It was already the end of January as I begin this, just sitting down to reflect on the year past. And then a few social media memories popped up which caused me to look back even further to appreciate how far Artistic Artifacts has come to become who we are today.
An early post on Instagram, before I really knew what social media was all about, was dated January 28, 2012 when my husband and I were in Indonesia and purchased Batik Tambal from Trish and Owen Hodges. “Today we purchased batik panels which are wonderful paintings done using the batik process. Many of the designs require 8 dye colors and tons of wax. Each panel signed by the artist.” 11 years later and we are planning a Creative Retreat to Indonesia for early 2024, where we will revisit some of the artist along with other textile adventures!
Along with the panels came our own line of batik fabrics (seen here in an old photo, and on sale now) and a decision to bring in Aborigine-designed fabrics from Australia along with products for mixed media, hand dyed fabrics, ephemera and vintage finds, which is where my early love of art quilts started. There have been so many changes to our store configuration over the years as we’ve grown and expanded, and you’ll see some included here.
We are fortunate to be located in an area with many fiber and mixed media enthusiasts and it was a no brainer for me to start a group called Judy’s Altered Minds — commonly known as JAMS — to meet in our small shop on a monthly basis to share ideas and techniques. There were group challenges and sharing of Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) along with demonstrations of new techniques by members.
As I began to travel to quilt shows and to Houston for International Quilt Market and Festival to sell our panels and fabrics our creative community continued to grow. It was at Quilt Market in 2016 that we decided to become a WonderFil Specialty Threads thread education center. Suddenly we were outgrowing our existing space and moved our classroom into another room!
One thing leads to another and we became an authorized BERNINA dealer in 2017 and we really out grew our front room and classroom. In 2018 we moved our office space into a third room which also serves as the area for our BERNINA technicians and our classroom. And it wasn’t long that the first classroom was taken over by fabric as we brought in new lines, including our block printed Indian Cottons, African fabrics, Tilda, Tula Pink and more! And jump forward to 2023 and our Products on Sale area is encroaching on classroom space!
And while we were growing, I decided to write a book! Colorful Batik Panel Quilts: 28 Quilting & Embellishing Inspirations from Around the World was launched at Quilt Market in 2019 — here’s my blog post introducing it. The ‘writing’ portion the book was hard, but making the quilts to show off the panels and sharing ideas with creative friends to showcase the many ways the panels can be used was a wonderful experience.
Our first attempt at a Creative Retreat was in 2020 – and then the pandemic hit! I was actually in India with a group when travel restrictions were imposed, flights cancelled and plans changed. At the same time, the staff at home switched gears from being a local quilt shop to an online source for fabric for the thousands of mask makers around the country! Staff and customers alike adapted to that new normal: local curbside pickup for orders placed online; limited scheduled appointments requiring masking and social distancing, JAMs and our BERNINA Mastery classes meeting via Zoom, and more.
Fortunately that experience is behind us, but we did gain lots of new followers and customers during that time. I started what has now become a weekly Facebook Live video on Saturday mornings where we share new products and techniques to inspire our creative community, and we have added a YouTube channel to save those videos for future reference. We also started our Live Sales during this time and moved to using the Artistic Artifacts CommentSold app to facilitate a better experience for our customers as well as on our end for processing your orders.
And somehow we get to 2022! With all our growth, it was time to update our website, phone lines, and email system. And not being one to shy away from challenges, it was decided to take on all three at one time!! And in the past several months, add in winning the Jaftex video challenge thanks to your votes (this year we’ll be hosting Scott Fortunoff as part of our prize — details to come), being one of the exclusive stops on the Quilts in Wales tour hosting Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mabley, a Creative Retreat to Italy and another one to India!
But we didn’t stop there! We started 2023 with our first ever full-store inventory and some renovations in the shop (a before and in progress pictured above). And that’s just the beginning – we have our Indian Bazaar weekend coming up where I will be able to show you all the fabulous things I found in India when I was there in November. We have a mixed media Creative Minds Summit planned for May with my good friends Liz Kettle, Libby Williamson, and Gwen Lafleur joining me for a 3-day weekend of classes. More classes on the calendar (the Zoom BERNINA Mastery worked so well we have continued it; opening the classes up to those who do not live near us and another Creative Retreat to Italy planned for September.
I’m sure I will find much more for the staff to do and to inspire you, so stay tuned. (One of our new year’s resolutions is to keep this blog updated more frequently!)