Using Vintage Textiles in My Blue Fish Quilt

by Judy Gula

Using Vintage Textiles in My Blue Fish Quilt

by Judy Gula

One of the projects we’ve been working on recently is updating our website with some of the many vintage fabrics that I have in my stash. A lot of that vintage fabric came from my Grandmother’s house. Not a quilt to be found in that house, but she made all her own clothes. These vintage fabrics are perfect to use in repairing an old quilt, or create a new piece of art as I did with my Blue Fish quilt, shown here.

Blue Fish Quilt by Judy Gula Blue Fish Quilt by Judy Gula

When I’m asked to describe my art, I talk about being inspired by vintage materials and then trying to transform them with a contemporary flair. I am definitely a mixed media artist, using fabric as my canvas. If you were to enter my personal studio, you would find batik, Combanasi, Australian Aborigine prints and Japanese fabrics sitting next to vintage cottons, sheers, linens and laces. I have boxes of vintage photos and postcards. And treasure drawers full of embellishments and found objects, divided by hearts, flowers, shells, vintage jewelry... and yes, I have a drawer of fish!

Vintage fabrics offer the challenge of working with different weights of cottons and other different textiles. While this quilt contains contemporary fabrics in the borders, I used a number of vintage pieces too. The blue and white check fabric you see, peeking beneath the hand dyed vintage placemat lace, was cut from some vintage napkins. Then I added another blue trim, followed by pearl buttons of all shapes and sizes.

Detail view, Blue Fish quilt by Judy Gula Detail view, Blue Fish quilt by Judy Gula

Detail, Blue Fish quilt by Judy GulaNotice the blue thread to stitch the buttons on — who would have thought that blue thread could be a design element? But it is! You can count as further embellishments the fish around the edges that accent the blue jumping fish in the photo.

As for the feature photograph in the center, let me tell you a secret… it was a disaster as originally planned. But now I am very happy with the result.

So, I love Transfer Artist Paper (TAP). I began printing my photo on TAP and transferring it to 70 lb.weight Lutradur. That process makes the photo stand out from the quilt, and after time and handing, it ends with a crinkle look to it. But this time, my vintage photo of a mother and daughter — I am sure this was originally taken at a beach side resort photo “booth” — came out totally blue for some reason! My TAP transfer turned out dark and horrible.

Detail, Blue Fish quilt by Judy Gula

Not wanting to waste anything, I printed the photograph out again, this time on paper, and then cut out the images that I wanted from it: the mother, daughter and little houses in the top right. These were adhered onto the transferred Lutradur with Aleene’s® Original Tacky Glue™. For the fish, I cut out a fish head and fins from a picture book of fish, then embellished it with Angelina fibers and Stewart Gill Fresco Flakes. I also used a bit of paint underneath the fish to make it stand out.

Somehow these experiments fixed the problem. Well, at least I think it is better!

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