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Transforming Upholstered Chairs

Fiber and mixed media artist Judi Hurwitt used wooden printing blocks and fabric paint to transform an upholstered chair

While Judy’s away, we are sharing a wonderful post by fiber and mixed media artist Judi Hurwitt, who recently completed the transformation of an armchair using fabric paint and a selection of the wooden printing blocks sold by Artistic Artifacts that Judy had gifted her with.

Yes, Judy is on a well-deserved vacation to Italy! If you haven’t been checking the Artistic Artifacts Facebook page, do so — she is posting some absolutely gorgeous photos of scenery, color and texture to make us all drool with envy.

A sampling of photos taken by Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula while she is in Italy on vacation

Upon receiving the blocks, Judi Hurwitt promised a project and a blog posting…and wow, what she dreamed up! She purchased an upholstered rocker/glider combination arm chair from a neighbor that was in great condition, but upholstered in a pastel nursery fabric (as shown at the top of this post).

Stage 1 of transforming an upholstered chair with wooden printing blocks and fabric paint by fiber and mixed media artist Judi Hurwitt

After givng the chair a coat of opaque white textile paint, Judi began her surface design treatment. The above photo shows the chair after the first stages. Because she knew she ultimately “wanted heavy layering of colors and textures,” she began with her lighter colors, shades of yellow and magenta that she blended. She notes that the above photo shows how she “had also begun to apply the same paints in white, two yellows, and magenta with some of the wooden blocks. I used the same colors as the base colors, particularly the white, to create a resist for later, darker layers.”

Detail, Stage 1 of transforming an upholstered chair with wooden printing blocks and fabric paint by fiber and mixed media artist Judi Hurwitt

Detail of this first stage, above. We think Judi could have stopped here and it would have been a beautiful project as is! And actually, she did stop there for a time…her blog shares her experience with “artist lock.”

Detail of final surface design treatment on an upholstered chair with wooden printing blocks and fabric paint by fiber and mixed media artist Judi Hurwitt

She got back on track after time to finish with a complex blend of color, pattern and texture — we’ve shown you just a small detail “teaser” photo above. Visit her blog, Approachable Art by Judy Hurwit for the finished chair, and more on how she transformed it, including many more of her photographs (several used here with her permission) and info about breaking out of that artist lock.

Plus, we have another chair transformation to share with you!

Wing chair upholstered in batik fabric from Artistic Artifacts; chair owned by Ellen Taylor of Arlington, VA

The batik beauty pictured above began life upholstered in a large floral/fauna fabric featuring colors that no longer suited the owner, our friend and customer Ellen Taylor. Didn’t it turn out wonderfully?

The before view of wing chair owned by Ellen Taylor of Arlington, VA

The “before” wing chair is pictured here, right, and was in good shape otherwise. Ellen perused many of our beautiful batik fabrics before finding the perfect one for her redo. While she didn’t upholster the chair herself, handing it off to a professional, depending on the complexity of your chair and your own level of expertise you might feel up for the challenge of doing it yourself. Either way, you end up with a one of a kind piece of furniture that sparks joy every time you see it!

Ellen is a member of JAMs (Judy’s Altered Minds), which meets at the Artistic Artifacts shop on the third Sunday of each month. If you don’t live close enough to join us in person, we hope you will join our new Facebook Group, Artistic Artifacts’ Creative Minds, which serves as a “virtual” extension of JAMs.

Representing all levels of expertise, Artistic Artifacts’ Creative Minds is a online home for our Creative Minds to encourage and support like-minded friends! Group members from all over have a place to share ideas and projects with one another. Art quilters, collage artists, art journal keepers, surface design enthusiasts, paper crafters, assemblage & art doll artists — come join us there!

The Beauty of Art Dolls

The National Institute of American Doll Artists, NIADA, founded in 1963 with the purpose of promoting the art of the original handmade doll, is hosting its annual Conference and Dollmaking School this week in Old Town Alexandria. Today (Saturday, July 23) and tomorrow there are events open to the public, including Artist Demos at Torpedo Factory Art Center and an Exhibition and Sale. We’ve welcomed some NIADA attendee shoppers this week, and in honor of their event, and our own class next month, Mermaid Art Doll with Leslie Brier, we wanted to share some art dolls that we have on display in the shop, have been made in our classes, or have been shared with us.

Mermaid Art Doll by Leslie Brier

Mixed media artist Leslie Brier’s Mermaid Art Doll class is suitable for both beginning and experienced doll artists. You’ll cover your own soft-bodied doll (Leslie has dolls you can purchase to use if need be) with your choice of a vintage or batik provided kit, plus your own treasures of fabrics, laces, embellishments and trims. See more of Leslie’s art dolls below.

The below mermaid art doll by Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula should be familar to many, as she graces our business card!

Mermaid art doll by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Art doll by Kathlyn J. Aviles

The above was created by Kathlyn J. Avila-Reyes. In 2009 we wrote about hosting an exhibit/sale of Kat’s work…take a look at the wonderful photos from then! Judy couldn’t resist adding the beauty pictured here to her own collection, and she has been a much-admired resident of the shop since then. Look at the amazing detail!

Detail, fiber/beaded art doll by Kathlyn J. Aviles

Earlier this year Kat held a very successful show at the Art League of Alexandria; over time her work has moved away from pure fiber to ceramics but remains absolutely stunning. Visit her website for to view her gallery.

Mary, Star of the Sea by Sharon McDonagh

The above is by Artistic Artifacts staffer Sharon McDonagh. She began with an unadorned store bought Santos figure and altered it from head to toe to become Mary, Star of the Sea (Ave Maris Stella).

Items used to create Mary, Star of the Sea by Sharon McDonagh

This was Sharon’s submission for a recent Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs) challenge. Members each gathered 10 items in a paper bag, and the bags were randomly exchanged. Participants could use any mediums and techniques to create their resulting piece of art; the only rule was that at least some of each of the 10 items had to be used. The assortment (pictured right) Sharon received consisted of small sea shells, blue braid trim, blue feathery yarn, a magazine page altered with Citrasolv, translucent printed map tissue paper, blue handmade fiber paper, a piece of woven grass trim, an upholstery fabric sample, painted foil and a silver color Gelato.

Figurative work often results from classes we host here at the shop. In early May we welcomed Leighanna Light of Taos, New Mexico. Leighanna calls herself a “Thingmaker,” and oh, such beautiful things! One of the classes she taught was titled Faux Etching/Surface Design on Metal, and one of the attendees was Linda Morgan, a member of JAMs who is known within the group for her amazing mixed media fiber and assemblage work:

Art dolls by Linda Morgan completed in Faux Etching/Surface Design on Metal class with Leighanna Light

Above, Linda’s work from the Faux Etching class. Below, additional art dolls by Linda.

Mixed media assemblage art dolls by Linda Morgan

Mixed media assemblage art dolls by Linda Morgan

Below, Jello Mold dolls by Linda Morgan.

Jello mold assemblage art dolls by Linda Morgan

As promised, more art dolls from Leslie Brier, from the small, a multi-beaded figure pictured below…

Beaded art doll by Leslie Brier

…to the tall, Leslie’s “Machine Age Santos.”

Machine Age Santos by Leslie Brier

Mixed media art doll by Leslie Brier

Above, “Sugar” by Leslie Brier.

A student at this year’s Art & Soul Creative Retreat in Portland shared the below cloth doll with us: it made us happy to see what she had done with our Hand Dyed Fiber Collage Kits! Art & Soul Virginia Beach will take place this fall, September 26 – October 1. Take a look at the workshops available, which include a number of art doll classes.

Art doll created with Judy Gula's hand-dyed textiles by Art & Soul creative retreat student

Now go play with your dolls!

Love My ATCs!

I love making and exchanging Artist Trading Cards (ATCs)! We begin each monthly Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs) meeting with an ATC exchange, and it’s always fun to trade while at creative retreats like Art & Soul.

Display carousel of ATCs collected by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Customers visiting the shop have always enjoyed perusing my display, above.

Time for another ATC display carousel!

…and it was long past time for another! I should be embarrassed to show the above photo, right? 😊

Well, my new rack recently arrived, and I’m transferring my beloved ATCs to a proper home. I wanted to share several I’ve recently received, perfect for springtime:

Spring Bloom ATC, No. 8 of 15, by Sharon McDonagh

“Spring…Bloom!” was created by Sharon McDonagh, who used her beloved Gelatos as well as colored pencils, stamping and more, accenting with a flower shaped ‘jewel.’

ATC by Dawn Murray of Fife, Scotland

The above was made by Dawn Murray of Fife, Scotland! Dawn is a friend of Jocelyn Corderot, a member of JAMs, and visits the U.S. once a year or so, and we’ve been lucky enough to have her attend a meeting when the timing has coincided.

Bluejay ATC by Kathie Lostan

Back of Kathie Lostan's ATC

This above bluejay is a wonderful collage of found paper and several painting techniques by Kathie Lostan.

Kathie also used the Ink Bottle design of one of our rubber stamps designed specifically for the reverse side of ATCs. These stamps are available in a wide variety of styles (see more below) and are a great way to add some additional design to your ATCs and save you some time listing the card’s information.

While you can include as little or as much as you want, it’s usually suggested to include at least the following on the reverse of your cards: contact information (e.g., email, website, blog address); date of card creation; and edition number (e.g. 1 of 10).

Rubber stamps for the reverse of ATCs

theresa mARTin and JAMs Challenges

theresa mARTin is very talented fiber & mixed media artist, frequently published, who uses vintage images, hand-dyed fibers, stitching and more when creating. Theresa lives in close-by Arlington, VA, and we are always delighted when her schedule allows for a visit to the store and/or a Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs) meeting.

In addition to her charming mother-in-law (visiting from Scotland), Theresa brought her finished Box Challenge artwork to the February meeting. (More about the Box Challenge at the end of this post.)

Artwork by theresa mARTin: Artistic Artifacts JAMs Box Challenge

What a beautiful, evocative piece! Theresa used Transfer Artist Paper (TAP) to add a vintage sepia photo to a vintage textile that I had hand-dyed — you can see the texture of the fabric in the dot pattern. (My Hand Dyed Fiber Collage Kits feature such vintage linen pieces: embroidered napkins, textured tablecloths, crocheted doilies and more.)

Artwork by theresa mARTin: Artistic Artifacts JAMs Box Challenge

The portrait was stitched with metallic thread and then topped with a sheet of mica. Theresa used Tentakulum Handpainted products in this artwork; the above view also shows the Rusty for Paper and More (a Viva Decor product suitable for a wide variety of surfaces) she used on the sides of the box.

Detail, Artwork by theresa mARTin: Artistic Artifacts JAMs Box Challenge

Above, this close up view gives you a closer view of the Web Weave Ribbon (in Sweet Pea) Theresa accented with tiny red seed beads.

Theresa’s blog/website is a visual delight as she shares her beautifully photographed art. We learned that she will be in a four person show (joining Meg Schaap, John Mors and Nancy McNamara) at the Glenview Mansion Gallery in Rockville, MD November 6-23. She is creating a nine piece Icon series for the show; Anton is one. We wanted to share: created with similar techniques, maybe he’s a future descendent of her lovely girl!

Anton, by theresa mARTin, Icon series

Per Theresa: “Anton is 6" x 6" x 2" and is made with a photo transfer onto tea dyed fabric, Naga beads for the coat, a reversed vintage French hat label, Japanese Kimono thread and mica.” (Photograph by Theresa Martin, all rights reserved.)

Another JAMs Challenge

Also at the February JAMs meeting, members were asked to bring a plain brown lunch bag that contained 10 different items, plus a list of those items to participate in the group’s latest challenge. If you bought a bag in, you selected another (contents unseen), and used its contents to create a mixed media artwork, the reveal of which will be the presentation at the May meeting.

Mixed media art by theresa mARTin

Theresa bought in a bag to trade (amazing contents, by the way), and so received one in return. She wasted absolutely no time in getting to work and has already finished her piece (see above; photo by Theresa Martin, all rights reserved).

Theresa wrote a February 25 blog posting detailing her creative thought process, techniques and results that you must read. (The bar for the rest of us in JAMs has now been set very high…)

10 item bag challenge contents before use by theresa mARTin

Above is a photo of the bag Theresa selected. The contents of the bags could be art supplies, household items, found objects… virtually any kind of material or resource. Visit Theresa’s blog for additional photographs and to learn how she used these items in her beautiful artwork.

The only rule for this challenge is that you must use at least part or some of each of the 10 items (groups of things, such as beads, count as one item) in your work. Artists can add materials from their own stash; alter the bag contents as desired, etc. JAMs member Diane Herbort wisely thought to photograph many of the bag contents, to be paired with photos of the finished work — it will be so inspiring to see everyone’s creations!

Theresa is also a designer for Paper Whimsy and regularly creates art with their collage images, Amazing Alterables and more. View Theresa’s projects for Paper Whimsy.

One of the original display box frames used in the Box Challenge

More about The Box Challenge

I’ve mentioned in this space that the location for the Artistic Artifacts brick and mortar store used to house high-performance auto parts, with a huge display wall of product photographs on dimensional wood box frames. These frames, most approximately 5×5 inch square (as pictured) were pulled out of storage and used for the JAMs Box Challenge conceived by Barb Boatman of Cut Sew Create studio.

Members used these surfaces to create small artworks that incorporated products from Artistic Artifacts that they had in their stashes, and/or that they had purchased new.

ICE Resin and the Box Challenge

In a previous posting, we talked a bit about The Box Challenge that many members of our Judy’s Altered Minds participated in and headed up by Barb Boatman of Cut Sew Create studio.

The challenge was to use these display box structures surfaces (most 5×5 inch, some rectangular) to create small artworks that incorporated products purchased from Artistic Artifacts that could then be used in the shop and at events as samples. We mentioned that we would periodically be showcases some of these boxes here on the blog: here are two featuring ICE Resin products, both created by Jen Bell. Jen is our ICE Resin queen! Not a month goes by where she isn’t bringing in yet another fabulous example of her work for JAMs show & tell. One of the best things about Jen is her willingness to experiment…she is always trying something new.

ICE Resin Owl by Jen Bell from the JAMs Box Challenge

For her owl (pictured above, click for a large view), Jen started with a base of Tim Holtz Melange tissue wrap, then applied Ranger brand alcohol ink in Sailboat Blue, Stream, Citrus, Clover and Silver in mottled strokes to create the colorful background. The tree trunk and branch were cleverly created using the Web Weave Ribbon.

Detail, ICE Resin Owl by Jen Bell from the JAMs Box Challenge

The owl design came from Jen’s copy of the adult coloring book The Time Chamber by Daria Song, and was reproduced onto a piece of batik fabric (see detail above). The entire piece was covered with several coats of ICE Resin; the owl was cut out from the fabric and separately treated with ICE Resin, than attached (with resin) as a dimensional element.

For her second box, Jen created a sparkly winter landscape! (Pictured below, click for a large view.)

ICE Resin Pine Trees in Winter by Jen Bell from the JAMs Box Challenge

Detail, ICE Resin Pine Trees in Winter by Jen Bell from the JAMs Box ChallengeShe created a sheet of fused Angelina fibers in Blue, Light Blue and Silver to create the amazing winter sky. Angelina is notoriously difficult to photograph, but we think you can get the idea of the color and fire here.

The trees are all cut from batik and other fabrics Jen has purchased at Artistic Artifacts. The trees are “growing” from a base of “snow” created with ICED Enamels Relique in Ivory. The trees and the snow are applied in layers; Jen builds up multiple layers of ICE Resin as she work, so there is true depth and perspective to this piece.

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