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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

Judy’s Sacred Threads 2019 Quilt: Joy In Things Remembered

Artistic Artifacts is a proud sponsor of Sacred Threads, a biennial quilt show that opens on Thursday, July 11 and continues through July 28, 2019 in Herndon, VA. There were a record number of quilts submitted for consideration this year, and Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula was pleased to have her beautiful mixed media quilt “Joy in Things Remembered” juried in for this year’s exhibit. While she is currently in Italy teaching her creative retreat, we wanted to share some of the gorgeous details of her special quilt! Below, she points out some of her quilt’s elements during a presentation for Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs)**.

Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula with her 2019 Sacred Threads submission

Readers of this blog and those who know Judy know her love of vintage items: photographs and other ephemera, textiles, embellishments such as millinery flowers and more, and she used all that and more for “Joy in Things Remembered.” Below, her focal point vintage portrait was given an ethereal quality by scanning it, printing it once on EQ Printables Premium Cotton Lawn Inkjet Fabric and then topping it with a print on ExtravOrganza.

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

From Judy’s Spotlight interview with Create Whimsy: What inspires you? Are there recurring themes in your work? Do you do series work? How does that affect your approach?

“I am excited and inspired by materials. My true love is vintage textiles. So I am the orphan collector – I love photos, textiles, clothing pieces that tell a story of an older time. People bring me their treasured family textiles when no one wants them because they know that I love and cherish them. Why did they have their photo taken that day, what did they do, was the family loving?

“I have been known to incorporate 3-D items within my quilts to help tell the story including vintage jewelry, framed photos, keys, charms and beads. I will also hand dye vintage textiles and use them in my work.”

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

Flanking the portrait, vintage buttons and beads are some of Judy’s favorite embellishments. You can also see the detail in fabric that Judy rust-dyed to include in this quilt.

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

Judy loves to dye vintage linens and use them in her art. There are always several tucked into her hand-dyed Inspiration Packs.

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

Her embellished elements could serve as small art quilts themselves! Below, we love her use of ephemera as an embellishment.

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

Below, Judy couldn’t bear to cut this amazing vintage textile…

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

…so she didn’t, gathering it into a swag!

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

You can see in the full-scale photo at the beginning and end of this post that Judy created a truly amazing rust print from a large iron bracket. The wonderful dark tones set off this tiny vintage photo surrounded by lace.

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

Judy’s sister Julie has very clear memories of playing with the vintage fan pictured below.

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

We hope you’ve enjoyed this close up view of Judy’s beautiful art! (Judy’s son Kyle Gula took the wonderfully detailed photos.) We encourage those of you who can to make time to visit Sacred Threads — we can promise you it is a quilt show like no other!

**JAMs normally meets on the third Sunday of the month at Artistic Artifacts. Note that JAMs will not meet in July 2019, in order that members can volunteer for Sacred Threads, and that our August meeting will also shift because of Seth Apter’s classes.

Below, Joy in Things Remembered, mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula. View larger image of quilt »

Detail of Joy in Things Remembered, a mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts that will appear in Sacred Threads 2019

Beaded Embroidery Stitching on Panels

Cover of Beaded Embroidery Stitching: 125 Stitches to Embellish with Beads Buttons Charms Bead Weaving and More by Christen Brown

It’s Friday, April 12, Artistic Artifacts’ day to celebrate the publication Beaded Embroidery Stitching: 125 Stitches to Embellish with Beads, Buttons, Charms, Bead Weaving & More by Christen Brown!

Please comment on our posting of this blog tour — use the field at the bottom of the page and be sure to include your email address — to be eligible for our random drawing to win an e-book copy of this beautiful book from us!

Color Batik Panel Quilts by Judy Vincentz Gula

I have long been a fan of beading and have often incorporated it into my art quilts (you can visit past blog posts here and here for some examples). When Artistic Artifacts was selected as a 2018 Top Shop by Quilt Sampler magazine, our magazine exclusive project was a batik panel quilt with beading! Our Artistic Artifacts Quilt Sampler kit is available in several colors and includes a Hari Agung batik panel, coordinating Australian Aborigine Designed fabrics and our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batiks, plus beads, Silamide thread (my favorite) and a needle to embellish!

Colorful Batik Panel Quilts: 28 Quilting and Embellishing Inspirations from Around the World, is my first book and was published at the beginning of this year — here’s a link to my blog post about it (which also features beading). Colorful Batik Panel Quilts features a section on embellishing: “Beading on panels is one of my favorite embellishing techniques. Beads and crystals can add sparkle and texture to enhance the design of the panel and make it your own,” I wrote. “Single stitch and back stitch are two techniques I use most.”

Beaded Embroidery Stitching from C&T Publishing features 125 bead embroidery and bead woven stitches, and readers can search both stitches organized by type with a complete visual guide or the A-to-Z stitch index. There is a wonderful assortment of beautiful dimensional stitches that I thought would be perfect for my project.

Hari Agung batik panel quilt by Judy Gula

Above, my quilted batik panel quilt before I started beading. The center floral panel is another from Hari Agung. I gathered my other supplies, beads, beading needles (Tulip brand, which are in my opinion the best quality), a beading awl (useful to reposition beads or clear the hole of coatings so your needle can go through) and Silamide.

Beaded Pistil Stitch from Beaded Embroidery Stitching by Christen Brown

An obvious choice when working on a batik panel featuring flowers was exploring Christen’s Beaded Pistil Stitch. I enjoyed learning this technique and am thrilled with the dimension it adds!

The beaded pistil stitch adds wonderful dimension to the center of the flower in this Hari Agung panel

I wanted to try out her Feather and Fly Stitches to accent one of the leaves in my panel.

Fly and Feather Stitches from Beaded Embroidery Stitching by Christen Brown

Despite Christen’s very clear instructions, my attempt went a bit awry with this one — I told you I was used to freeform stitching! But even so, I love the way the bead embroidery enhances the leaf in my panel. Christen begins her book with explaining, and illustrating, how beads come in many different shapes and sizes, with seed beads are numbered from low to high: the higher the number, the smaller the bead. My preference is for mixing colors and sizes of beads together (that’s what you find in the Artistic Artifacts bead mixes I’m using here), but a uniform line of beads would also be perfect on my leaves.

Accenting flower petal edges with beading

Above, I added tiny striped beads to accent the edge of the petals.

Batik panel art quilt by Judy Gula, including beaded details

Christen’s chapter Where Do Designs Come From? (page 30) points out that a fabric with a strong print can be “used as the focal or base of an embroidered design. The embroidery and embellishments can follow the lines and shapes of the print and enhance any open spaces.” I offer the same advice about free-motion quilting — follow the lines of your fabric design — and one of the pleasures of beading a batik panel is that there is so much ‘guidance’ in the fabric. The above project from my book illustrates that point — as well as Christen’s belief that “Adding larger beads, charms, and buttons gives interest and definition to your project.”

Beaded brooches by Christen Brown and Judy Gula

Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge lover of vintage beaded textiles and accessories, so I enjoyed learning more about how these influenced Christen’s work. I used to create pins and brooches by the handful (see more here) so her Beaded Brooches project (page 94, one example above left) was of interest. Beaded Embroidery Stitching includes instructions on creating beaded edges, which as you see are beautiful on dimensional shapes!

Beaded Embroidery Stitching includes detailed diagrams

I’m thankful to Diane Herbort, who often teaches at Artistic Artifacts — she and Christen are long-time friends and Diane recommended us to her for this blog tour. Beaded Embroidery Stitching is a resource all embroiderers, crazy quilters, craft sewists, jewelry makers and more will want to add to their library. I was interested to learn more about how Christen achieves her beautiful work, and this book didn’t disappoint. The plentiful photographs are truly eye candy, and each project includes clear instructions, plus a photo ‘map’ so you can see exactly what stitch is used where (example here).

Christen Brown, author of Beaded Embroidery Stitching

Below is the complete Beaded Embroidery Stitching Blog Tour lineup — please visit each blog each day to see their reviews, how they have been inspired, and more. Follow each blog’s directions for how to be eligible to win — if you aren’t our winner, you have several chances to be someone else’s!

You can learn more about this beautiful book and order your copy on our website. Also by Christen Brown:

  • Embroidered and Embellished: 85 Stitches Using Thread, Floss, Ribbon, Beads & More. The complete visual guide to hand embroidery and embellishing and an essential embroidery reference for everyone from beginners to experts. This richly illustrated reference guide from embroidery expert Christen Brown covers everything you need to make beautiful magic with needle and thread.
  • The Embroidery Book: Visual Resource of Color & Design. A step-by-step visual guide to 149 embroidery stitches, motifs, and extras with robust color charts that take the guesswork out of choosing thread, buttons, and trims. Stitch classic seam treatments and stunning stand-alone designs as you go beyond the basics to learn what embroidery can do for you.
  • Embroidery Stencils, Essential Collection help you create unique designs to embroider: hearts, flowers, baskets, butterflies, spiderwebs, vines, feather stitches, and more using the 4 in. x 8 in. stencils that combine to create 90+ embroidery designs.

Remember, leave a comment and your email address to be eligible to win an ebook copy of Beaded Embroidery Stitching!

Beading supplies ready for the next session

Above, my supplies and tools are ready for my next beading session!

Graphic & Improv Modern Scrap Quilt

Modern scrap quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

One of my latest projects is a fun modern quilt that is just back from suZquilts and ready for binding (pictured above). suZquilts owner Susan Bentley did an amazing job with the longarm quilting!

Scraps of colorful printed fabrics ready to go into the quilt

I often profess my love for black and white print fabrics. I love them as is, and I love to overdye them too — you’ll find swatches in my Inspiration Packs, which also include hand-dyed found textiles and fibers for art quilts and other fiber projects. For this quilt I left my graphic black and white prints alone and added color with long strips that were pieced from coloful fabric scraps (above) from my stash.

Strips of fabric sewn into larger pieces to further cut into strips

I began by freehand cutting strips (including some of my black and whites) and sewing them together randomly to create larger pieces of fabric. I embraced the wonkiness and worked without rulers or stitching perfectly straight lines. You can see at the bottom of the photo above that I was able to use strips that weren’t all the same length — nothing goes to waste.

Randomly cut strips of colorful cotton prints

My cuts from the pieced fabrics were also free-hand and random, resulting in different widths. You can see the variety of fabric used, but I did focus on my modern cottons stash versus the batiks and Australian Aborigine-designed fabric I often gravitate to.

Cutting a black and white print block to inset the color strips

Working improvisationally, I sliced my black and white fabric blocks (not perfectly square and again, different sizes and widths) and sewed my colorful strips in.

Black and white print block with two color strips inset

I don’t think any two blocks are the same — some have one strip, some two or more, some strips intersect — and there’s a wide variety of angles involved.

Blocks and their inset strips are all random

As you can see in the photo above, I also didn’t worry about having each block the same height. I played around with the blocks until I had a layout I liked.

Laying out finished blocks to come up with a layout and to square the quilt up

As I finalized the layout, I started making the adjustments to “smoosh” the blocks together, stitching vertical rows. (FYI, the lighting in my studio shows the colors unevenly here.)

Adding vertical strips to the finished blocks for the final quilt design

I had so many scraps pieced into strips that I was able to inset vertical rows of them too.

Finished quilt, missing only the binding

Most of my work are small art quilts or medium wall hangings, so working large for bed-size quilts is still somewhat rare for me. I love how this came together!

Striped border accents the improv blocks

The striped fabric worked perfectly for the border — it continued the look of the colorful inset strips without the time necessary to piece them. This closeup also lets you see the beautiful quilting by suZquilts.

Detail of improv blocks and longarm quilting by suZquilts

This freeform, improv method of construction was a lot of fun and I love my final result. Give it a try!

As Seen at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival

Artistic Artifacts booth at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival 2019

We always enjoy the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival — relatively close to home, and so many of our customers and guild members make the trip down. We received a lot of comments and compliments on my book Colorful Batik Panel Quilts and all the samples and products we had with us: thank you! While we love being busy in the booth (pictured above), of course we hope to have a few moments free to enjoy the quilts!

We were blown away by the hand appliqué work of Barbara G. Buchanan!

Mary Down Under No. 2, hand appliqued by Barbara G. Buchanan, machine quilted by Maria O'Haver

Above, Mary Down Under No. 2. Barbara’s entry read: “This is the second quilt of a triptych using four of 25 blocks from the original red and green Baltimore Album style Mary Mannakee quilt made in Montgomery County, MD, 1850-1851. The original is in the DAR Museum, Washington, DC. Australian Aboriginal designs are the focus fabrics. I designed the border using motifs from the original Mary’s border. I also used batiks and other fabrics as needed. I used window templates to preview the [Aborigine-designed] fabrics to get just the right design element. This was crucial, as these fabrics are a challenge to use, but so rewarding when you realize that they will work. It just takes a little more effort.”

Mary Down Under No. 3, hand appliqued by Barbara G. Buchanan, machine quilted by Maria O'Haver
Detail of Barbara G. Buchanan's quilt

Above, Mary Down Under No. 3. We’ve never seen Australian Aboriginal fabric used in this way! Both quilts are 50 in. square and were expertly machine quilted by Maria O’Haver. In this detail photo you can see the care in which Barbara framed the fabrics’ pattern to enhance her applique pieces, as well as the lavish quilting by Maria to enhance it all. Barbara noted that she requested her triptych quilts be quilted“ as if they were cousins versus sisters.” She also noted that her husband Loren Buchanan provided design assistance!

We were pleased to see that we knew several winners, customers, students and teachers who are a part of our robust class program. Nancy Hershberger submitted Ghost Solder 1918, a 30 in. square wall quilt that was inspired by the poppy fields of Belgium — and it was awarded a blue ribbon for Best Sewing Machine Workmanship. Nancy is a big fan of our Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paints, and used them in this quilt!

Ghost Soldier 1918 by Nancy Hershberger

Cindy Grisdela won Best Use of Color for her quilt Confetti, pictured below, created in her trademark artful improv style.

Confetti by Cindy Grisdela
Roy Mitchell, Jr., instructor for The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) quilting program (photo courtesy DJJ Facebook page)

Last year while at Mid-Atlantic we shared in this blog post how much we enjoyed the special exhibit We Are Somebody, and learning more about Roy Mitchell, Jr. (pictured here center; his students’ identities are protected) and his quilting students, young men incarcerated at The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice’s (DJJ) Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center. Please read it if you have not yet — their story is so inspirational! The DJJ quilting program is believed to be the only class of its type in a male juvenile corrections setting in the U.S. It teaches the skills involved — planning, design, measuring, geometry, sewing — and also critical life skills such as goal-setting, patience, frustration management, public speaking, and the value of precision.

A Thyme to Slant from the We Are Somebody special exhibit

This year they were again featured, with “All About Us” the theme of their special exhibit. We’re delighted to share our photographs of some of these quilts, known for their amazing uses of color and design, as well as stellar workmanship! Above, A Thyme to Slant.

Lotty Dotty from the We Are Somebody special exhibit

Lotty Dotty.

Crescent Moon from the We Are Somebody special exhibit

Crescent Moon.

It’s a Batik Thang from the We Are Somebody special exhibit

It’s a Batik Thang.

No Place Like Home from the We Are Somebody special exhibit

No Place Like Home.

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