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To Dye For: Ikats from Central Asia

Ikat from the "To Dye For: Ikats from Central Asia" exhibit at the he Freer|Sackler

I was able to run into the Washington DC one rainy afternoon and find a parking space close to the Freer|Sackler. Unheard of!

The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery — together, the Freer|Sackler, are the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art. These galleries are under-appreciated among the more well-known giants such as the Air and Space Museum and the Natural History Museum etc. But it was my destination for this visit because they had a wonderful exhibit featuring ikats from Central Asia.

To Dye For: Ikats from Central Asia is a feast for the eyes. Within the exhibit there is documentation about Uzbekistan and the Fergana Valley creating the world’s most beautiful silk ikats. I will have to agree!

As a weaver in my previous art life, I can tell you it is pure magic to see these Warp and Weft Ikat in silk. I would have enjoyed seeing a loom set up — a missed opportunity by the curators in my opinion. In the gallery below (click to see larger versions) I’m sharing some of the photos I took, both of the textiles as well as garments, with meaning both couture and cultural.

To Dye For: Ikats from Central Asia is on exhibit at the Freer Gallery of Art until July 29, 2018, and there are some wonderful entertainment and educational events planned in conjunction with it. If you are local, or visiting the Washington DC area for a summer trip, please take some time to visit.

Revisited: Dye. Layer. Collage. Art.

I’m doing some springtime travel: presenting my Batik Adventure lecture and trunk show to the Colorado Quilting Council on Saturday, April 28, and also teaching my Woodblock Printed Collage Art Quilt for the group on Sunday, April 29. (FYI, this class will also take place May 19 at Artistic Artifacts.)

Lady with Brooch mixed media art quilt by Judy Gula

The workshop will take place at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts, in Colorado Springs, also home to Textiles West and my oft-mentioned friends Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution and Ruth Chandler, who are both are on the Textiles West board. I’m reminded of a Colorado visit nearly eight years ago, teaching a class titled Dye. Layer. Collage. Art. at a Textile Evolution Retreat. The quilt I made there is pictured above, my “Lady with Brooch.”

Art and inspiration are timeless, so while my original blog post about this 2010 event is no longer available, I wanted to share again, this time including additional photos taken by Liz.

Dyeing fabric in Colorado, Textile Evolution Retreat 2010The first day of class we were immersed in making what I called “bits,” the base materials for our creations. We began with dyeing fabrics, vintage linens, trims and more. In the high-altitude Colorado climate, we could dye in jars, set out in the sun for three hours, rinse and line dry, and use in our quilts — all in the same day! (While the process is not that speedy on the East Coast, I have several Dye Days on the schedule now that the weather is warming.)

Show and TeJl at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010Day one also found us using fabric, tissue paper and paints to create fabric paper. You can download Making Fabric from Paper by Beryl Taylor, a PDF tutorial from the Cloth Paper Scissors blog to learn how youreself. During the retreat we would finish out each day with show and tell, and in this photo (right) you can see finished sheets of fabric paper and piles of hand-dyed fabric being passed around. It was fun to see what students in the other classes were up to each day!

Judy Gula demonstrating making silk paper at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010

In addition to the daytime classes, each evening the instructors would take turns doing another fiber arts related demonstration and hands-on activity. Pictured above, I demonstrated making silk paper using silk fibers, Angelina, Jo Sonja Textile Medium and more, adding to our stash of bits to use. (View my tutorial on creating silk paper on the Artistic Artifacts website)

Lady with Brooch art quilt by Judy Gula, detail

The 'bits' used in  the Dye. Layer. Collage. Art class by Judy Gula at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010The above detail photo of my Lady with Brooch quilt shows some of the fabric paper and dyed trims, as well as the vintage brooch referenced in my title.

The second day of class, my students had a choice of continuing to make bits (a glimpse of which are pictured right; including some of the student work begun), or to immediately start in on designing their quilts. They had to do so without pencil, paper, or preplanning — just letting the materials speak to them.

This was scary for all, but thanks to Cass Mullane and Laura Cater-Woods, every retreat attendee was issued a ‘permission slip’ to try something scary!

Students beginning to design their collaged art quilts

By beginning with an inspiration item such as a pin, photo or found object, they all were able to create a small art quilt that could be easily finished (if necessary) after the retreat concluded. Above you can see students beginning to experiment with layering fabrics and textiles to find the design they wanted to complete.

Student work from Dye. Layer. Collage. Art class by Judy Gula at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010

I was very proud of my students — they all stepped into the scary land of intuitive designing! Unfortunately I didn’t capture all of the work, but they all did a fabulous job. Above and below, student work experimenting with possible layouts.

Student work from Dye. Layer. Collage. Art class by Judy Gula at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010

Below, Cathleen “Cat” Mikkelson’s collage composition.

Cat Mikkelson’s student work from Dye. Layer. Collage. Art class by Judy Gula at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010

Cat’s inspiration was a “Famous Woman Card” that was included in the retreat Goodie Bag and her newly dyed fabrics.

Ruth Chandler at work designing her fiber collage art quilts

Above, Ruth Chandler at work composing two different pieces.

Ruth Chandler’s student work from Dye. Layer. Collage. Art class by Judy Gula at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010

The beginning of another piece by Ruth Chandler from Dye. Layer. Collage. Art class by Judy GulaRuth’s inspiration was the beautiful dyed and surface designed fabric she created combined with the photo, one of many I brought with me for student use.

Here you see more of Ruth’s fabric, but for this piece, the inspiration was a 12 in. × 12 in. piece of scrapbooking paper! Other Artists who taught at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010 were Laura Cater-Woods, a wonderful art coach, artist and friend and Carol Sloan.

This was the first time I had met Carol and I wrote then that she was “a new friend who draws wonderful designs, creates very cool rusted fabrics and loves found objects… wonder why we get along!”

My mother Pat Vincentz accompanied me on the trip to the retreat. While I was busy teaching, she took Carol’s two-day mixed media class Scraps, Fragments and Artifacts. She enjoyed herself, met new friends and then surprised me with the most wonderful quilt ever!

There was a photo of me and my mom holding it, me sweaty and sobbing. With my first blog post, I wrote that my readers were to “Keep in mind this quilt was a surprise and I was crying like a baby! I also had been working outside in 90 degree sunshine…you are supposed to be looking at the quilt!” This time around, I’m going to spare myself that embarrassment and just post the beautiful keepsake.

Pat Vincentz student work from Scraps, Fragments and Artifacts by Carol Sloan at Textile Evolution Retreat 2010

You can see my mom used some of Carol’s rust dyed fabric in her quilt. I used a wonderful piece too in my quilt; the detail photo below shows it as well as the free motion thread painting/quilting I used. I now sell my own Rusted Fabric Collage Pack — it adds such a great touch to fiber projects!

Lady with Brooch art quilt by Judy Gula, detail

I hope you’ve enjoyed this walk down memory lane and are inspired to create your own art quilt!

The “We Are Somebody” Quilting Program

Christine Vinh and Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula present Roy Mitchell's quilting students with three bolts of Indonesian-made material for their classroom.

Christine Vinh (left) and Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula present Roy Mitchell’s quilting students with three bolts of Batik Tambal Exclusive Batiks for their classroom.

We Are Somebody Quilting Program presents Just 4 U sign

The Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival is always a good event for Artistic Artifacts. Because it takes place in Hampton, VA, we see lots of local friends who have made the trip. And we are always grateful for our many repeat customers who seek out the Artistic Artifacts booth to see what we brought along with us. We are inspired by the works many of our customers have in the show and pieces they bring along with them to show us.

This year a particular highlight was meeting up with Roy Mitchell, Jr. and three of his quilting students, young men incarcerated at The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice’s Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center. We have met Roy in the past when he brought the young men to the show for inspiration, but this year was special. Mitchell’s students had their own special exhibit in the show, We Are Somebody: Quilting Program presents Just 4 U. The use of color, design, and workmanship of the 19 quilts by these young men deserved their place in the show, and we’d like to share our photographs of some of these beautiful works.

Quilt from the We Are Somebody Quilting Program exhibit Just 4 U at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival

From the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival’s description of its 2018 Virginia Quilt Guilds special exhibits: “The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice’s (DJJ) quilting program, believed to be the only quilting class in the country in a male juvenile corrections setting, teaches not just the hard skills involved in this difficult craft — planning, design, measuring, geometry, sewing — but also critical life skills such as goal-setting, patience, frustration management, public speaking, and the value of precision. Instructor Roy Mitchell, Jr. instills the notion that ‘You Are Somebody’ to all his students. Hundreds of quilts made by DJJ residents have been given to hospitals and homeless encampments, and featured in art galleries in Virginia, Michigan and California.”

Quilt from the We Are Somebody Quilting Program exhibit Just 4 U at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival

We took the opportunity to talk with Mr. Mitchell and his students — who learn his class mantra “I am somebody” when they enter his classroom — upon seeing them in the exhibit area near our booth. The pride and joy on their faces was enough to bring us to tears. When we asked who did the quilting of their pieces, one of the boys was quick to say he was the quilter.

DJJ Quilting Instructor Roy Mitchell lifts a quilt to reveal the intricate detail work on the back.

DJJ Quilting Instructor Roy Mitchell lifts a quilt to reveal the intricate detail work on the back. He has been teaching quilting since 2012.

We encouraged them to take full advantage of the skills they have learned in the quilt classes. We were so impressed that we presented several bolts of our Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik fabric (pictured at the top of this post) for use in their classroom to the group, with a promise to stay in touch and make future donations. By the end of our conversation Mitchell was planning a road trip to Artistic Artifacts with some of his students to spend a day with our local quilters.

Quilt from the We Are Somebody Quilting Program exhibit Just 4 U at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival

The boys also give back to their community, and recently Mitchell, accompanied by Deana Williams, director of post-secondary programs at Yvonne B. Miller High School, took 35 of the students’ creations to the Third Street Bethel AME Church in Richmond to give to homeless people who were waiting outside the church for a meal. Participants in the program have created quilts that have been exhibited throughout the country and have also created a Virginia-themed quilt that now hangs in the lobby of the Patrick Henry Building in downtown Richmond.

Square in a Square, 46 in. x 80 in., by L.R --Quilt from the We Are Somebody Quilting Program exhibit Just 4 U at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival

Square in a Square, 46 in. x 80 in., by L.R

Visit the Sewing With Nancy website to watch a video of Nancy Zieman’s January 2017 interview with Roy Mitchell, which includes a view of the Virginia-themed quilt — an impressive 10 feet by 12 feet — from the Patrick Henry building. You’ll also learn he has very stringent entrance requirements for this special program. (At least one Artistic Artifacts staffer is certain she would flunk the math exam!)

Fading, 78 in. x 88 in. by J.M. -- Quilt from the We Are Somebody Quilting Program exhibit Just 4 U at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival

Fading, 78 in. x 88 in. by J.M.

We look forward to their future visit to Artistic Artifacts and hope to support them in their quilting endeavors. We also hope you are as inspired as we were by the creativity and workmanship shown by these young men, and by the dedication of their instructor, who has taught quilting to 200 participants with a 0% recidivism.

Something Out of Nothing, 43 in. x 61 in., by B.B. -- Quilt from the We Are Somebody Quilting Program exhibit Just 4 U at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival

Something Out of Nothing, 43 in. x 61 in., by B.B.

Flower in a Garden, 55 in. x 55 in. by D.H. -- Quilt from the We Are Somebody Quilting Program exhibit Just 4 U at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival

Flower in a Garden, 55 in. x 55 in. by D.H.

Hari Agung Floral Batik Panel Quilts

One of my favorite ways to put together a fast, but beautiful, art quilt is to start with a handcrafted batik panel and add one of more border strips log cabin style. This one just needs the binding.

Small red floral batik panel by Hari Agung bordered with Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik

To complement this gorgeous red floral panel by Hari Agung, I used two fabrics from our own Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik fabric line: top and left is Fruit Sours, Green Apple, and bottom/right is Fronds, Mocha.

Detail, Small red floral batik panel by Hari Agung bordered with Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik

I machine quilted the borders with simple angled straight lines, and the center panel with a free-form meander.

French knots accenting the flower centers of the Hari Agung batik panel

Above, I accented the flower centers with French knots. I love using a variegated thread like our beautiful Eleganza from the Sue Spargo Collection by WonderFil Specialty Threads for French knots: you end up with different colors without changing threads!

I used a medium size Hari Agung panel for this next quilt in progress.

Medium Hari Agung floral panel art quilt ready for quilting and then binding

This one is framed with simple log cabin-style nested borders, including Batik Tambal Exclusive Batik in Connections, Red and the Crosshatch Gold from the Marks by Valori Wells collection, a gorgeous modern cotton. The next step is to add quilting using the BERNINA Q20 sit down machine and then bind it.

Detail, medium Hari Agung floral panel art quilt ready for quilting and then binding

This simple construction technique — batik panel framed by log cabin strips —is easy enough for beginning quilters, but impressive: get started on your own version!

WonderFil Threaducation!

Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula is enjoying her time in sunny California at the WonderFil Education Center Summit…

Judy Gula, owner of Artistic Artifacts, participating in the WonderFil Specialty Threads Education Summit

…as is perhaps obvious from the big smile on her face in the photo above! It was taken by her friend Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution, another attendee at the Summit. Liz (pictured below), a certified “Threaducator” with WonderFil, will be visiting Artistic Artifacts in June for her 4-day creative retreat, Stitch Journeys. Suitable for beginners, attendees gain mastery of their sewing machine and develop the confidence to tackle any kind of specialty thread and tame their tension fears as they create a sample fabric workbook that serves as a permanent, creative reference tool. This is her only time teaching on the East Coast this year, so if you can, plan your vacation around traveling to Virginia and attending!

Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution participating in the WonderFil Specialty Threads Education Summit

Judy and Liz are collaborating in the development of an upcoming Threaducation Center class.

Handpainted batik panel by Rusli, enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using both Konfetti™ and Tutti™ threads by WonderFil

They used a handpainted batik panel by Rusli, which is enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using both Konfetti™ and Tutti™ threads by WonderFil. Konfetti and Tutti are both 50wt, 3ply 100% long staple Egyptian cotton threads that are double-gassed (burning off the lint from the thread two times) and mercerized to create a soft, clean, and lustrous finish.

Handpainted batik panel by Rusli, enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using Konfetti™ thread by WonderFil

Additional detail views above and below.

Handpainted batik panel by Rusli, enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using Tutti™ thread by WonderFil

Below is Judy’s favorite thread sampler, posted on the Artistic Artifacts Facebook page. When she returns we’ll have to get the details from her!

Judy Gula's favorite WonderFil thread sampler

More Threaducation going on…

The WonderFil Specialty Threads Education Summit

But you know fiber artists…even after a full day of studying, they are still up for more fun! You can see Liz and Judy, plus Bernadette Kent and Alicia Campbell in the background of this selfie taken by Libby Williamson of Blue Denim Design at The Dragonfly Shops & Gardens in Orange, CA.

Fiber artists having fun at the Blue Denim Studio at The Dragonfly Shops & Gardens in Orange, CA

They were busy having fun with block printing and thermofax printing on fabric. Judy never misses the opportunity to share her love of wooden printing blocks!

Those of you close to Artistic Artifacts can further your own Threaducation! Join us on Friday, March 24 for Finding Your Voice, a lecture by WonderFil Threaducator Kay Capps Cross. She promises that “We will relax and learn ways to release our inner creativity and express ourselves through our quilts. Art quilts, experiments, free associations, or whatever we call our pieces, they are a window to what is inside of us. With a little confidence, our voice will be heard.”

Kay Kapps Cross quilt stitched with WonderFil Specialty Threads

And on Saturday, March 25, we are delighted that Kay (who quilted the above beauty as she demonstrated various WonderFil threads during the recent AQS show) will be sharing her knowledge during our exciting WonderFil Boutique Show & Tell event. Sponsored by WonderFil™ Specialty Threads, we will hold two complimentary seatings, morning and afternoon, of this inspiring and informational session. Get inspired with samples of threadwork and demos using the many specialty threads by WonderFil! Reservations are required as seating is limited, so don’t delay and claim your spot!

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