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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!

A Plethora of Pinked Hearts ~ by Liz Kettle

 

A pinked heart garland

I never used to be a ‘heart’ person. When I was in my formative art years, hearts were passé, trite and so unsophisticated. I was forced into using hearts because it is a great shape for teaching techniques; simple, recognizable, everyone can draw one, perfect for appliqué with curves with both inside and outside points and most people like them. Somewhere along the way I realized that even if they were trite in the ‘serious’ art world I had fallen in love with them! I make my art to please myself these days so even if the sophisticated shock artists of the world roll their eyes and dismiss me as trite…I am contented with my hearts.

 

Pinked conversation hearts

Just like we often dismiss simple shapes we dismiss utilitarian tools or stitches. Take the lowly pinking shear…designed to help prevent fraying at the edge of fabric, very utilitarian…of course, most seamstresses found the little zigzag edge appealing but didn’t often call upon that cuteness for decorative effects. I have always loved rickrack and pinked edges so when I wanted to make a woven fabric base with just a little more pizzazz than normal for my hearts I grabbed those pinking shears and well…I fell in love yet again! How could I resist that little zigzag edge?

Weaving fabric is another often overlooked technique that is simple and low tech but gives you a wonderful intricate look. Using the pinking shears for the woven fabric strips gave me the bonus texture I was looking for and also made it easier to weave my strips together. I thought for a moment that it might be going over the top but I went for it anyway and pinked the edges of my hearts for an easy finish that doubles the cuteness factor. I got a little carried away with possibilities for this plethora of precious pinked hearts. For most of these projects you don’t even need a sewing machine so they would make great group projects.  I hope one or two of them inspire a little woven and pinked love in your creative life.

Supplies

  • Fabrics: 2-4 fabrics that blend or contrast. Fat quarters work well or you could even use scraps.
  • Havel’s Pinking shears
  • Misty Fuse or other fusible web and a Teflon pressing sheet
  • Craft felt-I used white cut 12”x17” Your can be smaller or larger depending on how many hearts you desire
  • Pearl Cotton or embroidery floss and embroidery needles
  • Marking pencil and ruler
  • Ribbon for the heart banner and poly fiberfill for stuffing puffy hearts

 Steps for making your woven fabric base

1. Use the ruler and marking pencil to draw parallel lines on your fabric ½” apart. I drew 12-15 lines on each of 3 different but blending fabrics. You can get a different look by using contrasting fabrics

    2. Use pinking shears to cut along each drawn line. With this project you don’t have to stress about getting perfectly even strips so don’t worry if you don’t cut exactly on the line every time.

3. Make a big pile of pinked strips…isn’t it yummy???

 

4. Cut Misty Fuse to the same size as your felt base. Place on the felt and cover with a Teflon pressing sheet. Iron to fuse the web to the felt.

5. Place pinked strips of pink fabric directly on top of the misty fuse/felt in parallel rows. Place them closely together but a little bit of white space is ok.

6. Use the iron to fuse about a ½” edge of strips on one side only. Be careful not to fuse more than about a 1/2”.

7. Peel back every other strip of pinked pink fabric to the right. We will call this the warp row

8. Place a strip of pinked pink fabric vertically on top of the remaining rows. This is the weft row.

9. Replace the strips of warp fabric that you moved to the right. Now peel back the other rows of warp strips.

10. Place another weft strip vertically. Replace the warp strips. Alternate the warp strips that you peel to the right. Use a pin or your fingernail to scoot the fabric strips together snuggly if needed.

11. Use a hot iron to fuse the woven fabric to the felt.

12. Make a heart template out of paper or plastic. Draw the template shape on the back of the felt. I like my woven fabric to be off kilter a bit so I drew my hearts at an angle. Cut out hearts with your pinking shears. This is where you will really appreciate Havels’ pinking shears! They are lighter weight than most and cut through layers so easily you would think it was only one layer. 

Now you can use your hearts in a plethora of ways! Don’t you love the word plethora? I use it as often as possible…

Pinked Heart Garland.

Steps:

1. Adhere Misty Fuse to the back of one of your plain fabrics using a Teflon sheet to protect your ironing surface. Draw the heart template on top and cut out as many hearts as you need for your banner. My banner has 5 hearts that are 4 1/2″ tall..

2. Place a heart on your ironing surface, fused side up. Place the ribbon across the heart leaving enough ribbon for tying in place.

3. Place the pinked woven heart on top of the heart/ribbon layer and fuse in place. Repeat for all your hearts. Stitch around the edge with a running stitch by hand or you can machine stitch.

Hang in a prominent place and delight everyone who sees it…they are going to smile just because it is so happy. 

 

Puffy Pinked Heart

Steps:

 

1. Cut a scrap of fabric for the backing slightly larger than your pinked heart. Pin in place.

2. Stitch around the perimeter of the heart leaving a gap at the very middle of the heart for stuffing. I use a shorter stitch length when I make something that will be stuffed.

3. Cut out with pinking shears. Stuff the heart with polyester fiberfill. Stitch the opening closed by hand or machine. Add a hanging cord or give it to a stitch friend for a pincushion. Some sand or plastic beads added at the stuffing phase will make a sturdier pincushion. I added some beads at the bottom and hung it up with my vintage chandelier crystals in the studio window.

Stitched Pinked Heart Card

 Steps:

  1. I used a premade card base for this special greeting. Cut or tear a piece of art paper slightly smaller than the card size. Stitch a running stitch around the edge with pearl cotton or embroidery floss.
  2. Stitch a curved running stitch on your pinked heart with pearl cotton or embroidery floss. You could also stitch flowers or other designs
  3. Use Misty Fuse to adhere the paper to the card base and then the heart to the paper. Add a decorative strip of fabric or other embellishments as desired.

 

Pinked Conversation Hearts

Steps:

  1. Fuse a backing fabric to the back of your woven heart fabric. Trace 2 inch hearts and cut out with pinking shears. Stitch around the outside edge.
  2. Print conversation heart sayings on ribbon or twill tape. Directions are available on my web site in the forum or in both of my books. Cut Misty Fuse in thin strips the width of your ribbon and fuse the sayings to your hearts.

 Liz Kettle is a mixed media and textile artist living in Colorado. She is co-author of 2 books, Fabric Embellishing: The Basics and Beyond and Threads: The Basics and Beyond. Liz loves teaching and sharing the joy of making stuff in her articles, classes and at her fabulous retreat, Textile Evolution. Visit her blog and website, www.TextileEvolution.com

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