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Dreamtime Stories to Share

The M&S Textiles Booth at Spring Quilt MarketIn my last blog posting I wrote about visiting the Spring Quilt Market in St. Louis and gave you a taste of some of the beautiful fabrics and products exhibited there.

One of my first stops, as always, was to see what was new from M&S Textiles (booth pictured here). Their Australian Aborigine-designed fabrics are consistently one of our biggest sellers, and I simply can’t resist them. The 2017 line of new designs has just arrived in our shop, and I’m sharing a few here. As we mentioned in our most recent newsletter, the Australia’s indigenous art tradition by Aborigines is more than 50,000 years old. In ancient times the Aboriginal people created cave paintings, rock paintings, and sand or ground painting, and more. We love to learn the stories behind these colorful patterned fabric designs and wanted to share some of them here.

Bush Food Dreaming by Tanya Price, available in black, ecru and mint

M&S Textiles, the company that licenses these designs from the Aborigine artists and prints the high-quality cotton fabrics, shares that most of the Aboriginal designs have a “Dreamtime” story to tell. Aboriginal mythology recounts that Dreamtime is the time when the world was dark and nothing was on the earth. Soil was soft; then their forefathers sprang up from underneath it and began building most of what their future generations would require: mountains, rivers, waterholes, trees, light gardens and many more.

The Dreamtime is a philosophy of living. Body painting, corroborree (ceremonial gatherings of Aboriginal people where they interact with Dreamtime ancestors through dance, music, and costumes), men’s and women’s business (certain customs and practices are performed separately by male and female groups) are strictly obeyed by the Aboriginal people.

Aborigines used to be nomadic, collecting foods from nature by hunting and gathering. They never hoarded food or water, or spoiled nature, always honoring their ancestral lands and environment.

Bush Food Dreaming, pictured right, is a design by Tanya Price Nangala, available in (from top to bottom) black, ecru and mint. Tanya learned painting from both her parents and grandparents, and depicts a number of foods important to Aborigines: oranges, bush plums, bush berries, lemons and more. She is illustrating a corroboree where people are happily eating, dancing and discussing various social matters, enjoying each other’s company. Like many Aborigine artists, Tanya uses fine dotting techniques in the background of her precise, vibrant drawings.

Winter Spirits by Faye Oliver, available in brown, black and purple

Winter Spirits, pictured above, is designed by Fay Oliver. It is available in brown (top), yellow (left) and purple. The sounthern hemisphere’s winter weather is hot and sunny like our northern hemisphere’s summer (in Australia each season begins on the first day of the calendar month: summer runs from December 1 to the end of February, autumn from March to May, winter from June to August, and spring from September to November). Fay uses vibrant winter colors to illustrate her painting, which depicts spirits watching over Dreamtime creatures, the bush and camp from the sky.

Sandy Creek by Janet Long Nakamarra, available in yellow, black and purple

Pictured above is Sandy Creek by Janet Long Nakamarra, available in red (top), black and purple. Sandy Creek is located in the Northern Territory of Australia and is home to Tjaynera Falls, located within the Litchfield National Park. The Falls can only be reached by a 4-wheel drive vehicle and an approximately 1.4 kilometers from the car park, which is on the site of a timber cutting camp used during the mid 1900’s. There are some Aboriginals who interact with tourists to the area, telling Dreamtime stories and involing them in timber-cutting activities. Janet is illustrating the plain land under the waterfall and some of the surrounding area. The semi-circles depict people walking the land as well as sitting in a circle around waterholes.

Artistic Artifacts is known for its large selection of Australian fabric, and these new designs are wonderful additions. We hope you have enjoyed learning more about the meaning behind the designs.

Fabrics Unveiled at Spring Quilt Market

Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik fabrics

View of Gateway Arch from hotel

There are two Quilt Markets (credentialed trade show for shop owners, fabric companies, etc.) each year. The biggest is each fall, always in Houston just before the huge International Quilt Festival (which takes place November 2-5, 2017). The Spring show changes locations each year; and this year it was in St. Louis; a fact that was reinforced each time we had the chance to take a look from our Hotel to see the iconic Gateway Arch!

My “partners in crime” for this trip were Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution and Ruth Chandler, author of one of my favorite instructional books, Modern Hand Stitching. (Remember, Liz will be visiting Artistic Artifacts next month with her immersive Stitch Journeys class — a few seats are still available for this 4 Day Creative Retreat, so join us!)

Architectural detail in St. Louis

Our walk from the hotel to the Convention Center included passing by buildings featuring beautiful architectural details (see above and in my gallery below). Most of these were likely built in the 1920’s and 1930’s and unfortunately, many of them are empty. So sad!

New fabrics in the Woodstock design, Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik

Artistic Artifacts was there with a booth exhibiting and selling our Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik fabrics (pictured at the top of this post and here), handpainted batik panels and our artist quality textile paints. From our Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik, I’m excited by our new Woodstock 2 fabrics (pictured above)!

New colors coming of established Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik

I also have new colors (pictured above) of established designs, Folk Life-Paisley Leaves and Color Sponge. All of these new Batik Tambal Exclusive Batiks will be available to our customers in approximately two months.

Ruth Chandler and Liz Kettle demonstrating how to create Silk Fusion

The first day of Market for many of us includes the “School House” event. These are short (15 to 30 minute) presentations, sales pitches, and educational sessions. Liz and Ruth have done many of these for companies such as Treenway Silks and Rockland Industries. Artistic Artifacts currently carries products from both of these companies: Silk Roving/Sliver in gorgeous colors from Treenway and from Rockland Industries, muslin, Osnaburg and Roc-lon Multi-Purpose Cloth. Above, Ruth Chandler (left) and Liz Kettle are demonstrating how to create Silk Fusion. (Those of you close to Artistic Artifacts, join me in October for our How Do I… evening: we’ll be making silk paper, a similar technique!)

Sue Spargo hand-stitching

A lot of time is spent walking the aisles looking for inspiration, like the above beauty by Sue Spargo (take a look at the gorgeous colors she selected for her WonderFil Eleganza collection). You can view a lot more eye candy from Quilt Market in my gallery at the bottom of this post!

A sampling of new designs of popular Australian Aborigine-designed fabrics

I made my usual stop at the M&S Textiles booth to see what is new with our popular Australian Aborigine-designed fabrics. I ordered 22 new patterns! You can get an idea of what’s coming in the photos above and below. Stay tuned to our website — they are expected in approximately two weeks.

More new designs of Australian fabrics on the way to Artistic Artifacts from M&S Textiles

I was able to have a quick trunk show with fiber artist and fabric designer Marcia Derse. I have always loved her work!

Marcia Derse Treasure Hunt fabric line

Marcia’s Treasure Hunt line (pictured above) will be available in the shop in October. We hope to add her solids to the store (pictured below) in the future as well.

Marcia Derse solid fabrics

Maker’s Home by Natalie Barnes (pictured below) of Beyond the Reef Patterns will also arrive in the shop in the fall or early winter. This is her second line for Windham Fabrics and includes her signature hand drawn flowers and fun black &white prints (and you know how much I love black & white fabrics). I’ve been looking for the right kind of floral fabric to add to the shop and thought my customers would love this line (more views in the gallery).

Maker's Home by Natalie Barnes of Beyond the Reef Patterns for Windham Fabrics

And we spent time in Art Gallery’s booth (their booth photo below with my detail shots) touching and feeling their knit, voile, and cotton fabrics. We’d like to add knit fabrics to Artistic Artifacts…what do you think? Good idea? Let me know in the comments!.

Art Gallery Fabrics booth

Below, my photo gallery for more from Quilt Marke — click on any photo for a larger view or to see it as a slideshow.

What Could Have Been: Quilt by Elayne Logan Currie

It’s flattering when we learn that people who have traveled to the Alexandria VA area (to visit family, while on business trips etc.) take the time from their busy schedule to come visit us in person. One recent visitor was Elayne Logan Currie. Last November she was in town to visit her mother-in-law and purchased one of our handcrafted batik panels by the renowned artist Jaka. Elayne visited Artistic Artifacts again recently and told us about her community’s amazing Read Together program. She showed us a photo of the quilt she made with that Jaka panel, inspired by the 2017 book, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. We begged her to share, and she did… so now we want to share with you!

Quilt by Elayne Logan Currie featuring center batik panel by Jaka, inspired by Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

View larger image »

“A Novel Idea… Read Together“ is the largest annual community reading program in Oregon. Thousands of Deschutes County residents share the common bond of reading a selected book and participating in related cultural and literacy events each spring. Among the events, the Deschutes Public Library creates art exhibits for display, inviting artists to create and submit original art inspired by the selected book. The following is Elayne’s quilt submission details:

What Could Have Been
by Elayne Logan Currie,
March 2017 (quilted by Sue Shimke)
Inspired by the book Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

While visiting my mother-in-law in Alexandria, Virginia I have discovered a quilt shop near her home that dyes a lot of their own fabric and has unique pieces of material from around the world. I fell in love with the centerpiece of this quilt last November, anticipating that it might be perfect for a Novel Idea in our community somewhere down the line. I would never have imagined that only a few short weeks later, with the announcement of Homegoing as our community read this year, that this panel would be put to use immediately.

The book Homegoing is a heart-wrenching novel that clearly links the history of slavery to today’s injustices still perpetrated on the backs of our black citizens. I am left wondering how the African American people have survived all that has been placed in their way.

This quilt is my attempt to wave my magic wand and go back to the beginnings of the half sisters Effia and Essie. How different would their worlds have been if they had known each other and had each other’s backs in a sisterly love? How different would our world be if slavery had never existed to begin with? The trees symbolize the family lineage we read about in Homegoing. The two leaves in the bottom left hand corner of the quilt represent the fallout of the family trees in the persons of Marcus and Marjorie. May their love blossom into goodness and may the world support their union and the cultures of their offspring.

Detail, What Could Have Been, quilt by Elayne Logan Currie featuring a batik panel by Jaka

Above and below, detail views of What Could Have Been, Elayne Logan Currie’s quilt inspired by Homegoing.

Detail, What Could Have Been, quilt by Elayne Logan Currie

More About Homegoing

A Novel Idea 2017 PDF program cover by the Deschutes Public Library Foundation

Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery. Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed — and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation. (Read an excerpt of Homegoing, courtesy Penguin Random House.)

Homegoing won the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award, the John Leonard Prize and was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. It also was the recipient of the John Leonard First Book Prize, a New York Times 2016 Notable Book, NPR’s Debut Novel of the Year, and included as Time Magazine’s top novels of 2016.

Homegoing author Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, AL. Recently named to the 2017 Forbes "30 Under 30" list, she holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she held a Dean’s Graduate Research Fellowship. She lives in New York City.

Download the Deschutes Library Homegoing PDF, which includes a Yaa Gyasi interview by Hope Wabuke of The Root; a reader’s guide/discussion points, The Transatlantic Slave Trade: A Capitalist Enterprise by Dr. Carmen P. Thompson; and Connecting Points: Tracing the History of African American Literature through Homegoing by Dr. Annemarie Hamlin

Detail view of What Could Have Been, Elayne Logan Currie’s quilt, inspired by Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Thank you so much for sharing, Elayne — we love how you have used the Jaka panel, and Sue Shimke’s quilting highlights the entire piece beautifully!

Know Your Needles

Visit the we all sew blog from BERNINA to learn all about machine sewing needles

We want to share the very informative “All About Sewing Machine Needles” from BERNINA’s we all sew blog. It begins by pointing out how impactful an object so small can be on a fiber project. “The right needle for your sewing project can create perfectly even and beautifully made stitches. The wrong needle (even a worn or damaged needle) can create all kinds of headaches — like skipped stitches, crooked stitches, frayed and broken threads, and holes or tears in your fabric.”

According to the history of sewing needles compiled by Schmetz Needles, the needle is one of the earliest tools developed by man. Hand needles have been in use for thousands of years, and with the advent of the industrial age, inventors worked to develop a machine. In 1755 a two-point needle was developed that in basic form is still used in modern industrial machines for certain uses. In 1790 the hook needle (or protruding) needle was invented, and again, hook needles are used in some embroidery and saddle-stitch machines. These developments led Balthasar Krems of Germany to move the needle’s close to the point in approximately 1800. Schmetz notes that this simple feature was a sensation at that time, and paved the way for the mechanization of sewing around the world.

Diagram from Know Your Needles by Liz Kettle

A sewing machine needle is manufactured with very distinct areas:

  • Shank (which seats into your sewing machine)
  • Shaft (tapers down from the shank)
  • Groove (runs in the front of the needle to the eye)
  • Eye (where the thread passes from the front to the back)
  • Scarf (located on the back of the needle, a smooth indentation behind the eye)
  • Point (the first part of the needle to penetrate the fabric; different points are engineered to work best with specific fabrics)

The diagram right is from Know Your Needles: A Carry-Along Guide for Choosing Hand and Machine Needles, authored by Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution (more about Liz below). This pocket/purse size guide, 4 in. x 6 in., is a complete reference tool to 30 of the most commonly used needles — both machine and hand needles — and the tasks they perform. This is an invaluable resource to any fiber artist, and handy to keep on hand as you shop for needles.

Know Your Needles: A Carry-Along Guide for Choosing Hand and Machine Needles by Liz Kettle

Remember that sewing machine needles do not last forever. Many consider that as a rule needles should be replaced after 4-8 hours of stitching, and/or at the beginning of each sewing project. BERNINA notes that if you experience skipped stitches, or hear “a pop, pop, pop sound (some people say it’s a whoop, whoop, whoop, or like a knocking sound) when the needle penetrates the fabric, it’s time to load a fresh needle.”

BERNINA’s blog points that the high speed of sewing, with the needle point moving rapidly up and down, means it’s important to “choose the right needle/thread ratio. The thread should pass smoothly and snugly through the eye of the needle. If the thread is too tight in the needle, or very loose, it can create problems when stitching.” BERNINA offers the following tip, pictured below, to help you determine if you have the correct needle to thread ratio:

BERNINA offers an easy test to determine if you have the  correct needle to thread ratioBefore you insert a sewing machine needle into your machine, “pass it through a length of thread you have selected to sew your project. Hold the thread tightly at a 45° angle with the needle at the top, and let the needle slide down the thread. It should slide steadily down the thread. If the needle hops, skips, or gets stuck on the thread, the needle is too small for the thread you have selected. Move up one needle size and try the test again.”

Visit the “All About Sewing Machine Needles” posting to learn more about:

  • Needle Sizing (describing the European and American size sizing system and basic needle sizes)
  • Sewing Machine Needle Types
  • Worn and Damaged Needles (with another handy test for you to determine if your needle is damaged)

The below video tutorial by BERNINA will educate you on the many BERNINA sewing and embroidery needles, and how and when to use them correctly for perfect results.

Learn from Liz at Artistic Artifacts this June!

Liz Kettle from Monument, CO is a fabric and mixed media artist with a passion for teaching others the joy of making art and the creative process. Liz will be visiting Artistic Artifacts June 15-18 for a wonderful 4-Day Creative Retreat: Stitch Journeys — Your Guide to Amazing Stitching. Don’t miss this rare East Coast opportunity to learn from Liz… this retreat is suitable even for beginners, and a high-end sewing machine isn’t a requirement. Liz will teach you the tricks of using all of the unusual/specialty threads out there (such as the beautiful metallics from WonderFil Specialty Threads). Gain mastery of your machine, adjust tension settings, sew from the bobbin and much more as you develop the confidence to sew with any thread. Register now — this retreat is limited to just 20 students!

Kay Kapps Cross and WonderFil Threaducation

Kay Kapps Cross conducting her WonderFil Specialty Threads Show & Tell at Artistic Artifacts
Spools of WonderFil thread, quilts and other projects awaiting the beginning of Show and Tell

Sometimes posting on your blog gets away from you…the last entry was about attending the WonderFil Education Summit in California to learn more about these magical threads, and finally posting again, we are STILL talking about WonderFil™ Specialty Threads!

Kay Kapps Cross (pictured above) is a certified WonderFil Threaducator, and we were delighted to welcome her to Artistic Artifacts on March 24-25 for our WonderFil Boutique official opening celebration. On Saturday, March 25, Kay held two show and tell sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, to show off beautiful quilts and projects that featured all of the many WonderFilSpecialty Threads. Pictured right are Kay’s samples as she set up.

Nancy Karst is delighted to be one of the randomly drawn raffle winners!

These show and tell sessions were sponsored by WonderFil, who also provided us with product samples for our random raffle drawings. We had many excited winners, such as Nancy Karst pictured above, thanks to their generosity!

One of the most helpful aspects of her presentations was passing out an opened spool of each specialty thread. To be able to see and feel the weight and finish of the threads added immeasurably to everyone’s understanding.

Kay Kapps Cross demonstrates WonderFil Specialty Threads in the Artistic Artifacts BERNINA sewing machine studio

Kay also demonstrated many of the threads in use in our BERNINA showroom, including bobbin work!

Finding Your Voice Lecture/Class with Kay Capps Cross

Kay began her weekend with us on Friday, March 24 for Finding Your Voice, a lecture by WonderFil Threaducator Kay Capps Cross. She promised that “We will relax and learn ways to release our inner creativity and express ourselves through our quilts. Art quilts, experiments, free associations, or whatever we call our pieces, they are a window to what is inside of us. With a little confidence, our voice will be heard.”

Finding Your Voice Lecture/Class with Kay Capps Cross

Kay taught attendees to sort fabric scraps by color values, and then issued a variety of challenges. A wide array of art supplies were on hand to explore.

Cutting paper and fabric and using a variety of color tools during the Finding Your Voice lecture/class with Kay Capps Cross

Cutting paper and fabric and using a variety of color tools during the Finding Your Voice lecture/class with Kay Capps Cross

The last activity, which built upon all that came before, was to generate three possible sketched ideas for a quilt block (which could use any material or supply and didn’t have to be fabric) that illustrated your artistic voice.

Student sketches during Finding Your Voice with Kay Kapps Cross

Below, some finished quilt block as students found their voice.

Student blocks from  Finding Your Voice with Kay Kapps Cross

Visit the Artistic Artifacts website to view the wide variety of fiber and mixed media classes available and join us in finding your own voice! BERNINA mastery classes are on the way too!

WonderFil Threaducation!

Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula is enjoying her time in sunny California at the WonderFil Education Center Summit…

Judy Gula, owner of Artistic Artifacts, participating in the WonderFil Specialty Threads Education Summit

…as is perhaps obvious from the big smile on her face in the photo above! It was taken by her friend Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution, another attendee at the Summit. Liz (pictured below), a certified “Threaducator” with WonderFil, will be visiting Artistic Artifacts in June for her 4-day creative retreat, Stitch Journeys. Suitable for beginners, attendees gain mastery of their sewing machine and develop the confidence to tackle any kind of specialty thread and tame their tension fears as they create a sample fabric workbook that serves as a permanent, creative reference tool. This is her only time teaching on the East Coast this year, so if you can, plan your vacation around traveling to Virginia and attending!

Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution participating in the WonderFil Specialty Threads Education Summit

Judy and Liz are collaborating in the development of an upcoming Threaducation Center class.

Handpainted batik panel by Rusli, enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using both Konfetti™ and Tutti™ threads by WonderFil

They used a handpainted batik panel by Rusli, which is enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using both Konfetti™ and Tutti™ threads by WonderFil. Konfetti and Tutti are both 50wt, 3ply 100% long staple Egyptian cotton threads that are double-gassed (burning off the lint from the thread two times) and mercerized to create a soft, clean, and lustrous finish.

Handpainted batik panel by Rusli, enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using Konfetti™ thread by WonderFil

Additional detail views above and below.

Handpainted batik panel by Rusli, enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using Tutti™ thread by WonderFil

Below is Judy’s favorite thread sampler, posted on the Artistic Artifacts Facebook page. When she returns we’ll have to get the details from her!

Judy Gula's favorite WonderFil thread sampler

More Threaducation going on…

The WonderFil Specialty Threads Education Summit

But you know fiber artists…even after a full day of studying, they are still up for more fun! You can see Liz and Judy, plus Bernadette Kent and Alicia Campbell in the background of this selfie taken by Libby Williamson of Blue Denim Design at The Dragonfly Shops & Gardens in Orange, CA.

Fiber artists having fun at the Blue Denim Studio at The Dragonfly Shops & Gardens in Orange, CA

They were busy having fun with block printing and thermofax printing on fabric. Judy never misses the opportunity to share her love of wooden printing blocks!

Those of you close to Artistic Artifacts can further your own Threaducation! Join us on Friday, March 24 for Finding Your Voice, a lecture by WonderFil Threaducator Kay Capps Cross. She promises that “We will relax and learn ways to release our inner creativity and express ourselves through our quilts. Art quilts, experiments, free associations, or whatever we call our pieces, they are a window to what is inside of us. With a little confidence, our voice will be heard.”

Kay Kapps Cross quilt stitched with WonderFil Specialty Threads

And on Saturday, March 25, we are delighted that Kay (who quilted the above beauty as she demonstrated various WonderFil threads during the recent AQS show) will be sharing her knowledge during our exciting WonderFil Boutique Show & Tell event. Sponsored by WonderFil™ Specialty Threads, we will hold two complimentary seatings, morning and afternoon, of this inspiring and informational session. Get inspired with samples of threadwork and demos using the many specialty threads by WonderFil! Reservations are required as seating is limited, so don’t delay and claim your spot!

Lines & Squares and more…

We have had the Stacked Squares Quilt Pattern, designed by Sarah Gustason, in the shop for some time, but had hesitated to add it to our online store. It calls for beautiful fabrics from Frond Design Studios that we no longer carry. (While we love ALL of the beautiful designs Frond comes up with, in order to be able to add new lines by them —or any other fabric manufacturer —we have to retire other favorites to make room.)

We decided to make up a sample using other striped fabric to show how well the pattern works with different fabric choices, and put Christine Vinh, StitchesnQuilts on the job. While Chris has an amazing talent for seeing a fabric’s potential and in mixing fabric lines, for this project she didn’t need to look far, deciding to experiment with the strong linear lines of the Barnboard line by Frond.

Materials to create a Stacked Squares art quilt

The pattern calls for one yard each of four fabrics to piece the top (plus additional for binding and backing) to create a 48 inch x 60 inch. quilt. Chris chose ½ yard of the following Barnboard colors: Afternoon, Autumn, Summer and Sunlight.

Chris Vinh sewing her Stacked Squares art quilt

Chris posted the above photo on Facebook, writing “Shop sample for Artistic Artifacts under the needle. Perfect combination: Bernina machine, WonderFil Mirage thread, and Frond Design Studio Fabrics fabric and pattern. Add a little music, and this girl is happy!”

Stacked Squares art quilt front by Chris Vinh

And she was even happier with the final result — above, her completed top, waiting for binding.The Barnboard is showcased beautifully with this pattern! Chris arranged her stacked squares to create a 30 inch square wall quilt or table topper. And from the 2 yards of fabric she began with, she had enough to piece a beautiful backing, making it reversible!

Stacked Squares art quilt back by Chris Vinh

To match and complement the various colors, Chris selected Mirage™ Color #27, Green/Honey/Red. Mirage is a 2-ply, 30wt rayon that’s randomly space dyed in variegated colors so that every spool unique. “The Mirage was perfect for this project,” Chris said, noting how far a spool will go…she “barely made a dent in her wound bobbin after free motion quilting.”

Chris has been on something of a “line” kick lately. It started when she wanted to give paper piecing a try. She selected the Sew and Fold on a Roll, Flying Geese & Braids and, while initially daunted by the concept, quickly realized how easy these gridded products are to use, giving you precise results.

Paper pieced braid quilt by Chris Vinh

She had some left over Australian Aborigine-Designed fabrics in her stash and put the above beauty together. It was such a perfect result that she decided to turn it into her entry for her quilt guild’s challenge. Chris is a member of the Arlington Chapter of Quilter’s UnlChris Vinh quilt label, Arlington QU Alphabet Challengeimited (QU), a large local guild that has 11 chapters throughout the Northern Virginia region.

Arlington QU often issues group challenges to its members, and this year members randomly drew a letter of the alphabet and are making an 18 in. x 18 in. quilt inspired by that letter. Chris drew the letter L, and realized this quilt was perfect: L is for Lines! (Pictured right, Chris’ quilt label.

The Alphabet Challenge quilts will hang together at QU’s 44th Annual Show, which takes place June 2-4, 2017 at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA. The QU Quilt Show is always well worth the trip!

Chris is also enjoying using her new paper piecing skills on her latest work in progress. As mentioned above, she is a whiz at pulling together beautifully coordinating or contrasting fabrics. There are quilters who stick to a particular fabric collection for inspiration, and then others who look for colors and designs that, as she puts it “plays well with others.”

Work in progess by Chris Vinh

Pictured above, a paper pieced braid that uses several fabrics from the new Figment line designed by Pam Goecke Dinndorf. This piece also has some choices from the Marks collection by Valori Wells, also available in our Modern Cottons section, and complementary Australian Aboriginal Designs.

Quilt top by Artistic Artifacts customer Laura Geiser

We also wanted to shared these, perfect for this post’s theme of lines and patterns! Recently one of our customers, Laura Geiser, brought the two beautiful quilt tops (pictured above and below) by the shop. She told us she had been really inspired by the Australian Aboriginal design fabrics we carry and our Paper Pieced Aussie Blocks quilt on display, as well as our variety of black and white prints. She was shopping for additional fabrics to create a third quilt in this series!

Quilt top by Artistic Artifacts customer Laura Geiser

Watch Artistic Artifacts Demo Techniques on Great Day Washington!

Artistic Artifacts is ready for its Great Day Washington taping

Demonstrating surface design techniquesMonday, January 30 was an exciting day for Artistic Artifacts as we appeared live on Great Day Washington, a local morning show on Washington DC’s WUSA*9 TV (CBS affiliate).

Lifestyle Correspondent Meaghan Mooney and her cameraman arrived early in the morning and ran four different “live hits” from 8:55 to 10 am. This amazing opportunity came about because they saw that our customers give us top ratings on Facebook and Yelp…what gratifying news to hear!

For those unable to watch live, we wanted to share the segments from the Great Day Washington portion of WUSA 9 website here.

Click to watch block printing and other surface design techniques

For the first segment — watch online now — Judy demonstrated block Printing on fabric and paper, using hand-carved wooden printing blocks and Artistic Artifacts’ own textile paints. (Join us this weekend for your own opportunity to experiment with this centuries old technique in Block Printing with Cyndi Souder.

The Artistic Artifacts line of Fluid Textile Paints were used for all surface design demonstrations

Additional surface design techniques were also showcased in this segment. Pictured below, Susan Gantz (left) is demonstrating monoprinting on a Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate, while Sue Price of PG Fiber2Art is demonstrating Thermofax screen printing — join us February 18 for Printing with Thermofax Screens with PG Fiber2Art to learn how to create your own screen printed fabric.

Susan Gantz demonstrating monoprinting and Sue Price of PG Fiber2Art demonstrating Thermofax screen printing

Susan Gantz didn’t think she was a big metallic fan, but experimenting with the Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paint set of Silver, Gold and Copper while demonstrating (see some results below) has now changed her mind!

Monoprint by Susan Gantz in progress and completed

In the second segment, Cyndi Souder of Moonlighting Quilts, Ambassador for BERNINA, demonstrated foundation paper piecing to create quilt blocks using a BERNINA sewing machine — watch online now.

Click to watch Cyndi Souder of Moonlighting Quilts demonstrate paper piecing

Cyndi Souder shows Meaghan Mooney of WUSA9 a paper pieced block

The paper piecing technique offers complete accuracy: precise points and a visually complex design become easy to execute. Join us on Saturday, February 11 for Cyndi’s class Beginning Paper Piecing Row By Row. Above, Cyndi shows Great Day Washington Lifestyle Correspondent Meaghan Mooney (right) a completed block from our 2016 Row by Row Experience pattern kit.

Click to watch a discussion of, and examples of, mixed media and upcycled art

The third segment — watch online now — featured Judy talking about mixed media techniques and upcycling with members of Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs), a group that meets at Artistic Artifacts monthly. Judy began by showing off results from the JAMs Box Challenge conceived by Barb Boatman of Cut Sew Create studio (see more photos of the results in our past Facebook album), repurposing dimensional wood box frames formerly used on a display wall of automotive products.

Meahgan Mooney meeting Artistic Artfacts customers and members of JAMs

Members used these surfaces to create small artworks that incorporated products from Artistic Artifacts that they had in their stashes, and/or that they had purchased new. JAMs member Beth Richardson explained the sea turtle box she created, and viewers also get a chance to some of the pages of an art journal that Beverly Hilbert has created.

Click to watch a demonstration of hand-stitching on a batik panel and learn more about how they are created

The final demonstration was Christine Vinh of StitchesnQuilts discussing how batik panels are handcrafted in Indonesia as well as demonstrating hand-stitching on one by the popular batik artist Jakawatch online now.

Batik art panels at Artistic Artifacts

Christine Vinh and Suzanne LangsdorfAbove, our batik panel “station” set up for filming. Chris used Tulip needles, a selection of WonderFil Specialty Threads, and was inspired by Modern Hand Stitching by Ruth Chandler. This segment also includes a walk-through of the shop back to the BERNINA machine embroidery demonstration by Denise Reuter of Artistic Artifacts, who has several years experience as a manager and educator for BERNINA Sewing Machine USA. Artistic Artifacts is a new BERNINA dealer!

In her segment Chris wore her beautiful Schoolhouse Tunic, which was sewn for her by JAMs member Suzanne Langsdorf using Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik in Woodstock, Jam and fabric from a sarong imported from Indonesia. Pictured right, Chris preps for her filming with the caffeine boost of coffee while Suzanne teasingly waves to the camera.

And as if the “official” taping didn’t keep us all hopping enough Judy’s son Kyle also streamed video content live (archived below) on Facebook!

In this livestream “you can hear me talk about my latest artwork (at time mark 15:40 in the video) about my written meditation on forgiveness,” writes mixed media artist Wendy Sittner, pictured below, “when I got to participate in Artistic Artifacts’s appearance on WUSA9 Great Day Washington live with Meaghan Mooney. Owner Judy Vincentz Gula did amazing and Meaghan was so friendly and made us feel so comfortable on camera.”

"Wendy Sittner with her written meditation on forgiveness

For Artistic Artifacts, this really was a "Great Day" — we extend our deepest gratitude to WUSA9 for visiting our store and showcasing the fiber and mixed media talent and techniques of our creative minds!

Artistic Artifacts staff and customers during the Great Day Washington filming

Below, machine embroidery by Denise Reuter.

Always color outside the lines -- machine embroidery by Denise Reuter

Stitched Photo Quiltlets

Photo stitched quiltlets, a holiday gift to my son, nephew and nieces

A number of years ago I took a photo of my son Kyle with his cousins Meghan, Carleigh and Reid (my brother Scott’s children) during an ice skating outing, and it has always been a favorite of mine…and I always intended to use it in my art and share it with each of them. Now that they are all young adults, this past holiday season was finally the year!

My first step was to print the photograph out on EQ Printables Premium Cotton Lawn Inkjet Fabric. I fit two images per sheet. I then used Mistyfuse, my favorite fusible (so sheer and lightweight) to fuse the images to Pellon Heavyweight Stabilizer.

Emphasizing the children by stitching over the photo's background

Since I wanted the kids to be the focal point, I decided to stitch the background out using Fruitti™ by WonderFil, a 12 weight cotton thread. First, I stitched an outline of the group, and then I went back in and added freeform vertical lines to eliminate the distraction of the photo’s background. The thickness of the thread gave me the look I wanted, and I choose one of the more subtle of the variegated colors available to add additional interest without pulling attention away from these adorable kids.

Trimming corners to lessen bulk once turned

I created a small quilt to stitch my photos to, using the Pillowcase Turn method. You can download a free instructional PDF on this technique from Susan Brubaker Knapp’s website…she writes it’s “the fastest and easiest technique for finishing an art quilt.” Above, trimming the corners to lessen the bulk once the “pillowcase” is turned.

Small slit to enable the pillowcase turn method

Above, a small slit is necessary to enable the pillowcase turn method. My fabric label, shown at the bottom of this post, is fused on and hides it.

Satin stitching around the photo

For some of the quiltlets, I used a satin-stitch around the photo (above)…

Zig zag stitching around the photo

…for others, just a simple zig zag finish.

Pockets hold a dowel for hanging the quiltlet

I wanted to make it easy on the recipients to be able to hang these up for display, so I added triangle pockets to the back, which hold a lightweight dowel. As these are small and lightweight, they really can hang with just a pushpin! There are a lot of tutorials out there on this easy process — try this one.

I loved popped these in the mail this holiday season and imagining the smiles as they were unwrapped — grab a favorite photo of your own and turn it into an art quilt, for yourself or for others to display.

Using WonderFil Threads to Accent Block Prints

Block printed table runner bordered in Australian fabric, prebound

The center panel of my block printed table runner, pictured above pre-bound, began as a sample cloth. When I exhibit at quilt shows, I demo block printing (remember that this blog contains a Block Printing Introduction tutorial) and this length of fabric contains multiple prints accumulated over a show. I decided this was an ideal piece to continue with, challenging myself to work in a subdued palette.

I used an assortment of our beautiful, collectible wooden printing blocks, hand carved by artisans in India for this runner. Most the designs you see in use here are currently out of stock, but we have another shipment arriving any day now, so keep checking in with us!

GRABAROO’S® gloves and Konfetti™ threads by WonderFil

Above, using a pair of GRABAROO’S® gloves gives you extra grip when you are free-motion quilting — you will really feel a difference in handling and moving your quilt sandwich. Pictured center are the Konfetti™ threads I chose: from top to bottom, 101 Soft White, 905 Sterling Grey and 902 Medium Grey. Konfetti, one of the many specialty threads by WonderFil we now carry, is 3-ply, 50wt cotton low lint thread, ideal for use in free motion quilting and more. In the hopes of making my runner reversible, I used the Konfetti in both my top and bobbin thread. I loved the feel of it… very easy to use

Using the fabric pattern to guide free motion quilting

A simple way to freemotion quilt is to just follow the design printed on the fabric!

Block printed center bordered with Australian fabric

I used Bush Coconut Dreaming Brown by Audrey Martin for the borders. This is one of the amazing Australian Aboriginal fabrics we carry; the color combinations and authentic tribal designs are so inspiring!

Freemotion quilting with Konfetti thread by WonderFil

Above, a detail of stitching the design that was created by the wooden block print.

Block prints free motion stitched with Konfetti thread

Additional views. At this stage, all the thread needs to be pulled to the back and hidden yet.

Block prints free motion stitched with Konfetti thread

So, what do you think?

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