Apr 3 2017

Digital Designing Is Finally Here!


Several years ago we taught an “intermediate” online Photoshop Elements course. We enjoyed teaching it very much, but we knew that what we really wanted to do was to get our students to the point where they could unleash their creativity through Photoshop. Ever since we revamped our PSE 1 & 2 classes, our students have been asking for the next step. Well, we finally decided it was time to teach a design course. We have the course divided into four units that cover the elements of design: line, color, shape, and texture. Students will work with the different tools – and layers, of course! – to create and manipulate these elements. Here’s one sample that Deb worked on. Using a photograph as a starting point, she “drew” a fuchsia.

We’re already looking forward to seeing everyone’s portfolio. Please join us for this four-week course. Class begins May 1. Click here for more information.

Feb 1 2017

Pixeladies Class Contest: We Have A Winner!


Last week we held a contest to give away a Pixeladies online class. We asked our readers to leave a comment on our blog post about inspiration and documentation. Well, today we randomly drew* a winner: Kit Vincent! Kit wins a Pixeladies online class. Now, Kit can enroll in any Pixeladies class she wants to, but we think she might be interested in our Digital Designing class because:

  • she already knows how to use of the basic tools of Photoshop Elements
  • she is a fabulous fiber artist and might enjoy learning how to digitally create the elements of design
  • she would meet other students and get as inspired by their work as much as we do
  • and she’s from Canada. Actually, that’s not really a reason to take the class; we just love having students from all over the world!

Some of our scarf designs

If you are interested in enrolling in “Digital Designing,” registration starts April 1 for the class that begins May 1. Click here for more information. Thanks again for everyone who left comments. You’ve really inspired us!


* This is how we made our random draw:

  1. We cut and pasted everyone’s email address into a spreadsheet.
  2. We then used a random number generator to assign a number to everyone.
  3. Then we sorted the list by the random number.
  4. Then Kris pulled out her telephone book (yes, she still has a few in the living room!).
  5. Deb, who was at her home talking to Kris on the phone, told her to open the phone book to a particular page.
  6. Deb then called out a random column and then a random row, like “seventh row from the top.”
  7. Kris then called off the last two digits of that phone number, and voilà, we had our winner!

Total silliness but some retro fun with the telephone book!

Jan 17 2017

Inspiration and Documentation


Kris and I are revamping our Digital Designing class. Sometimes it takes us quite a while to formulate a class, but this one came together in an afternoon. I just love it when that happens. So while Kris was fleshing out the outline, I was looking for inspiration for projects. I’d really love to have our students submit images of what they’d like to learn to create, but sometimes when a student is given such an open assignment, they freeze up. It’s sort of like having a new sketchbook; sometimes you just don’t know where to start. Someone once told me they took an art class where the instructor made a mark in the student’s sketch book, just so it wasn’t blank. But I digress.

I keep folders of ideas. I’ve never been a journal-type person. I wish I were, but it’s just not in my DNA. I scrawl notes on scraps of paper, rip ideas out of magazines, keep Pinterest boards, make written and audio memos on my phone, etc.


Last year I did manage to put most of the ideas on paper into a large binder, but it’s not organized at all.

Idea Binder

Idea Binder

Here are a few of the things from my idea book I thought might be helpful for our design class.






How do you document your inspiration? What would you want to learn in our Digital Designing class? Leave us a comment below by January 31, and we’ll enter you into a drawing for a free class! The winner will be announced on February 1, 2017.

Dec 28 2016

The Power Of Word Of Mouth & Ohio


We’re in the middle of registration for our next series of Photoshop Elements classes, and we’ve noticed a curious thing. The last time we taught online, we had several Canadians enroll. This time around, 26% of the Elements 1 students are from Ohio. Ohio!! Over 1/4 of our students . . . so far . . . from the same state. We don’t know if folks in Ohio have been talking about us, but we do find it extraordinary to get so many students from one US state. This is the fun part about teaching online. We get to meet people from all over. Besides the US and Canada, we’ve had students from as far away as Sweden, Australia, and Greece. And in 2017 we’ll have our first student from the Dutch Caribbean. (By the way, the Dutch Caribbean has quite an interesting geopolitical history. Read about it here.) Needless to say, we don’t have the marketing budget to reach out to all these countries, so we have relied heavily on word of mouth. When students talk about their good learning experiences in our classes, it makes all the difference. Take fiber artist Kathy Loomis, for example. Her blog entries have steered several students our way. Read one of her entries about our classes here. Thanks, Kathy!

Back to Ohio. Ohio is special to us not only for the online students we have had. Some of our first exhibition opportunities happened in Ohio. Since it’s the end of the year, we thought it would be fun to talk a quick look back.

In 2007, when Sacred Threads was still located in Reynoldsburg, “Owuo Atwedee” enjoyed its premiere. Some nice person even sent us a review of the exhibition in the local paper because they had published a photo of our quilt with the review! We have another quilt traveling with Sacred Threads 2016 because our first experience was so wonderful.

Owuo Atweedee

Owuo Atweedee

In 2010, we had the honor of having “The Picture is Only Half the Story” exhibited in “The Journey of Hope in America: Quilts Inspired by President Barack Obama” at the National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center in Wilberforce. We felt so welcomed. This artwork has recently sold, marking the end of a special time for us.

The Picture is Only Half the Story

The Picture is Only Half the Story

In 2013, “American Still Life: The Weight of the Nation” premiered at the Dairy Barn’s Quilt National ’13 in Athens. We loved the artist reception and the opportunity to meet and network with such talented artists.

American Still Life: The Weight of the Nation

American Still Life: The Weight of the Nation

We’re looking forward to teaching again in 2017. Photoshop Elements 1 begins January 16. Whether you are from Ohio, Europe, or Timbuktu, we’d love to have you join us. Click here for more class information. And if you are a student who has posted about our classes, thank you for spreading the word! Your good word is our best recommendation. Here’s to a creative, productive, and remarkable 2017!

Sep 13 2016

Photoshop Essentials 3? Help Us With Our Next Online Photoshop Course


We’re taking a hiatus from online teaching until the new year so that we can work on revamping our design class. After a cursory review of the course, we realized that we had a bit of a dilemma, so we thought we would ask you for some help. Of course, we’ll intersperse our questions with some images to make the post prettier.

Design Elements

Design Elements

Question #1: the class needs a new name. “Designing Fabric with Adobe Photoshop Elements,” while descriptive, seems limiting. After all, while you learn how to create designs, the course is not limited to designing fabric. In fact, in this class you build upon what you learned in Photoshop Essentials 1 and 2 by working on:

  • review of layers and layer styles
  • blend modes
  • define pattern and seamless repeat
  • filter galleries
  • custom gradients
  • complex text tool manipulations
  • panorama stitching

4 Layers: map, color, pebbles, photo

4 Layers: map, gradient, doodle, photo

Understanding layers and blend modes, for example, is useful for any user of PSE, from fabric designers to photographers. Digital scrapbookers would benefit from learning how to define patterns and make seamless repeats – all those wonderful backgrounds can be so much fun to create. And that’s just a couple of examples. So, now you can see that “Designing Fabric” won’t appeal to all the people who would otherwise take the class. Any ideas for a new name? We’d love to hear from you. Just leave a comment at the end of the post.

Gradients Explained

Gradients Explained

Question #2: Content. We’ve summarized the main areas of the class above, but it is very helpful to know what YOU want to learn. If you want to learn something specific, we might be able to add it to the class agenda. At the very least, your request might become the topic of one of our Tech Tuesday entries! Again, just add a comment at the end of this post, and we’ll see what we can do! Thanks for your help.

Finished scarf design

Finished Scarf Design

Jul 12 2016

Tech Tuesday: Personalizing Keyword Tags in Photoshop Elements Organizer


Our students know how much we love to organize our photos with Photoshop Elements Organizer. It’s really handy for visual people like us, but it’s also very powerful. Take, for example, the keyword tags. You can create a keyword tag for anything you think you’ll want to search your images for. We once had a student who created a category called “Cats” and then a keyword tag for each of her (many) cats. Since I have lots of photos of quilts, I want to be able to find them according to type of quilt. (Deb, too, has a category for Quilts!) By default the keyword tags in the Tags panel look just like sub-categories. In this example, the category “Quilts” has a plain green icon, while the sub-categories “Art” and “Traditional” and the keyword tag “Log Cabin” have plain orange icons.


When you look carefully, you can see that “Log Cabin” is below “Traditional” in the hierarchy, but you really can’t tell that it is a keyword tag. This may be fine for some people, but when you are quickly trying to grab keyword tags and drag them to an image, it’s nice to have a more obvious way to differentiate one keyword tag from another. Right-click on a category or sub-category and choose “Create new keyword tag.” In the dialog box that pops up, you can add an icon by clicking on “Edit icon” and selecting any image you want.


But here’s the catch: you will NOT see this photo-based icon unless you go into your preferences and change the way keyword tags are displayed. From the Menu bar, click Edit > Preferences > Keyword Tags and Albums. Under “Keyword Display,” check the second “Keyword Tag Name” (the one with the photo inside the tag), then click OK.


Now the keyword tag shows one of the photos you’ve tagged with that keyword.


We hope you explore using alternative keyword icons. They really are good visual aids. If you don’t like them, you can always change your preferences without losing the icon information. Want to learn how to use Organizer more fully? Please consider taking our online course. The next session starts on July 25. Click here for more information.

Jun 28 2016

Tech Tuesday: Using Facial Recognition in Photoshop Elements Organizer


Someone once told us she didn’t want to organize her digital photos because it “takes too long.” What’s great about Photoshop Elements Organizer is that you can organize your photos in great or very little detail. Organizer’s ability to recognize faces for you makes quick work of labeling your photos with people’s names. If you do nothing else, just putting names to faces will serve you well. When you are in “People” view, just click on “Unnamed” to begin seeing the “people” Organizer has identified. Once you recognize the person, in this case Deb, you can add that person’s name (red arrow in image below).


Sometimes just looking at the head shot doesn’t help you identify the person. You’ll notice in the image above that Organizer had identified four photos it thought had Deb in them. But what if you can’t tell from the head shot? Just click on “Photos” (green arrow in image above) to see that person in the photos in which they appear. Let’s look at our example with the photos showing:


These four photos indeed have Deb in them. (I have circled Deb’s face in red here for those of you who don’t know her.) Let’s take a moment to marvel at what a good job Organizer did in finding these photos of the “same person.” Deb has gone through several changes: long brown hair to a short blonde bob, with and without glasses, and more and more wrinkles. But, here you have it, four photos of Deb. Click on “Faces” (purple arrow in first image) to return to the head shots in “People” view.

It’s really impressive how quickly and accurately Organizer identifies people for you. Sure, sometimes it makes a mistake, like the time it thought my photo of a gargoyle on a German cathedral was a person, but it’s easy to have Organizer dismiss such misses. Click on “Faces” (purple arrow in first image) in the “Unnamed” view, and click on the head shot that does not belong. If you’re a sentimental fool like I am, a tear or two might well up in your eyes if Organizer mistakes you for a dear departed relative. You can see how Organizer could have made this mistake with me and my mom (although it nailed these two photos):

We hope you explore facial recognition with Photoshop Elements Organizer. If you want to learn how to use Organizer more fully, consider taking our online course. The next session starts on July 25. Click here for more information.

Jun 26 2016

Tech Tuesday: Facial Recognition Makes Digital Organizing a Snap


Now that we’ve all been snapping digital photos for several years now, it’s probably time to start organizing them. Deb has been organizing her 20,000 photos for years now, but as a relative newcomer to the game, I wanted to tell you how cool it is to go through and identify people for your records. It used to be I would have to sit around and look at a photo of a group of people and go, gee, who is that? I just love how the facial recognition works. More on this on our next Tech Tuesday blog.

Apr 8 2016

Two Cool Features Of Photoshop’s Move Tool


We’re getting ready to teach our Photoshop Essentials 1 & 2 again, and this is the time we remember how powerful Photoshop is and how difficult it is to decide what to teach in these classes. Here are a couple of nifty features of the Move tool that we think really help our students speed up the creative process.

1. Automatically Switch to Move Tool after Writing Text

It often happens that after you write some text, you need to position it somewhere else. You can set your preferences so that the Move tool is automatically selected after you commit some text. From the Menu Bar, click Edit > Preferences > General (Mac users = Adobe Photoshop Elements Editor > Preferences > General). Make sure you check the box next to “Select Move tool after committing text” (see red arrow).


2. Move a Really Tiny Object

Sometimes you want to move a something that’s so small you can’t quite grab it with your Move tool. Sure, you can zoom in, but sometimes when you do that, you lose sight of the “bigger picture” and aren’t quite sure where to move the object. There’s a great trick for this. All you have to do is place your Move tool cursor anywhere outside of those squares around the object (AKA the bounding box), and it will still move the object.* Try it. Click on the image below to note the location of the Move tool in relation to the “crown” it is moving.


*Make sure you have “Auto-Select Layer” off. This is the default setting in Photoshop. We hate Auto-Select because we don’t need Photoshop trying to find the layer for us. We know what we’re looking for! The setting is in your Move Tool Options bar, seen here in Photoshop Elements:


The cool Move tool is one of the things we cover in the Photoshop Essentials classes, and you’ll learn plenty of other nifty tips and tricks. Click here to learn more about our classes.

Sep 12 2015

Road Trip!


By the time you read this, Kris will have landed in Frankfurt where Deb is picking her up at the rental car counter. Deb has been in Germany on a much-deserved visit with her host family from her time as an exchange student in Hamburg. Once we reunite, it’s off to view the 6th Annual Quilt Triennial in Heidelberg. After that we cross the border into France to teach at the European Patchwork Meeting. We can’t wait to meet our students and fellow SAQA artists as well as see all the exhibits.
Please follow us on Instagram, #pixeladiesadventures as we take our textile tour. Okay, it will involve chocolate, but we do really want to find great examples of textile art.
In the meantime, registration for Photoshop Essentials 1 & 2 has started. Click here for more information.