit samples of how our products can be used. Do the samples encourage you? Do they inspire you? Are you happy that we have them? Or do they overwhelm?

Products hanging in the Artistic Artifacts booth

As you can see in the photo above we even hang product from the ceiling! I made the sample quilt hanging on the right with our Woman with 3 Birds on Taupe (portion shown here) panel, which was designed by Jaka, one of Indonesia’s most popular and recognizable batik artists. This panel is now on sale for just $13.00. The hard to photograph background color (a warm taupe with violet tones) of this panel has made it difficult to sell online, so I’ve marked it down, but trust me, it’s gorgeous!

Aborigine-designed fabric at the Artistic Artifacts booth

Above, bins of our popular Australian Fabrics, which are inspired by original art by Aborigine artists. In the center front row are our new floral patterns from Down Under. The pillow on the right is one I made when I wrote earlier this year about Piecing and Piping… Unblocking a Creative Slump.

Sample batik quilts and fabric in the Artistic Artifacts booth

Above, our exclusive Combanasi batik fabric, wonderful solids from Art Gallery Fabrics, and commercial batiks from Robert Kaufman. Hanging on the back wall are two quilts using Indonesian hand-drawn batik panels. The one on the right side was designed and quilted by Batik Tambal founder and original owner Trish Hodge using panels by Jaka, and on the left side features a Hari Agung panel and is a work in process by me (It needs beads!)

The Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal booth

Above, more quilts, more fabric… and look at that panel!

Sarongs and fabric in the Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal booth

Above, a table full of sarongs, printed and hand-drawn batik printed Indonesian fabrics and handwoven Bali cottons.

New and Vintage tjaps in the Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal booth

Copper batik stamps, known as tjaps, on display, including examples of both new and vintage tjaps. We produce more than 30 patterns of tjaps for our customers, each individually hand-crafted. Beautiful on display, wonderful to use as the basis of a Shiva Paintstik rubbing.

Batik panels in the Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal booth

Above, a wall full of batik panels from Indonesia, each hand drawn/painted and signed by the artist.

Stewart Gill products in the Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal booth

Above, Stewart Gill products and additives (my favorite fabric paints) along with Inktense blocks and pencils from Derwent.

A view of the Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal booth

Above, a temping little bit of Tentakulum Handpainted Fibers, Havel’s scissors (the best!), Angelina fibers, products for printing onto fabric from your computer and Mistyfuse sheer paperless fusible.

Wooden printing blocks in the Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal booth

Wooden printing blocks, hand carved in India, and PROFab Opaque Textile Paint. Have you ever tried deColourant with your wooden printing blocks? It works great!

We were very excited to learn that a Quilt had been entered into the show using panels by our artist Jaka. Louise Holder of Lawrenceville, PA won Second Place in the Large Quilt, Predominately Pieced category (photo below).

The Garden of Eden, quilt by Louise Holder

Her quilt is titled The Garden of Eden and is 97" x 105". It is machine pieced, hand appliquéd, and hand quilted. She writes “the batiks found a leading role in this quilt where pieced, appliquéd and hand painted blocks became the supporting cast. I worried about everything working together as I decided where to place them. Last July this was an idea but today I see it displayed…I can only say Wow.”

Detail of The Garden of Eden by Louise Holder

Detail of The Garden of Eden above. Dave and I enjoyed meeting Louise. She told us that she works by collaging the items together as she goes. We agree with her that the results are WOW!

The winner of a prestigious Judges Choice ribbon is Linda Cooper, a long-time teacher at Artistic Artifacts! You can learn her kinetic quilt technique (which is featured in this winning quilt) at our shop on August 23 — visit our website to learn more and register. These quilts look difficult, but Linda is a wonderful teacher and we haven’t yet had a student walk out with anything less than a spectacular 3-D (and two-sided) quilt of their very own!

When Flowers Party, kinetic quilt by Linda Cooper

Her quilt, one side of which is pictured above, is named When Flowers Party and is 36" x 33". It is machine pieced, hand- and machine-appliqued, and machine quilted. Linda writes that “it amuses me to think that flowers have a secret ‘party’ life. This kinetic quilt has flowers (fused to the aluminum from beer cans) that rotate from the more formal arrangement to my painted fabric party side.” You can see two of the bottom flowers are in the process of rotating … Linda was rightfully pleased with the careful way the show organizers hung her mobile-like quilt so that it was shown to its best advantage!

Nancy Lebow also won a ribbon, but I couldn’t get a photo of her quilt. Nancy, will you email us so that we can include you?

Green Tree Quilt From Stash Fabrics

July 23rd, 2014

When students attend my surface design classes, I always encourage them to just play and create fabric, and build a stash. I am happy to say that I practice what I preach on this one!

Judy Gula stash drawers

My studio is a small bedroom in my home, and the best part of the room is that there are two closets that I have filled with drawers from the elfa® Shelving Systems. These drawers are stuffed with my huge stash of fabrics, including most of my painted fabric: Roc-lon® Roc-rol™ Multi Purpose Cloth™, gelli plate prints, wood block printed fabric There’s even a drawer dedicated to my handmade silk paper. Going through your stash periodically can inspire you to begin a new project.

I found the below square of fabric featuring a green and yellow tree in my stash, and it so coordinated with the green fabrics I used to create one of our Row by Row Experience samples in the shop that I was inspired to make use of the leftover strip piecing I had already completed. I have really been having fun Rayna Gillman’s wonky strip piecing technique, as described in her book, Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts: a Stress-Free Journey to Original Design). (See my previous blog post for my take on Rayna’s technique.)

Stenciled tree by Judy Gula

I created this tree by placing a stencil on a Gelli Arts™ Gel Printing Plate and rolling a mix of paint over the stencil with a brayer. Lift up the stencil, and then lay down fabric atop the image on the plate. (Honestly, I was a bit amazed that I was able to keep the fabric around the stencil so clean and white!) I am sorry to say I don’t remember exactly which stencil this is, but with more than 200 stencils in our online store I am sure you can find one you like!

Beginning to piece the stenciled tree block

Above is the start. The colors are great, but despite my earlier pride about keeping so much of the fabric surrounding the tree white, now I am just not liking the white ‘screaming’ at me from the background. I wasn’t sure what to do about it and finally decided to stamp it. I used Memento Luxe Mixed Media Ink Pad in Danube Blue and a Cover-a-Card Script Stamp. The trick was to not stamp over the tree!

White background toned down with script stamp

Much better with the stamped background (photo above), I think!

Using additional hand-stamped and printed fabrics left over from sewing the Row by Row samples, I enlarged the overall dimensions. The bright green batik fabric you see on the right hand side was auditioning for binding. I think that the quilt needed a bright color.

Auditioning fabric for binding

While happier with the stamped background, as I was working I concluded that I stamped too much close to the tree. I softened those areas using some Stewart Gill Alchemy in the Opal shade; I simply painted over some of the stamping close to the tree (see detail below).

Stamped background selectively softened with Stewart Gill Alchemy paint

Once layered with batting and bound, I free-motion quilted the center tree block and the borders using Star Thread by Coats and Clark, which is a wonderful variegated thread.

Completed stenciled green tree art quilt by Judy Gula

Finished! Click here for a larger view of the completed quilt.

Exploring the Possibilities of Gelatos: Part 1

July 16th, 2014

Guest post: by Sharon McDonagh — Part 1, View Part 2 of Exploring Gelatos

On July 10 Artistic Artifacts hosted our monthly “How Do I Use This?” product demonstration, focusing on the versatility of Gelatos® from Faber-Castell, part of their Design Memory Craft line. Judy was busy packing up that evening to leave the next morning for the CREATE art retreat in New Jersey, so I took over leading the group. I’ve recently become a big fan of Gelatos and was happy to share my enthusiasm for the product.

Participants in the Artistic Artifacts “How Do I Use This?” Gelatos demonstration on July 10, 2014

Gelatos tag by Theresa Koenig

During our monthly monthly “How Do I Use This?” session, participants traditionally create samples on shipping tags. Although Gelatos go on a wide variety of surfaces without any advance preparation, to give some texture and interest I prepped tags in advance for with book text, sheet music, map paper, clear and white gesso, and modeling paste texture. This Gelatos tag created by Theresa Koenig.

To a customer looking at a package in a shop like ours, maybe it’s not immediately apparent what they can do — or what sets them apart from other products used to add color. I think to fully grasp the possibilities of Gelatos you really need to try them out, or at least commit to sampling some of the huge amount of web resources for using Gelatos — Faber-Castell’s own Design Memory Craft blog is a great starting point.

And because there are so many well-done resources, this posting isn’t going to reinvent the wheel…instead present you with some of our results and tips. Gelatos are so versatile that we are going to have to make this posting a two-parter!

Gelatos are highly pigmented sticks with a creamy consistency in a twist-up tube that reminds many of Chapstick. The stick glides easily onto paper and other surfaces and are easily blendable. A straight application of Gelatos can be left to dry for vibrant color, or misted/dissolved with water to create watercolor effects. Gelatos are available in a variety of sets or sold singly in the Double Scoop® size (twice as large as the regular Gelatos).

What did we use them on? Kind of everything! Below, foreground is a square of resist paper sold in craft stores for use with spray inks. You can also see the results of applying Gelatos directly to bubble wrap, misting it, and then stamping onto a tag and paper/fabric samples.

Gelatos on a variety of swatches

Using Gelatos with the resist paper is even more fun than using sprays, because you have so much more control with the placement and intensity of the colors and how they blend, as seen in the below example, created by Judy Albert.

Judy Albert example, Gelatos on resist paper

A green Gelatos stick is pictured below. But so is a yellow one. Don’t see it? It’s what is in the spray bottle! Yes, you can create your own spray inks by cutting off a portion of the stick, mashing it with a palette knife or other implement, and blending a bit of warm water into it to make a paste that you dilute to the strength you like.

Gelatos in spray ink form

Baby wipes are perfect for blending Gelatos on surfaces. Here, in addition to creating a color blend, we are removing some of the color through sequin waste to get pattern and texture.

Gelatos on watercolor paper with salt texture

The texture on the blue corner of this watercolor paper swatch comes from sprinkling salt onto the wet surface. Any watercolor technique can be applied to Gelatos.

Gelatos tag created by Judy Albert

Gelatos tag created by Judy Albert

The consistency makes most people think of oil pastels, or soft waxes, but as an experiment I intentionally left a Gelatos stick on the dashboard of my car for 8+ hours during one of the DC area’s summer heat waves. There was absolutely no melting or change. (I can attest from personal experience as an aunt that this is NOT the result you get from crayons!)

Gelatos would thus be ideal for creating a travel art kit for use while vacationing this summer. Or even simply throwing a few in your purse or tote along with your art journal for creating on the go.

One of the “rules” we have for these Thursday evening sessions is working with both paper and fabric, regardless of what the product is intended for. Judy has long pronounced her belief that anything you can do on paper, you can do on fabric.

Gelatos on fabric and cheesecloth
I’ve applied Gelatos to a number of types of fabrics/weights, with beautiful results. Pictured above, cotton fabric and cheesecloth (I love using this in needle felting!), colored with Gelatos. Applying just a few strokes of Gelatos onto your non-stick ironing and craft sheet (or freezer paper) and misting with water gives you beautiful color, much like a dye, that can be applied with a brush, by sponging on, or by dipping in, etc. (The intensity of color varies with the amount of water added.) It’s also fun to mist your fabric with water and apply the Gelatos on directly, and add additional water to watercolor blend the colors together.

The group really enjoyed using stencils, both to push color through or to remove color (artist Dina Wakley calls this reduction stenciling) with the Gelatos that evening. Below, Suzanne Langsdorf’s stenciled fish.

Suzanne Langsdorf’s stenciled fish

Above, another of Suzanne Langsdorf’s pages. Below, Beverly Hilbert works in her art journal.

Beverly Hilbert works in her art journal

Below, Beverly’ finished page. She took it home and added additional mixed media to it, and it is now part of her Documented Life Project journal. How gorgeous is this?

Beverly Hilbert Documented Life Project journal page

Gelatos tag created by Sharon McDonagh

Gelatos tag created by Sharon McDonagh

Gelatos can be used with rubber and polymer stamps, but generally speaking you are going to get a sort of soft/watercolor effect on your final print, because water needs to be misted onto either the stamp or the paper/surface for the color to transfer…hence really finely detailed stamps aren’t usually recommended.

But Gelatos are ideal for use on foam stamps: the wide surface area has the perfect ‘tooth’ for Gelatos to grip and blend. Like stencils, stamps can be used to both apply color, or to pull it away. You see many examples in this posting — the spiral swirls on the tags are easy to pick out.

So, recall me saying we weren’t going to be reinventing the wheel with techniques? Turns out we DO have an area of exploration that we think we are “pioneering” — stamping with wooden printing blocks.

But as this posting it already long, I am saving that, with additional photos and info, for Part 2. View Part 2, posted August 13, 2014.

Strip Piecing meets East

July 9th, 2014

Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts by Rayna Gillman

At Artistic Artifacts we had fun creating a pattern for the Row by Row Experience. (Well, let’s be honest: I had the fun part of the job, Sharon had the hair-pulling part of actually writing the pattern!)

But since our agreement to participate in this huge shop hop means we are unable to publish our Springtime Flora & Fauna pattern until this fall (after Row by Row ends), I came up with another piece to illustrate Rayna Gillman’s wonky strip piecing technique, a key design feature in our row.

I learned how to embrace rotary cutting without the rulers from reading Rayna’s book, Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts: a Stress-Free Journey to Original Design. If this technique interests you at all, I heartily suggest buying the book…for one, I can assure you her diagrams are much better than mine! Plus what I am about to show you is only one portion of the book, which is an amazing modern/art quilt reference I often recommend.

Hand Drawn Batik Panel by artist Jaka

Hand Drawn Batik Panel by artist Jaka, 2 Girlfriends

At Artistic Artifacts we have recently received a new shipment from Indonesia of wonderful Batik Panels by our artist friend Jaka. He creates imaginative designs, especially people: from women with an attitude to family settings, and village scenes. I have named the panel that caught my eye for this project 2 Girl Friends; it can be purchased from our online store.

I knew immediately that I would put an inner border using a beautiful royal blue batik, and it looked wonderful with the panel colors.

Free-Form Strip Piecing

Next was the strip piecing. Rayna encourages you to use leftover pieces of fabric that have already been cut for other quilt projects. But if, like me, you don’t have enough long strips hanging out in your stash, simply pull a variety of fabrics and cut strips. For this project mine are approximately 18 to 22″ long and 1¼" to 1½" wide. In her book Rayna recommends as a guideline initially working with strips that are 8" to 15" long and from 1" to 3" wide.

Below, the fabrics selected for strip piecing. (This is a real “behind the scenes” view: the messy tiny corner of my work table!)

Fabrics Selected for Strip Piecing

Here I have two strips ready for the process. My selected fabrics that have been cut (or torn) are placed, both right side facing up, with a slight overlap.

Right sides up, overlap two strips

Cut a gentle curve with your rotary cutter along the overlap. You are freehand cutting, no ruler needed! The sliver of purple showing underneath the orange, and the orange showing under the purple, are pulled away and not used: you will have a two strips with matching curves.

free hand rotary cutting strips

This part can be a bit tricky. When your two strips are placed, right sides together, to be sewn together the curves do not match up (as seen in the below photograph).

Match convex and concave strips together

If you have ever sewn a curved quilt block, such as a Drunkard’s Path, you will already be familiar with this concept, but if not, you have to pull the convex and concave edges of the fabrics together to be able to sew a seam. If your curves are gentle, this can be done by hand while you are at the machine, but if you don’t feel comfortable, pin the strips together to have the “peaks and valleys” (as Rayna calls them) match up. If you haven’t previously sewn curves together before it won’t seem as if they will seam together flat, but they will!

Wrong side of the strip: notice the imperfect seam allowance

Above, two wonky strips sewn together. Notice the imperfect seam allowance! In her book Rayna teaches you that you don’t always have to aim for a 1/4-inch seam allowance, that between ⅛" and ¼" is fine. I tested any of my seams that looked thin by gently pulling them apart; if the seam did not hold, I just stitched over it again.

Below, the front side of my free-form strip segment. One strip attached, many more to go! But these go together quicker than you might think, and it’s fun piecing because there’s no stress…imperfection is your goal.Free-form strips seamed together

Below, my completed unit of free-form strips. From this, I then cut bands that I used to border my panel.

large unit of free-form strips seamed together

And just in case you want to see this from the back, I’ve included the photo below. I pressed all of my seam allowances to one side. while you are stitching, you don’t worry if some are longer than others. Using Rayna’s method, the only time you use a ruler with your rotary cutter is to trim square those strip ends and to cut strips for borders (as I am) or blocks for precise piecing.

Reverse side of seamed strips

Below, here is my completed 2 Girl Friends Jaka batik panel with strip piecing edging. Well, completed without being layered, bound and quilted! Click on the photo for a larger view.

2 Girl Friends art quilt by Judy Gula

Vintage Ephemera For You — and My Fiber Beatles Quilt Unveiled!

July 2nd, 2014

In honor of the upcoming 4th of July holiday, I am gifting you with these free downloads of patriotic imagery. (Click on the link below each thumbnail to bring up its full-size version, then right-click —or click and hold on a Mac — and save the high resolution JPG to your computer.) These stereoscope images come from my collection of vintage ephemera. The stereoscope device enabled viewing separate left-eye and right-eye views of the same scene as a single three-dimensional image.

Click to download high resolution vintage image, Boys in Blue

Download high resolution vintage image, Boys in Blue »

Click to download high resolution vintage image, Statue of Liberty

Download high resolution vintage image, State of Liberty »

Vintage images really inspire me (see more on that below) and I hope you will find a use for these images in your fiber or mixed media projects.

“Inspired by the Beatles” Art Quilt Challenge

After nearly a year of waiting, all quilt artists who participated in the Inspired by the Beatles; An Art Quilt Challenge created and organized by Donna DeSoto.are now allowed to show off their quilts, and here is mine.

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

I was honestly surprised when I saw the list of songs that remained, as “With a Little Help From My Friends,” was still on the list. I would have thought that hit would have been snapped up early. I thought it was theperfect song for me, because I have wonderful friends who help and support me in so many ways!

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

The vintage photo I used is of an all-female band: girlfriends, I am sure! With its music theme, vintage setting and female friends, I thought it was the perfect inspiration image for this challenge.

I collaged vintage fabrics, costume jewelry and more to create this 24" x 24" art quilt.

Detail from With a Little Help From My Friends, an art quilt by Judy Gula
Inspired by the Beatles; An Art Quilt Challenge

Inspired by the Beatles; An Art Quilt Challenge, is scheduled to be published a bit later this summer. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first performance in the USA, 150 fiber artists each chose a different song to interpret as a 24" x 24" art quilt. The cover quilt seen here, “Yellow Submarine,” was made by Cheryl Stanczyk.

Learn more and pre-order your copy through the Artistic Artifacts online store »

Left Overs

June 25th, 2014

Arts and Old Lace was the 2012 Art Quilt Challenge that was hosted by Artistic Artifacts and Cyndi Souder of Moonlighting Quilts.  Below is a photo of my completed Challenge Piece. (Click here for a large view of “Lace with Grace.”)

Arts and Old Lace Challenge Art Quilt

I design intuitively, which means that I don’t have a documented plan when I start a piece. I might have an idea that I like, a vintage photo, a couple of items that go together… but otherwise I am a tornado in my studio, pulling items and testing how I feel about the composition in real time.  

After the tornado there are sometimes items that I think still work together, and ‘why don’t I just start the next art quilt’….. so these items are kept together. I think I have been moving the below pictured grouping around my studio for about two years now.

Testing the layout

Testing the layout

Do you see the white clay doll in the middle? She is a Frozen Charlotte and came from Germany. I just love these vintage china pieces and wanted her to be the focal point of a quilt.  Originally I thought this piece would have to be mounted on a canvas due to the weight of Charlotte, but it turned out to be fine. The lesson today is how to mount three-dimensional items to your quilt with glue!

Glue!! I know, I freaked you out, didn’t I? But yes, glue. The trick is to glue the item to another piece of fabric, like ultrasuede or, as in this case, a piece of vilene, then stitch that onto your art quilt.

Frozen Charlotte attached to Vilene

Pelment Vilene is a European product that is similar to Lutradur. The Tentakulum company includes hand-painted pieces in several of its popular Painted Threads products, for example, the Painter’s Pixies. For this project, I cut down a postcard size piece. I took matte gel medium (fabric glue is fine also) and applied it to the back of the frozen Charlotte at the points that would meet the Vilene.

In addition, I used a double strand of beading thread, secured around the neck and one leg of the doll. I thought about adding pearls or small beads to the tie downs, but in the end decided not to.

Stablize vintage ribbon

To stablize the vintage ribbon that was used in the art quilt, I applied a stiff organza fabric with Mistyfuse. Doing so helped to keep the vintage material together and straight, as well as making stitching through the ribbon easier.

The Art Quilt Base Stitched and Bound

I have learned the hard way that it is necessary to machine stitch the background before adding my layers. And for this particular project, I even applied and stitched the binding on before attaching the doll.

The remainder of the items — ribbon, lace, buttons, pearls — were all stitched on by hand. In other projects I will add such layers on with machine stitching, but in this case I felt the condition of the ribbon and lace cuff would would be better preserved with careful hand stitching.

Photos of My Finished Art Quilt

Frozen Charlotte At Home

Frozen Charlotte attached side view

Art Quilt with Frozen Charlotte

Show and Tell with Artistic Artifacts

June 18th, 2014

One of the greatest benefits of what we do at Artistic Artifacts is being the recipient of Show and Tell sessions, whether in the shop or via email! Here is our latest, received from Margret Lehnert, who lives in Venice, Florida:

Hi Judy, finally got the Australian Quilt done and wanted to send you pictures of it. You wanted to see the end result. I also refinished all my pillowcases to match the quilt. It all goes well with the leather sofa and chairs.

The quilt pattern is the simple “Yellow Brick Road” Pattern, which has been around for a while. Also used bamboo batting to make it nice and soft.

Love the fabrics and have enough left to make a table runner!


Yellow Brick Road with Australian Fabrics

Quilt and Pillows on leather Sofa


Also, we held a fun tag class on Saturday, June 14, Words of Wisdom: a Little Book of Design Inspiration with Diane Herbort. Ann Douglas was one of the students enjoying the day. Her beautiful granddaugher was unable to join us in the class, but afterwards enjoyed a craft day with Grandma!

Ann Douglas' Grand Daughter creating Tag Art


On June 12 we hosted our monthly “How Do I Use This?” product demonstration and hands-on play. The subject this month was using DeColourant and DeColourant Plus. These products work on dyed natural fabrics, such as cotton, rayon, or linen, as well as on many papers.

Decolourant wooden block printed on handmade black paper

We stamped and applied deColourant (removes color) and deColourant Plus (removes color while adding a new color pigment) on fabric swatches and on handmade paper. I have used DeColorant on fabric many times, but I had never tried it on handmade paper.

De Colourant, paper, foam mat

As you will see we all made use of my favorite tools, wooden printing blocks to create surface designs! So I’ll begin with a quick review of how to print using wooden blocks:

Pour a small amount of deColourant onto a plate or pallette, then use a sponge apply it to the wooden printing block. Place your paper or fabric on a foam printing mat, then press the wooden printing block firmly onto the surface to transfer the deColourant.  

Results of DeColourant on Fabric

I did find that the sponge did not work as well with deColourant as it does with Fabric Paint. We tried a fan brush during our class and got better results.

After the deColourant is dry, iron with a hot (cotton setting) steam iron to active the discharge. Heat is necessary to activate the deColourant, and the more heat, the more color is removed, so ironing, with steam, seems to give the best results. (The manufacturer notes that you can use a heat gun, or even lay your fabric or paper out in the sun.)

Results of deColourant on Handmade Paper

Using deColourant, you will find that some dye colors discharge to lighter versions of the original color (like a pale pink from red), some turn to a different color entirely (black fabric and paper is known for this surprise; you can see it discharge to white, or to light oranges, greens and more), and some don’t discharge much at all. Similarly, the amount of color added by using the deColurant Plus can vary. You have to test and experiment!

One of the great features of these products is that they don’t change your fabric or papers in any way: the “hand” of your surface remains unchanged.

Tags using my stamped Handmade paper

deColourant works exclusively on the color dyes that are in the fabric and paper, removing (and in the case of deColourant Plus, replacing them with your color choice) in an easy, one-step process.

As I had noted, I hadn’t previously tried deColourant or deColourant Plus on paper, so the results of that were fun to see!

Join us for next month’s “How Do I Use This?” session on Thursday, July 10, 6:30 – 8:30 pm — we will be experimenting with Gelatos!

Some additional photographic inspiration from our session:

One side of the Table

Theresa assembling her Tags

Judy Albert Turning stamping into Magic

Bubble Wrap will go down in History as the best stamp ever!

Robin's Egg Blue deColourant Plus

Barb's Tags