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A Peek at Gel Plate Printing

Monoprinted fabrics

It’s been a busy summer. Heck, it’s been a busy YEAR. And that can mean falling behind on tasks, such as keeping this blog and the Artistic Artifacts YouTube channel updated. So I wanted to pop in with a quick surface design demo — watch as I monoprint on a Gel Press-PolyGel Gel Plate on fabric.

As you see, monoprinting is easy — and I can tell you it is addictive! Simply apply your paint, ink, etc. with a brayer or other tool, make your mark with textures and press your substrate onto the plate and rub gently. Then just lift the print and admire!

Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paints and gel printing plates

Below is a view of the fabric monoprint I created in the Creative Clip. I worked with the manufacturers to formulate our Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paints so that it had the qualities to make it an ideal paint for gel plate monoprinting: an easy flow consistency right out of the squeeze bottle, high pigmentation, and permanent on fabrics.

Fabric printed on gel plate with Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paint by Judy Gula

When brayering, your paint colors can stay somewhat distinctive as in my red and yellow swatch, or you can blend them together to create a completely new color, as in the below example.

Adding paint to a gel plate and brayering it smooth

While acrylic-based paints such as our paints are the most popular choices, a wide variety of medium can be applied. The manufacturer of the Gel Press Plates notes that they have seen prints created with everything from tempera to oil pigments sticks (such as Shiva Paintstiks), alcohol inks and more. They offer this tip: if you can wash the media off the plate with materials you would use to clean your hands, then it should work well on the plate.

Rubbing plates and stencils impart texture on a round gel printing plate

You have so many options to create texture and pattern in your paint before you pull your print! Pictured above left is a rubbing plate impression (Cedar Canyon Rubbing Plates are sold in sets of six and are deeply embossed with patterns); right is a stencil in place on a round printing plate.

Monoprinted fabric created on a gel printing place with Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paint and wooden printing blocks.

And we all know my love of wooden printing blocks… their texture means they are wonderful to pick up paint off the plate, as in the example above, leaving a design behind. And of course that loaded wood block is immediately stamped onto another piece of fabric or paper!

Jamie Malden of Coloricious block printing on monoprinted fabric

I thought you might enjoy seeing this photo of the quilt pictured at the top of this post (in detail; the full shot is below) while it was in progress. That’s Jamie Malden of Coloricious adding the white wood block prints to our gel plate printed fabric blocks. I borrowed this photo from Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution’s 2013 “3 Artists + 3 Days = Creative Frenzy.” blog posting. Jamie was in the U.S. and we were lucky enough to host her for a block printing class; Liz was in town too, so the three of us set aside a few days to do some creative collaborating here at Artistic Artifacts. (My March 2020 Block Printing Tour of India is a Coloricious Holiday — join me for this once in a lifetime experience!

I hope this post inspires you to try monoprinting or other surface design technique — creating your own fabric or paper is very satisfying and ensures your finished artwork is truly unique.

Art quilt created in collaboration: Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts, Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution and Jamie Malden of Coloricious

My Mixed Media Art Journal

Flower inspired Mixed media art journal by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

I wanted to share some of the pages of my flower-inspired mixed media art journal. This particular journal has been in the works for years now! You know how some projects are like that, especially journals and mixed media where another layer and an extra dose of ephemera can always been worked in!

Above, the back of the closed journal with a flower charm added to the fabric ties.

Above, the wraparound flap hides another flower image as you begin to open the journal.

You know my love of wooden printing blocks… I thought the bird was a perfect addition to the butterflies and ephemera.

Multiple pages include pieces that were completed in the shop to show off a technique or product. The altered book page on the left has an image transfer, to show how you can get the transparency where the text peeks through.

In a previous blog post I wrote about transforming chipboard shapes — the above page spread is shown in that post!

Another previous blog post: Journaling, a Mixed Media Affair: Fabric Included features a number of pages now found in this journal in their initial stages, such as the above. I wrote then, “…And I need to add the same disclaimer I have before: these pages are not finished yet…there is more to come.” (I didn’t promise how QUICKLY they would be finished!)

I would begin working on both sides of paper: standard letter size piece of mixed media paper or watercolor paper, or a sheet torn from a blank journal. Folded in half, they were then stacked up and stitched into signatures, as shown above.

I’ve added some treasured and thematic Artist Trading Cards received during Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs) meetings, Art & Soul Creative Retreats, etc. to my journal too, as seen above and in the detail below:

Below, bringing in my love of vintage ephemera with a vintage postcard.

Below, “hinge” of washi tape means the postcard’s charming message can be viewed.

I hope you enjoyed this peek at this updated project!

Using ATCs on Greeting Cards

Greeting cards by Judy Gula using woven fabric strips and Artist Trading Cards
Inspirational ATC about gratefulness

It’s the time of year greeting cards, and my most recent blog post reviewed Block Printed Holiday Cards (plus, see a new photo below). And I’ve previously written about weaving paper strips to use as the base of embellished cards … as a former weaver, it’s a technique I return to time and time again. After completing and trimming several quilting projects, I had a pile of thin fabric strips… and of course, rather than toss them, I was inspired to use them.

Yes, back to the weaving, and back to making cards… one of my favorite art pastimes! This variation found me using some of my many collected Artist Trading Cards, (ATCs) as the focal point of my cards (examples pictured above). We have an ongoing trade at every Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs) meeting at Artistic Artifacts, and I’ve collected many over the years through the mail, art groups, etc. While working through my collection to refresh my ATC display carousel, I was inspired to put some these beautiful bits by talented fiber and mixed media artists back out into the world via handmade greeting cards!

Joy greeting card by Judy Gula using woven fabric strips and Artist Trading Cards

Sometimes I plan a color theme from my strips, as in the example above, which includes several of our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik fabrics.

Inspire greeting card by Judy Gula using woven fabric strips and Artist Trading Cards

The above ATC paired beautifully with strips from the Carrie Blomston “Wonder” fabric line, available in our Modern Cottons section.

Materials to craft greeting cards using woven fabric strips and Artist Trading Cards

Above, looks like I’ve got the makings of some holiday cards ready!

Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) collected by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

ATCs are wonderful little bits of art to trade and amass. Whether stitched from fabric and trims or crafted from paper and paint, it’s amazing to see how people use the 2.5 inch x 3.5 inch space to express themselves.

Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) collected by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

P.S. I promised you a new photo of block printed cards… allow me to brag on my talented niece Celia Middleton. While manning our make & take table at our Annual Open House and teaching visitors to block print, she embellished her print examples with the most wonderful sketching and made some gift tags too (below).

Block printed cards with sketching created by Celia Middleton

Block Printing Holiday Cards

Holiday themed wooden printing blocks for sale by Artistic Artifacts

Above, holiday-themed wooden printing blocks available at Artistic Artifacts.

the Shop Small x District Rebel Supported by Amex & Etsy at Union Market in Washington, DC

It’s no surprise to write that one of our favorite techniques is block printing using our wooden printing blocks, which are hand carved by artisans in India, ethically sourced using sustainable wood.

We planned a “make and take” for our shop as part of our celebration of Small Business Saturday. Then, we were delighted to be asked to participate in the District Rebel Market, which was as Shop Small event supported by Amex & Etsy at Union Market in Washington, DC by hosting a make and take demonstration. (District Rebel “seeks to curate a collection of artists and makers that put a unique, modern spin on traditional art + craft.”) Since this event also took place on Small Business Saturday, we once again recruited Christine Vinh of StitchesnQuilts (pictured here at left in photo) to represent us. We set up a wide variety of wooden printing blocks, our Artistic Artifacts line of textile paints and blank notecards and envelopes at both locations for holiday card making.

Union Market attendees enjoying the block printing make and take opportunity

Above, at Union Market, both children and adults enjoyed learning to block print. It’s fun to introduce a new generation to art techniques, and simple block printing is quick and easy!

 Applying paint to the wooden printing block

Above, use a sponge to apply paint to the wooden printing block — pictured here is WB163 Reindeer. Pounce the paint on lightly but evenly.

Applying pressure to the block placed atop a foam printing mat

Working on a foam printing mat is essential, as it allows the necessary amount of give to ensure a crisp and complete impressions of your block. Place the fabric or paper (here we are printing on tissue paper) you are printing on top of the mat and apply strong, even pressure with the heel of your hand. Remove the block for your print, which will dry very quickly. Since our tissue paper was thin, and fabrics have a weave, you can see that your foam mat will not stay clean (pictured above, right). The layers that will build up have their own kind of beauty!

Finished reindeer print on tissue paper

Above, the finished print using the Copper color of Metallic Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paint. Clean your wooden printing blocks with soap and water when you are finished printing.

Using reindeer print to create a holiday card

Finish your card as desired. Here the tissue was torn for an organic edge and adhered to the card with GOLDEN Matte Medium. Adding additional paper scraps, fabrics, ephemera, glitter and more are fun ways to embellish and complete your cards.

Block printed cards created using wooden printing blocks and textile paints sold by Artistic Artifacts, accented with paper ephemera

Below, watch as Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula gives a brief tutorial on using wooden printing blocks and Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paint on fabric.

Artistic Artifacts’ Holiday Stockings

In preparation for our annual Open House weekend, held on December 1-3, the staff of Artistic Artifacts decided to make Christmas stockings (which were stuffed with product) to go to the winners of a random drawing. We planned to use the same pattern for consistency but to each use different fabrics or techniques to showcase different Artistic Artifacts products.

Judy Gula’s completed holiday stocking

Above, Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula challenged herself to just use scraps from her stash — predominately Australian Aborgine-designed prints, with some fun modern cottons mixed in.

Below, Judy’s sister Julie Middleton used traditional red and green colors, but twisted tradition by using our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batiks.

Julie Middleton’s completed holiday stocking

Below, Julie made her stocking reversible by concentrating her patchwork to a specific color. She used Velvet Rick Rack to embellish the cuff — a perfect finishing touch!

Julie Middleton’s completed holiday stocking, reverse side

Chris Vinh’s completed holiday stocking

Above, Chris Vinh used Effervescence Border, Fiesta for her stocking. She used the contrasting border design portion of the fabric for her cuff and thought she might add some hand-stitching… but the exuberant print and colors on their own were so beautiful she decided she was done!

Denise Reuter’s completed holiday stocking

Above, Denise Reuter selected a cool color palette and used a variety of fabrics: our batiks, Australian, bits of Tim Holtz and Frond Design Studios fabrics. Her stocking is another that can hang in either direction, as both sides are beautiful. The wonderful blue faux fur cuff was a lucky find amongst the materials on the “free table” featured at each JAMs (Judy’s Altered Minds) meeting — our next is Sunday, December 17.

Detail, Denise Reuter’s completed holiday stocking

Of course, our in-house BERNINA expert couldn’t consider her stocking done until she had added beautiful machine embroidery — detail pictured above. She used a built-in snowflake design and hooped it on the B790, using WonderFil’s Spotlite metallic thread in 8831 Ice Blue.

Sharon McDonagh’s completed holiday stocking
The Artistic Artifacts holiday stocking template

Above, Sharon McDonagh decided to represent the mixed media side of the business. She created a paper-cloth base of tissue over muslin, colored with Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paints and Gelatos and Wooden Printing Blocks accents.

How We Did It

We found a Christmas Stocking Pattern & “How To” on the Stitchin’ Post blog from an online search. After printing out the template pages and taping it together, we felt it was too large for our needs, so we cut some off from the top of the stocking, and also shortened the toe by tracing a round tin a couple inches in and correcting the edges.

We then transferred our new shape onto chipboard (pictured above right) to make it more durable for multiple tracings.

Chris Vinh sewing in progress

Although our original pattern link contained a how-to, Chris discovered this Christmas Stocking Tutorial on the FabricWorm site and used it since it included instructions for incorporating a cuff. As the first one to complete her stocking, everyone else followed suit.

Chris Vinh creating stocking cuff and lining

Above, Chris used Pomegranate Squared Elements for her lining — a beautiful contrast to her base fabric.

Sharon McDonagh’s paper cloth base drying

Above, Sharon began with a piece of Nature’s Way™ UNBLEACHED by Roc-lon® muslin and layered printed tissue and papers such as those found in our Found Paper & Collage Packs — book text, sheet music, maps, etc. You can download a PDF tutorial Making Fabric from Paper by Beryl Taylor from the Cloth Paper Scissors blog for complete how-to’s — the article appeared in the very first issue of the magazine.

Sharon McDonagh adding paint, block printing and Gelatos to her paper cloth

Above, Sharon layering color and block prints onto the paper cloth. Below left, she adds the seam allowance to the reverse of her paper cloth. While it stitches easily, she attached her cuff section as a separate element. Below right, she uses the Uni-ball Signo Broad Gel Pen in white to add embellishing to her cuff block print. If you register for Noir Magic — Lettering, Flora and Fauna with theresa mARTin, you will learn how critical a tool this pen is!

Marking paper cloth

We hope these ideas have inspired all of you to create your own! Our lucky winners, randomly drawn were Ann Kuipers, Sharon Rosenblatt, Judy Seitz, Susan Stelow and Ursula Yeo. Congratulations, ladies!

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