Quilt Projects Completed at Retreat

For the first time in far too many years, I treated myself to some time away from work this past weekend to attend the retreat my quilting guild (the Burke chapter of Quilter’s Unlimited of Northern Virginia) plans each year. I went with a number of projects in mind, and was delighted to finish quite a lot!

One of Judy Gula's completed Black & White & Bold All Over art quilts

I began with the task of finishing off some of the arts quilts that were used to demonstrate steps with when teaching recently at Art & Soul Portland. I am happy to announce that I will be teaching this Black & White & Bold All Over class, as well as my Vintage Hankie Quilt, at this year’s Quilter’s Unlimited Annual Quilt Show, taking place May 29-31 in Chantilly, VA (classes start Thursday, May 28). I’m delighted to be joining nationally known teachers Jane Dávila,
Dominique Ehrmann,
Gyleen Fitzgerald and
Cyndi Souder as the faculty for a really exciting lineup of classes.

An aside to my readers from out of town: this is really a show worth traveling for! In addition to the amazing slate of classes planned (open to all), you will see more than 400 quilts, plus the entire FiberBeatles art quilts collection will be on display in a special exhibit, and there is wonderful shopping from top vendors from around the country. Visitors consistently rate it one of the best quilt shows on the East Coast, so I hope you will join us!

After finishing the free motion stitching, I went to work on long-planned projects that used batik panels from our Batik Tambal line. Here I will be showing you some work from renowned batik artist Mahyar, has a very specific color and design aesthetic.

When I work with Indonesian batik panels, my go-to arrangement is to use complementary batik fabrics and create several strip borders. There are several reasons for this:

  • First: I prefer simple clean lines, simple borders or log cabin construction.
  • Second: I do not have a wide knowledge of quilt block construction- I never learned traditional quilting and thus can’t pull off several blocks the same size.
  • And while I sometimes think that my borders should be more complex (including pieced blocks or the like), but in these instances it’s important is to direct attention to the artistry in the panel.

Working with panels by Mahyar is one of those times where simple is better. All told I created three different quilt tops using different Mahyar panels, and in the coming weeks I will show you each and how I finished them.

Selecting fabrics to use with the Mahyar batik panel

My first step is to pull fabrics that I think will enhance the panel. I always advise pulling more than you think you will need or use, and to vary the light and darks.

Batik panel by Mahyer

Above, this is the first panel that I chose to work with. I thought this panel would make a great housewarming gift. I can think of several other ways to use this, maybe even in a traditional house block? This time, I chose to cut it up.

Batik panel by Mahyer, cut for use in a quilt

And that was difficult to do! (It may have taken me the longest amount of time all retreat!) Now what?

Working in strips, Mayher panel quilt

Above, I began working with the three pieces as individual blocks that I would eventually sew back together. Below, my first attempt at piecing it all together.

First version, Mahyer panel art quilt by Judy Gula

This was my first “Finished” pause. There is a lot of color and pattern in this, but the panels are not the focus. Usually I do not “unsew,” but this time I did, removing the blue border. I reduced the size of the orange and white fabric down the near middle (I measured, because I did not want that strip to be in the exact center) and the turquoise on the left.

Revised version, Mahyer panel art quilt by Judy Gula

Above, can you see the difference after the trimming? I see the panel details again that were lost in the top option. And it’s a good thing I like this one better, because I cut the fabric! There was no going back.

This is as far as I have gotten at the moment, my plan is to free motion stitch it, including a repeat of the tree pattern out into the blue border.

By challenging myself, I hope to challenge you to create using panels and a new way.

Check back for additional blog postings to see how these progress! And plan to visit the QU Show!

Plus, a reminder to anyone who is local or who will be in the area this Sunday: it’s our monthly JAMs meeting. Kathie Barrus will be giving a presentation/demo on PanPastels, and in addition to our usual ATC exchange it is our quarterly art paper doll exchange. And for all of us who have bought entire packages of decorative napkins to use one for collage, bring in your extras…we’ll have a one-to-one exchange where you can go home with a new stash while passing your duplicates along! Our group is open to anyone interested — please use MeetUp.com to contact us about your interest, or to RSVP for each monthly meeting.

Paintstik Rubbings using Vintage Tjaps

Paintstik Rubbing Art Quilt by Judy Gula

View larger image of above quilt. Note: this tutorial post updated September 5, 2018

Paintstiks are the perfect product to use for creating rubbings from Vintage Indonesian Tjaps. Tjaps, both new and the antiques I’m featuring here, are batik tools that are handcrafted from narrow strips of copper and copper wire that are used to stamp wax patterns into fabric. Tjaps are works of art on their own; while they can still be used to create batik fabric, many people simply display them to admire.

After several attempts on my own at using my tjaps to batik in the traditional method, I now prefer to buy my batiks! Instead, I use my tjaps as rubbing plates…I’m still creating beautiful fabric and using it in my quilts. I’ve previously blogged about this technique and I’m doing so again, as it’s such a favorite of mine!

vintage tjaps, Shiva Paintstiks and 505 Spray and Fix

To follow along with my tutorial, you need the following

Artist’s Paintstiks are an oil-based fabric paint in a solid crayon form. They arrive sealed and after use will selfseal — creating a thick and firm skin on the surface, which prevents the Paintstik from drying out and becoming unusable. The skin can be twisted off the tip with a paper towel or using a paring knife, but once I finally found out about using a potato peeler, it’s now my favorite method. It allows you to peel the coating off with minimal waste while creating a wide surface to use while rubbing.

Preparing the Paintstik for use in a rubbing using a potato peeler

When I am creating a rubbing, I only peel the cover off the one side that I will use. While they are terrific for other uses, I no longer try to use the mini Paintstiks for tjap rubbings: they don’t give me enough surface to hold onto or paint with. I prepare all the colors I plan to use first, and then wipe my hands with a baby wipe to remove the wayward paint before I begin handling the fabric.

In the past I have tried to create a rubbing without using a temporary adhesive, because I was worried that it would hurt the tjap. Not true, as I found when I finally experimented after some less than crisp results. I find that spraying the fabric with 505 Spray and Fix means my fabric will not slide and allows me to create a crisp and clear rubbing.

Applying 505 Spray and Fix to the fabric and placing it on the tjap

After spraying 505 — again, on the fabric, not on the tjap — I place the fabric sticky side down atop the tjap and gently smooth it out.

Beginning the tjap rubbing with Paintstik

I begin rubbing gently with the full side of the Paintstik. You only need a very little pressure when you are rubbing. You will see that it’s easy to feel the edges of the vintage tjap. My own experience has been that the Vintage/Traditional Tjaps, which feature a lot of intricate details create a much more interesting rubbing than some of the new tjaps.

Paintstik rubbing in process

Once you have completed your rubbing, allow the Paintstiks to fully dry on the fabric. Shelly Stokes of Cedar Canyon Textiles, a Paintstik expert, writes that “Rubbings (and any direct application technique) take longer to dry. Allow 3-5 days for the paint to dry. I allow 7 days if I make several layers of rubbings — or during humid times of the year. Test the paint by rubbing your finger over a section of paint. If you see paint on your finger, it’s not dry yet. Set the fabric aside for another day. Once you no longer pick paint up with your finger, it’s ready to heat set.”

Shiva Paintstik color is permanent on fabric and washable once it has been heat-set with an iron, so if you choose you can incorporate a fabric rubbing into a garment or tablecloth. (Note that because of the oil composition of the paint, note that fabric can’t be dry-cleaned.) While it’s not necessary to heat set your fabric rubbing for an art quilt that won’t be laundered, it doesn’t hurt to do so, and it’s a quick process.

Tjap used for rubbing, right, and Paintstik rubbing

Above is the finished Paintstik rubbing and the vintage tjap together pictured together. Pretty cool, huh? (The tjap looks slightly larger than the rubbing because it is resting flat on its handle and thus is a couple inches closer to the camera.)

Paintstik rubbing with tjap used

The above sample, pictured with the vintage tjap used, was created with two Paintstik colors on a light batik fabric. It’s a pretty illustration that the fabric doesn’t have to be black for the rubbing to pop.

The piece featured at the top of the posting (click here for a larger view) resulted from a demo at a show. I used many different vintage tjaps to create a garden.

Stewart Gill textile paint highlights Judy Gula's flower garden rubbings

After the Paintstik rubbings had dried, I painted the background with textile paint — see detail above. The paint I used was water-based, and since oil and water don’t mix, the paint accents I added did not hide any of the rubbing.

I thread painted the rubbings (detail above) with what was then a favorite variegated thread. This further embellished the colors. Now that Artistic Artifacts sells WonderFil Specialty Threads I have even more beautiful thread options to explore!

To finish off the quilt, I added an inner red mini piping using the Groovin’ Piping Trimming Tool by Susan K. Cleveland (previously reviewed in this posting. My center panel is bordered with some of our beautiful Aborigine design fabric: Landscape Red by Stephen Pitjara. The outer binding was created with Bush Yam X2 Red by Jeannie Pitjara (updated 9/5/18: these fabrics have been discontinued).

I hope I’ve encouraged you to give Paintstik rubbing a try — it is an easy and satisfying method of surface design!