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Creative Organizing

I’ve asked Cliff Wilson to share his tips on organization, which have made his creative experience more satisfying. We’re delighted that Cliff and his husband have become part of our Creative Minds family! — Judy

tiny flower brightening Cliff Wilson's sewing space

Guest post by Cliff Wilson

I have landed on the other side of the realization that life likely won’t be “normal” again this year. Being on the other side makes it a lot easier to figure out what you need to get through. One of the most valuable things for me is safeguarding my creative space. This isn’t a reference to square feet in a craft room, it is a view into empowering the creative mind to flourish. I found this empowerment through organization.

Before the pandemic, and buried deep in the back of the closet, was a simple sewing machine gathering dust. My husband and I both have several beginner quilts on our crafting resume, but it was far from a regular hobby. A month into being socially distant at home every day and we had not only dusted off that sewing machine but knocked out five baby quilts, finished several unfinished objects, and started to learn about an obsession with quilting fabric I didn’t know I had.

Cliff Wilson's Tula Pink Limited Edition BERNINA 770QE

Since that first month, we have added a Brother straight stitch machine, a unicorn of sewing with the BERNINA 770 QE Tula Pink edition (pictured above), and a BERNINA Q16 stationary longarm machine (below). A special shout out to Artistic Artifacts for their continued help and BERNINA inventory — a great relationship we never would have had without the pandemic. [Editor’s note, while the Tula Pink limited edition is sold out, you can learn more about the B770QE on the Artistic Artifacts website.]

Cliff Wilson's BERNINA Q16 and machine quilting example

With the new machines, we have created many more quilts and learned so many lessons. We have also found ourselves with a pretty healthy fabric hoard conservation practice. Most hobbies seem to be similar in that there are many things we “definitely need”…and that stuff can accumulate quickly!

All of these supplies quickly take up space and managing all the things can bring stress into the creative space. For me, I learned that if I didn’t have the ability to focus only on the creative and not also on a mess of supplies that it was a much more fulfilling experience. I am excited to share a bit of my approach to organization that has made my creative process enjoyable.

Fabric shelves with touches of whimsy in Cliff Wilson'e sewing space

Make it magical: Think of your favorite shops you visit to source supplies and how you feel when you are on the hunt for the next must-have supply. You get to decide how your creative space feels. I like to add funny items around the space that spark a bit of joy and keep things light.

Scissors on display on a jewelry stand repurposed by Cliff Wilson

You can also use things you may already have around the house as a sort of shop display. Take scissors for example — I love seeing scissors on display, so we repurposed a jewelry holder we already had and it became a magical scissor station!

Find your balance: Take the time to figure out how organized your creative stuff needs to be for you to maximize your creating time. I enjoy organizing, but I also know just the thought of organizing ignites stress in others. Make it work for you.

Beautiful fabric storage shelves from Cliff Wilson's sewing studio

Cliff Wilson uses comic book boards and fabric clips to keep his fabric stash neatly on display and easily accessible

An example of what brings me joy in the organization space is how we manage our fabric collection (pictured above). I like to see what we have and it feeds my inspiration. It is also a secret weapon when I need a little pick-me-up on those tough days. This spark happened when I read about using comic book boards similar to how fabric is wound around a cardboard bolt. I partner these with Pals Bolt Buddies and it easily provides a consistent process to have fabric on display and ready to be used.

There is a sort of internal alarm for me when the organization of something needs to be tweaked. A recent tweak was with how we store our machine quilting rulers. These are one of those hobby items that aren’t cheap, so they fall higher on my organization radar. Our machine quilting rulers are now organized within arms reach of the longarm and within protective envelopes with laminated labels (pictured below). Sometimes organization is a crafting process all on its own!

Cliff Wilson's machine quilting rulers are stored within protective envelopes with laminated labels

Make it easy to maintain: My creative spark can leave me as fast as it arrived. I have found that using totes helps me keep everything together for a project so I can easily put everything away. This helps keep my creating area ready for the next spark that comes along.

Cliff Wilson favors clear plastic totes to organize his current and planned projects

An added bonus is it makes things feel more organized with minimal effort! I am partial to these clear totes you can find at a certain store that pretty much only sells containers…and “container” may be in the company name 🙂

I hope you are all able to find the magic in your creative space this year and find joy in creating all the things. Stay safe!

Quilt featuring Tula Pink fabric being machine quilted on Cliff Wilson's Q16


Judy here again… thank you Cliff! I’m sure our readers will enjoy your ideas — you’ve got me inspired!

Virginia’s Quilt

Completed Virginia’s quilt by Judy Gula including fabrics and blocks by Virginia Aribe

This quilt began with a box full of 1 in. wide stripcut Japanese fabrics from a friend, Virginia Aribe, who sadly passed away in January 2019. Virginia was a beloved member of the same chapter of Quilters Unlimited that I am (Burke). The box also contained some quilt blocks using the fabrics that Virgina had already started.

Blocks by Virginia Aribe incorporated into the quilt

Japanese fabrics have long been some of my own favorites, so I thought I would challenge myself to take Virginia’s squares (some pictured above) and create some of my own to combine into a new quilt.

Small log cabin blocks by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

I began to make small log cabin blocks from the strips. I’ve joked that the log cabin block is the only one I know how to make! But it’s my go-to for a reason, it’s easy, showcases fabric well, and there’s so much you can do with your layout depending on how you structure the block’s colors.

More blocks originally completed by Virginia Aribe

I wanted a hint of red to contrast with the beautiful shades of blue and white, so I made sure that some of the blocks I created had a little included, from Chinese Red to Brick Red – not a lot, but little touches so the eye searches for it. Above, you can see my smaller log cabin blocks to the right of more of Virginia’s original blocks.

Log cabin quilt blocks from Japanese fabrics pieced by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

More of my blocks are above. I squared them up, kind of …

Originally I tried to combine Virginia’s blocks and my new one with another piece that I had been working on that contains indigo.

Test layout including a separate Judy Gula project

Longtime readers and customers will know we often like to say that fabrics “play well with others.” Pictured above, I decided my addition was not going to play well, so I removed it from the assortment of quilt blocks.

Working on layout, Virginia's Quilt

So with a pile of small blocks, I began trying layouts, assembling them into larger blocks, and then rows, and then the quilt.

Puzzle like assembly, Virgina's Quilt by Judy Gula with contributions from Virginia Aribe

This kind of improv piecing and assembling is something like building a puzzle without having the boxtop photo to refer to.

Detail, free motion quilting by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts using a BERNINA Q20 longarm

Once I finally had my layout completed, I layered my backing and batting and got to work quilting it. I used the BERNINA Q20 and a variety of free-motion designs.

Detail, free motion quilting by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts using a BERNINA Q20 longarm

In addition to blue thread, I threw in some red (seen above) too.

I completed Virginia’s quilt this spring — the Japanese scraps from her had been calling me for quite a while. While she has passed from this life, her creativity, kindness and strength carries on… thank you, Virginia!

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 »

________________

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.

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

Using Transfer Artist Paper

I was so happy to begin 2020 with Lesley Riley’s Transfer Artist Paper (also known as TAP) back in stock, available in 5-sheet and 18 sheet packs! In my most recent Creative Clips, I give you a quick demonstration on how to use TAP. TAP was always one of my favorite transfer products, and it was a real loss when manufacturing difficulties took it off the market. TAP has now been completely reformulated and this versatile product allows you to transfer images to virtually any surface with the heat of an iron.

In the video I use non-stick Goddess Sheet while ironing. My 13½ inch square Felted Wool Pressing Mat is a great working surface, as it absorbs the heat from the iron and sort of bounces it back to the fabric — for best results with TAP, you want both pressure and heat.

Bluebell Paper Doll, mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Above is one of my vintage inspired quilts, from 2006. Titled Bluebell Paper Doll, I used TAP to transfer a photo of the paper doll to vintage embroidered linen. I then embellished with pearls, beads and tatting.

Detail of Bluebell Paper Doll, mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

Isn’t she sweet? The doll image has dimension through trapunto. The imperfections give it even more vintage character — and look at how vivid the color remains this many years later.

Below, The Lady in the Garden. The focal image was transferred onto Lutradur using TAP, and I used hand-dyed and vintage materials to complement my inspiration. Read more about the making of this quilt »

The Lady in the Garden, an art quilt by Judy Gula using hand-dyed and vintage materials

Upon the re-release of TAP, Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution shared “Good news for image transfer fanatics….the new TAP formula seems to work well! Transfers were easy and clear.”

TAP samples by Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution
Transfer Artist Paper (TAP) on wood, image by C&T Publishing

Pictured above is her test on Osnaburg 100% Cotton (top) and Ava-lon Bleached Muslin (bottom). POST EDITED: Our Italian Creative Retreat, with Liz joining me (we will be using TAP) will instead take place in Fall 2021 due to the global pandemic.

As mentioned in my video, remember that TAP allows you to transfer images on a variety of surfaces, not just on fabric and paper. Other surfaces include wood (example with TAP transfer is pictured here; image courtesy C&T Publishing), glass, metal, and many more.

You can also learn more about using TAP from Lesley Riley herself in this video.

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