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Judy Gula, Fiber & Mixed Media Artist

Artistic Artifacts: Fiber and Mixed Media Art Supplies, Projects and Inspiration

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!

Sharing Some Peeks of Quilt Market/Quilt Festival

I am still catching up after being away for more than two weeks away for the Quilt Market and the International Quilt Festival, in Houston, TX. In order to get a blog post up for the first time in muchtoo long, I am shamelessly stealing from my Printed Fabric Bee buddy Lisa Chin!

Judy Gula presenting her Selling Hand Drawn Batik Artist Panels session in Houston, TX, photo by Lisa Chin

I last wrote from Market, the largest “trade show” for fabric and quilting (it’s not open ot the public), which takes place annually several days before the Quilt Festival. Lisa wrote that she “had the opportunity to attend a number of Schoolhouse presentations during market. These very short classes are designed to help store owners learn more about the products available, as well as how to use the products and share them with their customers.”

I taught a Schoolhouse, and Lisa took the photo of me pictured here during it, and wrote a blog posting that included it. My presentation is titled Selling Hand Drawn Batik Artist Panels. Most fabric stores carry commercial batik fabrics, which have long been popular with quilters and seamstresses. My presentation hopes to open shops up to selling one-of-a-kind batik artist panels as well. (Note: while this presentation was to industry, I also have a lecture and trunk show I present to guilds and art groups titled Batik Adventures.) At Artistic Artifacts we sell beautiful panels from ten different Indonesian artists, which are wonderful incorporated into unique quilts, home decor or mixed media art projects.

I’m so fortunate to have a local home to stay in during the duration of my trip to Houston. Several of my quilting buddies gather there too; fiber and mixed media artist Judi Hurwitt generously welcomes us in. (Remember Judi? She used my wooden printing blocks and fabric paint to transform an upholstered chair!

On a “play day” before everything began, I led the group in a fabric dyeing session. My ‘bible’ is Color by Accident by Ann Johnston…I swear by her low-water Immersion method. Here are Lisa’s quart canning jars full of luscious color steeping. I always love photos of this portion of the process! Visit Lisa’s blog for a shot of her finished fabrics, as well as photos of our Cyanotype sun-printing experiments.

Lisa Chin's dyed fabric setting in the sun

I could never get through a long trip like Houston without the help and support of friends and colleagues. Joining me at Judi’s beautiful home were Chis Vinh, Ruth Chandler and Liz Kettle. Chris was a godsend to me; sharing the driving duties to and from Houston, helping me with set-up and take-down (twice! If you exhibit in both shows as I do, you can’t leave your booth from Market up for Festival!) and staffing my booth. And Ruth and Liz had their own extensive schedules with teaching duties.


Lisa Chin demonstrating monoprinting techniques

We all came together for a “Take & Teach” sponsored by Rockland Industries. Artistic Artifacts sells its Roc-lon® Multi Purpose Cloth, Osnaburg 100% Cotton and Nature’s Way Muslin. Take & Teach sessions are 90-minutes long and take place each morning before the Market opens, led by current Market exhibitors about their product. Like my schoolhouse presentation, these sessions serve to let quilt and fabric shop owners know what can be done with a product. I demonstrated block printing and mono-printing on the various fabrics, using my wooden printing blocks and our new fluid textile paints. Lisa, pictured here, used stencils and found objects to explore additional monoprinting techniques. We hope we made some converts to this creative fun.

I have to say thank you to Lisa, for her lovely testimonial on her blog:

“[We] used some great new fabric paints from Artistic Artifacts. I bought the complete set to bring home after using them in class. They have a nice long open time, meaning they won’t dry too quickly on the gel plate, and they have a soft hand on the fabric! Two ideal attributes for fabric paint in my book!”

Since Lisa has been far more productive writing and taking photos than I have, here are links her blog posts relating to Quilt Market and Quilt Festival:

P.S. We’ve just finalized plans with Liz to visit Artistic Artifacts early next month: she’ll be teaching a Friday evening class on her beautiful Stitch Meditations, and a Sunday class on Magical Stitches. In between, Saturday, December 3, she’ll be joining us for our Annual Open House and Holiday Market. Stay tuned for a big announcement about a new venture then too!

 

Artistic Artifacts at Quilt Market 2016

Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal booth at the 2016 Fall Quilt Market in Houston, Texas

The largest “trade show” for fabric and quilting takes place each year, prior to the International Quilt Festival, which runs November 3–6 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, TX. Above, the Artistic Artifacts/Batik Tambal booth this year!

We make a number of our unique products available at wholesale cost to retailers around the country: our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik and Textile Paints, hand-carved wooden printing blocks from India, handpainted batik artist panels and more! Encourage your local quilt shop to visit our website to learn more about our wholesale opportunities.

Artistic Artifacts creator Judy Gula chats with fabric designer Valori Wells at the 2016 Quilt Market

Above, Judy chats with fabric designer Valori Wells in her booth. We recently added Valori’s stunning Marks fabric collection to our secure online shop. (Bet plans are being made here to add even more of her beautiful designs!)

Artistic Artifacts will be in Booth #1047 for the Festival, so those of you lucky enough to attend, please plan to stop by to visit and shop!

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

Our Wide Stripes Quilt

Our enewsletter this week featured a free gift to subscribers, our Wide Stripes Batik Lap Quilt pattern — visit our Tutorials page to download your copy! (Don’t receive our enewsletter? Subscribe using the box to the right.)

Wide Stripes Batik Lap Quilt by Artistic Artifacts
Created and stitched by Chris Vinh of StitchesnQuilts, this design: fits in with any décor, from modern to traditional, and is quick and easy to put together — we love it!

Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik used in the Artistic Artifacts Wide Stripes quilt

This beauty was sewn using our Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik. Pictured right, top to bottom, are:

This pattern will be beautiful in whatever colors and patterns you love. But since one of Chris’ great gifts is the ability to pick amazing color and fabric combinations, enjoy the eye candy of the “bundles” she put together of Aborigine-designed fabrics from Australia as she was deciding on fabrics for our example.

Blue themed quartet of Australian Aborigine-designed fabrics

Above, left to right, Desert Rose Blue by Patricia Weeks; Fire Dreaming Blue by Janet Long; Untitled Blue by Nambooka and; Dropping Seeds Neutral by Roseanne Morton.

Red themed quartet of Australian Aborigine-designed fabrics

Above, top to bottom, Suklage Ash by Anna Pitjara; Fire Dreaming Red by Janet Long; Gathering Bush Tomatoes Ash by A. Nanagarri and Kangaroo in the Desert Rain Red by Judda.

Gold themed quartet of Australian Aborigine-designed fabrics

Above, top to bottom: Desert Rose Orange by Patricia Weeks; Wild Bush Honey Ant Mint by Audrey Martin Napanangka; Untitled Gold by Nambooka and Waterhole & Seeds Gold by Anna Pitjara.

To create a lap-size Wide Stripes quilt top requires just one yard each of four fabrics. We do list that if you instead choose 2½ yards of your chosen sashing/border fabric, you can complete a matching pieed backing for your quilt. Because you will have extra fabric left, including a pieced strip of your four fabrics remaining as you cut per our directions, you can create a backing so pretty your quilt is reversible! Look at the back of our sample:

Pieced backing of the Artistic Artifacts Wide Stripes Batik Quilt

Enjoy making your quilt in the colors and patterns you love best. (And we’d love it if you share photos of your work with us!)

Remember that in addition to our regular Facebook presence, we have set up Artistic Artifacts’ Creative Minds, a Facebook group that’s a virtual extension of Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs, which meets monthly in the shop). On Facebook group members — art quilters, collage artists, art journal keepers, surface design enthusiasts, paper crafters, assemblage & art doll artists, and more from all over the US and beyond — have a place to share ideas and projects with one another. Representing all levels of expertise, this is a online home for our Creative Minds to encourage and support like-minded friends. Join Us!

Beautiful Screen Printing Results

Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula left early last Saturday morning for the final 2016 Art & Soul event in Virginia Beach, where she co-taught a class and ran an on-site store full of many Artistic Artifacts new and vintage supplies and “creative finds.” Later that morning our friends from PG Fiber2Art arrived to teach their popular Printing with Thermofax Screens class. We captured some of the amazing surface design results to share with you here. Visit the PG Fiber2Art blog for additonal photos and details of the September 24 class!

Sue Price and Elizabeth Gibson of PG Fiber2Art

You can visit the PG Fiber2Art Etsy shop to order their ready-made screens from their own designs and photos, or order your own custom screen from your image! Many of the screens you see here are available to purchase. Artistic Artifacts also carries a large selection in our shop in Alexandria, VA.

Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paint -- now available!

We were excited that Sue and Elizabeth experimented with our new line of Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paint! Pictured above, these high-quality, semi-transparent textile paint sets are quick-drying and acid free: use on any type of fabric (heat-set for permanence), canvas, paper, cardstock and more. Primary I contains Blue, Red and Yellow; Primary II contains Turquoise, Magenta and Gold; and Metallics contains Silver, Gold and Copper. Mix to create your own colors — use our set of two Black & White for even more shades and tints!

These easy-flow colors join our line of heavy-bodied textile paint — also perfect for screen printing as in the following examples, block printing with our wooden printing blocks, and more — that is available in dozens of colors in opaque, transparent and pearlescent finishes.

Screen printed koi fish

You can achieve a striking level of fine line detail with Thermofax screens, as seen in the koi image above and the Ginkgo leaves below.

Screen printed Ginkgo leaf

Hand-dyed fabric printed using more than one Thermofax screen

Above, using more than one screen, such as the crackle screen in the background and the fern screen, makes for a beautifully complex design on hand-dyed fabric.

Batik fabric printed with text-based Thermofax screen

Starting with batik fabrics gives a wonderful result, above and below.

Batik fabric printed using more than one Thermofax screen

Using silk gives you a beautiful shimmer, below.

Silk fabric printed with a butterfly screen

The photo below shows the ethereal effect by screening on organza.

Sheer organza fabric screen printed

The result of using several different Thermofax screens with different colors of ink and with foil embellishing

The above piece has various leaves screened in different colors of ink, with a crackle background. In the center you can see the results of pushing foil adhesive through the screen and then adding the sparkling metallic foil.

PG Fiber2Art will be teaching their Turn Your Photos into Thermofax Screens class at Artistic Artifacts on January 21, 2017. They will also be selling beautiful finished pieces at our annual Open House and Pop-Up Holiday Market on December 3, 2016: mark your calendars and plan to join us for the fun and shopping!

Batik fabric printed using a Thermofax screen

Pretty Little Bits….

Diane Herbort teaching Baubles, Dangles & Beads  at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, VA

Diane Herbort is visiting Artistic Artifacts (standing, above), teaching her Baubles, Dangles & Beads class. As she unpacked her supplies and samples setting up for class, we couldn’t help but snap a few quick photos of her artful bits and pieces.

Diane Herbort supplies for her Baubles, Dangles & Beads class

From her website: “Traditional needle arts, always considered ‘women’s arts,’ are important to me, both as a source of inspiration and as skills that I can use and adapt to tell my story. I think of my quilts and collages as being sister artworks. They are all assembled from the same things: textiles, paper, embellishments and memories.”

Diane Herbort supplies for her Baubles, Dangles & Beads class

“Being an unreformed collector, I gather bits and pieces that help me touch the past. Old postcards, buttons and bits of lace often become a part of my art. Other times, I simply need to have them around me. They possess a sense of age and mystery, of stories grasped only in fragmentary form, that I hope my work also holds.”

Stitched and embellished heart detail from a quilt by Diane Herbort

Diane will be teaching similar methods in her Crazy Techniques class on Saturday, October 8: “Start a small quilt or evening bag while exploring the ins and outs of crazy quilting. This versatile technique lends itself to a wide range of fabrics, plain or fancy…If you enjoy enriching the surface, machine or hand embroidery, beading and just about any other type of embellishment are all possibilities.“ Join us if you can!

Retro fabric panel beaded and embellished by Diane Herbort
Hand-stitched and embellished cases by Diane Herbort

Diane posts beautiful inspiration photos on her website each week, writing wonderful prose about each. Visit and enjoy!

Detail, embellished art quilt by Diane Herbort

Using Triangles On A Roll to Speed Piecing

Half Square Triangles created with Triangles On A Roll paper

I am currently working on a semi-secret project, one that is requiring me to really stretch… Okay, I will actually confess that instead of a stretch this is a real JUMP out of my comfort zone!

I’m working with a size larger than 24" x 24", and I’m doing quilt piecework beyond my beloved log cabin strip construction! The crib quilt project that I am designing uses a handpainted batik panel by Mahyar as a focal point, and it has a very cool border design, similar to that pictured below, that I wanted to echo.

Batik detail on Mahyar batik panel

My first thought was using pieced Half Square Triangles (HST). I had heard good things about the Triangles On A Roll for piecing HSTs, and thought I would experiment with them. I began by purchasing sample rolls in couple different sizes and testing them with fabrics. There’s a free Craftsy Tutorial that is nicely illustrated with clear photos on how to use Triangles on a Roll to sew HSTs: so simple to use!

Spoiler Alert: I love this product so much I’ve added it to the Artistic Artifacts store! Shop all Triangles On A Roll products »

2½" finished block, using Triangles On A Roll ; each square tells you how wide to cut your fabric squares, as seen in this photograph.

Above, 2½" finished block, using two different fabrics. A great feature of the Triangles On A Roll papers
is that each one tells you how wide to cut your fabric squares, as you can see in this photograph.

The Triangles On A Roll blog had a post about how quick using these products can be. Nedra Sorensen of Triangles On a Roll decided to time herself in making 44 HSTs for a project. Her sewing time was 13 minutes; her cutting time 5 minutes; paper removal time 5 minutes; pressing time 5 minutes, and trimming off the bunny ears 2 minutes. A total of 30 minutes! Now, of course quilting’s not a race, but even for a beginner using this product, the time savings from cutting and piecing a HST the old-fashioned way is incredible. Plus, you are getting consistently precise, accurate results.

Woodstock batik by Batik Tambal sewn using Triangles On A Roll

Above, a fun result using Woodstock, 1969, an ombre batiks that is one of the dessigns created exclusively for us by Indonesian artisans. We just released a new Ferns pattern in six beautiful colorwayas!

Then, thinking of structure like the log cabin construction (see, I didn’t get too far away from my default mode!), I wanted to experiment with the contrast of light and dark fabrics:

HSTs sewn using Triangles On A Roll

The top HST in the above photo has had its “bunny ears” trimmed. Look at the accuracy of the piecing and the even seam allowances. Each of these rolls are 50 feet long, and the number of finished HSTs will vary with the size. For instance, the 3½" roll will make 540 HSTs!

Key points to remember when sewing HSTs with Triangles On A Roll:

  • Pin the paper to the top of two (2) pieces of fabric that are facing right sides together.
  • Shorten your stitch length on your sewing machine to make it easier to remove the paper after piecing. Triangles On A Roll recommends a 1.5 setting.
  • Sew on the dotted lines.
  • Cut on the solid lines.

So, once I had warmed up with several piecing sessions using different sizes and fabrics, my next step was to use HSTs in a project.

HSTs from two different Australian fabrics, sewn using Triangles On A Roll

Above, River Dreaming Red by Barbara Egan and Bush Coconut Dreaming Red by Audrey Martin, two Aborigine Designed Fabric that look great together.

Pillow top, designed using a handpainted batik panel by Ahmed and HSTs sewn using Triangles On A Roll

I used an Ahmed batik panel and cut it in half horizontally to make two coordinating pillows. After framing the panel in narrow strips, I enlarged the surface using my red and black HSTs on just two sides for an asymmetrical look.

Pillow top, designed using a handpainted batik panel by Ahmed and HSTs sewn using Triangles On A Roll

Above, the second pillow top (both are still in progress with the binding and the backing). One hint for you, watch the orientation of the triangles when you use them to wrap around a block (as I did here), rather than in a straight line.

Detail, free motion quilting, of pillow top, designed using a handpainted batik panel by Ahmed

A detail of my free motion quilting of the panel. Abstracts are fun, because anything goes!

So with my pillows essentially finished, I’m back to my original idea using the Mayhar Batik Art Panel…

Piecing with Triangles On A Roll paper

Half Square Triangles (HSTs) created with Triangles On A Roll paper

Triangles On A Roll products are definitely going to help me create a wonderful Mahyar crib quilt design!

Batik panel  by Mahyar, a focal point of an upcoming quilt project

Books as Inspiration vs. Prescription

Guest post by Christine Vinh, StitchesnQuilts

I pondered this “Inspiration vs. Prescription” idea one day when browsing through the new books at Artistic Artifacts. As artists — name your media — we probably use books for both inspiration and prescription.

  • Some books are just eye candy and must-haves for that reason alone.
  • Others teach new techniques and skills to add to our “tool box.”
  • There are those who select a book for the instructions to make a project just like the one the artist author shows in the book.
  • And then there are those books that make you wonder, “what if?”…

Kaffe Fassett's Brilliant Little Patchwork Cushions and Pillows

For me, one of the books that falls into the last category is Kaffe Fassett’s brilliant little patchwork cushions and pillows. With a subtitle of “20 patchwok projects using Kaffe Fassett fabrics,” my first thought was, since Artistic Artifacts doesn’t carry his fabrics, why carry the book?

But as I leafed through the pages, I was quickly inspired by the possibilities. Rather than recreate the patterns and fabric choices used in the many projects in the book, I started dreaming about how some of new fabrics in the shop would look instead.

I had already been playing with ideas for the She Sells designs from Frond Design Studios. Looking though the book, I decided that the “chrysanthemum cushion” might work well, as it uses a huge patterned fabric.

Selecting a stripes pattern was a no brainer — the Woodstock 1969 colorway of the Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik was perfect with the She Sells: Aqua I wanted to use. Add two of the Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik Fruit Sours patterns, in Tangerine and Blue Raspberry, and I had a match made in heaven!

I also decided I wanted to make a table runner, rather than the pillow called for in the book. I estimated my fabric requirements using the fabric guidelines in the book. I wanted to use the Blue Raspberry Fruit Sours batik as the back and binding, so I went with one yard there, and ½ yards of the other three fabrics.

Christine Vinh begins piecing a table runner, inspired by a Kaffe Fassett project

Using the cushion pattern as guidelines, I cut the fabrics. When sewing the shell and ombre stripes together, I added stripes at each end to extend the center panel to the desired length, then added the border. I machine quilted my runner with a variegated thread and finished it off with the binding. A fun and easy project completed in a few hours!

Variegated thread used to machine quilt Christine Vinh's table runner sewn from Frond Design Studios fabric and Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik

In the detail photo above, you can see how the variegated thread coordinated with the fabrics — I loved how it turned out.

Christine Vinh's table runner and the Kaffe Fassett project that inspired it

Above, a view of my completed runner and the inspiration pillow project from Kaffe’s book.

This project was so fun and easy to sew that now I’m imagining doing another one, with another She Sells colorway paired with one of the new Barnboard colorways, also from Frond Design Studios. Below, She Sells: Sand and Barnboard: Violet.

She Sells: Sand and Barnboard: Violet fabrics from Frond Design Studios, sold by Artistic Artifacts

Or perhaps She Sells: Ultramarine and Barnboard: Summer, below…

She Sells: Ultramarine and Barnboard: Summer fabrics from Frond Design Studios, sold by Artistic Artifacts

The Malachite pillow from Kaffe Fassestt’s brilliant little patchwork cushions and pillowsBack to Kaffe’s book, I also liked the pattern design used in the “malachite cushion” (pictured right). Kaffe noted that he wanted to play with the swirling lines and color variations of his Jupiter fabric by further cutting the fabric into triangles and piecing it back together.

As soon as I saw the recent addition to our Australian Aboriginal fabrics, River Dreaming by Barbara Egan, I loved the movement! I thought it would be interesting to see how the pattern changed by cutting and piecing it according to Kaffe’s instructions.

I selected the River Dreaming Black for the top and decided on Plum Seeds Red by Kathleen Pitjara as binding. I followed the instructions in the book — again, a quick and easy project. But while I love the finished pillow top (pictured below flat, without the pillow form), because of the overall swirls of the fabric, it is hard to see the quilt pattern.

River Dreaming Black fabric pieced into pillow by Christine Vinh, StitchesnQuilts

So. lesson learned! Next I tried using the River Dreaming White with the Black version, and played with my fabric choices and placement to get the look I wanted. Pictured below, this work in progress using the same pattern has a better ‘bang for the buck’ with the black and white triangles alternated.

River Dreaming Black and River Dreaming white fabrics pieced into pillow top by Christine Vinh, StitchesnQuilts

Both because I wasn’t afraid to ask the question, “what if…?” and because I gave myself permission to play and experiment, I’ll end up with another great graphic pillow.

Take some time and browse through the books for sale at Artistic Artifacts, or on your own book shelf, but with the focus of using the ideas of the author as a springboard for your own imagination. This is a good exercise to do with some of the earlier books you may have, where the fabric used for the samples is outdated. Visualize how the designs and techniques could be brought to life with some of the new and fun fabrics available today: swapping out calicos with modern cottons, for example.

In addition to the books in the shop, check out the book recommendations from members of Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs). Each fall we devote one meeting to sharing thoughts on favorite fiber and mixed media titles, both new publications and favorities from our past. Our ongoing list is a downloadable PDF published on our website.

And remember, we have a new Facebook group, Artistic Artifacts’ Creative Minds, a virtual extension of JAMs. On Facebook group members from all over— art quilters, collage artists, art journal keepers, surface design enthusiasts, paper crafters, assemblage & art doll artists, and more — have a place to share ideas and projects with one another. Come join us there and share your own projects and thoughts on Inspiration vs. Prescription!

To sum up:

  • Don’t be afraid to mix and match fabric lines and colors and textures.
  • Give yourself permission to play.
  • By giving yourself permission to ask “what if” and play, you will learn along the way… and most likely will be very pleased with your results!

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