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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!

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

Thoughts on the Health Benefits of Creativity

Earlier this week on our Facebook page, we posted a link to Why Quilting Improves Your Health in Ways Even Exercise Can’t Manage, health study extolling the benefits of quilting (they also refer to other creative endeavors and hobbies) and creativity.

“The University of Glasgow team concluded that all hobbies — ‘from reading to train spotting’ — should be looked at for their mental and physical benefits. They interviewed quilters and found the activity helped their cognitive, creative and emotional well-being, particularly among older people. The use of bright colours was ‘uplifting’, the activity distracted from the stress of work, and quilting offered challenges such as maths and geometry. It also increased confidence and had an important social side. Professor Jacqueline Atkinson, co-author of the study and a quilter herself for five decades, said: ‘Doing something that engages you and that you enjoy is key. As adults, we don’t often do enough that includes fun and play.”

Interviews of quilters found that the hobby “helped their cognitive, creative and emotional well-being…[that] the use of bright colors was ‘uplifting,’ the activity distracted from the stress of work, and … offered challenges such as maths and geometry. It also increased confidence and had an important social side.”

As I have transitioned to my “Dream” business of Artistic Artifacts, I find that my time to create is very limited. If I continue to let the paperwork control my life, the “dream” business will turn into the nightmare. I have to schedule time to create, make sure I touch some fiber and have a portable project. I get cranky, and more, if I ignore these things.

With a Little Help From My Friends, art quilt by Judy Gula

The quilting world specifically has broadened my circle of friends across the country, and the support, encouragement and exchange of information between members in this community of artist business has been unmatched in any other industry I have worked in (and there have been several)! That quilting keeps me healthy can only be enforced by the care of my friends. I created the quilt pictured above for Donna DeSoto’s Inspired by the Beatles: An Art Quilt Challenge, choosing the song titled A Little Help From my Friends. It illustrates how important creativity and friendships are to me.

In this blog posing I’m sharing some thoughts from creative friends about the study’s findings, and we’d love to know what you think too — leave us a comment below, or email us, especially if you’re including a photo of your art (please do, and let us know if we can share it). Comments or emails received by Monday, August 3 will be eligible for a random prize drawing: I’m putting together a little surprise creativity project starter package!

Fiber art by Kathlyn “Kat” Avila-Reyes

Kathlyn “Kat” Avila-Reyes (art quilt pictured above and below; visit her website for more) is an amazing artist! She says, “I’ve always enjoyed gathering, touching, and placing bits and pieces of fabric together; it’s cathartic! I especially love vintage fabrics that have come from an old dress or blouse…every small scrap of fabric holds a memory, it’s a small treasure with a lineage of times gone by. Placing each little piece together is like a puzzle of goodness, of ‘I remember when….’ or an imaginative time of dolls, tea parties, and aunties stitching hems. I get totally lost in the stories my fabrics tell, they are as comforting as a grandmother’s hand and hot tea on a cold night. What can get any better than that?”

Fiber art by Kathlyn “Kat” Avila-Reyes

Fiber and mixed media artist, author and teacher Diane Herbort thinks that one big benefit to being involved in quilting and other types of fiber arts is “I always have something to look forward to. It is an incentive to get all the ‘regular’ work done. You could say it is the nice colorful carrot dangling from the stick that is the drudgery of life and work.”

Creating as a form of motivation…I can get behind that concept! Diane’s art quilt Reverie is pictured below, consisting of painted and printed paper, cotton fabrics and metallic trims and machine stitching (click photo for a larger view). Visit Diane’s website for more of her lovely work.

Diane Herbort’s art quilt Reverie

“I believe friendships are formed through shared experiences,” writes Cyndi Souder of Moonlighting Quilts. “The friends I’ve made through quilting are the core of my social circle. I care about them, I rely on them, I treasure them. When I lost my sister to ovarian cancer, my quilting friends kept me afloat. When I need opinions, help, or good conversations, they are there. They are my tribe. I would not have found these amazing friends if we did not have quilting in common.”

Pictured below is a celebration quilt Cyndi created, a portrait of her sister Vicki that is titled Memories.

Memories by Cyndi Souder, Moonlighting Quilts

On Saturday, August 8 Cyndi will be teaching Designing Meaningful Memory Quilts at our shop, where you can learn to draft an original quilt design that pays tribute to the memories of the original owners of treasured linens, clothes, photographs, etc.

“The happy dance I do when my quilt project
is coming together is far more beneficial than
the exercise tapes gathering dust on my shelf.”

The above quote is from Chris Vinh of StitchesnQuilts. Okay, so now who out there is going to cross-stitch that into a sampler for me?

Mahyar cat batik panel quilt by Chris Vinh

Chris does amazing quilting and fiber art — visit her Etsy site to view. Above is a quilting and beaded batik panel by Mahyar. Chris has created so many beautiful samples for me to display in the shop and show off how creatively these materials can be used.

Kaleidescope of Colors, first prize, group quilts, 2015 Quilt Odyssey

“Art has a great effect on my mental, spiritual and physical health,” writes Etta Stewart. “I have learned that I need that time each day to focus on something other than daily living, and the other is to take myself on an art date. Last week, my art date happened to be going to Quilt Odyssey with friends. I wanted to share the experience of seeing our Blue ribbon with other quilter friends.” (Etta and her friends won First Place in the Group Quilt category for Kaleidoscope of Colors, pictured above; detail below.)

Detail, Kaleidescope of Colors, first prize, group quilts, 2015 Quilt Odyssey

Etta shared that she and her friends spent a total of seven hours at the quilt show, between viewing the quilts and perusing the merchants mall. Obviously that counts as physical exercise too! Visit Etta’s Pinterest boards to see some of the many ways she fills her creative well.

“Managing stress isn’t always easy for me,” shares Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution. “First born, over achiever, go, go goer that sort of says it all. The best medicine I have found is what I call Stitch Meditations. I tried for years to do ‘real’ meditation. It just never took and I always felt like I was doing it wrong. But, I knew I needed a stress reducer that was simple and didn’t take much time to do. I love both machine and hand stitching and I find both very relaxing. However the tactile nature of hand stitch won over and I started creating simple small collages using only hand stitch.”

Stitch Meditation by Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution

One of Liz’ stitch meditations is pictured above — visit her website gallery to see many more. “These meditations are really important to my mental health not only because I slow down and enjoy the meditation,” says Liz, “but they give me a sense of connection to my art on a daily basis…even when life has me otherwise occupied.”

NiYa Costley, a friend from Judy’s Altered Minds, (JAMs) notes that “I can’t quilt when I am upset — spend too much time with the seam ripper if I do. I can crochet though. Get lots done because I move even faster than normal when I am upset….and it does serve to calm my nerves.” Below, some of her beautiful crochet work.

Crochet by Niya Costley

“I also will do Zentangle as a way to calm and allow my mind to freely roam,” says NiYa, who feels that her membership in JAMS has allowed her “to meet new artists who do different kind of things that I had never considered before, like Kinetic Quilting, and entering juried shows like the recent Mixed Media show at Del Ray Artisans Gallery.” NiYa has tons of photos of her work on her PhotoBucket site.

Please leave us a comment below (or email us) with your thoughts on creativity and health. Remember, comments or emails received by Monday, August 3 will be eligible for a random prize drawing.

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