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.

Welcoming Seth Apter to JAMs

July 22nd, 2015

I am on my way to Quilt Odyssey at the Hershey Lodge & Convention Center in Hershey, PA. The show runs from July 23-26. If you are attending, come find Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal in the Merchants Mall…I’d love to say hi!

Mixed media artist, instructor and author Seth Apter joined Artistic Artifacts for its monthly JAMs meetingThis past Sunday I took a break from the prep and packing for this show to welcome many members of Judy’s Altered Minds for our monthly meeting. We postponed our planned Zen Doodling demo by member Niya Costley to August in order to welcome a surprise visitor, Seth Apter. Seth was in the area promoting his new stamp line and kindly made time to pay us a visit before heading back home to New York.

To prevent him from being trampled with our enthusiasm, we created a sign-in sheet so that we could one at a time shop his amazing new collection, including the sets Solar System, Faded Fragments, Pattern Play, Ink Spots, Cross Hatch and Lineups — these have just been added to our online shop too.

Seth Apter and Artistic Artifacts ownder Judy Gula at the monthly JAMs meeting

Seth was his usual charming self, holding court at the front of the group, and quietly sold his products while had our show & tell session. He requested his own views of everyone’s work and delighted all with his comments and anecdotes.

I was pretty happy to have my own show & tell item — too often this is not the case! I had finished my slow stitched quilt that features wooden printing block images…I showed this in progress in a previous blog posting. Click on the below image for a larger view.

Slow Stitch Outsider Art Quilt by Judy Gula -- click for larger view

Here is a detail view of one of my blocks:

Detail, Slow Stitch Outsider Art Quilt by Judy Gula

Ann showed off her adorable fox quilt (below). She noted that the pattern called for the fox body to be pieced from fabrics, but she thought when she had a fabric as wonderful as Tim Holtz’ Bouquet, there was no need — we all agreed!

Fox quilt by JAMs member Ann

We have an art journal round robin exchange going on within the group, and Kathie enjoyed creating the below page spread so much she made another version for her own personal journal.

Mermaid journal pages by JAMs member Kathie

Sally has been working on this art quilt (below) featuring her own rusted fabrics and materials for some time now, and showed it off in its finished shape. Reminiscent of some of Seth’s own work, don’t you think?

Rusted fabric art quilt by JAMs member Sally

Below are many of the members who were present for the meeting in a photo taken by Seth. If you live in Virginia, Maryland or DC, please join us for JAMs! For those who are too far away, do keep us in mind if a vacation, business trip or family business brings you nearby during the third Sunday of the month, plan to visit us for the meeting — all are welcome!

Some of the members of JAMs in a photo taken by Seth Apter

PG Fiber2Art and the Row by Row Experience

July 15th, 2015

We love working with PG Fiber2Art, the surface design team of Susan Price and Elizabeth Gibson. We carry a large variety of their beautiful thermofax screen designs in the shop, and they teach one of our most popular classes, Printing with Thermofax Screens, which will next be held on September 26: register online.

The 2015 Row by Row Experience at Artistic Artifacts, with PG Fiber2Art screens and rows

Because we are offering their thermofax screen alternate design as part of the 2015 Row by Row Experience (see above, click for a larger view), we will also be offering a fun, abbreviated “taste” of the process on the evening of August 13 as part of our How Do I Use This sessions — register to join us!

PG Fiber2Art maintains a really wonderful blog, full of inspiration, instruction and information…right now they are documenting their experiences at many of the New England shops participating in Row by Row. Time to envy these lucky ladies: they spend part of every summer in New Hampshire, lakeside, at their very own Quilt Camp.

We wanted to share some of their Row by Row-related posts with you, especially when they included some “learned the hard way wisdom.” I had to laugh —very much WITH them, not at them — when I saw the title Wonky Is Easier When You Read the Directions … I personally am notorious for not reading directions!

But as we all know, any time spent with fiber art is well spent, even when you don’t end up with what you thought you would.

And as the saying goes, the third time is the charm. Along with the fish screens they had created to use for this year’s Row by Row, they had created two beautiful sea shell screens too. Don’t they make for another beautiful alternative for the Artistic Artifacts row? (See below, click image for a larger view.)

PG Fiber2Art Row by Row Experience design with seashells

Here are lessons learned by Elizabeth’s — great tips for anyone who picked up our Row by Row pattern:

  • Wonky isn’t severe. Don’t make those cuts too severe or they will grow out of your control.
  • Measure as you go so you will end up with a block you can cut into a square and not end up with a rectangle.
  • Don’t make the inner rounds too wide or you will reach the 9.5 inch block size limit before you get as many rounds of fabric on it as you want.
  • When horizontal doesn’t work, try vertical. (Our 2015 winner did, see below!)

PG Fiber2Art fish screens on Batik Tambal Exclusive Fabric

Above, Elizabeth used the PG Fiber2Art crackle screen (also available in our shop; if you aren’t close by, visit the PG Fiber2Art Etsy shop) on the Woodstock by Batik Tambal, Green River for wonderful additional background texture. Then she added another thermofax layer of the fish screens with PROFab Transparent Textile Paint in hunter green and navy.

And as we were putting this posting together, our shop’s Row by Row Experience winner came in! Congratulations to Janet DuLaney-Saunders of Manassas Park, VA, pictured left holding her quilt (click for larger view) with Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula. Janet named her quilt Singing in the Rain, and used a total of 9 rows, including ours! She used fabric kits from some shops and also used some of her own fabrics to make the blocks, or to substitute in kits for particular color choices.

Janet DuLaney-Saunders holding her winning 2015 Row by Row Experience quilt

Janet’s quilt features rows from the following shops, beginning with the middle section, from the top:

  • Olde Town Needlecraft, Manassas, VA
  • Oh Sew Persnickety Fabrics and Threads, Gainesville, VA
  • Quilt Patch, Fairfax, VA
  • Daffodil Quilts, Nokesville, VA
  • Bonny’s Sewing & Fabric, Stafford, VA
  • Circle Sewing Studio, Dale City, VA

Our Artistic Artifacts row is the top left vertical row, and underneath it is the pattern (Janet’s own fabric) from Bonny’s Sewing & Fabric in Alexandria. The top vertical row of seahorses at the right is by Suzzie’s Quilt Shop in Manassas, VA.

Well done, Janet — thank you for visiting us!

Vintage Found Floral Embellished Art Quilt

July 8th, 2015

I wanted to share one of my embellished quilts with you today…the bold florals and bright colors seem appropriate as we enter the dog days of summer.

click for a larger view--Vintage Found Floral embellished art quilt by Judy Gula

Click on the quilt for a larger view.

It was easy for me to pull the center panel, a hand-embroidered floral, and the border fabric, an amazing tulip floral from Halston from my stash. Anyone who knows me, or has been a blog visitor in the past, knows I have a love for found fabrics and linens. But I also have a lot of other collections too, so it’s probably not a shock that I have a drawer full of vintage floral pins and brooches.

I loved putting all these together!

Close-up views of the pins I used:

Vintage pin from Judy Gula's collection
Vintage pin from Judy Gula's collection
Vintage pin from Judy Gula's collection
Vintage pin from Judy Gula's collection

The center piece was wonderful as is, but I really enjoyed adding free-motion quilting, in two colors of neutral thread, to give it more emphasis and movement (detail below).

Free motion quilting added to vintage embroidered butterfly

And the fabric designed by Halston (look him up, young folks, he was a HUGE name in the fashion world in the 70s) was gorgeous on its own, but it also was a fun canvas to add some hand stitching as well as free-motion quilting.

Vintage Halston-designed fabric embellished with hand and machine stitching

Bright and cheerful with a bit of bling, this was a fun art quilt to put together. If you have pins or brooches from your grandmother, mother, aunt and they aren’t something you would wear today, consider adding one or more to a quilt or mixed media canvas as an embellishment. So much prettier than hidden away in a drawer!

My Latest Fabrics for The Printed Fabric Bee

July 1st, 2015

It has been a bit of time since I have posted about my submissions for The Printed Fabric Bee — indeed too long! The group has been very understanding of me missing deadlines, and I very much appreciate that!

Explore some new techniques yourself with these upcoming surface design classes at Artistic Artifacts:

For any new readers, The Printed Fabric Bee is a group of 12 surface design enthusiasts, who designate one member each month to serve as the “Queen Bee.” The Queen gets to select a theme and colors for her fabric collection, and the rest of us worker bees interpret her wishes in our original hand-painted fabrics.

Each month an original collection of fabrics is sent to the Queen, but also to one lucky blog reader, who with their comment on the blog (link above) has the opportunity to win a collection of 6-inch squares of the handcrafted fabrics.

The Queen Bee for the month of May was Leslie Tucker Jenison. Leslie chose “making marks with found objects” for her theme, asking that the fabric be primarily neutrals with a pop of color. I immediately had an idea for a plastic container of keys I have in my collection… you know, the ones at the hardware store that were cut wrong?

Foam printing mat strewn with metal keys

I placed the keys on top of my form printing surface. Notice how in the above photo that several of the keys are placed hanging off the mat. I think that helps with creating interest.

Sorry for the blurry photo (below). But even with the blur, you can see the basics. I put my my selected paint colors (PROFab Opaque Textile Paint) on a piece of pallette paper, and then roll my brayer over it, picking up the color. Then simply roll the brayer across the piece of fabric that I placed over the keys! Presto! The imprint of the keys is transferred.

creating an image of keys on fabric

I love how easy this technique is! In fact I surprise myself that I don’t use it more often. I’m very happy with how this piece turned out: quick, easy and bold!

Key fabric printed by Judy Gula for The Printed Fabric Bee

The theme for June was vintage, chosen by that month’s queen, Lynn Krawczyk. Her color request? Any color but pink.! Although I absolutely love vintage, this theme was a bit trickier. Since the piece was to have a vintage feel I thought of crocheted doilies and a neutral, beige color.

I began by using an Australian print, Untitled Neutral by Nambooka. Then I took out my Round Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate and mixed up a couple shades of brown from my PROFab Opaque Textile Paint, brayering the paint onto the printing plate in an even layer. I placed my doily on the printing plate and pressed it down all over, then removed the doily, which gave me a stencil/mask effect in the paint. I then pressed my fabric down onto the plate to transfer the doily print.

Printing a vintage inspired fabric with doilies and Gel Arts printing plate

In the above photo you can see the doily, Gel Printing Plate all ready to print and, at the bottom, some of the already printed fabric. Because the round printing plate is smaller than the fabric I was working on, I printed the doily circles multiple times, working with different tones of light and dark.

Brown Doily printed fabric by Judy Gula

While happy with the look, I did feel there was too much brown, and so I wanted to add a color to brighten the fabric up.

Applying turquoise paint to bubble wrap

I brayered PROFab Transparent Textile Paint in turquoise onto some bubble wrap and applied it like a stamp randomly through the fabric. I think the turquoise helped my distressed, vintage-look texture pop!

Vintage inspired fabric by Judy Gula for The Printed Fabric Bee

If you are interested in exploring surface design techniques yourself, we have some wonderful classes on the books for later this summer and fall, as noted in the sidebar at the beginning of this post.

Product Review: Terial Magic

June 24th, 2015

Terial Magic™ is a non-aerosol fabric stabilizing spray that was the subject of a demonstration at our most recent meeting of JAMs (Judy’s Altered Minds). Treated with Terial Magic, fabrics do not fray when cut, sewn or ironed, and they hold shapes and folds. Originally created for use in creating dimensional fabric flowers, Terial Magic can replace stabilizers and fusibles for quilters and embroiderers and keeps fraying in check for all kinds of fiber and mixed media art.

Terial Magic (pronounced like material) was created for use on fabrics that fray at the edge when cut, or lightweight fabrics that need to have more body to be easily handled. We tested it on cotton and batik, but the manufacturers note that you can use it on T-shirt jersey, polyester, wool and many other fabrics.

Examples of fabric art created using Terial Magic

Above, clockwise from top: Terial Magic fabric stabilizing spray; origami fabric dress card, dimensional fabric flower (both by Linda Morgan) and fabric die-cut into tag shape.

Treated fabric has a noticeable body, much like a sheet of paper — it is not stiff or plasticky. There is no difference in the fabric’s feel or finish, and colors remain true with no shift lighter or darker. Treated fabric is ideal for:

  • creating dimensional flowers and leaves or other 3-D embellishments for fiber art or clothing (the manufacturers do suggest using a clear matte acrylic spray on dimensional fabric flowers to give even more permanence as well as water resistance)
  • paper piecing
  • cutting appliqué shapes (raw-edge, or easily finger press under ¼" allowances for hand or machine stitching) and any intricate shapes
  • machine embroidery (instead of fusible or paper stabilizers)
  • fabric origami (see dress card above)
  • computer printing photos and images (see cherub below)
  • running through electronic cutting machines (see tag above)
  • and more!

Terial Magic treated fabric run through a computer printer

Above, vintage cherub image computer printed on white fabric treated with Terial Magic. The fabric can be trimmed with clean, no-fray edges and has a paper-like consistency so it goes through printers with no problems or jamming.

The spray is simple to use: place your fabric in a bowl or tray and spray it all over, saturated it thoroughly. (See below image, courtesy of the Terial Arts website.) If you are treating a larger quantity of fabric, place it in loose folds, and pick it up and rearrange it while spraying to reach everywhere.

Applying Terial Magic to fabric (Photo by Terial Arts)

Wring the fabric out to both move the product through all the fabric and to remove the excess (we saved the liquid and repoured it into the bottle). Hang the fabric to damp-dry. We were able to hang some fabric outside in the summer sun and it was dry in mere minutes; our friend Linda draped her fabric along the side of her laundry tub, so it took longer.

Once your fabric is damp-dry, iron it to remove any wrinkles. Unlike starch, Terial Magic does not scorch and leaves no residue either on your fabric or you iron’s soleplate. You can also iron completely dry fabric with fine results…and if you are using your fabric to create dimensional flowers and leaves, you may wish to leave the texture in for realism.

Treated fabric is very easy to sew: it is stable and will not shift or stretch as you sew, and there is no residue on your needle or the sewing machine surface.

Terial Magic treated fabric is easy to stitch, and idea for use with machine embroidery or specialty stitches

In the photo above, we began with two strips of 100% cotton fabric: top, untreated; bottom, sprayed with Terial Magic. The same pre-programmed machine stitches were used on both sides, and you can easily see the difference: the treated portion shows flat stitches with no pulls or puckers.

Fabrics treated with Terial Magic, one finger pleated
Sharp pleats ironed into fabric

During our demo, we were asked whether this product could be used to create a pleated dress for a doll, and Linda quickly pleated and finger pressed a rectangle of treated fabric (pictured above). We later ironed the pleats in, resulting in knife-like sharpness — we had to pull the pleats apart in order to get the fabric to spread (photo right).

Terial Magic fabric stabilizing spray

The product has a pleasant, non-chemical scent, — it reminded us of a ‘linen’ scented candle or fabric softener. It has a slippery feel to your skin as you work the product through, similar to a hair conditioner, and easily washes off your hands.

Terial Magic is water soluble and can be washed out of your fabric if desired, e.g., using it to piece and appliqué a quilt. But it is safe to leave in fabrics permanently, which is another notable feature: starched fabrics can attract bugs such as silverfish, especially depending on the climate and humidity levels, which can ruin stored quilts or linens.

Visit the Terial Arts website for additional resources: video tutorials, project ideas, free pattern downloads and more.

Using Embossing Powders

June 17th, 2015

For some reason, I had always thought it was complicated to use embossing powders. With some experimentation over the past year or so, some of it spurred by our monthly How Do I Use This? series, I have found that it is easy to use embossing powders — although it can be a little messy!

This post will feature a page that I worked on recently, which has a shell theme going on, because I am creating the backgrounds for pages that will be completed during my family beach vacation.

Supplies needed when using embossing powder

Above, my materials and tools:

  • Yellow foam printing mat — the “give” of the foam gives you the best results when rubber stamping, and is a necessity when using wooden printing blocks
  • Embossing stamp pad — this brand is tinted pink, which is supposed to help you by being visible (in my opinion, it doesn’t help so much!)…also pictured here is a re-inker
  • Embossing powder — this is a metallic brand from Ranger; embossing powders come in a wide variety of colors and textures
  • Rubber stamp
  • Pre-painted shipping tag to stamp on

Here are the easy steps to using embossing powders:

Embossing powder applied to wet stamped imprint, ready for heating

Stamp your image using a favorite rubber stamp and an embossing stamp pad. Rather than ink, these pads hold a type of glue that holds the embossing powder to your surface. Immediately shake the embossing powder over the wet stamped image (above, left). The powder will cling to the wet imprint of the stamp’s image. (right) Shake off extra embossing powder and return it to the container.

Embossed tag by Judy Gula

Move your tag or paper to a heat-resistant surface (do not use your heat tool on your foam mat). Heat the embossing powder imprint using the tool for a few seconds. You might find it helpful to use a skewer or some other kind of implement to keep your tag or paper in place. You will be able to see the embossing powder melt and fuse together (photo, right). Presto! Magic! It can be difficult to see in photos but metallic embossing powders melt into a wonderful shiny surface.

I think I might add some lighter color paint around the face to make it stand out or I could have stamped and embossed the image on text papers and them applied it to the tag. The ideas are limitless.

Embossed shells by Judy Gula

The fuchsia shell is a smooth embossing power, versus the green ‘bubble’ ribbon at the bottom, which is a Tim Holtz Distress Embossing Powder. After you heat that powder and let it cool, you rub the image with your fingers to remove special release crystals, giving you a worn and weathered look.

Detailed view of two different embossing powders used by Judy Gula

Above is a close up view of the two. Can you see the difference in the texture?

Embossed and collaged shell page by Judy Gula

The above photo uses the same stamp as the fuchsia shell, and the same type of embossing powder… but you can see that I pressed my stamp into the embossing pad too hard, leaving too much embossing “glue” on the stamp, and thus my image details are somewhat “blurry” and difficult to see. But still pretty — I think it looks like the shell is sandy!

Embossing powders were created to use on paper for the stamping/scrapbooking world, but can be used on different surfaces. So of course I have tried it on fabric! Below, the results on a blue cotton using a Pomegranate Halved wooden printing block and a gold metallic embossing powder

Judy Gula using a wooden printing block with embossing powders on fabric

The embossing powder has more of a tendency to cling to the fabric even without the ink adhesion…you can see a few stray marks in my sample. You can use a brush to try whisking them off.

Note that if you experiment with embossing on fabric, the material is not washable, but is wonderful used in an art quilt and or journals.

Slow Stitched Outsider Art Quilt

June 9th, 2015

Judy Gula stitched bird quiltlet in progress

The Slow Stitching Movement has become very hot over the last couple of years. Mark Lipinski modeled the it after the international Slow Food movement, open to all fiber and needle artists to prepare them for a higher form of creativity and important work in the needle and fiber arts.

I have to say that I have enjoyed renewing my acquaintance with hand stitching, inspired by my stitching gurus, Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution, and renowned stitch/fiber artist Ruth Chandler. They both were interviewed by Mark about the Slow Stitching movement — listen to their podcasts!

Another catalyst for my renewed interest was the publication of Ruth’s book Modern Hand Stitching, which gives you instructions for how to create basic stitches, and then shows the multiple ways you can use and alter it for a fresh new look. I comb the used book stores looking for for European hand stitching books — especially the Scandinavian ones. It’s official…I am hooked!

At one our monthly JAMS meeting, a show & tell project by member Karen Scudder caused such a stir that she was asked to give the group a short demo at a future meeting. Karen had used a creative hand stitching and quilting technique commonly attributed to Teesha Moore (see the bottom of the page for more info and tutorial links). That demo has led to many little hand stitch quiltlets appearing at JAMS meetings, and a number of dedicated new fans of the process!

Not wanting to be left out of the fun, and wanting to use samples from wooden printing blocks demonstrations, I embarked on my own slow stitch project.

Here is what I did:

Despite giving literally scores of them away, I still have a huge number of shirting fabric samples, so I used those as my backings, which also gave me a starting point as to the size of my blocks. I matched up the stamped fabric with backing of cotton shirting approximately the same size (for this technique, it’s often recommended that your backing fabric be a bit larger so it can be turned over to the front.

Judy Gula small quilt sandwich makings

I used Nature-Fil™ Blend quilt batting (a blend of bamboo and rayon; stitches beautifully) and cut it slightly smaller than my front and back pieces of fabric. See the beginning of my quilt sandwich above.

Judy Gula small quilt sandwich -- edge stitched for stability

Step 2 is to stitch around the block, by hand or machine (above), to hold the pieces together. While it is possible to skip this step, I have found it does help stabilize it all for the subsequent steps.

Judy Gula small quilt: rolled and stitched edges

The next step is to roll the edges and stitch around them, as shown above. Once you have a small quilt put together, it’s time to break out your floss and stitch away, using as many embroidery stitches as you desire. Many people embellish with beads or charms too, but that embellishing should take place after you have stitched the block completely (your stitches shrink the entire block somewhat; beads applied too early in the process could loosen or pucker).

Here are some samples of other blocks I have in process:

Judy Gula small elephant print quiltlet ready for stitching

Judy Gula small paisley quiltlet ready for stitching

Ultimately I wanted to join the blocks together to create something. I don’t know what that something is yet, maybe a wall hanging? Journal cover? But this is what I have going so far (click for a larger view):

Judy Gula small quiltlets in progress -- click for larger view

This is a fun and portable project — as you can see in the bird block, I carry the needle with me everywhere!

More About These Techniques

Art quilt by Susan "Lucky" Shie

Susan “Lucky” Shie (pronounced “shy”) is an amazing artist, and created a number of heavily stitched and embellished art quilts featured in Quilting Arts and elsewhere. For years she taught her methods; in 1999 she taught a class in her techniques that included Teesha Moore (see Susan’s online diary, scroll approximately halfway down the page). Susan writes that Teesha, “who had never made fabric art before, took to it really fast! She is primarily a stamp artist and journaler, who self publishes a wild stamp art quarterly. Her ability to translate her creativity over to fabric textures was wonderful!”

Although Susan ceased teaching her methods in 2006, she documented her methods in writing and continues to keep that tutorial online. Visit the Lucky School of Quilting Techniques »

Stitched journal cover by Teesha Moore

With Susan’s permission, Teesha (and others) began teaching her own take on this stitching technique, using it to make art dolls, fabric journals and more. Teesha offers a free set of tutorial videos to create one of her fabric journals, constructed from units she calls pillows. (Teesha stuffs her fabric with polyfil stuffing, rather than using batting.) Watch for her own methods on constructing sewn and embellished fiber art:

Encouraging Fiber Arts in the Next Generation

June 3rd, 2015
Girl Scout Troop #776 volunteers for the Fun with Fabric project

Girl Scout Troop #776 volunteers for the Fun with Fabric project. Organizer Celia Middleton is standing, top row, left.

My niece Celia Middleton from Girl Scout Troop #776 recently organized a free* quilting educational activity for her Girl Scout Silver Award, and I was proud to support her as a sponsor!

Celia’s Fun with Fabric – Make Your Own Mini Quilt activity took place on Sunday, May 31 at the 42nd Annual Quilter’s Unlimited Quilt Show in Chantilly, VA.

She developed this project so that participants began with creating a stamped fabric with wooden printing blocks, added batting and backing and then completed the “quiltlet” by hand stitching, which kept the three layers together. These little pieces of fiber art thus illustrated what a quilt is. This event was open to all ages, and all ages participated!

Instructions and illustrations created by Celia Middleton for her Fun with Fabric project

Celia had to organize and administer this project on her own, including documenting her hours of work related to the project, to begin achieving the levels needed to qualify for her Silver Award.

Advance work included an initial meeting with a quilt show representative, lots of practice of the techniques needed so that the steps could be taught, creating samples for display, developing signage and information/illustration boards (pictured above), preparing the supplies of fabric, batting, needles and thread (donated by Artistic Artifacts) and training her helpers, which included her younger sister, Layla.

Learning to block print

Learning to print with wooden printing blocks

Fun with Fabric at the Quilters Unlimited 2015 Quilt Show

A young show visitor displays her finished quiltlet

The pride of learning new creative skills shows as this young participant displays her finished quiltlet.

In addition to this educational activity, Celia is planning to make quilts and donate them to charity as part of her Silver Award project. She asked participants to donate wood block printed squares to be used in these quilts that she will sew. Celia also hosted a fundraiser for the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital SHARE program. The SHARE (Share Her Annual Real Expenses) program helps pay for membership fees, camp and other Girl Scout activities. Celia collected $20 in donations from workshop participants and is planning to continue collecting donations for this worthwhile cause!

Ellen West and her committee co-chair Carla Lounsbury of the Annandale chapter of Quilter’s Unlimited were our quilt show liaisons and created a great space for the project. I hope you enjoy the photographs included here of the girls in action. I know they enjoyed welcoming many participants and teaching them the joys of quilting!

Girl Scout volunteers teaching hand stitching

The Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts who arrived wearing their uniforms on that Sunday were admitted to the show at no charge. We hope that the quilt show admin will consider allowing the Scouts in uniform free for all 3 days of the show. It is so important to encourage a love of traditional arts such as quilting in the next generation, and demonstrations like Celia’s and programs such as free or reduced admission to shows and events are steps to achieving that goal.

Girl Scout volunteers block printing

Girl Scout volunteers block printing. That's the Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal booth in the background. I had a birds-eye view of the action in the demonstration area!


All ages enjoyed the Fun with Fabric project

* Donations were accepted for the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital SHARE family giving campaign.

Red Flower Wonky Log Cabin Quilt

May 27th, 2015

I actually thought I was creating wonky log cabin blocks in a previous blog post when I used Australian fabrics by M&S Textiles. But I just wasn’t wonky enough! Who would have thought?!

Why was I back to creating Wonky Log Cabins? Because we will use a Wonky Log Cabin blocks in our 2015 Row by Row Experience pattern! I thought I should practice first (this is totally out of character for me) and began to investigate the technique.

I found a terrific blog online: Quilt Dad, the alias of John Q. Adams. He has already done the hard work of creating a wonderful instructional tutorial posting on the Wonky log Cabin.

Thanks to his influence, I fashioned my step by step photos like his (because why reinvent the wheel when someone has done such a great job?) Thank you, Quilt Dad!

Above, I began with a mini hand drawn batik panel, Red Flowers, by Hari Agung, trimming the sides at a bit of an angle. The actual cutting is approximately ¼” to ¾” on each side.

Adding "logs" of fabric around the center panel

I then decided on my selections for the additional fabric I wanted to use for the logs around the center panel. Once I had them picked out, I cut them approximately 1½” each for ease (above). I would then trim different amounts off with each row to add variety to my wonky logs (below).

Trimming the added "logs" of fabric around the center panel

I continued to add “log” strips.

Adding and trimming "logs" of fabric around the center panel
Adding and trimming "logs" of fabric around the center panel

Then I added a 3″ border (below). This is I Make The Path, Spirit by Frond Design Studios.

Three-inch border added

Lately I have noticed that I tend to find myself sticking with like fabrics in my projects, and am trying to change that. For example, when I work with batiks, I tend to work with only batik fabrics, even when my intent is to be scrappy. I think I have been limiting myself with that approach, so I am challenging myself to move out of that comfort zone and mix up my fabric choices.

Final touch: lime green piping and a narrow batik binding

I did use one of my favorite tools, the Groovin’ Piping Trimming Tool, to create the lime green piping (shown above). The piping was stitched on first, and then the binding. I have tried to combine these steps in the past with one sewing pass…unsuccessfully. So now I take the time to sew them each on separately.

I added some free-motion stitching on the panel and throughout red border fabric. It’s difficult to see in these photographs, so I took a closeup photo (below). It was great fun following the Frond Fabric wisps and curves! (You can see a bit of that in the binding photo above.)

Free motion quilting on red flower panel

My Finished Quilt (below). I have used batiks, Australian Aborigine, and the Frond Design Studios in this small quilt, and they look great together!

Red Flower Wonky Log Cabin by Judy Gula

Stay tuned for our Row by Row announcement in a future e-newsletter or blog posting, and “like” Artistic Artifacts on Facebook to see our Row first!

P.S. Remember, Artistic Artifacts will be an exhibitor at the 42nd Annual Quilter’s Unlimited Quilt Show in Chantilly, VA, May 28-31. The shop will be closed Friday and Saturday, May 28-29, so locals, please plan visit us at the show!