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Janet Green’s Improv Quilt

We’ve been lucky to see this beautiful quilt coming together during Janet’s visits to Artistic Artifacts, and we thank her for sharing its story.

Inside Stories

Guest post by Janet Green

Janet Green with her improv quilt Inside Stories

“The year 2020 started out much like any other. In January, I had a new planner. In February, I took a quick trip to Florida to get a healthy dose of sand, sea and sun. The first week of March, I attended a much-anticipated Gees Bend Quilt Retreat, returning home on March 8. A week later, life as we knew turned upside and came to a screeching halt. Enter Covid-19. Stay at home. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Socially distance.

“Now in quarantine, I had to stop and think about everything I did: shopping for groceries, going to the doctor, attending Quilt Shows. But life went on. In late March, my beloved dog, Coco, began having seizures. Trips to the vet and pet ER meant hours in the parking lot, often at night, while we waited to hear from the doctors. In late April, sadly, I was allowed inside the facility to say goodbye to my fur baby.

“With all the thoughts and emotions vying for space in my head and heart, I went to my studio and stared at fabric. Batiks, hand-dyeds, bright colors, florals, geometrics, African and Australian. You name it, I had it. To keep from becoming overwhelmed by the choices, I just picked a little piece that I really liked. And I built a block around it. One 16-1/2-inch block.

Janet Green's favorite block from her Inside Stories quilt

“The next day, I did the same thing. Both blocks were the same size, just completely different. I had no plan in mind. I just knew that quilting is therapeutic for me. A block a day, a step at a time, to help heal my broken heart and manage the myriad of Covid-related emotions I was experiencing.

Block detail from Janet Green's quilt Inside Stories

“After 12 days I had 12 blocks. Each was unique. Each had at least one bright fabric which represented hope. I arranged and rearranged the blocks on my design wall and even reworked a few. Come July, I was finally satisfied.

Block detail from Janet Green's quilt Inside Stories

“When I shared pictures of my work in progress with a few of my quilting friends, I was surprised and pleased with their responses. Some saw different rooms, and some began to read the blocks as chapters in a book. They all talked about how they were intrigued as their eyes moved around the blocks. It was time to piece it all together and choose a border.

Block detail from Janet Green's quilt Inside Stories

“Artistic Artifacts to the rescue! Specifically, Ladder to Happiness, Step by Step, by Keiko Goke for Free Spirit. The colors, the geometrics and the fluidity of the design were simply perfect. [Editor’s note: Janet bought the last of this beautiful fabric, which you can see above — but we have lots more wonderful Modern Cottons for you!] Then came the final challenge: how do I quilt this? One block at a time, letting the fabrics dictate the design.

Block detail from Janet Green's quilt Inside Stories

“I must have used at least 50 different thread colors so the quilting would disappear yet still add texture. I also did some hand stitching for accent. Finally, I used the border fabric for the binding. My quilt finished at 63 in. by 75 in. I call it “Inside Stories.”

Block detail from Janet Green's quilt Inside Stories

“This year, on any given day, we have all been stuck inside. And we all have stories to tell. Stories that make us laugh, or cry, or give us pause to consider the things that really matter.

Block detail from Janet Green's quilt Inside Stories

“I captured some of my story in these blocks. My hope is that others, you, will see your stories in my quilt and that you will find joy in your own stories.

“Oh, by the way. In late May, we adopted a new fur baby, Zeus. But that’s another story!”

The completed Inside Stories improv quilt by Janet Green

Thank you for sharing your story, Janet! Above, the completed Inside Stories quilt by Janet Green, one of our favorite Creative Minds. View larger image »

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Janet often brings show & tell with her when she visits us at Artistic Artifacts, and we wanted to take this opportunity to show you some of her other work.

Janet Green with her pieced quilt featuring Australian fabrics

Above, from February of this year, Janet created this fun quilt she made using one of our 2 Yard Surprise Fabric Pack, which include a miscellaneous selection of our end of bolt pieces.

Janet Green's quilt top in progress, featuring Marcia Derse fabrics

Last fall Janet bought this quilt top in progress to the shop as she contemplated her borders.

Janet Green mixes fabrics she created in classes at Artistic Artifacts with Marcia Derse fabrics

When we shared Janet’s quilt on our Facebook page, we wrote that “We love to see what our customers do with the products they find at the shop and how they have used techniques they learned in a class. Love the use of a variety of Marcia Derse fabrics mixed with fabrics “made” in a class with Liz Kettle.” There are block prints, Thermofax screen prints, and fabric monoprints created using a gel printing plate from Janet’s stash that harmonize beautifully.

Improv blocks by Janet Green

Above, you can see how Janet loves to piece together improv block units!

Janet Green poses with her sister and the fiber portrait she created of her

In September 2018 we were happy to meet Janet’s sister on a visit here, “Check out this quilted portrait our customer Janet did of her sister!” we posted. “The details are wonderful, down to the hair. She laid a base of wool roving & added doll hair.” Janet gifted the fiber portrait to her sister, and what an amazing gift to receive!

Janet Green holds the batik panel quilt she completed after taking a Judy Gula class at Artistic Artifacts

In August 2018 Janet brought in her finished batik panel quilt, which had begun in a class with me. It’s beautiful!

Janet Green improv quilt embellished with wooden block prints

And above, Janet embellished prints that were made using wooden printing blocks during a class with me, featuring them in a beautiful nature scene atop another improv quilt.

I think you can see why we come running when Janet visits — she so often has something beautiful to show us, and it’s wonderful to feel we’re contributing to her creative journey with our fabric and other products. We love customer show & tell — tag our Facebook page and join our Artistic Artifacts Creative Minds Facebook group to #ShareonSat and inspire your fellow creative minds.

Fabric Postcards Received: I’m Still Trading!

After sharing my process for making fabric postcards and offering to trade, I’ve had requests to share the results. Hope you enjoy seeing examples of what arrived in the mail (and a couple other artful cards) as much as I have!

postcard received from Lora in Texas

Above, received from Lora in Texas, who wrote that she has a “zillion” postcards piled up and was so happy to trade. She also noted that this is a photo of her from grade school in her Halloween costume! It’s a great example of prepared fabric products that can be used for text and photographs.

Postcard received from Sherry

Sherry in Florida mailed me this one. The colors and fabrics together are so charming.

Postcard from Ray

This postcard is from Ray — I love the little swirl!

Postcard from Peggy

This wonderful postcard received from Peggy in Texas is great reminder to smile each day. She also emailed me after receiving mine: “Judy, what a fun surprise today receive your beautiful postcard. Am so happy mine arrived to you also… yours gives me much inspiration.
FYI, I’m the Membership Chairman for the Fiber Artists of San Antonio and just found out that one of our members, Carmen Goyette, used to frequent your shop when she lived in your area.” Carmen was a member of JAMs and everyone still misses her — turns out it’s a small world!

Peggy continued: “I was telling our group about your postcard exchange and we may be doing that amongst our members… we still can’t meet in person, but always fun to get mail. Before I found out about your exchange, I had just mailed out about 75 postcards to my family. friends, bead group friends and others.” Great job, Peggy!

Postcard from Suzanne

Suzanne Langsdorf, a favorite local Creative Mind that we miss seeing, made a star out of our WB174 Left Facing Scaled Fish Wood Block — plus I recognize other block prints in her embellished fabric collage postcard. While the other postcards featured here arrived as-is through the mail, as shown here, Suzanne handmade the envelope for hers.

Chris stitching in front of the postcard I sent her

When I wrote the original blog post, I mailed postcards to my staff and the volunteers who have helped keep us going during this pandemic. I was pleased to see Chris Vinh included my fabric postcard to her in her recent post about beginning to stitch on her new Sashiko cloth.

Postcard from Maureen

While not mailed to me, Maureen Erhardt did post this wonderful example to Facebook — she wrote that it was the result of “A black and white challenge with my sisters.”

Reverse of postcard from Maureen

Maureen included a photo of the back side of the postcard, which is pure art too!

Collaged card by Jocelyn Corderot

Not a postcard, but since I’m counting other mail art here: this #ShareonSat to our Artistic Artifacts Creative Minds Facebook group was posted by Sharon McDonagh, who was spurred by my blog: “This is a gorgeous mixed media collage card made for me by Jocelyn Corderot. I can attest to what a day-brightener a homemade card can be!”


A homemade card by Diane Mularz, who posted it responding to a recent #ShareonSat that asked for artwork with birds after the great response we had with our fish theme.

So my offer is still good: send me a handmade fabric postcard and you’ll receive one in return: watch my Creative Clip for my challenge for those interested in trading!

Block Printed Wonky Scrap Quilt

Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Pictured above is one of my most recent complete projects, my block printed wonky scrap quilt. I love it! This is the largest quilt I’ve made featuring block printing (see info links at the end of this post). Click to view larger photo »

Detail, Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

It was beautifully quilted by Susan Bentley of suZquilts. I’m always so pleased with when I receive my quilts back!

Detail, Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Most of my log cabin blocks in this quilt feature the block print as the center, and you can also see some block printed fabrics in the rows. I have a never ending supply of block printed fabric scraps, from the many, many block printing demonstrations I’ve held over the years while vending at quilt and art shows, teaching classes here and the shop, etc.

Wonky Log Cabin block for the Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

And of course, as a fiber artist of many years now, I have a ton of fabric scraps! This quilt features a wide range of the beautiful Modern Cottons we feature in the shop. Leftovers from a quilt project, strips remaining from the bolt end of a sold out fabric — no scrap goes to waste!

Wonky Log Cabin block for the Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

I love wonky, and letting the fabrics dictate the size and shape of the blocks. If you haven’t tried wonky log cabin piecing, I have previously recommended a post from the blog Quilt Dad — he created a wonderful Wonky Log Cabin tutorial that is illustrated with step by step photos, making the process so easy.

Designing the layout for the Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

So after stitching together a pile of blocks, it’s time to figure out a layout. Rather than squaring mine up and seaming them together precisely, I played around with layouts using my studio floor (forgive the uneven lighting) for a design wall. I knew I would “fill in” the gaps with a unifying fabric.

Designing the layout for the Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Above, more layout decisions, and the beginnings of stitching together block units.

Wonky log cabin block unit for the Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Trim straight edges on your blocks and rows to seam together. Because these are intentionally wonky, there is no worry of pattern or block matching.

Trimming wonky log cabin block units, Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Working improvisationally is a lot of fun, and is a great exercise in thinking creatively as you use the scraps you have, a variety of block sizes, and make it all come together.

Completing and laying out wonky log cabin block units, Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Here’s my introduction to block printing that includes additional links if you’d like to explore this art form further. Artistic Artifacts carries a large variety of wooden printing blocks that are hand-carved in India. We also have our own line of textile paint, which gives you beautiful results on fabrics (and other surfaces) and can be easily heat set for permanence — you can wash and dry your quilt and the colors will stay bright and true.

Detail, Block Printed Scrappy Quilt by Judy Gula

Quilters’ Quest & Artistic Artifacts

Artistic Artifacts filled with Quilters' Quest 2019 shoppers

Quilters’ Quest is a free annual shop hop event that encourages fiber artists to explore quilt shops located in Maryland and Northern Virginia over the course of 10 days. Artistic Artifacts was delighted to be invited to participate this year for the first time and our shop in Alexandria, VA was added to the roster! The 2019 dates were October 11 through October 20.

Shoppers admiring the Artistic Artifacts quilt created using Quest Cuts from the 2019 Quilters' Quest Shop Hop event

Book Room Stylish was selected as the 2019 color theme, with traditional colors in hues of blue, green, red, and brown. Each participating shop created Quest Cuts, a set of six 10 in. fabric squares coordinating with the theme. We used our beautiful and unique Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik for our packs! Shoppers could earn a free Quest Cut pack with a purchase of $40, or you could purchase it for $6.00 (limit two packs per in-store customer). Each shop designed an exclusive quilt (using some or all 60 Quest Cuts squares that could be collected throughout the Quest), offering a free copy of their quilt patterns. Pictured above are shoppers admiring the Artistic Artifacts quilt.

Artistic Artifacts welcomed so many new quilters and friends during Quilters' Quest

We enjoyed preparing the store for this event and have had so much fun meeting so many new quilters and friends! Each participating chartered a bus (or two!) for their customers’ convenience — purchasing your seat on the bus meant you saw all participating shops in two days while leaving the stress of driving and traffic to a professional!

Bus chartered by the Traditions of the White Swan shop in Hagerstown, MD full of Quilters' Quest shoppers

When the busses were due (pictured above are customers of Traditions of the White Swan in Hagerstown, MD), it was all hands on deck for staff!

Quilters' Quest shoppers at Artistic Artifacts

During the Quilters’ Quest Shop Hop we demonstrated block printing, letting shoppers have a try at using our hand-carved wooden printing blocks and our Artistic Artifacts textile paint for surface design.

For Quilters' Quest Shop Hop we demonstrated block printing with our hand-carved wooden printing blocks and our Artistic Artifacts textile paint.

We thank our volunteers who stepped up to help with with demonstrations, stamping Quilters’ Quest passports and more — we couldn’t have done it without you!

Helping a customer select fabric during Quilters' Quest 2019

Above, our Australian Aborigine-designed fabric and Architextures by Carolyn Friedlander in Orangeade were the perfect complement to one shoppers batik log cabin blocks — we hope she shares a photograph of her finished quilt with us!

Fabric and batik panels on display at Artistic Artifacts

Above, seasonal fabric display and hand-drawn Indonesian batik panels available at Artistic Artifacts.

My Italian Vacation Journal

An inside spread from art journal created in Italy by Artistic Artifact's Judy Gula

This summer I was thrilled to embark on the first Artistic Artifacts creative retreat, headquartered in Ischia di Castro, Italy, an amazing medieval city approximately one hour northwest of Rome. The artistic goal was create custom art journals — one of my page spreads is shown above and I include additional images here.

Everyone on the tour had accommodations in apartments in the village, and gathered each morning for a variety of mixed media lessons to create original and layered journal pages.

Our Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paints used with wooden printing blocks and on gel printing plates

All the necessary supplies were shipped ahead to Italy and were waiting for everyone to play! Above, our Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paints used with wooden printing blocks and on gel printing plates.

Mixed media art supplies available during the Artistic Artifacts creative tour of Ischia di Castro, Italy

Above, a variety of rubber stamps and ink pads, as well as a variety of pens, markers and more (including Gelatos).

Students working during the Artistic Artifacts creative tour of Italy
Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts used Kraft-Tex for her journal cover

I taught my students my favorite journal format, as shown in a previous blog post. My cover is shown here — I cut a piece longer than my page spreads intentionally, so the extra (seen right) can wrap around to the front to form a closing flap. My journal is tied shut with sari silk ribbon.

One key difference from journal I’ve featured in in the past was the substitution of Kraft-Tex Kraft Paper Fabric for the cover. I had previously used and loved Roc-Lon Multi-Purpose Cloth, but unfortunately it has been discontinued by the manufacturer. The Kraft-Tex took paint and ink beautifully and was easy to sew (to bind the page signatures), and has a wonderful, leather-like feel — it’s ideal for a journal cover!

Click through this gallery to see my journal pages (shown randomly). I wanted mostly Madonnas, as there were many in Italy — and beautiful! St. Francis slipped in there too (we can always use a Saint on our side).

 

After our morning studio sessions, we spent our afternoons and evening with guided tours, sightseeing and of course delicious authentic Italian cuisine. One visit was to the town of Fabriano, where papermaking was demonstrated for us in a private tour: fascinating! We all gathered ephemera from these excursions to include in our journals.

A favorite afternoon excursion was to The Tarot Garden envisioned by Niki de Saint Phalle (she was assisted by a large team of master craftsmen) and located in Tuscany. You can see images of some of her beautiful outdoor sculptural art featured in my journal pages. Here are a few photographs I took in the garden. (In the photo captioned Wheel of Fortune, my husband Dave Gula is seated with me in front of The High Priestess; the Wheel of Fortune is to the right.) What a beautiful, inspirational day!

 

Traveling is really inspiring to your art and soul. I’m looking forward to my block printing tour in India in March 2020 — there’s room for you to join me too!

The 2020 Italian Creative Retreat will take place in September and will focus on stitching. One of my best friends, Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution, will be joining me for this exciting trip! Email Italian Cultural Tours to indicate your interest in traveling with us in 2020! Details will be posted on the Artistic Artifacts website as they are finalized.

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