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Making Handmade Cards

Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts demonstrating how to add foil accents to handmade cards

This summer at the shop we’ve been sharing ideas for handmade gifts and décor for the holidays. Manufacturers ship their seasonal fabrics in the early summer, and we have some beautiful ones available for you! Their arrival was the catalyst for our “don’t get your tinsel in a tangle” attitude — beginning holiday projects during the summer and knowing your homemade gift list is taken care of already really reduces end of the year stress! Visit the Artistic Artifacts YouTube channel for these archived videos of our Saturday morning Facebook Live presentations, including my demonstration (pictured here) of using foil products and my Holiday Paper vintage paper collage pack and more to make mixed media cards.

A foiled card example and supplies from Artistic Artifacts

Along with new cards created this year, I’m sharing from past blog postings as we celebrate our Summer Start = Holiday Peace concept.

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

I often use gel printing plates to create layered backgrounds (see my post A Peek at Gel Plate Printing for more on monoprinting). The above includes stamped fabric strips layered atop block printed found paper.

Mixed media greeting cards using ephemera and more created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts
Detail of a mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Our Found Paper Collage Packs are full of themed paper ephemera for you — all original pages (not photocopied). I also make scans of many vintage items in my collections such as cabinet cards and other photographs, postcards and more, enabling me to use them more than once or resize them for projects. Greeting cards or Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) are the perfect place to use up treasured scraps and bits. I used a scrap of a vintage handkerchief as the base/background for my elegant woman photograph and contrasted it with a trimmed piece from one of my fabric postcards. You can see the dimension added by the batting and machine quilting in this detail photo. Visit this blog post for my tutorial on making fabric postcards.

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

New to our Found Paper Collage Packs is a vintage photo pack. Another favorite ephemera are antique ledger pages. I love combining fabric and paper scraps for these collages.

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Above, I revisited the ephemera that inspired my Blue Fish Quilt.

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

Above, our wide variety of wooden printing blocks includes a variety holiday designs, including some really fun sets! Block prints combined with book text, sheet music and other found paper are collaged to make holiday cards.

Block printed cards with sketching created by Celia Middleton

Several years ago my niece Celia Middleton embellished her block prints with fun sketching details using her favorite pens and markers, then turned her artwork into handmade cards and tags!

Greeting cards by Judy Gula using woven fabric strips and Artist Trading Cards

Many of you know I got my start as a weaver and I often weave both fabric and paper strips into small compositions I adhere to cards. The cards above are from my December 2018 post Using ATCs on Greeting Cards.

Woven paper and ephemera greeting cards created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Above, these cards are examples from my Greeting Cards with Woven Paper post in December 2015. Both fabric and paper strips are satisfying to weave together. Or mix them! It’s so easy to accumulate remnants resulting from straightening ragged edge fabrics, trimming from wonky/improv piecing, strips left behind after using your paper cutter, etc.

The result from weaving together fabric strips

My fabric weaving instructions were originally shared in 2014 — that card post also included these are little mixed media collages, 4 in. x 6 in.

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

I was testing a set of blank Strathmore mixed media cards, using spray inks and stencils. I created backgrounds on the cards and after they dried, stamped over the inks with paints in a different color. Then I found my collection of retro sewing patterns and began cutting out and pasting figures and text from the cover packages.

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Mixed media greeting card created by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

I hope this post and the tutorial links give you some inspiration for your own handmade cards and collages!

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, 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!

Experimenting with iCraft Deco Foil

iCraft Deco Foil Transfer Gel applied through a stencil

On Thursday, September 14 we hosted our monthly How Do I…? demonstration. The topic was foiling fabric and paper, and we used iCraft Deco Foil Transfer Sheets Value Pack in Rainbow and iCraft Deco Foil Transfer Gel (jar pictured above), which is an acid-free, permanent foil transfer gel made for use with paper and cardstock. We also experimented with using the adhesive on fabric… because that’s just how we roll here at Artistic Artifacts!

Our first experiments (below) weren’t up to snuff. We wanted to experiment with using our wooden printing blocks to stamp the adhesive, but we learned we were not applying the transfer gel thickly enough. (Yes, we often learn as much as our students!) Because it requires a minimum of an hour to dry — you cannot apply the foil to wet adhesive — we were preparing some swatches for our attendees to use in advance.

Transfer gel applied too thinly, and heat/pressure not strong enough

The extremely faint print left above resulted from not just too little adhesive, but by running it through the laminating machine (our chosen method for the heat and pressure needed to transfer the foil from the carrier sheet to the prepared surface) sandwiched between two sheets of cardstock. The swatch on the right was put through the laminator sandwiched between two sheets of copier paper, which made a big difference even with the too-thin adhesive. Our instincts were to apply the transfer gel thinly and we were spreading it as we would paint. Once we realized we needed a thicker layer, our results were strong.

Applying iCraft Deco Foil Transfer Gel to a fabric swatch

Above, using a palette knife to apply the gel through a stencil onto a cotton fabric swatch.

iCraft Deco Foil Transfer Gel applied to fabric swatches

Above left, freshly applied transfer gel, which appears as a thick white paste. Right, the transfer gel properly dried — it is clear and shiny, with a slightly tacky feel/finish.

A foiled fabric swatch

Above and below, after the rainbow foil is applied.

A foiled flower on a cotton fabric swatch

The flower above did end up with two small patches of white where the foil didn’t apply, whether from it being too thin, or the surrounding gel being mounded higher preventing it from contact with the heat and pressure. We reapplied gel to the bare areas, and once dry ran it through the laminator again. We didn’t try matching the colors up in placement, giving us a cool effect of a bit of aqua on red, etc.

In fact, even if technically it would be deemed a mistake, we really loved the results of foiling swatches that had thinly applied adhesive through a stencil:

Fabric swatch with partially applied foil -- still very artful!

The foil will act as a resist, so we can apply paints or inks to this swatch to color it further. Gorgeous as is, and a fun starting point for further experimentation.

Our tree coral wooden printing block used to apply transfer gel to paper

You can see the adhesived dried on the paper swatch above, a print from our WB226 Tree Coral Wood Block. Below you can see the texture that resulted.

Our tree coral wooden printing block and a bubble stencil foil examples

We also used Mistyfuse Sheer Paperless Fusible. Below is a swatch example; we get so involved during the actual evening we forget to take photos. One of our attendees created a gorgeous abstract starburst cutting triangles of Mistyfuse and foiling it. Wish we could share that!

Using Mistyfuse sheer fusible web to apply foil to a fabric swatch

When you foil, make sure the color side is up/facing you, and the more matte silvery side is down against your surface. It can feel counter-intuitive… and FYI, even when you KNOW this rule, you can make the mistake!

Supplies and some results from our How Do I...Foil Paper and Fabric demo evening

You can see the silver/matte side of the foil in the photo above, in between our Tree Coral block on the left and the unused piece of foil on the right. Note that the flower image bottom right was intentionally foiled with a sheet that had already impressed a bubble print… again, we really like what others might see as a mistake!

A partially used sheet of iCraft Deco Foil

Above, a partially used sheet of foil… you can see the burgundy worksurface through the sheet where the foil has lifted off the clear plastic carrier sheet. Don’t throw partially used sheets out, as until the sheet is completely clear, there is usable foil there. These used sheets were the supply for another easy way to use the foil — creating our own metallic washi tape. We used ordinary masking tape and burnished (even finger pressure works for this) the used sheets of foil randomly across the sticky surface.

Creating custom foiled washi tape

Below, a completed length. We love breaking up the rainbow stripes into these random splashes of color!

A complete piece of foiled tape

You could also apply the foil more sparingly, and use mica powders, pigments, or embossing powder on the exposed areas of the masking tape to eliminate the stickiness and add even more color and texture. Below, the masking tape easily tears for a more organic edge if desired.

A complete piece of foiled tape torn in two for a different edge

There are plenty of tutorials out there for foiling, but as always, we encourage you to experiment and approach the process with a “what if?” attitude. Have fun!

More Art Journaling: Altering Cut-outs, Using Pan Pastels

My studio at the moment continues to have journaling supplies and papers front and center on the table. I’ve enjoyed experimenting with creating a variety of art journal pages.

This session I played with Pan Pastels. I consider this product a “fine art medium,” so that means it is intimidating to me! My comfort zone is in creating backgrounds, so that’s where I began. I ended up experimenting with two types of backgrounds that used Inkssentials Watermark Resist Ink and Golden Brand Gesso for effects.

I would recommend working with the Pan Pastels on watercolor paper, because it has a nice “tooth” to it. Since I didn’t have any at handy at home, I used pages from a Strathmore 400 Series Mixed Media Paper with fine results.

Inkessentials Watermark Resist Ink with TCW Mask

I took a TCW Mask (TCW2023 Petri Dish) designed by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer and stamped over the mask using the resist ink pad (holding the pad right side down and pouncing). Then I used one of the Sofft tools packaged with all Pan Pastels to add color and gently moved it in circular motions over the stamped image…the result is magic! The resist ink stamping intensifies the Pan Pastels color and coverage and gives you a crisp design line.

Resist ink stamping intensifies the Pan Pastels color and coverage and gives you a crisp design line

My next layer was created using that same watermark stamp and the Cover-a-Card French Text Stamp, then a brown shade of Pan Pastel.

Watermark stamp using the Cover-a-Card French Text Stamp, then a brown shade of Pan Pastel

I experimented with using a purple color of Gelatos through the mask. I wanted to see if there was any resist when the Pan Pastels was gently rubbed around it. The answer was, not so much. But the Gelatos did add a more intense color of purple to the Pan Pastels, so I was happy with that.

Here’s my full page…I love the texture and imagery. This will make a great base to add additional art to, or could even be cut up to Artist Trading Card (ATC) size.

Watermark resist ink pad, Pan Pastels, stamps and masks

For the following pages, I used various cutouts of models from fashion ads. Because magazines are usually printed on slick paper, they need to be primed in some way to accept other medium, so I used gesso on selected areas. This gave me a base to add my own color with my Pan Pastels and Gelatos. It can also mask out an area I don’t like as much.

Gesso on selected areas of magazine page

I selected all of the magazine cut outs and adhered them to my page using Golden Soft Gel Medium. Then I selected additional colors from Pan Pastel, applied with the Sofft tools.

Art journal page by Judy Gula in progress

Like her new red/orange shirt? Next up, altering her hair…

Gesso is a great medium to use with Derwent Inktense Blocks or pencils, Pan Pastels, and Gelatos. Water the gesso down a bit, and mix it with the colors using a paint brush. When my color mix turned out too light, I applied a bit more of Gelato over top.

Art Journal page by Judy Gula in progress

I only had white gesso handy as I was creating these —what would happen if you tried using clear gesso?

Finished art journal page by Judy Gula

Finished art journal page by Judy Gula

Above, the finished page. Below, another page with the same techniques. I mentioned the magazine pages are slick, so there are some light/camera flash reflections…but I think you get the idea.

Art journal page by Judy Gula

One of the members of our JAMs Round Robin Art Journal Exchange has selected Outrageous Inspiration as her theme — I think these two qualify as outrageous! What do you think?

Page painted with two coats of Chalky Vintage-Look by Viva Decor in Aqua

In another experiment, I took a page (above) I had previously painted with two coats of Chalky Vintage-Look by Viva Decor (in Aqua), which gave my page more tooth.

Pan Pastels over Chalky Vintage-Look paint

I added additional color with my Pan Pastels using the Sofft tools. Then I added another fashion photograph cut out. This page (below) is now ready for me to continue playing the next time I’m in my studio!

Pan Pastels over Chalky Vintage-Look paint, magazine cut-out

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