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!

Using Color Magnet for Screen Printing

Happy Valentine’s Day to you! Hope you are enjoying a sweet treat, whether that’s candy, flowers, or new supplies for your favorite creative hobby!

In our February 10 enewsletter, we announced the addition of Color Magnet™ for Screen Printing by Jacquard to our online shop. I had heard about this product before, but the catalyst for stocking it was the most recent Printing with Thermofax Screens class, taught by PG Fiber2Art. PG Fiber2Art is Susan Price and Elizabeth Gibson. (They always teach together; unfortunately for this session Elizabeth was out of town).

Printing with Thermofax Screens class at Artistic Artifacts, taught by PG Fiber2Art

Basic Color Magnet Directions

1) Apply Color Magnet directly from jar to fabric by screen printing, stamping or stenciling.
2) Let dry thoroughly. Drying can be aided by the use of a hair dryer or heat tool.
3) Dye according to dye package instructions (immersion dyeing is recommended as the best method). The more diluted the dye, the greater the contrast.

Susan showed the class a number of fabric samples that had been created using Color Magnet for Screen Printing, and everyone wanted to be able to buy the product themselves. We were happy to oblige!

We also asked PG Fiber2Art to assist with this blog posting to help you understand the product. All images here are copyright by PG Fiber2Art (unless otherwise noted) and used with their permission.

Color Magnet is a dye attractant that “magically” attracts more dye where it is applied. Apply Color Magnet directly from jar to your fabric by Thermofax screen printing, or by stamping or stenciling.

Using Color Magnet for Screen Printing by Jacquard

The Color Magnet product is yellow in color and will be visible on your fabric as it is applied. This yellow doesn’t show permanently, nor does it change the color of the dye you choose to use. The coloring is there to make it easier to see where you have applied the Color Magnet.

Applying Color Magnet for Screen Printing to fabric through a PG Fiber2Art Thermofax screen

Above, Sue applies Color Magnet through the PG Fiber2Art screen Sewer Cover to print an all-over design — in these photos it is wet from the applications. (Visit the PG Fiber2Art blog for a thorough tutorial on How to Print with Thermofax Screens if you are unfamiliar with the process.)

It is very important to let the applied Color Magnet product dry completely before you immerse your fabric into the dye. Sue often lets her fabric sit overnight to dry; Jacquard notes that you can use a blow dryer or a craft heat tool to speed the drying process.

Color Magnet for Screen Printing applied to fabric through PG Fiber2Art Thermofax screens--before dyeing

Above, a detail photo of the same fabric after it was over-screened with Color Magnet using their popular Circles screen, available in the PG Fiber2Art Etsy shop. Below, a detail of the fabric after dyeing it teal.

After dyeing, the fabric that has had the Color Magnet for Screen Printing applied shows darker, having attracted the dye particles

The full length of fabric after. (Click the photo for a larger view.)

Full length of PG Fiber2Art fabric -- click for larger view

For the stronges/darkest tone on tone contrast, use a diluted dye solution. You may want to experiment with differing strengths of dye solution to see how you like the effects achieved.

Below are two additional fabric pieces that Sue screened with Color Magnet and then dyed. The top image is Tree Bark and the bottom is a mustard flower.

Tree bark Thermofax screen by PG Fiber2Art

Mustard Flower Thermofax screen by PG Fiber2Art

“I’m really pleased with how they turned out,” writes Sue. “I wanted the mustard flower to be an all over pattern, but it was really hard to see where I had already printed so I missed some spots. The base fabric was a pale blue/green and the Color Magnet is yellow, so it really blended in as it dried.”

Using Color Magnet does not alter the hand of your fabric. This softness makes it ideal for using on garments. Below, Sue prepped a t-shirt and screened it around the neckline with the Lazy Daisy screen, and let it dry overnight.

Color Magnet applied to a T-shirt, before dyeing

And here’s the shirt after:

Color Magnet T-shirt after dyeing

“The shirt is 45% polyester and 55% natural fibers,” writes Sue. “I wasn’t sure how well it would take the dye, but it did better than I expected.”

Although the results shown here from PG Fiber2Art are all from using their beautiful Thermofax screens, Color Magnet for Screen Printing can also be used with wooden printing blocks, stencils, applied through Fineline Needle Applicators and more.

Imagine the possibilities!

Additional Color Magnet Resources

    • For a demonstration of and instructions on using Color Magnet for Screen Printing, visit YouTube.

Lynda Heines experiments with using varying amounts of dye powder

  • Lynda Heines of Bloom, Bake & Create was a guest blogger for Lynn Krawczyk of Smudged Textiles Studio, with a tutorial on how to use Color Magnet. Of particular interest are Lynda’s documentation of her experiments using varying amounts of dye powder (detail pictured here).
  • Explore step-by-step instructions and tips for using Jacquard’s Color Magnet in this Quilting Arts magazine article by Sue Bleiweiss (PDF provided by Jacquard). A sampling of Sue’s fabrics dyed using Color Magnet are below.

Sue Bleiweiss fabrics dyed using Color Magnet

Fabric Collage Photo Book

Fabric collage photo book by Judy Gula, standing in 3-D

Click on the above photo for a larger view.

Cover of fabric collage photo book by Judy GulaIt is pretty well-known in my family (and friends) that I love vintage photos and their stories. My fabric collage book has been created using photographs that came from my cousin Mary of her mother.

Part of the story is sad — Mary’s mother had an older sibling that unfortunately had passed away without any photographs ever being taken. So when Mary’s mother was born, her parents took lots of photographs of her.

The agreement was that I would scan all of Mary’s photos and in exchange for a DVD of the scans, I would be able to use them in my art…cool deal! (Mary also received a fabric collage book of her own as a surprise.)

My posting today is more of a show and tell than a full-on “how to” tutorial, but I hope it inspires you! You can also take a look at our 2011 tutorial, A Marvelous Memory Book by Liz Kettle, with instructions on creating another version of a fabric photo book, to get you started.

Fabric collage photo book by Judy Gula, inside pages

Detail, fabric collage photo book page by Judy Gula

Fabric collage books are a great place to use up scraps of ribbon and trim, and to try out the fancy stitches on your sewing machine (detail photo above). I love the way the bold print of the fabric “peeks” through her coat and leggings.

Fabric collage photo book by Judy Gula, inside pages

Fabric collage photo book by Judy Gula, inside pages

Detail, fabric collage photo book page by Judy Gula

Above, vintage buttons are the perfect embellishments.

Detail, fabric collage photo book page by Judy Gula

Above, I couldn’t resist adding wings to this sweet little face!

This fabric collage book is designed to be three-dimensional: it can stand (see photo at top), hung on a wall, or enjoyed as an accordian-folded book.

When creating a fabric collage book I generally use the following products:

  • EQ Printables Premium Cotton Lawn Inkjet Fabric — This is a high quality, tightly woven paper backed fabric sheet that can be run through your computer printer to reproduce photographs for quilting projects. The tighter the fabric weave, the more details that you can get on the fabric. The product is pretreated to ensure the archival quality of the photos and gives you beautiful, reliable results.
  • Heavy Duty Stabilizer — I use whatever I have on hand, whether double-sided fusible or not; Pellon 805 Wonder Under Web is the choice we have for the store. (You might find that a lightweight fusible is enough, and because our Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 has a repositionable adhesive, you can experiment with your design and how the fabric scraps are placed before fusing it permanently.)
  • Mistyfuse — this fusible is so lightweight that I can even fuse lace in place quickly and with no adhesive showing.
  • Non-stick Ironing and Craft Sheet — invaluable to use when working with any fusible. We carry Goddess Sheets in various sizes, and The Bo-Nash Amazing Sheet…I have multiples (brands and quantities) of these types of craft sheets and simply wouldn’t be without them!
  • Vintage Fabric and Linens — if you don’t have these in your stash and you want to create a similar look, we offer “scrap packs”of Vintage Linens and Creams/Pales Silks: these are the perfect size for a fiber collage project.

Cover, fabric collage photo book by Judy GulaThe following photos are of the book I gifted to Mary.

Both of these fabric collage books featured in this posting have the photos on one side of the page. Each reverse/back side is covered in fabric, trims and stitching to create a finished book no matter how the book is displayed or viewed.

Another fabric collage photo book is in my future: I was just gifted with several vintage photo albums that include photos from the Pacific Northwest in the early 1900’s. I can’t wait to begin working with these treasures!

Fabric collage photo book by Judy Gula, photo side

Click on either photo to view larger: gift book opened and gift book back.

Fabric collage photo book by Judy Gula, reverse side

The Printed Fabric Bee Begins Anew in 2016

This week I want to direct readers to the “reboot” of The Printed Fabric Bee. Instead of monthly fabric collections created for the Bee members (with 6″ x 6″ swatches as a prize for randomly drawn readers who left comments), for 2016 members of the Bee will each take a turn hosting a month. For their month they will pick a theme and post several surface design tutorials, and conduct a fabulous giveaway too. (Mark your calendar: I will be April!) This reboot will mean a year of free classes from national and internationally known surface design artists and teachers!

Fabric Printing at Home: Quick and Easy Fabric Design Using Fresh Produce and Found Objects by Julie B. Booth

Julie B. Booth is January’s featured Bee artist, and she has chosen Kitchen Resists as her theme. Last year Julie wrote Fabric Printing at Home: Quick and Easy Fabric Design Using Fresh Produce and Found Objects, and it is an amazing book! You can read my review of it on this blog.

Julie has published two postings to The Printed Fabric Bee so far:

Judy Gula fabric created in Julie Booth’s class using dishwashing liquid as a resist

Above is a piece I created in Julie’s 2-day class here at Artistic Artifacts (more on that below) using dishwashing liquid as a resist. In Kitchen Resists #1: Rubbings with Liquid Dishwashing Soap, Julie teaches you to place texture plates under your fabric and then roll liquid dishwashing soap over the fabric to pick up the texture designs. I grabbed one of her photos (below) to illustrate:

Image from Kitchen Resists #1: Rubbings with Liquid Dishwashing Soap by Julie B. Booth

Julie prefers to make my own texture plates by applying hot glue on recycled cardboard, which is the subject of an article by her in the current issue of Quilting Arts magazine (see below).

Julie B. Booth is featured in the February/March 2016 issue of Quilting Arts

Below is my hot glue/cardboard printing plate design, again created in her class last year:

Printed fabric created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Julie points out that you can also use commercial texture plates…I’m going to have to try this technique with some of the rubbing plate designs from Cedar Canyon Textiles!

To anyone who has an interest in surface design: register yourself for Fabric Printing at Home: A Kitchen Sampler on Saturday, March 12 and Sunday, March 13 here at Artistic Artifacts. Want to know more? I shared in some of the fun of learning from Julie my posting for the Fabric Printing at Home Blog Tour last year (I was Day 6).

You will learn how to use a huge variety of materials to create amazing prints, plus on Day 2 Julie will guide you through hand-stitching your fabrics into a wonderful piece of art. I can’t recommend it enough: this class is inspiring, energizing and so much fun!

Carved vegetable print created in class with Julie B. Booth

As before, you must comment each month to win. Julie’s wonderful giveaway is a copy of her amazing book and one yard of Prepared for Dyeing (PFD) cotton* — meaning the winner has a great start on creating their own custom printed fabric!

To be eligible to win, comment on at least one of her posts published during January at The Printed Fabric Bee. Julie will select a winner on Sunday, January 31.

* Note: we stock Kona® 100% cotton PFD, 44" in our shop too, as well as 58" wide.

Create a Composition Book Cover!

I wanted to share a quick book cover tutorial with you.

Swatch of Roc-lon Multi Purpose Cloth

I find composition books ugly, but plentiful and cheap. My goal was to create an attractive book cover where I can easily pull out a filled-in notebook and replace it with a fresh one. I believe that composition books will be around for years into the future, so it’s a reliable resource.

I used Roc-lon Multi Purpose Cloth (MPC) in this project. I’ve often remarked on this versatile product on this blog — it can be used whenever you would use canvas: easy to cut (doesn’t fray) and sew, soft, flexible and already prepared to accept paint or mediums.

The first step: measure and cut a piece of MPC the size of the book cover, including inside sleeves. The composition book I used was approximately 9.5 in. tall x 7.25 in. wide (closed), so for this book I used a 24 in. wide strip that was 10½” tall. This measurement was approximately an inch taller than my book, which is approximately 14.5 in. wide when opened.

Painted strip of Roc-lon Multi Purpose Cloth, the inside of the book cover

Next, paint one side of the MPC with your choice of acrylic paint(s) — I chose shades of tomato red (above). This painted side will be the inside of the cover.

I choose Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 as my fusible for this project (instead of the Mistyfuse I so often recommend to you) because Steam-A-Seam is sticky: you can put your fabric in place, but can move your design around because the adhesive is repositionable before fusing it permanently.

Your Steam-A-Steam needs to be the same size of your MPC. I had sheets of Steam-A-Seam in my stash, so I needed to butt two sheets together for this project, but this product is also available by the yard so you could easily match the length you’d need for this project. (Note that there is additional information from a previous blog posting on working with Steam A Seam 2.)

Fusing fabric strips and selvedges to Lite Steam-A-Seam 2

I have long collected the selvedges from my fabrics rather than discarding them. I love the writing, number and circle color codes on them! I used a lot in this project, but did intersperse colorful strips of fabric too (above). Remember that you can use paper with Steam-A-Seam too…and your design doesn’t have to be in strips as mine is: let your imagination run wild.

Once you have covered your Steam-A-Seam with your fabric (or paper), then fuse it to the unpainted side of the MPC with your iron (follow the instructions included in the Steam-A-Seam packet.

Fused MPC before trimming and creating the sleeves

Above is where we are with the project so far. As you can see I didn’t worry too much over measuring my fabric strips ahead of time; simply used my rotary cutter and ruler to trim the edges even.

Once my cover was trimmed, I took it to my sewing machine to use some of my “fancy” machine stitches to embellish it further (detail below).

Using various decorative machine stitches to embellish the book cover

The MPC has a sturdy weight to it and the fusing holds it all together, so stitching isn’t necessary — and leaving it out makes this an even quicker project! But I love the decorative touch it adds.

Folding and sewing down the sleeves to hold the composition book in place

To create the sleeves, place your composition book, opened, in the middle of your collaged MPC (painted side up). Then fold your extra width over each side. You can crease the MPC to mark it or clip it down as desired. Then slide the book out. I top-stitched each sleeve down at each end with a straight stitch on the right side.

Adding extra strips to the inside to use for bookmarks

For an extra touch, I tacked down two extra selvedge strips with zig zag stitching at the top middle of my inside cove (above)r, so I can use them as bookmarks.

Finished selvedge strip composition book cover by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Above is my completed selvedge strip composition book cover!

Another version: binder cover with Angelina embellishments

And here’s the same concept, except that this time for my cover I used a single piece of fabric for the cover (from my stash; it’s printed to look like marbled squares placed side by side). I embellished this with retangles of Angelina and free motion stitching in curves and circles. I used a recycled binder for my inside.

Inside view of binder cover with Angelina -- sleeves were created wider

Notice with this version the sleeve covers more of the notebook than the previous one did. The edges for this one were satin-stitched all the way around using black thread.

I hope this tutorial inspires you…this project offers lots of design possibilities!

Guest Blogger Lisa Chin Visits Artistic Artifacts

In September the talented textile artist Lisa Chin, a fellow member of the Printed Fabric Bee, visited Artistic Artifacts for the first time. She wrote the nicest blog post about her visit — and she is serving as as a guest blogger and letting us reprint it for us below! I love the beautiful photographs she took — thank you Lisa! (With the gorgeous fall color we’re experiencing, take a look at her website’s tutorial Gelli Plate Printing with Leaves and create a permanent memory!)


A Tour of Artistic Artifacts Brick and Mortar Store, Alexandria VA

by guest blogger Lisa Chin

[Recently] while I was in DC, I stopped at Artistic Artifacts. Artistic Artifacts is a quilt/mixed media shop and it was HEAVENLY! I got there a little late in the day and really didn’t have the time to inspect everything closely. I know I will be returning when I am in the DC area. Let me give you a little tour of the shop:

Panorama shot from the front of the shop.

Beautiful batiks.

Gorgeous papers.

I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t buy some of Seth Apter’s stamps.

I don’t know if the sewing machines are for sale or just for show but I LOVE them!

Lots and lots of beautiful paints.

I bought a nice selection to try out.

These cigar boxes remind me of my grandfather.

Folding yardsticks!

Lovely vintage photos to include in your art work.

LOTS and LOTS of Tjaps for batiking or enjoying.


And a great big wall of stencils.

And this is just a small part of the shop. I didn’t take photos of the wall of beautiful fabrics, the racks of vintage papers, game pieces, game boards, threads, dyed linens and so much more!

If you are ever in the DC area make sure you make time to travel the short distance to Alexandria and see Artistic Artifacts. If you don’t have a car, you can take the Blue line on the Metro to the Van Dorn St. stop and walk the 3/4 of a mile down Eisenhower Avenue to the shop, which is what I did!

Stenciled Art Journal Pages

For the last couple years I have committed to creating a blog post at least once a week, so it is a regularly scheduled (and predictable) task. But still every week I struggle to get it done in a timely manner! There’s always something…this week I began cleaning off my work table on Sunday evening… continued all day Monday… and finally by Tuesday evening I had room to work on my project to document for the blog.

Part of my clean up/organizing session was to take all of my small 6" x 6" size stencils (on sale this week!) and place them in an old photo album — remember the kind with the ‘magnetic’ pages? We know now not to damage our photographs using these, but they can make great organizers for stencils!

Organizing stencils in an old photo album

I placed two stencils per page. It remains to be seen if they will be returned to their place in the album after use. Anyway, on to the meat and potatoes of this posting! I wanted to illustrate create a two-page spread in an art journal so that the backgrounds connect.

I have several pages already painted in my stash. Remember to pull out your art journal or loose pages as you finish up any painting project: use them to get the excess paint off your brushes or applicators, rather than washing all that color down the drain.

Stencil atop two aligned pages

Above, I have aligned two loose pages together, and then placed a large 12" x 12" stencil so that it the design will appear (asymmetrically) on both pages. Notice off to the side the Colorbox stylus (black handle) with a small foam tip on the top. This is the tool that I use to apply my paint through the stencil, using in soft rotating circular motions. (The Artistic Artifacts website sells the Colorbox stylus handles and reusable foam tips.)

I do spray my stencils using 404 Spray and Fix Repositionable Craft Adhesive, and I have an important tip for you: let the sprayed stencil air-dry before placing it on your journal page. If you don’t, it will stick! (Ask me how I know.)

Silver paint applied through stencil

Above, inset, I have applied a silver metallic through the stencil, and the result once the stencil is picked up.

Take paint off your stir stick -- no waste!

Above, I have placed a portion of a different stencil so that it is positioned off the page. This gives the design some movement and a natural look. This photo also shows another way I save paint: I used the wooden tongue depressor to stir my paint up, and am taking the paint left on depressor up with my stylus tool to apply it.

Using more than one stencil, and moving it around

Above, one page completed with several colors of paint, and after moving the stencil around several times.

Beginning the other page of the spread

Working on the second sheet of this spread, I positioned the entire TCW522 – Rock Crystals stencil down on the page. After painting (above), I thought it looked a little bare at the top, so I moved the stencil around again, resulting in the below. Better balanced, wouldn’t you agree?

Moved the stencil to fill in a blank area

Below, the background stenciling and painting of this spread is completed. There is cohesion between the two pages, and the pages are now ready for me to continue on, adding photos, drawings, ephemera and more.

stenciled/painted background spread completed

P.S. If you were wondering…when I have the time to work on pages for the round robin art journal that is currently goining on through JAMs, but don’t have a journal in my possession, I work on a spread of two loose pages. That way when time is at a premium, I only need to glue in the completed pages.

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 linage 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.

PG Fiber2Art and the Row by Row Experience

We love working with PG Fiber2Art, the surface design team of Susan Price and Elizabeth Gibson. We carry a large variety of their beautiful thermofax screen designs in the shop, and they teach one of our most popular classes, Printing with Thermofax Screens, which will next be held on September 26: register online.

The 2015 Row by Row Experience at Artistic Artifacts, with PG Fiber2Art screens and rows

Because we are offering their thermofax screen alternate design as part of the 2015 Row by Row Experience (see above, click for a larger view), we will also be offering a fun, abbreviated “taste” of the process on the evening of August 13 as part of our How Do I Use This sessions — register to join us!

PG Fiber2Art maintains a really wonderful blog, full of inspiration, instruction and information…right now they are documenting their experiences at many of the New England shops participating in Row by Row. Time to envy these lucky ladies: they spend part of every summer in New Hampshire, lakeside, at their very own Quilt Camp.

We wanted to share some of their Row by Row-related posts with you, especially when they included some “learned the hard way wisdom.” I had to laugh —very much WITH them, not at them — when I saw the title Wonky Is Easier When You Read the Directions … I personally am notorious for not reading directions!

But as we all know, any time spent with fiber art is well spent, even when you don’t end up with what you thought you would.

And as the saying goes, the third time is the charm. Along with the fish screens they had created to use for this year’s Row by Row, they had created two beautiful sea shell screens too. Don’t they make for another beautiful alternative for the Artistic Artifacts row? (See below, click image for a larger view.)

PG Fiber2Art Row by Row Experience design with seashells

Here are lessons learned by Elizabeth’s — great tips for anyone who picked up our Row by Row pattern:

  • Wonky isn’t severe. Don’t make those cuts too severe or they will grow out of your control.
  • Measure as you go so you will end up with a block you can cut into a square and not end up with a rectangle.
  • Don’t make the inner rounds too wide or you will reach the 9.5 inch block size limit before you get as many rounds of fabric on it as you want.
  • When horizontal doesn’t work, try vertical. (Our 2015 winner did, see below!)

PG Fiber2Art fish screens on Batik Tambal Exclusive Fabric

Above, Elizabeth used the PG Fiber2Art crackle screen (also available in our shop; if you aren’t close by, visit the PG Fiber2Art Etsy shop) on the Woodstock by Batik Tambal, Green River for wonderful additional background texture. Then she added another thermofax layer of the fish screens with PROFab Transparent Textile Paint in hunter green and navy.

And as we were putting this posting together, our shop’s Row by Row Experience winner came in! Congratulations to Janet DuLaney-Saunders of Manassas Park, VA, pictured left holding her quilt (click for larger view) with Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula. Janet named her quilt Singing in the Rain, and used a total of 9 rows, including ours! She used fabric kits from some shops and also used some of her own fabrics to make the blocks, or to substitute in kits for particular color choices.

Janet DuLaney-Saunders holding her winning 2015 Row by Row Experience quilt

Janet’s quilt features rows from the following shops, beginning with the middle section, from the top:

  • Olde Town Needlecraft, Manassas, VA
  • Oh Sew Persnickety Fabrics and Threads, Gainesville, VA
  • Quilt Patch, Fairfax, VA
  • Daffodil Quilts, Nokesville, VA
  • Bonny’s Sewing & Fabric, Stafford, VA
  • Circle Sewing Studio, Dale City, VA

Our Artistic Artifacts row is the top left vertical row, and underneath it is the pattern (Janet’s own fabric) from Bonny’s Sewing & Fabric in Alexandria. The top vertical row of seahorses at the right is by Suzzie’s Quilt Shop in Manassas, VA.

Well done, Janet — thank you for visiting us!

Paper Piecing Aussie Blocks

Australian fabric string pieced quilt by Judy Gula

Click for a larger view of Judy Gula’s completed quilt above »

I can still remember when Bonnie K. Hunter spoke at my local quilt guild, the Burke chapter of Quilter’s Unlimited* of Northern Virginia. I loved her quilt samples, patterns and fabric choices. Are you surprised? I have a very eclectic task in fabrics, from vintage to contemporary to ethnic. Bonnie hit the upcycle/repurpose interest that I have by using fabric salvaged from old clothing in her quilts. We do a lot of repurposing of items at Artistic Artifacts, especially me!

After hearing Bonnie talk, the very next day I ordered her book: Scraps & Shirttails: Reuse, Re-purpose, Recycle! The Art of “Quilting Green.”

Virginia Strings block inspired by Bonnie Hunter, pieced by Judy Gula

Fast Forward several years, and I finally acquired enough scraps of Australian Aborigine designed fabric to try my hand at string/paper piecing. I wanted to illustrate the point that many traditional quilt patterns are perfect for our ethnic fabrics, including batiks and Australian.

Paper piecing? I had no clue how to do it… I just knew that needed I print out the template in Bonnie’s book. I chose her Virginia Strings block…her book notes that this is traditionally knows as the Rocky Road to Kansas but because she pieced her quilt while she was here in Northern Virginia for a week teaching, and backed it with a bargain purchase of University of Virgina fabric, she was inspired to name her quilt Virginia Bound.

I printed enough copies of the quarter block templates to create six blocks in total … I already knew that I would not be creating a full size quilt top. I pieced a couple of blocks and brought them, my book, tools and scraps (along with a couple other projects) to my chapter’s annual quilt retreat in order to get “in-person” training. Lucky for me, a fellow Burke member at the retreat had already used this block and offered some advice:

  1. Make your stitches short in order to make pulling the paper off easier. I can tell you that this step makes a big difference! Bonnie also offers this advice in her books and on her blog; she has a number of free patterns and tutorials available, such as this Flying Geese quilt.
  2. Create your block somewhat larger than you want it, and cut it down with a square template. I was creating 8" squares and used my 8½" square, my rotating cutting mat and jumbo Havel’s Rotary cutter to do the trimming.

So here we go. I think that Bonnie advises that you begin at the other end — for some reason I began with the smaller part of the kite shape. To help me while sewing, I did fold my template along the lines. Others will trace over the lines with a Sharpie to make them bolder, if they don’t show through to the back of the paper.

Judy Gula beginning to string piece

Keep piecing, by sewing right sides of fabric strips together, then flipping the last one added back down so that the right side of the fabric is facing up.

Judy Gula completed string piece center of quarter block template

Below, I am beginning to strip piece the sides of the quarter block, using lighter fabrics so that the final block design will show.

Judy Gula string piecing the sides of quarter block template

Using my 8½" square ruler to trim the block from the back.

Using a square ruler to trim the quarter block

The front of my trimmed square! Leaving aside the fact that my photo turned out a bit blurry, it looked pretty good to me, so I made a few more.

The front of a completed quarter block, Virginia Strings quilt

I decided to keep going…after all, it wasn’t like I was going to run out of fabric!

Judy Gula Aussie fabric string pieced quarter block templates

Edited: My original post ended: “Below, my quilt top as of now. I do have to say that I am happy with how this has turned out. Will I create additional blocks? I am not sure yet. I might just finish this up with a border and stitching.” As you can see from the image at the top of this edited post, yes, I DID finish it up! See my post Quilting with a Walking Foot for additional details.

Judy Gula string pieced Aussie fabric quilt top

My challenge to you is to take a favorite “traditional” quilt pattern and use non traditional fabrics! Send us your photographs, whether a completed quilt, top, or pieced blocks, and we will share them on our blog.

Australian fabric string pieced quilt by Judy Gula

* I’m proud to say I’m teaching at the upcoming 42nd Annual Quilter’s Unlimited Quilt Show in Chantilly, VA, May 28-31, joining Jane Dávila, Dominique Ehrmann, Gyleen Fitzgerald, and Cyndi Souder with an exciting lineup of classes suitable for all levels of expertise. Many people travel to our show every year, as it (rightfully) has a reputation as one of the best on the East Coast. Come join us!