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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

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!

Ephemera to Share

Vintage image shared by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

We hope you are enjoying the winter holidays and looking forward to a Happy New Year! As mentioned in today’s Artistic Artifacts newsletter (subscribe here if you aren’t receiving it — you’ll get info on new products, sales, tutorials, coupon codes and more) we are sharing the above vintage poem for you. Download the high-resolution image »

And for those who might have missed these the first time we shared them, you may also download these beautiful images from Judy’s vintage ephemera collection. Click on the desired image below to bring up the larger version, and save that to your computer.

Vintage ephemera download offered by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

The images above and below have been previously used by Judy as the focal points of small art quilts you can see on display in the shop.

Vintage ephemera download offered by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Shibori Guest Post: Cathy Ward

We received the following email from Cathy Ward: “I am very excited about the indigo class on Saturday! I went back to look at my blog post on when I visited the town in Japan that is famous for their shibori and I thought you might enjoy.” Well, we did — so much so we asked for her permission to “guest blog” for us, and she agreed. Thank you so much for sharing the experience and your beautiful photos with us, Cathy!

Streetscape from the town of Arimatsu, Japan. Photo by Cathy Ward

Arimatsu & Shibori

by Cathy Ward — ma vie trouvée (My found life: Traveling, eating, and creating art!)

The quaint town of Arimatsu is one of the most famous locations for shibori in Japan. I had read about it, so three of us “trailing spouses” hopped on the local train and headed about forty-five minutes outside of Nagoya for a visit. Eight families settled the town in 1608 and they have been creating this type of fabric ever since.

Shibori fabric scraps purchased in Arimatsu, Japan. Photo by Cathy Ward

Shibori is the Japanese word for the different ways of embellishing textiles by binding, stitching, folding, or twisting and securing it with string before dyeing – basically a form of tie-dyeing. The fabrics shown here are scraps I bought created in this style.

In Japan, the earliest known example of cloth dyed with the shibori method dates back to the 8th century.

Shibori was originally an art of the poor. People could not afford to buy new clothing, so they would repair and dye their old clothing using the shibori technique. The intricate pattern hid stains well, as in the example pictured below.

Shibori fabric detail. (Photo by Cathy Ward)

Eventually it became a technique of the rich, as a way to decorate the silk used for kimonos. There is a wonderful little museum in the town, Arimatsu-Narumi Shiborikaikan, where you can watch women creating many of the complex designs.

The basic technique of shibori is to draw a design on a piece of fabric (usually silk or cotton), then tie very tight knots with thread around points of the fabric. These women are so skilled they no longer need a pattern.

Shibori techniques demonstrated at the Arimatsu-Narumi Shiborikaikan museum in Japan (Photo by Cathy Ward)

Which technique is used in shibori depends not only on the desired pattern, but the characteristics of the cloth being dyed. Also, different techniques can be used in conjunction with one another to achieve even more elaborate results.

Shibori tied fabric ready to be dyed.  (Photo by Cathy Ward)
A completed example of shibori. (Photo by Cathy Ward)

I can’t image the time it takes to create one piece of material. Above is what it looks like just before dyeing…

Since the dye does not penetrate the knots, when they are untied there is a pattern of dyed and un-dyed areas. The fabric pictured at right is similar the pattern she was making.

These women were not young to be sitting all day in what is called “seiza position” (literally “proper sitting”) while they worked.

Shibori techniques demonstrated at the Arimatsu-Narumi Shiborikaikan museum in Japan (Photo by Cathy Ward)

Pictured above, this woman is actually folding the material in a fan pattern before wrapping the thread around it. See the water bottle? She sprayed the fabric periodically, probably making it easier to fold.

Result of fan folding and wrapping shibori technique. (Photo by Cathy Ward)

Her fabric will turn out like the one pictured above They did not speak English, but were able to communicate through their art. We also saw a video on the process, which was in English and very helpful.

Here are a few samples of different fabric in the museum. Indigo blue with white is the most traditional color, but today it is made in many of colors.

Indigo samples from the Arimatsu-Narumi Shiborikaikan museum in Japan. (Photo by Cathy Ward)
Indigo samples from the Arimatsu-Narumi Shiborikaikan museum in Japan. (Photo by Cathy Ward)
Indigo samples from the Arimatsu-Narumi Shiborikaikan museum in Japan. (Photo by Cathy Ward)
Indigo samples from the Arimatsu-Narumi Shiborikaikan museum in Japan. (Photo by Cathy Ward)

Pictured below is a scarf I bought — love the colors and the texture. It was made from linen, not silk.

Shibori scarf. (Photo by Cathy Ward)
Shibori fabric scraps. (Photo by Cathy Ward)

Pictured above are more scraps I bought. You know me, always collecting!

Shibori fabric scraps arranged into the start of fabric collages by Cathy Ward. (Photo by Cathy Ward)

I am starting to see collages with the scraps I purchased!

My last item to share is pictured below: a small purse I purchased that was made from some of the shibori fabric. This is the style they carry with kimonos.

Purse sewn from shibori fabric.  (Photo by Cathy Ward)

I hope this post inspires you — maybe you can wrap and dye some fabric using this special technique and see what you come up with. And be sure to share it with me!

Folded Fabric Tree

Folded fabric tree by Julie Middleton of Artistic Artifacts
Art Gallery Fabrics fabric tree project

My sister Julie Middleton made the above pictured Folded Fabric Tree. She was inspired by the Holiday Decorating 101- Decorate like a Pro post earlier this month on the Art Gallery Fabric blog.

It included 6 free patterns and ideas for holiday decorating — although the Divided Organizer Caddy project is a great year round idea! Julie fell in love with #4, the fabric Christmas tree (Art Gallery version pictured right).

Blog author Meli wrote, “Wanna take a break from sewing? Try making a fabric Christmas tree by following this fun folding and pinning method. I love how professional all the folded clean edges look. Add your tree to the center of your table to make the most darling centerpiece!” View their easy video tutorial below.

We love the beautiful modern cottons by Art Gallery Fabrics — you can see our in-store quilt using many of the colors of their Squared Elements line in the background of the above photo. Julie used a variety of fabrics (detail pictured below), including selections from our Black and White Fabrics section — including Australian Aborigine designed prints and our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik such as Folklife-Paisley Leaves Mystic.

Detail, Folded fabric tree by Julie Middleton of Artistic Artifacts

Instead of creating a star, Julie topped her tree with a vintage spool of thread. This might be a fun project to do as a group as you gather with friends and family this holiday season — many hands would make light work of cutting and folding the fabric squares to create the tree. You can match any decor and vary the size: how about a grouping of trees gracing your mantel or tabletop?

Art Gallery Fabrics is also offering a free download of cute gift tags inspired by some of their fabric collections for those doing last minute gift wrapping.

Happy Holidays to all!

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