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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!

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

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?

Block Printed Ornaments Featuring Terial Magic

Block Printed fabric snowflakes created by Judy Gula using Terial Magic spray

No matter how busy the holiday rush is, I want to handcraft at least one gift or ornament each year. But because of that very sameholiday rush this year, I wanted a project that could be done quickly and easily!

I created these ornaments using Terial Magic™ (a fabric stabilizing spray), an assortment of our wooden printing blocks, WB171 Snowflake, WB393 Snowflake and WB394 Snowflake; Opaque Textile Paint by Artistic Artifacts, various shirting scraps and WonderFil Dazzle thread.

Supplies used to create Block Printed fabric snowflakes

I trimmed the shirting fabric to the size of the wooden printing block plus ½” each side. After trimming, the fabric was treated with Terial Magic. The simple steps to use Terial Magic are 1) Spray to saturate (photo below), 2) Dry until damp and 3) Iron to set. (Last summer we wrote a review of Terial Magic and included complete details about how to apply it and its many uses: a useful and versatile product!)

Treating fabric swatches with Terial Magic spray

Once the treated fabric was dried and ironed, we stamped using the snowflake wooden printing block and one color of paint. I’ve provided many block printing tutorials in the past, but as always I want to emphasize the importance of using a dense foam printing mat under your fabric to achieve the best results. Each ornament requires four snowflake stamped fabric pieces.

Block printing onto Terial Magic treated fabric swatch

Block printed snowflake on a Terial Magic treated fabric swatch

After the paint has dried the fabric is ironed and trimmed closer to the shape of the snowflake pattern (photo below). The snowflake prints, now cut out, are stacked with snowflake print up and then alternate snowflake print down, snowflake up, snowflake down.
Trimmed fabric block printed snowflakes

Sew a straight stitch down the center line of your neat stack, which holds all the snowflakes together.

For a bit of festive sparkle, I cut a piece of Dazzle Thread by WonderFil to use for the loop to hang the ornament, zig-zag stitching to hold it in place (photo below).

Adding Dazzle thread by WonderFil to stitched fabric snowflake

Finger press your fabric sections open, and there you have it! My finished ornaments are pictured at the top of this post…you can also see a resin cookie cutter ornament created by my niece in a recent class held here at the shop by Leslie Brier.

P.S. We are making progress getting the wide assortment of WonderFil threads up on our website — keep checking in with us! The Threaducation Center is your place to interact with like minded people, develop new friendships and be inspired! Schedule your next fiber arts group activity with us at the Center today!

Artistic Artifacts & The Tale of the Frog Princess…

Staffed by Ruth Chandler and Liz Kettle with support from WonderFil Threads, The Thread Lab: WonderFil Threaducation Center is a learning center devoted to teaching a textile classes, both hand stitching and machine sewing, that use the variety of WonderFil™ Specialty threads. Located at Cottonwood Center for the Arts in Colorado Springs, the Thread Lab is also frequented by The Frog Princess.

The Frog Princess of Colorado Springs

Reigning over the Thread Lab and the artist studios at Cottonwood, and inspired by her own garments full of color and texture, The Frog Princess found she had a natural affinity for recommending thread choices to customers and students.

The Frog Princess choosing thread colors

And so, like Ruth and Liz, she studied for her Thread Certification. (Because every princess wants to be a Thread Goddess! photos above and below by Terza Ekholm) The Frog Princess found that Threads, The Basics & Beyond: The Complete Visual Guide to Thread Techniques & Creativity by Debbie Bates and Liz Kettle is an amazing resource.

The Frog Princess studies Threads, the Basics & Beyond by Debbie Bates and Liz Kettle

And so all was well in the land. Until November 30, when Ruth Chandler sent out the alarm:
“The Frog Princess is AWOL!”

Any disappearance of royalty is of course critical, and so the emergency security plan was immediately put into effect. “I called out the troops to find the Frog Princess,” notes Ruth:

Rallying the troops to find The Frog Princess

But then a message arrived from 1,700 miles away, Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, VA: The Frog Princess had been found! (And there was much rejoicing.)

Yes, craving a change of scenery, The Frog Princess decided to stow away, taking advantage of the trip Liz undertook to assist Artistic Artifacts with the set up and launch the fifth WonderFil Threaducation Center — the only one on the East Coast of the U.S.!

The staff at Artistic Artifacts was delighted to have her as a guest…Friday morning she awoke early to have coffee with Judy, but with so much to do to get ready for the Annual Open House and Pop-Up Holiday Market, we quickly put her to work.

Coffee with The Frog Princess

With her eye for color, The Frog Princess gravitated toward pricing the inspiration packs, popular bundles of hand dyed found textiles and fibers Judy incorporates with two fat quarters of woven cotton, perfect for fiber collage.

The Frog Princess with fiber collage inspiration packs put together by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Below left, she put her stamp of approval on some store rearranging (our ribbons are now nicely showcased, much to her pleasure). At right she poses with Liz on a break from showing off the beautiful WonderFil threads to customers at the Annual Open House on Saturday, December 3, where Liz demonstrated stitching and furthered the “threaducation” of many.

The Frog Princess enjoys visiting Artistic Artifacts with Liz Kettle

Sunday found Liz and students hard at work in the Magical Stitches class. Below you can see that The Frog Princess got herself involved in class discussion.

Magical Stitching class with Liz Kettle at Artistic Artifacts

Artistic Artifacts is usually closed on Mondays, but on December 5, we were all hard at work. Our gorgeous threads and fixtures finally made it through customs and delivery from Canada, so we spent the day putting together the Threaducation Center! Frankly, we thought the tiny little hands of The Frog Princess would have been a bigger help when it came to the WonderFil Thread cabinet construction! But then again, she IS royalty; supervising is really her strength…

The Frog Princess supervises construction of the WonderFil thread cabinets and display stands

Below, everyone wanted to get close to the Sue Spargo collection! WonderFil™ teamed up with the author, teacher, embroidery expert and artist to bring out a new line of colors in the Eleganza™, Razzle™, and Dazzle™ thread lines! These colors have been selected by Sue Spargo to offer an array of beautiful and inspirational choices, including variegated colors that are only available in her line.

The Frog Princess helps Chris Vinh put away the Sue Spargo Collection of WonderFil threads

Below, The Frog Princess poses at the end of a productive workday with the new WonderFil Threaducation Center located at Artistic Artifacts.

The Frog Princess poses with the new WonderFil Threaducation Center located at Artistic Artifacts

Finally it was time to return to her own kingdom. Before she left The Frog Princess took one final lap around the store to soak in some memories:

Come back anytime, Princess — you and your friends at the Thread Lab are always welcome! In fact, consider this a formal invitation for next year, when Liz returns to Artistic Artifacts to teach a 4-day creative retreat, Stitch Journeys — Your Guide to Amazing Stitching, June 15-18, 2017. The cost will be $495, which includes provided lunch each day, and payment plans will be available — please email us to make arrangements. Complete information will be posted soon on the Artistic Artifacts website. Plan to join us!

Block Printed Projects in Martha Stewart Living!

cover of Martha Stewart Living, November 2016

We’re so excited to be featured in the November 2016 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine!

We were contacted earlier this year (magazines have such long lead times to production) and were delighted with the end result and seeing our wooden printing blocks and textile paints used in such a beautiful way!

The magazine reads, “Block printed linenas are costly to buy, but surprisingly simple to make. With little more than textile paint, muslin fabric, and woodblock stamps, a personalized setting is close at hand. We went with a botanical motif, but choose whatever appeals to you.”

Artistic Artifacts wooden printing blocks and textile paints used in a Martha Stewart Living project, November 2016

Artistic Artifacts wooden printing blocks and textile paints used in a Martha Stewart Living project, November 2016

Artistic Artifacts wooden printing blocks and textile paints used in a Martha Stewart Living project, November 2016
Source attribution, Martha Stewart Living magazine, November 2016

Project designers Silke Stoddard and Tanya Graff used a palette of our Transparent Textile Paint in 15 Colonial Gold, 45 True Blue and 403 Indigo. These paints have a thick, pudding-like consistency, making them ideal for block printing. They used our foam printing mats to ensure the best prints, and printed on muslin (see sources, right)…and here’s a tip for you: we sell Nature’s Way™ by Roc-lon® muslin at just $4.00 a yard!

Blocks used in the magazine project, which includes instructions, are:

Pick up your copy of the November 2016 Martha Stewart Living to share in our “grateful spread” as well as for the usual wonderful recipes, decorating ideas and more. For our own tips on block printing, please see:

  1. Block Printing Intro
  2. Creating and Embellishing Block Printed Textiles
  3. A Sampling of Block Printed Art Quilts

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