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Creative Organizing

I’ve asked Cliff Wilson to share his tips on organization, which have made his creative experience more satisfying. We’re delighted that Cliff and his husband have become part of our Creative Minds family! — Judy

tiny flower brightening Cliff Wilson's sewing space

Guest post by Cliff Wilson

I have landed on the other side of the realization that life likely won’t be “normal” again this year. Being on the other side makes it a lot easier to figure out what you need to get through. One of the most valuable things for me is safeguarding my creative space. This isn’t a reference to square feet in a craft room, it is a view into empowering the creative mind to flourish. I found this empowerment through organization.

Before the pandemic, and buried deep in the back of the closet, was a simple sewing machine gathering dust. My husband and I both have several beginner quilts on our crafting resume, but it was far from a regular hobby. A month into being socially distant at home every day and we had not only dusted off that sewing machine but knocked out five baby quilts, finished several unfinished objects, and started to learn about an obsession with quilting fabric I didn’t know I had.

Cliff Wilson's Tula Pink Limited Edition BERNINA 770QE

Since that first month, we have added a Brother straight stitch machine, a unicorn of sewing with the BERNINA 770 QE Tula Pink edition (pictured above), and a BERNINA Q16 stationary longarm machine (below). A special shout out to Artistic Artifacts for their continued help and BERNINA inventory — a great relationship we never would have had without the pandemic. [Editor’s note, while the Tula Pink limited edition is sold out, you can learn more about the B770QE on the Artistic Artifacts website.]

Cliff Wilson's BERNINA Q16 and machine quilting example

With the new machines, we have created many more quilts and learned so many lessons. We have also found ourselves with a pretty healthy fabric hoard conservation practice. Most hobbies seem to be similar in that there are many things we “definitely need”…and that stuff can accumulate quickly!

All of these supplies quickly take up space and managing all the things can bring stress into the creative space. For me, I learned that if I didn’t have the ability to focus only on the creative and not also on a mess of supplies that it was a much more fulfilling experience. I am excited to share a bit of my approach to organization that has made my creative process enjoyable.

Fabric shelves with touches of whimsy in Cliff Wilson'e sewing space

Make it magical: Think of your favorite shops you visit to source supplies and how you feel when you are on the hunt for the next must-have supply. You get to decide how your creative space feels. I like to add funny items around the space that spark a bit of joy and keep things light.

Scissors on display on a jewelry stand repurposed by Cliff Wilson

You can also use things you may already have around the house as a sort of shop display. Take scissors for example — I love seeing scissors on display, so we repurposed a jewelry holder we already had and it became a magical scissor station!

Find your balance: Take the time to figure out how organized your creative stuff needs to be for you to maximize your creating time. I enjoy organizing, but I also know just the thought of organizing ignites stress in others. Make it work for you.

Beautiful fabric storage shelves from Cliff Wilson's sewing studio

Cliff Wilson uses comic book boards and fabric clips to keep his fabric stash neatly on display and easily accessible

An example of what brings me joy in the organization space is how we manage our fabric collection (pictured above). I like to see what we have and it feeds my inspiration. It is also a secret weapon when I need a little pick-me-up on those tough days. This spark happened when I read about using comic book boards similar to how fabric is wound around a cardboard bolt. I partner these with Pals Bolt Buddies and it easily provides a consistent process to have fabric on display and ready to be used.

There is a sort of internal alarm for me when the organization of something needs to be tweaked. A recent tweak was with how we store our machine quilting rulers. These are one of those hobby items that aren’t cheap, so they fall higher on my organization radar. Our machine quilting rulers are now organized within arms reach of the longarm and within protective envelopes with laminated labels (pictured below). Sometimes organization is a crafting process all on its own!

Cliff Wilson's machine quilting rulers are stored within protective envelopes with laminated labels

Make it easy to maintain: My creative spark can leave me as fast as it arrived. I have found that using totes helps me keep everything together for a project so I can easily put everything away. This helps keep my creating area ready for the next spark that comes along.

Cliff Wilson favors clear plastic totes to organize his current and planned projects

An added bonus is it makes things feel more organized with minimal effort! I am partial to these clear totes you can find at a certain store that pretty much only sells containers…and “container” may be in the company name 🙂

I hope you are all able to find the magic in your creative space this year and find joy in creating all the things. Stay safe!

Quilt featuring Tula Pink fabric being machine quilted on Cliff Wilson's Q16


Judy here again… thank you Cliff! I’m sure our readers will enjoy your ideas — you’ve got me inspired!

Handmade Paper from India

Judy Gula, Linda Snow and Libby Fritsche in India, March 2020

I was so excited for my Colouricious Holidays Block Printing Tour of India in March 2020… and then the Covid-19 lockdowns hit as it as finishing! Focusing on Jaipur and surrounding areas, we enjoyed block printing workshops taught by local artisans, plus we saw demonstrations of authentic crafts and textile techniques, interacted with local shopkeepers and workers. Linda Snow is pictured here (left) with me and Libby Fritsche, both of whom joined me on tour. I’m sharing many of Linda’s photos here for you and I want to thank her for documenting our trip so well!

One highlight was a tour of this paper making factory, Salim’s Paper, one of the largest paper factories in the country.

Salim's Paper in Jaipur, India

Cotton rags and scraps to pulp into paperThe handmade paper boxes and decorated papers that were featured in this week’s newsletter were made here! This factory includes a component that aims to employ workers who are not qualified for other jobs, including women unskilled rural workers who receive training.

When we visited, I was impressed with the amount of recycling that the entire Indian culture supports. The amount of textiles produced in India is enormous, and every bit is used to create products for resale. Another recent addition to our online shop are handmade journals (filled with wonderful cotton rag paper) that are beautifully covered in silk fabric that is upcycled from vintage sari and traditional clothing. Upon entry to the factory, one of the first things we saw were the large bags of cotton fabric scraps (pictured here). The fabric scraps are then processed and put in a tub, ultimately creating paper pulp.

Cotton fabric turned into paper pulp

These two men are dipping a screen into the pulp bath, shaking the water out, laying the frame paper side down on to the stack of paper, removing the paper from the screen – and doing it all again and again.

Part of the paper making process at Salim's Paper
Part of the paper making process at Salim's Paper

Such a labor-intensive process! Based on how heavy the paper is, I would say you must be pretty strong and have good stamina!

Part of the paper making process at Salim's Paper

The part of the factory we were unable to see was the drying and the printing techniques, which include screen printing and block printing. These steps are done on the roof of the factory! Unfortunately this portion of the process wasn’t in operation when we visited.

Stacks of beautiful handmade paper

Stacks and stacks of handmade papers!

A busy factory worker at  Salim's Paper

Then we proceeded to the assembly part of the factory. We were impressed by this man organizing the papers for gluing.

A busy factory worker at  Salim's Paper

Here you can see some of the process of making the strong paper boxes that are covered with the decorative paper sheets.

Factory workers at  Salim's Paper creating paper boxes
Factory workers at  Salim's Paper covering paper boxes with decorative sheets of handmade paper

Then we were off to the gift shop with a wide array of gorgeous paper products!

Products in the Salim's Paper gift shop
Products in the Salim's Paper gift shop
Products in the Salim's Paper gift shop

The paper products that are handmade from cotton rag paper have a wonderful feel to them. It really does feel like cotton fabric, with a wonderful hand and strength. This factory serves to create alternatives to wood pulp papers, so it is eco-friendly. I hope this brief glimpse of the hard work taking place every day gives you a heightened appreciation for handmade paper.

Sheets of handmade paper

Customize Your Aster & Anne Projects!

Aster & Anne Luella clutch by Jennifer Moore with block prints using Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paint

Customize your own purse or accessory with Aster & Anne! The Artistic Artifacts Facebook Live presentation on February 20th shared with you examples of completed projects to inspire you on how you can embellish your own. We showed you how these kits arrive with everything you need to get started — precut wool felt shape(s), pre-punched grommets (where needed), required hardware such as buckles, closures and straps, sturdy pins and instructions. Watch our archived presentation:

I was joined by Chris Vinh of StitchesnQuilts for this live event, and we were happy to screen-connect with Jennifer Moore, the designer behind the Aster & Anne name, who stayed up late to share in our presentation too — it was 1:30 am in Australia!

Aster & Anne kits, finished projects and Artistic Artifacts products

Above, a glimpse of our presentation setup, with Aster & Anne packaged kits, selections of our wide range of fabrics, and one of our Inspiration Packs, bundles of hand dyed fabrics and found textiles that are perfect for fiber collage. All Aster & Anne precut wool felt pieces are sent unassembled so that you can work on them flat, and they are very easy to stitch through, whether by hand or by machine.

Completed Zipper Purses customized from Aster & Anne kits

The two finished projects shown are Zipper Purses. Chris attached Stitch Meditations (stitched with Eleganza) to either side for hers, leaving off the hardware to create a zippered pouch. For her version our BERNINA Ambassador Kathy Lincoln selected machine embroidery designs (remember you can order embroidery designs, stabilizers and other supplies from the Artistic Artifacts store at Embroidery Online) and sized them to fit her flat pieces. She used WonderFil Specialty Threads for her machine-embroidery — this is a beautiful example to show you in February which is National Embroidery Month. During her assembly Kathy added the adjustable cross body strap that is included in the kit.

Completed Anna tote made from Aster & Anne kit by Christine Vinh

Chris showed her completed Anna tote, embellished with with a piece of the Aviary Panel from Dashwood Studio that was stitched and embellished with hand emberoidery using Eleganza perle cotton, available in three weights.

WonderFil Specialty Threads thread packs with Aster & Anne kits

The thread packs curated by WonderFil Specialty Threads — available for both machine and hand stitching — are the perfect way to build your thread stash and to try out WonderFil threads you might not have yet experimented with. The newest packs are designed for the type of sewing you do (quilting, machine embroidery, serging, fashion sewing) and offer you multiple spools in a set that saves you between $18 and $31 off retail price!

Amalia backpack made by Judy Gula using an Aster & Anne kit

Above, my Amalia Backpack. I covered the pieces with a Marcia Derse fabric and machine quilted to enhance the linear design. And my latest Aster & Anne project is pictured in progrss below, the Needlecase/Cardholder Kit. I completely fell for the Little Forester Fusion- Sova Forester from Art Gallery fabric when it arrived in the shop and cut several of the adorable owls out to fuse on my needlescase as appliqué.

Details of Judy Gula's Aster & Anne needlecase

Then came the fun of hand-stitching! I’m really enjoying filling in design elements with various Tentakulum Painter’s Threads products. Those who watched our presentation on Tentakulum threads and trims saw the beginning of this needlecase project. Handpainted and imported from Germany, Tentakulum’s color blends and variations are gorgeous, and the specialty trims like the Ric Rac I use for a flower stem are so unique.

Needlecase/Cardholder Kit by Aster & Anne in progress by Judy Gula

Many of you know that of the many hand stitching and embroidery books we carry, I have a personal connection to Modern Hand Stitching by Ruth Chandler. Ruth is not just a friend but someone who really re-ignited by love of hand stitching with her approach as I noted in my post Block Printed & Slow Stitched Quiltlets. It gives you well-illustrated instructions on creating basic embroidery stitches. The fun of the book is how she shows you many ways you can adjust and alter those stitches for a new look.

Embellished Book Cover/Project Bag from Aster & Anne by Chris Vinh
Embellished Book Cover/Project Bag from Aster & Anne by Chris Vinh

Look at this wonderful Book Cover/Project Bag by Chris Vinh! She fused on a fish cut from a batik panel by Bambang Dharmo, first laying out a piece of hand dyed cheesecloth. She machine appliquéd and quilted it all, then accented with hand-stitching and embroidery. She used other portions of the panel to embellish the interior as seen here.

As noted in the product description, you can use this kit in several ways: as a notebook/diary cover, with the extra felt pieces (which are business card sized) placed as desired. You can stitch the included elastic as a pen/ pencil holder. For a project bag (like this example), the extra felt can become holders for needles or pockets for scissors, and the included zippered mesh bag can be attached. It has been designed to hold your thread (it fits up to 40 Sue Spargo hand stitching thread spools —Eleganza, Ellana, Efina) or any other project supplies you might want to carry along.

Technique tip: due to the nap of the Aster & Anne wool felt pieces, we recommendation is applying your fusible to your fabric and then ironing the fabric onto the felt. We carry a wide range of Fusibles, Interfacings & Stabilizers — and for fusing cheesecloth, lace and similiar fabrics, Mistyfuse, which is very sheer, should be your first choice!

What do you get when you mix a Luella Small Clutch with Designer Ribbon packs by Renaissance Ribbons? If you’re Jennifer Moore, the answer is “super cute little clutch purse, that’s what!”

Luella Small Clutch with Designer Ribbon packs by Renaissance Ribbons by Jennifer Moore

We have to agree! In her blog Jennifer wrote she was “so in love with these Tula Pink Line Work Ribbons” that as soon as they arrived she got to work, sharing how she created her beautiful project.

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Of course we’re also very partial to the Luella clutch shown at the top of this post. Jennifer shared its story on her Facebook page last fall: “I recently purchased some divine metallic paints and wood blocks from Artistic Artifacts… Judy Gula and I met at International Quilt market last year where she was signing copies of her book, which by the way has loads of inspirational ideas. So these lovelies have been waiting for me try (even though it is definitely not my usual colour palette). I used the metallic paint to create a wood block print.“ Jennifer’s final step was embellishing with Dazzle 8wt thread by WonderFil Specialty Threads, ending up with a bag she loves.

Jennifer reminds us all, “Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new techniques, textiles and colours.” Visit the Aster & Anne website and scroll down to the subscription link (pictured here) to receive their newsletter filled with projects, offers, events, ideas and inspiration.

Beautiful Grace Tote customized by art quilter Tina Curran

The beautiful Grace Tote pictured above was customized by art quilter Tina Curran, who shared her praise for the kit and her process for inspiration with her own newsletter subscribers. We really loved Tina’s use of black and white fabrics to create her trademark ‘whimsical garden’ flowers. Read Tinas’s newsletter (shared with permission) that contains lots of beautiful photos of her Winter Garden tote, plus her assembly and technique tips.

Marie Sepe machine appliquéd giraffes cut from a Jaka batik panel for her Book Cover/Project Bag by Aster & Ann

Above, one of our favorite Creative Minds, Marie Sepe, often uses our batik panels in her art quilts and art-to-wear. We love how she machine appliquéd giraffes cut from a Jaka batik panel onto her Book Cover/Project Bag and how they peek out of her pockets.

WonderFil Specialty Thread products

“Look what you can do with a Zipper Purse, Sue Spargo Pre-Cut Wool Pack and some Eleganza perle cotton from WonderFil Specialty Threads,” shared Jennifer on the Aster & Anne Instagram page, creating this adorable bag to Glenda Cust. Precut from 100% premium grade Australian Meriono wool fabric by Sue Spargo, these circles and shapes are ready to be stitched down and embellished — a perfect way to transform your Aster & Anne project.

The Aster & Anne website and their YouTube channel offers instructions and assembly videos, plus loads of inspiration!

Lots of inspiration from Aster & Anne with these examples of completed projects

Beading Info & Inspiration

It’s no secret that I have long been a fan of beading, whether it’s for jewelry, for mixed media art, or to embellish my quilts. I recently taped a presentation on the tools I use that shares my process for adding bead embellishments. (And visit the Artistic Artifacts YouTube channel for more tutorials and inspiration!)

For a recent ‘Share on Saturday’ #shareonsat on our Artistic Artifacts Creative Minds Facebook group, we asked members to share their own beaded projects and are gathering them here (in alphabetical order by artist surname) for you to enjoy.

Beaded projects by Kathie Korsnick Barrus

Above, from Katherine Korsnick Barrus: “I’ve never beaded on a quilt, but I’ve made bracelets and brooches.”

Mixed media shrine by Chirssy Colon

Chrissy Colón: “I decorated this masonite Shrine kit with a gorgeous paper collection I had and some of Gwen Lafleur’s translucent embossing powders [Boho Blends] I purchased from Artistic Artifacts. Looooove the effect the powders gave the gilding flake on the fan. I used Topaz and Ancient Aqua.”

Linda Cooper painted quilt with beading

Linda Cooper: “Well ‘beader’ isn’t my middle name like some of you. Here are a couple of my early painted quilts. I remember Judy cheering me on with ‘Do more beads, do more!’”

Handpainted art quilt by Linda Cooper

Above, another of Linda Cooper’s quilts.

Scarf by NiYa Costley

Creative Mind NiYa Costley submitted beadwork that she added to her crocheted scarf and her beaded zipper cuff from an Elizabeth Woodford class taught several times in past years here at Artistic Artifacts.

Beaded cuff by NiYa Costley

You will see other beautiful examples from this class — we all loved Elizabeth and miss her very much… so many learned from her.

beaded and embroidered needle book by Kathleen Dolan

Kathleen Sleman Dolan: "a beaded and embroidered needle book I made myself."

Beaded cuffs by Kathy Edwards

Kathy Edwards submitted several photos, including above, beaded cuffs that were taught to her by Elizabeth Woodford in class or then inspired by her techniques.

Kathy Edwards embellished a handdrawn batik panel from Artistic Artifacts with beading

Above, also by Kathy Edwards, “my first beading project on a Batik Panel from our favorite store. Another beaded piece [below] I call Aqua Seltzer. Beads add so much to a quilted project.”

Aqua Seltzer by Kathy Edwards

Along with Elizabeth Woodford, when it comes to beads, so many of us got our inspiration — and our stash! — from Rosalie Lamanna, who operated Beads Unlimited for years. For a JAMs (Judy’s Altered Minds) challenge that required including your first name, she created this charming and colorful 8 in. x 10 in. artwork.

Recently retired to Florida, we will host a live sale of African Trade Beads from Beads Ltd to benefit Rosalie on our next FB Live, Saturday, January 23rd at 9:30 am EST. Stay tuned as we organize the collection, which is also being added to the Artistic Artifacts Creative Minds Marketplace with instructions to purchase. (These items are not for sale in the shop or on our website.)

Lover's Eye Token by Joan McDonagh Grandy

Joan McDonagh Grandy: “Eye token I created during Theresa mARTin’s class in 2018. I plan to still add some beads or glitter on the gold base.”

Beaded cuff by Linda Morgan

Linda Morgan: “I wanted to share my beaded cuff from a class with Elizabeth Woodford, it is one of my most loved projects for many reasons!

Also from Linda, “I keep finding beading projects. I sure love colorful beads.”

Detail from Victorian Power Suit, a mixed media quilt by Linda Morgan

“I am very proud of this beaded butterfly headress,” wrote Linda. “Beading is a challenge for me so I was delighted at the outcome!”

Wall display in Linda Morgan’s home studio

Above, a beautiful display in Linda’s studio. Her quilt was from the 2011 Power Suits challenge and named Victorian Power Suit. She wrote, “my first thoughts were of Queen Victoria and her spectacular dresses and jewels, and then I saw this amazing portrait of a Victorian woman with a stunning butterfly mask. I love the chaos of collage, the freedom to create layers of paper, cloth and found objects – every element chosen has a story to tell. ‘After her morning French lesson Edwina, known to friends and family as Birdie, put on her best butterfly mask and leisurely strolled through town to the portrait studio, showing everyone what a beautiful, vibrant, charming, powerful woman she is.’”

Art quilt with beaded details  by Beth Richardson

Beth Richardson: “Lots of Artistic Artifacts influence in this piece, from the dresser scarf treated on a Dye Day to the beads and lace and mulberry paper, to the inspiration from theresa mARTin’s Dream Layers classes.” Beth’s mixed media art was accepted in the Women’s Right to Vote exhibit at Del Ray Artisans in November 2020. “For this #shareonsat, I’d like to highlight beaded sections, she wrote, and below, “Joining the beaded cuff party!”

Beaded zipper cuff by Beth Richardson

We love the combination of batik panel by Hari Agung, modern cottons and Australian Aborigine-designed fabric in the quilt below by Marie Sepe!

Batik panel quilt by Marie Sepe

Marie Sepe: “Bead embellishment on the batik flower panel of this lap quilt made for my hubby, and a beaded zipper cuff bracelet made in Elizabeth Woodford ‘s class at our favorite store.”

Beaded cuff by Marie Sepe

Artwork by Etta Stewart

Etta Stewart: “Bits and pieces of beads.”

Art dolls by Lacrecia Turlington

Lacrecia Turlington: “I love to embellish my Art dolls with all kinds of beads!”

Beaded bag by Chris Vinh

Chris Vinh: “A woven beaded bag I made in a class with Rosalie a few years ago. Body of bag is woven strips of batik and handle is silk ribbon braided with yarn. And of course the beaded fringe.”

Beaded art quilt by Sherry Evon Whetstone

Sherry Evon Whetstone: “Lots of beading.‘For My Son’.”

Aren’t these all wonderful? I hope you enjoyed these beautiful pieces of fiber and mixed media art. For more on beading on quilts, see my blog posts here and here and here.

Holiday 2020 Ephemera Gift

Many times for holidays I offer images from my extensive ephemera collection as a thank you to our wonderful community of customers and friends, and here is my latest batch! Use these free high-resolution downloads of holiday images for holiday cards, ornaments, art quilts and more. (You can also visit our previous post with a roundup of previous images and project tutorials created during our summer 2020 Christmas in July celebration.

vintage Christmas ephemera from Judy Gula's collection

Updated December 30, 2020: Above, I’ve used this cheerful image in a small art quilt to celebrate the New Year’s holiday — Download the high-resolution image »

vintage Christmas ephemera from Judy Gula's collection

I used these angel faces in my Saturday morning Facebook Live presentation on December 19, 2020 — Download the high-resolution image »

vintage Christmas ephemera from Judy Gula's collection

Remember that if you’re using a product like Transfer Artist Paper (TAP) (sold per 5 sheet and 18 sheet packs) that if your imagery includes any text, it must be printed as a reverse image so the words will read correctly once it is transferred. Above, I love the hints of purple in this postcard — Download the high-resolution image »

vintage Christmas ephemera from Judy Gula's collection

Another nontraditional color scheme — Download the high-resolution image »

vintage Christmas ephemera from Judy Gula's collection

This postcard has both a sweet sentiment and sweet bluebirds! — Download the high-resolution image »

vintage Christmas ephemera from Judy Gula's collection

If you’re using EQ Printables Premium Cotton Lawn (available in 6 sheet and 25 sheet packs) you are running the fabric through your printer, so reversing is not necessary for images with text such as this — Download high resolution image »

vintage Christmas ephemera from Judy Gula's collection

The metallic gold of vintage postcards scans flat and dark… this would be a fun one to add some sparkle to — Download high resolution image »

vintage Christmas ephemera from Judy Gula's collection

To finish, I love the colors and typography of this vintage card — Download high resolution image »

I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season! If you make a project using any of these downloads, we’d love to see it! Share with us on our Facebook Group Artistic Artifacts Creative Minds or by tagging us on your own social media posts!

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