Make Your Own Travel Accessory!

April 16th, 2014

Traveling… Do you travel for business? (If so, then does everyone then think that you are having fun, rather than working?) Do you carry on, or check your bag? Traveling is getting more difficult if you are riding in economy. Packing must be more compact and better organized.

Having just returned from Art & Soul in Portland Oregon, where Artistic Artifacts is the onsite store, I had to deal with a jumble of wires and power cords for various computers, receipt printer, camera, Kindle, etc. There has to be a better way!

And there is! Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution brought out her beautifully made charger/cord organizer. I quickly decided we should post her tutorial on how you can make one too! Special thanks to Havel’s (the best scissors made) and Liz Kettle (the best roomie).

Remember that Liz will be visiting Artistic Artifacts next month and teaching several of her favorite classes with us as part of our celebration of the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) 25th Anniversary Conference taking place May 1-4 in Alexandria, VA. We have created a robust week-long schedule of fiber and surface design classes and events, open to all! Travel in for SAQA, or our classes, or both — and bring your new charger organizer with you!

Finished charger and cord organizer, rolled and tied

Fully Charged Organizer

By Liz Kettle

Do you ever get to your vacation spot or business conference and realize you left a critical charger cord at home? Ugh! This has happened to me too many times. There are a few charger organizers on the market but they weren’t perfect and they were just a tad too boring in design. So, I did what any creative maker of stuff would do and designed a charger organizer that fit my unique charger needs! Best of all, it is a quick project and I had it ready to go for my next trip.

Multi-Purpose Cloth™ by Roc-lon®, (aka MPC), is a white non-woven canvas that is perfect for this project because it doesn’t fray, is sturdy and just heavy enough to give the organizer body. I use it for all sorts of bags, totes, placemats etc. You can buy MPC from Artistic Artifacts.

Heavy canvas or felt may be substituted but will give a different look and feel. Canvas will ravel so all the edges will need to be stitched tightly.

Charger/Cord Organizer Tutorial

You will need the following supplies for Charger/Cord Organizer:

  • Multi-Purpose Cloth ~ 16" x 12½"
  • Decorative fabrics ~ 2 pieces 16" x 12½" (I used a Japanese linen print)
  • 4 feet of 1" wide ribbon or twill tape for closure
  • 14" of double folded seam tape
  • Plastic for pockets (medium thickness)
  • ¼" wide elastic ~ 14" length
  • Mistyfuse or other fusible web
  • Rotary cutter and mat
  • Havel’s Teflon scissors
  • Sewing Machine

To design and sew your organizer, follow these steps:

fabric layered with Mistyfuse

1) Using your rotary cutter and mat, cut the MPC, Mistyfuse and fabrics 16" x 12½". Layer the MPC, the Mistyfuse and the outer decorative fabric. Follow manufacturer’s directions to fuse together.

fabric fused on both sides

2) Repeat with the inner decorative fabric layer to cover both sides of the MPC. Set this aside for now.

fusing seam tape

3) Cut a piece of Mistyfuse ½" wide x 14". Place this inside the folds of the unfolded seam tape. Use a non-stick craft sheet and iron the tape to fuse the inner folds flat.

fused seam tape with elastic

4) Pin in the 14" of ¼" wide elastic to the back side of the seam tape.

elastic pinned evenly to seam tape

5) Pin the elastic evenly around the tape while stretching to fit. When you are finished it will look like the above photo.

sewing elastic to seam tape

6) Use a zigzag stitch to stitch the elastic to the seam tape.

sewn seam tape curling up from the elastic

7) When you have finished sewing, the seam tape will curl up, as shown in the above photo.

marking the plastic for cutting

8a) Use a permanent marker and a ruler to mark the plastic.

cutting the plastic with teflon scissors

8b) Use Teflon scissors to cut a piece 20" x 5".

chargers and cords in place to determine pocket size

9) To personalize your organizer, place the specific charging cords and devices on the base of your organizer. Place the plastic over these. Begin on one end and pin the plastic to the edge. Then smooth the plastic between the cords to allow for the depth of the pocket and pin the bottom and top of the plastic onto the base fabric. Trim off the extra plastic with your Teflon coated scissors.

marking organizer pocket placement

10) Remove the charging devices and mark the pin placement on the plastic on the bottom edge so you can realign it later. Mark the fabric as well or measure and record on a piece of paper. Remove the pins and plastic.

sewing the elasticized seam tape to the plastic

11) Place the seam tape along the top edge of the plastic, stretching to fit and stitch in place with a zigzag stitch.

repinning pocket placement

12) Place the plastic back on the fabric and re-pin the plastic in place along the sides and bottom. Create small pleats or folds along the bottom edge of the plastic to make the pocket depth needed for the cords. Pin these in place. Stitch along the side and bottom edges with a straight stitch.

Using a teflon foot makes sewing plastic easier

Note: If stitching on the plastic is difficult, use a Teflon foot, or simply stick a piece of tape on the bottom of your foot. This will help reduce drag from the plastic.

sewing up the pockets

13) Stitch the pockets from the bottom of the plastic up to the seam tape covered edge using a straight stitch. Stitch back and forth a couple times at the top to reinforce the top edge.

14) Stitch around all the sides with a zigzag stitch. I like to use a multicolored thread, such as Star Thread, and stitch around the edge multiple times to blend the thread colors. You can also use a satin stitch around the edge for a more finished edge.

15) Fold the wrapping ribbon or twill tape in half and place the fold on the middle of the top edge of the organizer on the outside. Stitch the ribbon securely with a zigzag stitch. I usually stitch it 2-4 times.

Charger/Cord Organizer by Liz Kettle

16) Place your charging devices and cords back in the plastic pockets.

rolling up your new organizer

17) Roll the organizer up from the bottom edge and wrap the ribbon around to tie. Trim ribbon as necessary.

You are now ready to travel anywhere fully charged!

About Liz:
Liz Kettle is a mixed media and textile artist living in Colorado. Liz is author of First Time Beading on Fabric and she is co-author of two books, Fabric Embellishing: The Basics and Beyond and Threads: The Basics and Beyond. Liz loves teaching and sharing the joy of making stuff in her articles, classes and workshops. Visit her blog and website,, where you can join the fun in her free on-line book studies.

Artistic Artifacts On the Road!

April 9th, 2014

The Portland, Oregon edition of Art & Soul is underway! After a full day exhibiting at an art therapy conference (see below) Judy hopped on a crack of dawn flight this past Saturday morning to the West Coast. We’re hoping she slept on the plane, as these creative retreats keep you busy!

Art & Soul is taking place April 7th through the 13th at the beautiful visit The Red Lion Hotel on the River. While online registration is closed, those local to the Portland and surrounding Pacific Northwest area can still register in-person at the hotel…so if you find that your schedule has freed up and you can squeeze in a class or two, there’s still time to indulge!

Fabric book class participants at Art & Soul Portland 2014; image courtesy Art & Soul Facebook page

Image above courtesy of Art & Soul Facebook page.

And even if you are not attending the retreat, you can visit the Red Lion on the River to shop at Artistic Artifacts on-site store! As always, Judy has a huge supply of new products and vintage/found treasure available for your fiber and mixed media art, and she’d love to meet you to say hello.

Plus a Vendor Night takes place on Saturday, April 12 from 6:00-9:00 pm. This event is free for all attendees but is also open to the general public with a $10 admission fee. More than 20 vendors will offer finished artwork, supplies, vintage findings, jewelry, ephemera and more.

Art Therapy Conference

Art therapy conference signs

Mindfulness, Compassion & the Arts in Therapy: from Neuroscience to Clinical Practice and the Mid-Atlantic Play Therapy Training Institute both took place on April 4-6, 2014 in Alexandria, VA. Artistic Artifacts was thrilled to have been invited to take part as a vendor!

This event was a continuing education opportunity for play therapists as well as those of of many disciplines: Art, Music, Dance/Movement, Poetry, Drama and Movement, plus arts educators, psychologists, social workers, counselors and more in the medical, clinical and academic community.

Of course, those dedicated to the idea of how the arts can heal are artists themselves, so we received a very warm welcome in response to our tables of fiber and mixed media supplies, as well as our demonstrations and make and take activity (supplies pictured below).

Supplies for making collage and mixed media ATCs
Diane Herbort demonstrating hand stitching

Special thanks go out to our volunteer friends from Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs) who helped us out in so many ways throughout the weekend — we couldn’t have done it without them!

  • Diane Herbort (pictured right), who intrigued attendees with her beautiful hand stitching and embroidery with Tentakalum fibers
  • Carol Hamilton and Chris Vinh demonstrating monoprinting on a Gelli Arts™ Gel Printing Plate
  • Carmen Goyette showing off many options on using recycled materials (food boxes, dryer sheets, etc.) in mixed media, and
  • Jocelyn Corderot, Joan Grandy, Kelsey Grandy, Theresa Koenig and Suzanne Langsdorf guiding the creation of ATCs (artist trading cards).

We bought in a wealth of tools and material to create ATCs: rubber stamps, inkpads, paints, book text, washi tape, tissue paper, fabric, trims, art and inspirational quotes and more. And our starting pile was continually refreshed with beautiful monoprints from the Gel Printing Plate demo (example below) using paints, found textures, stencils, wooden printing blocks and more.

Monoprint created on a Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate

Many of the attendees took advantage of this opportunity to have a creative break in between the academic sessions, and it was really rewarding to hear their appreciation and enthusiasm. Pictured below are a few of the ATCs created by Artistic Artifacts staff and volunteers while guiding the participants.

ATCs created at Mindfulness, Compassion & the Arts in Therapy: from Neuroscience to Clinical Practice and the Mid-Atlantic Play Therapy Training Institute

Below, two monoprints created featuring the TCW356 SallyCarley stencil.

Monoprints created during Gel Printing Plate demos

P.S. While at the hotel, Diane Herbort took an intriquing photo for her website. She has been posting weekly inspiration photos — and writing wonderful prose about each — for a number of years now. Check them out!

Free Motion Quilting Made Easier

April 2nd, 2014

How do you feel about free motion quilting? I think I was lucky I took to this form of stitching like a fish to water. I am comfortable with the process, since I am a mixed media art quilter, and I usually work small.

Oh, and did I mention that I am a rule breaker? That helps also!

Mola Fish quilt panel by Judy Gula

When I free motion stitch, I often choose to simply work with the pattern in the fabric. You can see some samples of my mimicking and branching off from the pattern of the golden yellow Women’s Business Gold Aborigine fabric in the photo above. (By the way, we have several of the popular Aborigine design fabric patterns back in stock).

You can stitch around the fabric’s design once, or in echoing “wave” fashion. You can stitch to fill the pattern in. Or maybe the design moves you to create a pattern of your choice. For instance, the circles and dots used as design elements in my fabrics, plus the fish bringing to mind water bubbles, inspired me to free motion stitch the small circles seen on the solid pink fabric the mola is appliquéd onto.

I try to keep my free motion stitching open and large, rather than tiny, even for my small quilts.

Once you’ve experimented a bit, try practicing your favorite moves larger! Then try them smaller!

I’ve found that the use of a few notions can really help the free motion process along. The Sew Slip II really keeps the fabric moving smoothly. Below it is pictured on one of my machines (which is sitting atop one of my Havel’s cutting mats).

The Sew Slip II aids free motion machine quilting

The back of the SewSlip sheet is formulated to grip firmly, so it sticks to your sewing machine bed using no adhesive (and thus no residue on your machine). The front features a non-stick top surface, meaning your fabrics slide freely as you manipulate them with your feed dogs down. The sheet has a precut rectangular hole for your feed dogs to show through, if you are choosing to quilt with them up, for instance to use a walking foot for thick or difficult fabrics, or sewing leather or fur, etc…this mat really helps any type of textile glide smoothly.

One side of the SewSlip mat grips with no adhesive, the other allows all textiles to slide freely

GRABAROOS gloves for free motion quilting


Another notion that contributes to free motion quilting success: I now use GRABAROO’S® gloves most of the time I quilt. There are tiny rubberized grips on every finger, so they really grab the fabric, which allows me to more easily manipulate it while free motion quilting. They are lightweight don’t make my hands too hot.

Regular readers already know how often I have often proclaimed my love of Star Thread in this blog! Today I’m going to make another suggestion for those who want to enhance their free motion quilting experience: using Seralene brand thread from Mettler in the bobbin.
I think that success in free motion stitching is at least partially due to getting into a “zone,” where you are relaxed and your creativity flows. Seralene is a thinner thread, meaning that you will load more thread on your bobbin. More thread on the bobbin allows you to sew longer at a stretch — thus getting you into the groove! No breaking your stride to change the bobbin!

Machine stitching/embroidery by Liz Kettle

And if you’re really ready to ramp up your machine stitching, Stitch Journeys with Liz Kettle: Your Guide to Amazing Stitching is coming this May. I really can’t recommend this class enough; and it’s not just that she’s my dear friend. Previous attendees rave about the tips and tricks she passes on as she teaches you all the necessary techniques to successfully machine stitch any weight of cotton, rayon, silk, poly and metallic decorative threads. We’ve already been asked about local hotels and restaurants — this is a learning opportunity well worth traveling for!

I’d love to hear your own tips and tricks — please leave me a comment!


P.S. More of my Fish Mola panels can be seen in the Artistic Artifacts website’s photo gallery.

Paintstik Rubbings using Vintage Indonesian Tjaps

March 26th, 2014

Paintstik Rubbing Art Quilt by Judy Gula

View larger image of above quilt

Paintstiks are the perfect product to use for creating rubbings from Vintage Indonesian Tjaps. Tjaps, both new and the antiques I’m featuring here, are batik tools that are handcrafted from narrow strips of copper and copper wire that are used to stamp wax patterns into fabric. Tjaps are works of art on their own; while they can still be used to create batik fabric, many people simply display them to admire.

After several attempts on my own at using my tjaps to batik in the traditional method, I now prefer to buy my batiks! Instead, I now use my tjaps as rubbing plates…I’m still creating beautiful fabric and using it in my quilts. I’ve previously blogged about this technique and I’m doing so again, as it’s such a favorite of mine!

vintage tjaps, Shiva Paintstiks and 505 Spray and Fix

To follow along with my tutorial, you need the following

Artist’s Paintstiks are an oil-based fabric paint in a solid crayon form. They arrive sealed and after use will selfseal — creating a thick and firm skin on the surface, which prevents the Paintstik from drying out and becoming unusable. The skin can be twisted off the tip with a paper towel or using a paring knife, but once I finally found out about using a potato peeler, it’s now my favorite method. It allows you to peel the coating off with minimal waste while creating a wide surface to use while rubbing.

Preparing the Paintstik for use in a rubbing using a potato peeler

When I am creating a rubbing, I only peel the cover off the one side that I will use. While they are terrific for other uses, I no longer try to use the mini Paintstiks for tjap rubbings: they don’t give me enough surface to hold onto or paint with. I prepare all the colors I plan to use first, and then wipe my hands with a baby wipe to remove the wayward paint before I begin handling the fabric.

In the past I have tried to create a rubbing without using a temporary adhesive, because I was worried that it would hurt the tjap. Not true, as I found when I finally experimented after some less than crisp results. I find that spraying the fabric with 505 Spray and Fix means my fabric will not slide and allows me to create a crisp and clear rubbing.

Applying 505 Spray and Fix to the fabric and placing it on the tjap

After spraying 505 — again, on the fabric, not on the tjap — I place the fabric sticky side down atop the tjap and gently smooth it out.

Beginning the tjap rubbing with Paintstik

I begin rubbing gently with the full side of the Paintstik. You only need a very little pressure when you are rubbing. You will see that it’s easy to feel the edges of the vintage tjap. My own experience has been that the vintage tjaps that feature a lot of intricate details create a much more interesting rubbing.

Paintstik rubbing in process

Once you have completed your rubbing, allow the Paintstiks to fully dry on the fabric. Shelly Stokes of Cedar Canyon Textiles, a Paintstik expert, writes that “Rubbings (and any direct application technique) take longer to dry. Allow 3-5 days for the paint to dry. I allow 7 days if I make several layers of rubbings — or during humid times of the year. Test the paint by rubbing your finger over a section of paint. If you see paint on your finger, it’s not dry yet. Set the fabric aside for another day. Once you no longer pick paint up with your finger, it’s ready to heat set.”

Shiva Paintstik color is permanent on fabric and washable once it has been heat-set with an iron, so if you choose you can incorporate a fabric rubbing into a garment or tablecloth. (Note that because of the oil composition of the paint, note that fabric can’t be dry-cleaned.) While it’s not necessary to heat set your fabric rubbing for an art quilt that won’t be laundered, it doesn’t hurt to do so, and it’s a quick process.

Tjap used for rubbing, right, and Paintstik rubbing

Above is the finished Paintstik rubbing and the vintage tjap together pictured together. Pretty cool, huh? (The tjap looks slightly larger than the rubbing because it is resting flat on its handle and thus is a couple inches closer to the camera.)

Paintstik rubbing with tjap used

The above sample, pictured with the vintage tjap uses, was created with two Paintstik colors on a light batik fabric. It’s a pretty illustration that the fabric doesn’t have to be black for the rubbing to pop.

The piece featured at the top of the posting (click here for a larger view) resulted from a demo at a show. I used many different vintage tjaps to create a garden.

Stewart Gill textile paint highlights Judy Gula's flower garden rubbings

After the Paintstik rubbings had dried, I painted the background with Stewart Gill Colourise textile paint — see detail above. Stewart Gill products are water-based, and since oil and water don’t mix, the paint accents I added did not hide any of the rubbing.

To finish off the quilt, I added an inner red mini piping using the Groovin’ Piping Trimming Tool by Susan K. Cleveland (previously reviewed in this posting. My center panel is bordered with some of our beautiful Aborigine design fabric: Landscape Red by Stephen Pitjara. The outer binding was created with Bush Yam X2 Red by Jeannie Pitjara.

Variegated Star Thread used to quilt

I thread painted the rubbings (detail above) with my favorite variegated Star Thread by Coats and Clark. This further embellished the colors.

I hope I’ve encouraged you to give Paintstik rubbing a try — it is an easy and satisfying method of surface design!

Precious Metal Effects Paint by Viva

March 19th, 2014

Precious Metal Effects Paint by Viva

Precious Metal Effects Paint by Viva is a nontoxic, water-based paint that reproduces the color and shine of metallic surfaces. This high opacity paint can be applied with a brush or sponge on most surfaces. Precious Metal is long lasting, tarnish-free, and is available in 28 colors.

During our most recent “How Do I Use This?” product demonstration we focused on ways to color metal. We used this opportunity to further sample the product, and loved the enamel-type finish it created on a variety of surfaces.

This product is very easy to paint on and cleans up with water. I painted on my favorite work surface, a teflon/fiberglass non-stick ironing and craft sheet for easy clean up. Depending on the material to be painted, I’ve found that a very light sandpaper will help rough up the surface to give it some “tooth,” allowing the paint to grip.

Metal filigree buttons painted with Precious Metal Effects paint

When the paint first arrived at Artistic Artifacts I immediately thought buttons… metal buttons. The ones pictured here specifically! The button with the white wire attached is the original finish; the others are painted various Precious Metal Effects shades. While for many applications one coat is enough, I found I did like two coats of paint better for this purpose.

left, plastic buttons, right, charms and metal stampings, both painted with Precious Metal Effects paint

Pictured on the right, the Octopus was a raw brass piece. I brushed the paint on, waited a bit and then brushed off some of the color so that the brass could be seen underneath. The PEACE Artgirlz charm was originally a pewter finish, and the Believe tag from Tim Holtz had a vintage distressed finish on it.

Wooden bowl painted with Precious Metal Effects paint

The wooden bowl pictured above was a thrift store find; the back view on the right shows you the dark wood finish that was on the bowl before painting. I sanded the inside of the bowl lightly and have applied one coat of paint so far.

Precious Metal Effects paint on reclaimed metal embellishments

The two pieces pictured here [right] were from a metal belt that I took apart. The smaller piece has had two coats of Precious Metal Effects paint applied, so you see the opaque coverage. The larger one had a finish on it, and in hindsight it probably could have used a little sanding with a very fine grit sandpaper, but even without I think another two coats on it will give me the same good results as the smaller piece.

Vintage spoon, painted and then pounded flat

I painted this vintage spoon (pictured right) with the Precious Metal Effects paint. After it was dry, I decided I wanted it flat, so I pounded it with a huge hammer. I have to admit I was pretty amazed that the paint did not chip off in big flakes! You can see some wear but it is minor considering the amount and force of the pounding I subjected it to. I was expecting I would need to recoat the spoon with paint, but this experiment goes to show you that the finish you achieve with Precious Metal Effects paint is very durable.

While in this posting I’ve focused just on this wonderful paint, that night we also worked with Sophisticated Finishes Metal Surfacers, Tim Holtz® Adirondack® Alcohol Inks, and Gilder’s Paste, and ended up with some beautiful experiments. Next month, April 10, we’ll be playing with Angelina. Join us in our Alexandria shop then, or on the second Thursday of any month, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, for these monthly How Do I Use This demos. Each month is a different product, and every session is great fun!

Participants in March's How Do I Use This? monthly product demonstration

Green Vintage-Inspired Art Quilt

March 12th, 2014

Art Quilt by Judy Gula

Many of the ideas I have for my quilts begin with the inspiration of a vintage photo. My green quilt, picture above, started with a vintage black and white photo that I scanned, and then modified in Photoshop (you could also use Photoshop Elements or any photo editing program).

Once scanned, it was a simple process of colorizing the photo with a green hue. Why tint the photo, you ask? I’m not sur,e other than that I saw all these wonderful green leaves everywhere at the time (hands up, who else is sick to death of this winter?) and thought of green. It was just that simple; you can do it too with any favorite black and white or sepia photo and your own favorite color!

Beginning with a colorized image

Once I had colorized my image, I printed it onto Transfer Artist Paper (TAP, developed by fiber artist Lesley Riley) and then transferred it to Lutradur. The photo above shows my final colorized image ready to sew, as well as a hint of materials that I thought I would incorporate into this art quilt.

Judy Gula pulling together fabric and trims for her art quilt

I begin my design process by tossing the fabric and embellishments around. I knew I wanted to work with my hand dyed fabrics, and my vintage linens and trim. I just pull materials and lay them in a sorted pile. Then I walk away from it. Thus when I come back it after a break, I make my next choice with fresh eyes. Sometimes I have to do this several times each, adding and subtracting new fabrics and trims, until I finally see an arrangement that “clicks” and makes me smile.

Trims and embellishments

My next step is to finalize my choices of embellishments. Some start early in my process, some come in after the main fabrics have been selected. Pictured above I have pulled materials including a mixture of green beads, pearls, vintage millinery, and hand dyed vintage trims and ribbon.

A side bar about my beads: The mixtures that we sell at Artistic Artifacts are the same ones that I use in my artwork. In my studio I have them corralled in little hardware drawers, each with a specific color and mixture of glass beads. I have, oh, maybe 64 drawers!

Judy Gula creating the focal point of her art quilt

Pictured above is a stage where I have worked on the focal point of the art quilt. At this point everything is stitched down in the center. My original decision was to not stitch the background, and I can say now that I think I goofed by not doing so. If I were repeating the project, I would stitch the backing before layering my photo.

Click for large, detailed view of Judy Gula's finished art quilt

My finished art quilt, as pictured at the beginning of this post [view a large image with more detail]. As you can see, there are some key differences from what I started out with: the vintage millinery is beige, not peach; beads are turquoise, not green; and the trims are darker than my original lighter choices.

This art quilt could be thought of as a lesson in monochromatic color scheme. I like it! And yes, it still makes me smile when I look at it.

I find that many times you are paralyzed by the number of options to create and therefore do nothing. It’s my opinion that there could have been a million options on how to create an art quilt with this, or any, photo. You just have to choose one and begin! As you see from my example, you may end up changing things along the way, but your end goal should simply be that you’re happy with your final product. One of the key things I love about art quilts is that there are no rules!

P.S. Remember, the second Thursday of each month — that’s tomorrow — is our “How Do I Use This?” product demonstrations and play-time in our Alexandria shop from 6:00 to 8:00 pm! (I reviewed last month’s class in my previous post.) On Thursday, March 13th we’ll review Coloring Metal. You’ll begin with a raw brass stamped image, add color with Precious Metal Effects Paint by Viva, Tim Holtz® Adirondack® Alcohol Inks, and Gilder’s Paste. Reserve your seat now »

How Do I Use This? Luminarte Product Tips from Our Monthly Demo Series

March 5th, 2014

In 2014 we began a new series called How Do I Use This?, monthly product and technique demonstrations. Hosted by yours truly, ME!

This has been a great opportunity for me to get to know different products up close and personal, as well as a little experimentation and play time. The series has been received well and we’ve been delighted to welcome repeat students as well as new friends — last month we even welcomed a visitor from Texas, who was in town visiting her son!

Last month the weather postponed us from the original 2nd Thursday schedule, but we persevered and met the following week. The featured products were by Luminarte: their luscious Silks Acrylic Glazes and Twinkling H2O’s.

[Note: I’ve included additional information about how to “activate” and use H2O’s at the end of this post.]

Tags by Judy Gula featuring Luminarte Silks Acrylic Glazes and Twinkling H2O's

Above are three of my finished tags.

The Silks and H2O’s can can be used alone, or together for even cooler effects. Both products contain high percentages of mica, which creates a shimmer to the finish.

When layered, Silks Acrylic Glazes colors remain true, never muddy

Silks have a wonderful sheer, translucent quality. You can layer additional coats of the same color for opacity. The sheer quality is a big selling point, though: any color of the Silks can be painted over other another without creating a muddy mess. This Tag is a sample of how the colors interact when painted over. Colors stay true: you can still see the through to the layers underneath. Visit our website for the Top 10 Reasons to use Silks, which includes a great photo illustrating how the colors don’t muddy when layered.

Silks applied through a stencil

On the above tags I applied Silks through some of the great The Crafters Workshop (TCW) stencils.

Silks act as a resist to Twinkling H2O's

This tag shows a purple shade of the Silks applied through a stencil. After the Silks dried, I washed a few shades of H2O’s on the tag. The H2O’s don’t cover the Silks, instead the Silks act as a resist for the H2O’s

White paint pen doodling accents a tag

Another tag, Silks and H2o’s with the added white pen, this one being our white Sharpie Water-Based Paint Marker: Extra Fine Point.

The thick consistency of Silks Acrylic Glazes allow them to be used with rubber stamps

Silks have a nice thick consistency, so they don’t drip and thus also work with rubber stamps. For the above tag, I applied the silks with a sponge to a selected stamp and stamped the red butterfly over blue Silks and yellow H2O’s. The black drawing was with Mix & Match Essential PITT Artist Pens from Faber-Castell.

Silks Acrylic Glazes applied to fabric

One of my goals with this series is to try these products on both paper and fabric, whether that is a published usage or not. What is art without experimentation? The sample above is Silks on muslin, through a stencil. I like the strong color! I do have to admit that it does feel like acrylic paint on fabric, meaning that it added a some stiffness to the fabric. And another disclaimer, I have not washed the sample nor stitched through the paint yet, so I’ll have to let you know how that goes.

Twinkling H2O’s applied to fabric

This little sample above is the H2O’s right out of the container onto the same muslin. The color will bleed a little, or a lot, depending on how much water you introduce to the paint.

Again a disclaimer: not washed or stitched yet.

Tag monoprinted using a Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate

My favorite test for this product was on the Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate. That evening we used the small Gelli plate, which accommodated two of the large manila shipping tags we were using next to each other perfectly! By placing the stencil on the Gelli plate then using a brayer to apply paint we create a wonderful background on the tag. Then you can print again by lifting the stencil to create the images below on fabric or paper.

Fabric monoprinted using a Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate

"ghost" monoprint from a Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate

I love these two prints on fabric! You should expect to see them in the future…

Using H2O’s

As promised, here’s the scoop on activating and using H2O’s: they arrive in a small plastic jar as a hardpan watercolor cake. Twinkling H2O’s must be activated with water ahead of time so that they can be used. Here’s how: spritz well with water from spray bottle, then let water soak in 10-15 minutes (when you check your pots, it will look as if all the water has soaked in). Spritz the jars a second time and wait a couple more minutes. The paint should begin to soften, then mix into a creamy texture with your paintbrush. You should look for the consistency of honey, or pigment ink in a re-inker bottle, so add water if necessary.

Once they have rehydrated, then apply with a paintbrush, sponge or other painting tool, even your fingers! If you’d like a wash effect, scoop out a small amount with your brush and mix it with a larger amount of water in the jar lid, or on your craft sheet, etc.

Once you have opened and used a pot of Twinkling H2O’s, make sure it is completely dry before you put the lid on. Mold can build up if moisture is trapped. In fact, many artists simply choose to store their colors without the lids at all. Doing so allows air to circulate, and once the H2O’s dry, they are solid with no chance of dripping or spilling.


Visit Me in Hampton, VA!

February 26th, 2014

I’m on my way to the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival! The show opens on Thursday, February 27 and runs through Sunday, March 2 and takes place at the Hampton Roads Convention Center in Hampton, VA. This is the 25th Anniversary of the Festival so I’m hoping for a crowd! I know a lot of my quilting colleagues from the various Quilter’s Unlimited chapters travel down for this show, which is one of the best on the East Coast, so if you’re attending, please stop by to say hello — I’ll be in booth 1021. I’ve packed a nice assortment of fabric and notions, plus selections from the Batik Tambal side — vintage and new tjaps, batik panels and more.

The shop will be open as normal Thursday and Saturday, so if you aren’t attending the show, stop by and shop! Plus there are still seats available in Saturday’s class, a too-cute handmade house journal created from food packaging and paper bags (most materials provided for you!). You can register online for House of Memories: Recycled-Materials Book with DJ Gaskin, which begins
Saturday, March 1, at 10:00 am.

Post-SAQA Classes Coming this May!

Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) logo

As noted in this week’s enewsletter, this May the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) 25th Anniversary Conference is taking place in Alexandria, VA, just a few short miles from us. We are planning ahead and have a special week of events and classes planned for May 4 through May 10, following the SAQA conference. My Colorado buddies from Textile Evolution, Liz Kettle** and Ruth Chandler will be visiting Artistic Artifacts again, as will Carol Sloan, a wonderful mixed media artist from South Carolina. They will join local instructors Cyndi Souder, Susan Gantz and Nadia Azumi for these special post-SAQA classes, which are open to all. Schedule your vacation early this year and enjoy a fiber/mixed media retreat by taking more than one!

Many of these classes have already been published with an online registration link, and others will be online soon, so keep checking. Visit both our classes page as well as our online calendar for additional details, and stay tuned!


** Speaking of Liz, take a look at one of her recent blog posts as she shows off her latest creation.

Liz Kettle Fabric Journal

She is teaching a fabric journal class at the Kansas City edition of Art & Soul and designed a beautiful new creation. As she phrases it, one “cure for winter” is gazing at those warm, sunny colors!

I’m proud to be affiliated with Art & Soul the on-site store for Art & Soul Portland and Virginia Beach! This is one of the original creative retreats (held since 1999) and it remains one of the best. Learn more and register at

Piecing and Piping… Unblocking a Creative Slump

February 19th, 2014

Finished pillow and setting for another

If your creativity is hiding, they tell you to just do anything creative, paint a page, sort buttons, sew scrap blocks, peruse art books, etc. Normally my go-to project is to create fabric postcards, but this time I tried something new.

I pieced many scrappy log cabin blocks — very much outside of my comfort zone, and the way I do it would probably make many a veteran quilter faint!

As you can see, I used a wide variety of Aborigine designed fabrics for this project. I just love the colors and patterns and enjoy the eclectic mix your obtain when combining them. My scraps come from the last 4-6 inches of the bolt of fabric, naturally lending itself to the construction of this block. Sewing these blocks got me back in front of my sewing machine with low stress. My only pattern was dividing into light and dark fabrics, otherwise the width of the strip was whatever I picked up.

Six scrappy log cabin blocks pieced from Aborigine designed fabric

Now, what to do with all those cool looking scrappy blocks.

I think I will make a pillow or two!

I began with an 18”x18” pillow form. A little investigation on YouTube and I was set to make my pillow with an envelope opening in the back, and because I think that a piped edge on pillows is nice, I added that to the mix.

making cording to edge my pillow

My log cabin block was enlarged to 18" x 18". During my research I learned that the pillow cover should be smaller than the pillow form, and to cut the fabric the exact size. But now that my pillow has been completed, I think that I could have trimmed off another 1/2" around for a better fit. Instead I will buy a 20" x 20" pillow form and see how that works; the pillow will look look more plump and full.

For the piping I used the Groovin’ Piping Trimming Tool by Susan K. Cleveland and my sewing machine’s cording foot, with includes a large groove under the foot.

Boy did that tool make my life easy! Cut a strip of fabric 1-1/4" wide x the circumference of the pillow plus couple of inches to spare. Same for the cording: size 5/32" cable cord. I knotted the one end of cording, folding the fabric over the cord stitched a seam on the right side of the cord with my piping foot.

sewing cording on in process

The Piping tool is made with a grove that the cording/piping slides through. And you can cut with your rotary cutter to a 1/4" or a 1/2" seam allowance.

Piping done. I sat there trying to figure out how I was going to miter the corners with piping… did not look fun… so back to the instructions with the piping tool. The instructions say to sew each side of the pillow separately with a little piping off the edge.

piping overhanging each corner of pillow top

I did not trust myself to sew the piping and the back on at the same time, so I did them as two separate steps.

The backing is Kona Black Cotton. There are two pieces of fabric two-thirds the length of the front. So for me, the front is 18" long, thus my back was 18" wide by 12" long. I turned under one side 1/2" and then 1/2" again to hide the raw edge.

edge finished half inch

With the above photo I am trying to show you that my edge is 1/2"

pinned pillow back

I have pinned both backs onto the front, I pinned away from the edge so to not sew over any pins. I also left my cording foot on to guide my 1/4" seam allowance. I sewed each side separately.

Creativity unblocked…and a cool new pillow to show for it!

In addition to the tool, we sell a Piping Hot Binding Kit that, with the tool and 5 yards of 1 mm cording includes a 16-page booklet by the tool inventor Susan K. Cleveland that explains how to add beautiful binding with crisp corners and an invisible tail joining seam.

Weather Postponement: Mixed Media Metallics Closing Reception Now 2/22

February 14th, 2014

The snow and ice now on the ground, with more forecast for tonight (2/14) and tomorrow (2/15), means we have postponed the Closing Reception for our Mixed Media Metallics Challenge exhibit: please join us instead on Saturday, February 22 from 3:00 – 8:00 pm. We apologize for the late notice but don’t want people to miss saying goodbye to the exhibit because they are worried about the conditions of the roads.

Our silent auction benefiting Food for Others will extend to that date as well. This wonderful exhibit of the latest art challenge issued by Artistic Artifacts, Mixed Media Metallics, will be on display during Artistic Artifacts’ regular business hours through Saturday, February 22 (new, extended date) closing with a celebratory reception. The forecast is for warm and clear weather then…we’re all ready for that, right?!