Layering Paint for Depth and Interest

April 23rd, 2016

This weekend I’m teaching my “How Do I Use This?” Meets the Art Journal Page class. Most of the first day is taken up with creating the backgrounds on pages we will bind into a custom art journal, and one of the first points I emphasize is the need to work in layers in order to create depth, texture and visual interest.

The same concept is utilized in my A View to My Heart class (coming again this September), and I realized I hadn’t yet shared photos of the most recent session.

The focal point of this class are the Relics & Artifacts matte resin castings designed by the talented Sandra Evertson. (FYI, we’re awaiting a shipment of new designs of this gorgeous line: if you aren’t already receiving our weekly enewsletter, subscribe so you will get first notice of their arrival!)

Using found papers to collage the bases for our shrines

One way to ensure a layered look with depth is to begin with a collaged background. In the example above, found papers such as book text, map pages, sheet music and more are torn and added to a wooden base with matte medium.

Adding the first layers of paint

While we used a variety of paint in this class, everyone loved using the Silks Acrylic Glazes. These smooth paints contain mica for iridescence and are available in a wide variety of colors.

Silks Acrylic Glazes are translucent for beautiful layering effects

Because the Silks are translucent, our collaged backgrounds peek through. Silks layer beautifully with extra coats; one of their selling points is that you never get “mud” when painting one color atop another, even if they are opposites.

All Supplies/Full Kit Provided for A View to My Heart, an Artistic Artifacts class led by  Judy Gula

We added complementary and contrasting colors to add another layer and visual interest.

Students create a lovely shrine/altar using the beautiful Relics and Artifacts line of craft blanks by Sandra Evertson

Metallic paints help add interest to the dark brown paint

Several chose to add metallic color for highlights and to lighten dark colors.

Silks Acrylic Glazes include mica, giving them a wonderful iridescence

One of the wood plaques available had the ‘flaw’ of a large, dark knotty grain running along the edge (below photo). This student made it a part of her design, to great effect!

Taking advantage of a large, dark knotty grain running along the edge of the plaque to add a natural look

The Relics and Artifacts pieces take paint beautifully. No matter what color theme the students chose to work with, the results were gorgeous!

Relics and Artifacts pieces are easy to paint or embellish

To add metallic color or to highlight edges and design elements, we also used Inka Gold metallic rubs. Don’t let the name fool you: these are available in more than 20 colors!

Using Inka Gold metallic rubs to add color and highlights

After starting with a blue base layer (seen in the second photo of this post), my student Kelsey Grandy worked her way up to beautiful purple/violet tones by layering and blending her colors (photo below).

A gorgeous shade of purple created by layering several colors of Silks Acrylic Glazes

Adding layers continues right to the end of a project. Below, my student Joan Grandy wanted to use the rusted, flattened bottle cap (a sentimental object) in her shrine, but was going to leave it out as she thought it didn’t fit with the color scheme. I taught her that by adding the complement of blue, orange, in the form of a rust effect the balance she wanted would be achieved… and it would distress her elegant assemblage a bit so that the look of the cap wouldn’t be out of place. We made the rust even more authentic by using Rusty for Paper by Viva.

Finished art by Joan Grandy from A View to My Heart, an Artistic Artifacts class led by Judy Gula using the beautiful Relics and Artifacts line of craft blanks by Sandra Evertson

More finished student work. All different, and all wonderful!

Finished student work from A View to My Heart, an Artistic Artifacts class led by Judy Gula using the beautiful Relics and Artifacts line of craft blanks by Sandra Evertson

The below steampunk-inspired art is by Sharon McDonagh, who had left room for the stamped inscription and added more embellishments at home after the class.

from A View to My Heart, an Artistic Artifacts class led by Judy Gula using the beautiful Relics and Artifacts line of craft blanks by Sandra Evertson

Below, Kelsey Grandy’s finished art.

Finished art by Kelsey Grandy from A View to My Heart, an Artistic Artifacts class led by Judy Gula using the beautiful Relics and Artifacts line of craft blanks by Sandra Evertson

As noted, I’m going to be teaching A View to My Heart again on September 10 so I hope some of you can join me!

Batik Panel Art Quilt with Sari Silk Border

April 16th, 2016

After too much time on the road and dealing with some computer/technical issues in the shop, I recently took a much needed day off to spend in my studio.

I was inspired to work with our new Multicolored Sari Silk Fat Quarter assortment packs from India (featured in our most recent enewsletter): 12 beautiful colors! I decided to combine them with a wonderful panel handpainted by Bambang Dharmo. Here is my work in progress.

In progress batik panel art quilt, bordered with sari silk, by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

My first step was to trim my panel, creating straight square edges. I admit I used to skip this step, trying to use up every beautiful bit of the handpainted fabric. But after a result where the sewn side of the panel aren’t straight, I learned my lesson.

I wondered how to best sew the silk to the cotton panel? My solution was to apply a lightweight one-sided fusible interfacing meant for clothing that I found in my stash. Once the silk had the fusible on it, it made sewing it to the cotton panel a breeze. I also found some small pieces of Dupioni silk in bright colors in my stash, so I also prepped them with the interfacing and added them to my sari silks.

I cut the stack of silks with a ruler and my rotary cutter into strips approximately 1½" wide by the 6" wide. I lined them up by color on my work table, and then I started sewing.

Sari silk strips, cut from fat quarters, in the midst of being chain-stitched for the quilt border

My method might not seem like the best one to some, but it removes the stress of fretting over which color to put next to each other: I chain piece. I take 2 pieces of silk (different colors, of course) and chain sew a bunch, Then I cut the chain apart and add a third piece of silk and chain again. I continue to do this until I have a strip approximately 4-6 strips wide.

Then I press all the seams in the same direction and lay them out again. Next I start matching up these 6 pieces to make them longer 44” long about, and then trimmed to 4”wide.

I decided to add a small piping to the panel using the Groovin’ Piping Trimming Tool. Once that was complete, I sewed the silk “piano keys” to the panel. I used my zipper foot to keep the piping tight.

Sewing a chain-pieced silk border to the batik quilt panel.

Sewing a chain-pieced silk border to the batik quilt panel. You can see the fusible interfacing on the back of the bright silk strips.

My sewing order was top and bottom and then the two sides. I thought briefly about mitering the corners, but decided to just go with the strips as is.

Ironing the reverse side toward the border

Because I wanted the piping to go toward the panel, not the border, I did find that I had to watch my ironing. The correct direction was controlled when ironing on the reverse side and toward the border rather than the panel (above).

Below, you can see the piping set off the panel. I will trim the strips and edges, layer batting and backing, and finish this quilt off on another studio sewing day.

Ironing carefully kept the piping facing the center batik panel

A Sampling of Block Printed Art Quilts

April 1st, 2016

What follows is the last of my March blog postings for The Printed Fabric Bee on Block Printing for art quilts and other fiber projects.

In my last post I promised that I would conclude my stint as the March artist by showing off some of the quilts that I’ve made (alone or collaborating with other artists) using wooden printing blocks.

Several years ago Artistic Artifacts hosted the talented British textile artist Jamie Malden, owner of Colouricious, for a block printing workshop. Jamie’s time in town coincided with a visit from Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution, and so we dedicated some time to work collaboratively. Liz titled her blog post about this creative event “3 Artists + 3 Days = Creative Frenzy” — very apt!

The below quilt was created using the WB12 Orchid block and was bordered and bound with two of our Combanasi batiks, which feature silk screen motifs with traditional batik techniques (view larger image).

Orchid Block Printed Art quilt

Several of the orchid prints were embellished with a variety of hand-stitches using Tentakulum Handpainted Fibers: see detail photo below.

Detail, Orchid Block Printed Art quilt

Our dragonfly quilt features a print from the WB212 DragonflyDragonfly in Wetland square block as the center, accented with hand-dyed fibers and trim. It’s bordered by hand-dyed fabric block printed with a variety of paisleys and florals. (View larger image)

Dragonfly Block Printed Art Quilt

The below quilt uses our large leaf block with white PROfab Opaque Textile Paint, printed atop fabrics that were monoprinted using stencils, bubble wrap and more on a Gelli Arts™ Gel Printing Plate (view larger image). If you haven’t experimented with monoprinting on a Gelli plate, I want to encourage you to give it a try — such a fun surface design technique!

Leaf Block Printed Art Quilt

We used this quilt as the backdrop for our prize package photo. The center is the WB213 Primitive Peacock block on monoprinted fabric, surrounded by fabric collage (monoprints, stamped, etc.) and stitched to a hand-dyed vintage linen piece. The base of this quilt is a hand-dyed commercial black & white fabric; I collect black & white fabrics specifically to dye them! The quilt was accented with beading (view large image).

Peacock Block Printed Art Quilt

In my last post I gave you a glimpse of working on Lutradur to create snowflakes. Visit the Artistic Artifacts blog to learn more about the creation of this quilt. Below is the finished quilt (view larger image).

Snowflake Block Printed Art Quilt

The below is the final assembled result that came after I was inspired by a demonstration during one of our monthly JAMs meetings. That demo led to a LOT of new fans of the process all putting their own spin similar little hand stitch quiltlets.

Slow Stitch Outsider Art Quilt

While I did make some new pieces for this one, the majority of the block prints were collected from the many, many wood block demonstrations I’ve held over the years; in my shop, at quilt shows, etc. I really enjoyed giving these a ‘home’ and having the individual pieces be a portable hand-stitching project (until the final stitching together). Visit my archived blog post for more on my Slow Stitched Outsider Art Quilt, including links to tutorial videos by Teesha Moore.

Last Chance: Leave a Comment for Your Opportunity to Win!

One lucky U.S.-based winner will be randomly drawn from the list of all who have commented on these March block printing postings. Comments will be tallied here on my Artistic Artifacts blog as well as on The Printed Fabric Bee blog.

March Printed Fabric Bee prize: wooden printing block, textile paint and foam printing mat

Leave a comment below to be eligible for this block printing prize!

My prize package is pictured above: a gorgeous circle design wooden printing block, a foam printing mat, and a jar of PROfab Opaque Textile Paint in the color True Blue.

BUT, if you live near Artistic Artifacts, or are willing to travel to us, you instead have the option to attend my Woodblock Printed Art Quilt class on June 11 for free if you prefer!

The winner will be drawn and notified on Tuesday, April 5th. Good luck to everyone! I’ve enjoyed sharing my wooden printing blocks enthusiasm with you all.

Leaf block printed quilt detail, free motion stitching

Creating and Embellishing Block Printed Textiles

March 25th, 2016

The focus of my March blog postings for The Printed Fabric Bee are on Block Printing for art quilts and other fiber projects, and I’m including the same posts here on the Artistic Artifacts blog.

Moving beyond my basic demonstration using cotton fabric and textile paint included in my last post, I’m showing additional possibilities for producing surface design textiles using wooden printing blocks, as well as how to embellish them.

Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution block printing on silk

Silk is a beautiful fabric to block print on. Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution (pictured printing above) was featured in the 2014 issue of Quilting Arts Holiday with a silk scarf printing tutorial. View her gorgeous results below.

Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution's block printed silk scarves

Another textile to block print onto is Lutradur. Lutradur is a a spun-bond synthetic material…somewhat like a cross between paper and fabric. Below, I printed snowflakes onto Lutradur to use as a dimensional element for a quilt and used a heat tool to cut them out (learn more).

Block printing on Lutradur
using Memento Luxe Mixed Media Ink Pads by Tsukineko for block printing

Instead of using textile paint, I have also had great results using Memento Luxe Mixed Media Ink Pads by Tsukineko. Memento Luxe is a fade-resistant ink that can be used on any porous surface: paper, fabric, wood, leather and more. It’s permanent on fabric when heat set, and the color remains even after repeated washings.

Plus, because these Memento Luxe inks are thick and stay wet for a time, I was able to experiment with adding embossing powders for texture (another example below using Metallic Embossing Powder in gold).

Embellishing block printed fabric with embossing powder

Visit my past posting/tutorial with more on using Memento Luxe and embossing powders with wooden printing blocks.

Also by Liz Kettle, the mermaid featured on the cover of this amazing fabric collage journal pictured belowl was block printed onto white leather using Memento Luxe ink. (The block is WB219 Mermaid with Star; it’s currently out of stock but email me and I will put you on the wait list for the next shipment, hand-carved from India!)

Mermaid journal by Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution

The below sample illustrates a fun embellishing option. I used the WB110 Leaves and Stems block, (full of cool funky details), and then began filling in the pattern using several options more traditionally suited to paper arts.

Using various pens to color block printed fabric

From the top, I used, Derwent Inktense Watersoluble Ink Pencils, Stamper’s Big Brush Pens (by Faber-Castell; these pens contain permanent India Ink) and Gelly Roll Moonlight Pens. I can definitely see further embellishing and fussy cutting pieces of this fabric to use in an art quilt. (Note, I ironed this fabric to heat set the products.)

Also from the paper arts world, we have experimented with using Gelatos on our wooden printing blocks. My colleague Sharon McDonagh is well-known for her love of Gelatos around here, and was the first to give this a try. As she wrote, “Rather than risk it with Judy’s extensive stash, I first tried this with my own block, a mermaid….I realized that with the 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.” She originally experimented on paper (below the print is the wooden printing block used to create it).

Using Gelatos on wooden printing blocks--print by Sharon McDonagh

We have since printed on a variety of fabrics. Below, a mermaid block print by Beth Richardson using Gelatos on Roc-lon® Roc-rol™ Multi-Purpose Cloth™. Visit our past posting Exploring the Possibilities of Gelatos: Part 2, which gives you a lot more information about using Gelatos with wooden printing blocks.

Block printed mermaid by Beth Richardson

So as seen here, you can block print onto a variety of surfaces, and use a variety of paints and colorants. Embellishing your printed textile just continues your fun!

Block printed fabric accented with hand-stitching by Judy Gula

I love stitching, so when thinking about adding to a block print, the go-to choice for me is to hand stitch the motif. Using Modern Hand Stitching by Ruth Chandler for my inspiration, one of the birds (printed with a WB213 Primitive Peacock block) in my fabric above was stitched with Tentakulum Handpainted Fibers directly following the design. In the detail photo below, you can see that I couched Tentakulum Gimpe as an outline and then filled in with various stitches using Tentakulum’s cotton 6 strand floss (Mouline) Embroidery Floss.

Detail, Block printed fabric accented with hand-stitching by Judy Gula

Visit my past posting for more on block printing and hand stitching, including how I prepare my block printed fabric for stitching. For those of you out there who love to free motion quilt, how about using your sewing machine to add stitching?

Beading a block printed motif by Judy Gula

Another beautiful way to embellish your block prints is with beading. (I printed this using the WB332 Spoked Geometric Circle block.) Use the motif to guide your beading, as you can see in the close-up photo above, or bead your own complementary design!

By the way, in my opinion the best beading reference book out there is First-Time Beading on Fabric by Liz Kettle. Don’t let that title fool you: this book is an ideal resource for everyone interested in beading on fabric.

Hand-stitched block printed  fabric by Judy Gula

We’d love to see how you use your wooden printing blocks and embellish your printed fabric! We welcome your postings with photos either on the Artistic Artifcacts Facebook page or on The Printed Fabric Bee Facebook page.

My final post next week will show you some of my finished quilts that feature block prints!

Leave Your Comment to Enter Our Random Prize Drawing!

My prize package will go to one lucky U.S.-based winner randomly drawn from those who have commented on my March block printing postings (whether here on my Artistic Artifacts blog or at The Printed Fabric Bee blog. I have gathered a gorgeous circle design wooden printing block, a foam printing mat (this work surface is essential to get the best printing results), and a jar of PROfab Opaque Textile Paint in the color True Blue as my prize.

But if you are local to the Virginia/DC/Maryland area (or are willing to travel) and your name is selected, you can instead choose to attend my Woodblock Printed Art Quilt class on June 11 for free!

March Printed Fabric Bee prize: wooden printing block, textile paint and foam printing mat

Leave a comment below to be eligible for this block printing prize!

I’m the March Artist for The Printed Fabric Bee!

March 16th, 2016

Updated March 22 to include prize information.

Earlier this year I directed you to the “reboot” of The Printed Fabric Bee where, instead of creating monthly themed fabrics for the Bee members (with 6″ x 6″ swatches as a prize for those who commented on the posts), in 2016 members of the Bee are each taking a turn hosting a month focusing on a technique of their choice — resulting a year of free tutorials and classes from national and internationally known surface design artists and teachers!

I wrote then that you should mark your calendar for April for me, but turns out, I am representing the month of March! The focus of my posts for The Printed Fabric Bee will be on Block Printing for art quilts and other fiber projects. My first post is copied below:

A wooden printing block being hand-carved by a master craftsman in India

Block printing is one of the most ancient forms of decorative art. We carry a very wide range of wooden printing blocks in our shop. These blocks are hand carved in India and are part of our free trade products: we are proud to be a part of the support of 40 families in India!

For my first post, I’m including a video below that was taped while I was running my on-site “pop-up” shop at the recent Art & Soul creative retreat in Portland, Oregon. The video begins with me answering a question from my audience: where do wooden printing blocks come from?, and then moves into the basics of how to block print.

While traveling around the US vending at shows and teaching, I hear many of the same questions over and over, so I am using this opportunity, below and in the video, to briefly answer the most common ones.

  1. What type of wood is used?
    The wooden printing blocks are carved out of shisham wood, which is a locally grown, sustainable hard wood.
  2. Will the white paint come off?
    The white marking is there to give the carvers, or as they prefer, Block Makers, visual guidance as to where to chisel and carve the wood away.
  3. How do I care for wooden printing blocks?
    Do scrub them with soap and water once your printing session is over. Use a soft nail brush if necessary to get paint out of the fine lines. However, don’t let your blocks soak in the sink or a container water. I dry them face down on a dry towel.
           Know this: they will never be ‘clean’ again — embrace that! (We find them beautiful with the hints of paint and use; see photo below.)
  4. How can I use them?
    … well, the answer to that is for the next blog post!

Wooden printing blocks that have been used multiple times

Wooden printing blocks that have been used many times with many colors of paint have their own special beauty.

My next blog post will give you a few ideas of how to embellish your block printed fabric.

Comment to Win!

In addition to the surface design tutorials posted here on The Printed Fabric Bee blog, each month, the specified artist offers a fabulous giveaway. Simply leave a comment on at least one of the blog posts during that month to be eligible. I have selected a beautiful circle design wooden printing block, an orange foam printing mat (critical to successful block printing), and a jar of True Blue PROfab Opaque Textile Paint as my prize. However…if you are selected and are local to the Virginia/DC/Maryland area (or are willing to travel), you can instead choose to attend my Woodblock Printed Art Quilt class on June 11 for free!

March Printed Fabric Bee prize: wooden printing block, textile paint and foam printing mat

Leave a comment below to be eligible for this block printing prize!

P.S. If you would like to travel to India and meet the families who carve our wooden printing blocks, visit the Colouricious website in England to learn about the Textile Trip of a Lifetime!