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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.

More Fabric Postcards!

I want to share more of the beautiful fabric postcards (here’s how I make mine) that I’ve received this summer. Where does the time go? I apologize for being overdue on posting!

Fabric postcard by Joyce for Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

My offer is an ongoing one: 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! But remember, you must include your full name and especially your address so I can send you mine in return! I’m sad to report that I have had several instances where I can’t reciprocate for that reason. (Email me if you forgot to include your address!)

Fabric postcards by Joyce for Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Joyce said she had some fun with this challenge — and it shows, as she treated me with three! Her cute Collie Flower opened this post and above are her wonderful patchwork postcards.

Fabric postcard by Lee for Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Lee used beautiful batik fabrics and added lovely free motion quilting to embellish — the blues and greens are so refreshing to look at during this summer heat.

Fabric postcard by Sally for Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Another wonderful cool color combination of fabrics that were pieced and quilted by Sally.

Fabric postcard by Karen for Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Karen shares my love of fabric selvages! Don’t they make the best stripes? (Karen, if you’re reading, I need your last name and mailing address!)

Fabric postcard by Paula for Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Paula thanked me for “this inspiring challenge. I have made eight cards so far to share!” Happy to hear that Paula, and I bet your recipients are happy to find your postcards brightening their mailboxes!

Fabric postcard by Laura Jane for Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Laura Jane wrote that this “was a blast to create, even with my self-taught skills. During this crazy pandemic season, it was a creative path that offered a respite… thank you for your store and passion!”

First time fabric postcards by Susan, the top left was sent to Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Susan posted this photo on her Instagram page with the comment “I just finished my first free motion, quilted post cards thanks to coaching by Judy Gula at #ArtisticArtifacts. As with everything, I learned much that I’ll do differently next time. It was SO much fun. Instructions are online at AA’s blog.”
         One of these beauties made their way to me with this sweet message from her, “I will always be grateful to you for your support, your laughter and your willingness to encourage me to do things I think I can’t.” I love how her cyanotype fabrics look combined with rusted fabric and commercial cottons.

Fabric postcards by Betsy True

Ready for more inspiration? Betsy True used our #ShareonSat hashtag, posting to the Artistic Artifacts Creative Minds Facebook Group, that she had been “playing with fabric postcards using some of my Asian theme fabrics collected over the years; cutting elements out and collaging them onto more interesting backgrounds.”

Fabric postcards by Betsy True

This is such a great idea for large scale fabrics or fabric panels!

Paper collaged postcard by Linda for Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

And of course, you don’t have to use fabric. Linda created this embellished collaged postcard with paper and cardstock, but she’s also a talented fiber artist. “Thank you for keeping me supplied with fabric and thread,” Linda wrote, “and keeping me entertained online during the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020. I sure miss seeing you all!”

We miss seeing many of our customers and friends too, Linda. Fortunately social media allows us all to touch base with one another to check in and to share. If you aren’t already subscribed to our newsletter you may do so here. Please join our Creative Minds Facebook Group as well as visiting our store Facebook page, Instagram, and Pinterest boards. Plus our YouTube channel features video tutorials and more!

Additional fiber art received by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

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!

Making Fabric Postcards: Want to Trade?

Updated July 9, 2020: Since originally writing this post, I’ve responded to a number of requests by filming a quick tutorial for you! Please take a look and read through my steps below — you’ll see this is an easy, fun fiber project that spreads some joy into the world!

I love to make fabric postcards… and not just make, but to use and mail. Watch my recent Creative Clip for my challenge to anyone interested in a fabric postcard trade!

Fabric postcards by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Some of us only get small moments in time to play with our fabric. I am one of those people. Because of that time crunch, I have developed a system to keep fabric postcards always in progress. When I get those small amounts of time, I can immediately get to work where I previously left off. And before I know it, I’ve produced 6-12 postcards at a time!

With the current global health crisis meaning that so many must stay home to safeguard their health, I’m stamping and addressing my postcards, in the hopes that they brighten someone’s day once found in their mailbox.

Fabric postcard by Judy Gula of Artistic ArtifactsIn addition to fabric scraps, I use the following supplies when creating fabric postcards:

  • Steam-A-Seam 2 (I prefer lite version) I like this fusible because it is sticky and allows me to lay small pieces/scraps of fabric and it holds them in place. If I want to move the fabric I can pull off and replace or move. I recommend you begin with a piece that is 12 in. x 18 in.
  • Pellon Peltex 71F One-Sided Fusible — I keep the fusible side for the card stock to be applied.
  • Non-stick craft sheet — such as a Goddess Sheet or the Bo-Nash Amazing Sheet. I use the largest size I have, so that it is both under and over my fusible
  • Thread
  • 4 in. x 6 in. index cards, or card stock cut to size

First, peel back one side the Steam-A-Seam 2 fusible. I don’t remove it all the way off — I peel it as I lay down fabrics scraps.

Judy Gula uses a variety of fabric scraps, selvages, orphan blocks and more to create her fabric postcards

I apply a variety of fabric scraps, selvages, orphan blocks and more. I do like to use smaller pieces to create a collage look on the Steam-A-Seam. Fill up the sheet with your fabric scraps as seen here..

Next step is the iron the fabric to the Steam-A-Seam, using your non-stick/Teflon sheet to secure the fabric.

Then, using a piece of Pellon Peltex 71F One-Sided Fusible inthe same size as your sheet of Steam-A-Seam 2, peel the last paper off the fusible and fit it to the non-fusible size of the Peltex.

IMPORTANT: make sure that you have your non-stick Teflon sheet (if you don’t own one, substitute parchment paper) under the fusible side of the Peltex or it will stick to the ironing board… Ask me how I know!

Free-motion stitching on Judy Gula's fabric postcards

Once the fabric collage is fused to the Peltex, I then have some fun at my sewing machine. Free motion stitch the entire front of your fabric collage. Note that there is a tendency for the glue to come off on the needle; it is sticky. It hasn’t caused me problems, but next time I’m going to try the Schmetz Super Nonstick Needles.

I use this stitching time to test out new freemotion “patterns” or to practice them. I also often follow the pattern in the patterns in the fabric scraps. This is also a great time to test out any fancy stitches your machine might have programmed. Sometimes I use one color thread, sometimes multiple — and specialty threads can be fun to play with too!

Fabric collaged sheet ready to be cut into postcards

Once my sheet is completely free-motion stitched (above), I cut it into 4 in. x 6 in. pieces for the postcards. I then apply the 4 in. x 6 in. index cards (or card stock cut to size) to the back side.

Zig-zag stitching the edges of the postcard

Stitch an open zig zag stitch around the four sides of the postcard. Don’t make the zig zag stitch too close, or you’ll perforate the card stock to the point that the edge could detach or pull off.

Detail, zig-zag edge of fabric postcard

If you have a postcard stamp, use it to dress up your back. If you don’t, simply write POSTCARD on the center top of the card. Write your recipients address and add a stamp on the right side of the postcard. First class postage is all you need! Then write your message on the left and drop it into the mail.

I’d love to trade postcards with you — watch my latest Creative Clip for my challenge!

Something Fishy…

Diane Herbort Poisson d' Avril art quilt

Fiber and mixed media artist Diane Herbort created Something Fishy, her fabric and paper collage pictured above, for Cloth Paper Scissors to illustrate her 2008 article about using disperse dye to transfer images to fabric. Since it was scheduled for the March/April issue, she chose a Poisson d’Avril theme and used one of the vintage postcards she collects as her focal image.

Detail, Blue Fish Quilt by Judy Gula

Vintage and fish… easy to see the connection with Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula’s Blue Fish quilt (detail pictured here). Visit Using Vintage Textiles in My Blue Fish Quilt for the complete quilt photo, plus details on how Judy created it.

To celebrate April 1 we posted Diane’s beautiful work in our newsletter as well as on our Facebook page. We asked members of our Artistic Artifacts Creative Minds Facebook group to share their own “fishy” art, and we loved the responses, sharing them here for those who aren’t on Facebook. (Plus we wanted to keep this particular ‘school of fish’ together!) Enjoy the following (listed in alphabetical order by artist)… all are wonderful!

Susan Callahan fish quilt

Susan Callahan: “You asked for fish. This was my 2018 hand stitch exercise. Ten minutes a day for 365 days. Loved this piece!” It measures 17 in. high and 36 in. wide.

Mixed media fish collected by NiYa Costley in a JAMs swap

NiYa Costly referenced an exchange from a past Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs) meeting: “Fish from one of our random swaps that I was holding onto… haven’t figured out yet how to display them.” See Linda Morgan’s piece below — she started it!

Fish cut from batik panels by Jaka center wonky log cabin quilt blocks by Judy Gula

Judy Gula: We began our “poisson d’avril” photo challenge by sharing two blocks that Judy made for a quilt featured in her book Colorful Batik Panel Quilts. School of Fish is one of the projects in the book, using hand-drawn batik panels by one of our most popular batik artists, Jaka. You can see the complete quilt below, as well as in Judy’s introduction of her book.

Mahyar batik panel detail: hand stitching with Eleganza cotton by WonderFil

Judy traveled with a batik panel by Mahyar — the fanciful fish are detailed here — to embellish it with lots of hand stitching, using Eleganza pearl cotton by WonderFil Specialty Threads. The Three Sisters quilt was also featured in her book; learn and see more about it here on this blog.

Susanne Miller Jones fish quilt

Susanne Miller Jones: “Fishy theme you say: Gotta Eat.”

Bunnie Jordan fish quilt

Bunnie Jordan: “Just happen to have a fish quilt on my wall right now.”

Sharon McDonagh’s mixed media eye token as taught by theresa mARTin

Sharon McDonagh: “I enjoy Theresa mARTin classes so much I have taken them more than once. Her mixed media eye token class has always resulted in amazing student work since she generously shares so many treasures from her stash. I quickly grabbed the wonderful fish bead for my mermaid-inspired piece. I love how it turned out!”

Julie Hames Mehigan fish wall hanging

Julie Hames Mehigan: “A piece I made for a school auction. Kindergartener’s hand prints became fish. Bubbles are their initials. Made a lot of it when my Dad was in the hospital dying, so of course, I bid on it and bought it.”

We sought out Linda Morgan, writing that “we’re expecting to see the fish you made that nearly caused a riot during a JAMs exchange a few years back — talk about a feeding frenzy!”

Stitched fiber collage fish by Linda Morgan

…and she replied, “Artistic Artifacts, these guys were fun to make!”

Lynda Poole Prioleau fish bead fiber pendant

Lynda Poole Prioleau: “In keeping with the fish theme for today…Here’s a pendant I made using one of Judy Vincentz Gula’s small, dyed pieces. I added beads, a hand dyed linen backing, and, oh yeah, some fishies!”

Beth Richardson Coral Reef quilt

Beth Richardson: “For today’s theme, one of my faves. It’s called Coral Reef.”

Joni Seidenstein fish quilt

Joni Seidenstein: “Did someone say fish?” And when a fellow Creative Mind commented on the number of fish, Joni replied “I spent literal hours cutting these fish out to fuse onto this quilt. I did it when my daughter was at swim lessons. It felt quite apropos!”

Etta Stewart fish fiber collage

Etta Stewart: “I just have to add a fish or two…”

Etta Stewart fish fiber collage


…or was that more than two, Etta?

Betsy True fish art quilt

Betsy True: “This was my first art quilt, begun during a workshop with Ruth B McDowell at an Empty Spools Seminar at Asilomar, California.”

detail of art quilt by Christine Vinh

Christine Vinh: “For the fishy theme, this is a close-up of part of a quilt that was in Sacred Threads Quilts in 2017. Photos from a visit to Inle Lake in Burma and the one on burlap was done using Transfer Artist Paper. The silver fish charm was given to us by one of the children in a village we visited. The blue water is part of a silk scarf. Stitched throughout with Tentakulum threads.”

Batik panel quilt by Christine Vinh

Chris also sent us two of her quilts created using hand-drawn batik panels. Above, the focal panel is by Bambang Dharmo.

Batik panel quilt by Christine Vinh

Above, a panel from batik artist Aprat is the focal point in this modern art quilt by Chris.

We hope you have enjoyed the wide variety of fish themed art we are have shared here. We thank all who submitted their work, and hope you will thank them too — please leave a comment below!

We love when our customers and friends share their projects with us, via our Facebook page, the Artistic Artifacts Creative Minds Facebook group, or by email for those not on social media, so we hope to hear from you!

School of Fish by Judy Gula, featured in her book Colorful Batik Panel Quilts

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