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More fun with Orly Avineri's Stencils

For those who haven't joined in yet, you have until tomorrow night (Sunday, 6/29) to leave a comment on Monday's blog hop! Scroll down 2 posts for my project if you haven't seen it yet.

And now for today's post... I got the rest of Orly's StencilGirl stencils in the mail this week and really wanted to do something else with them. I started flipping through my notebook where I clean off my stencils thinking one of those pages would make a good background. I found one that was just perfect for what I had in mind. I went ahead and traced the stencil on top of what was on the page with a sepia Pitt pen and just started going to town.

Orly Avineri Stencils Art Journal Page 1 - Gwen LafleurThe background is from where I cleaned spray paint off of two of the stencils I used on my stenciled cardboard art journal from a few weeks ago... these stencils were Unfinished by Seth Apter (orange) and Celestial Grove by Kae Pea (you can just see a few hints - it's in green.) Seth's stencil ended up being really perfect as the background - I love how it peeked through the holes as I worked and added meaning to the page.

Orly Avineri Stencils Art Journal Page 2 - Gwen LafleurThe stencils from Orly's release that I used on this one are Subliminal Skull and I used the roses from Splats, Blooms, and Bones. I also added butterfly wings from the Nature Notes stencil by Roxanne Evans Stout.

Once I finished painting, I used paint markers, oil pastels, and my Stabilo All Marks pencil to add some hints of color, detail, and shading.

Orly Avineri StencilGirl Stencils Art Journal Page - Gwen LafleurA bit macabre? Sure! But what I love about Orly's stencils is that using them kind of helps enable the freedom to go outside of my comfort zone and be a bit more honest and raw in my journal. It's like the stencils gave me permission to go someplace uncomfortable. I love that.

Orly Avineri Stencils Art Journal Page close-up 1 - Gwen Lafleur
Orly Avineri Stencils Art Journal Page close-up 1 - Gwen LafleurI got all of her stencils, and I can't wait to keep using them in my work!

On to the next project :D

Artist & the Sketchbook Class at SAIC

(If you're looking for the StencilGirl blog hop, scroll down to the next post!)

You may have seen a few photos on Instagram / Facebook from the class I've been taking... I was in Drawing: The Artist & the Sketchbook at the School for the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC.) They have a really good continuing studies program and I happened to find out about this class and was able to sign up the day before it started. It was a 5 week course, 9am-4pm on Saturdays. My professor was leaving for Korea before the end of the class, so we had a make-up session last week and we'll do a follow-up in August to share our work from the summer. I can't believe it's already over, but it was such a great class and I'm so glad I jumped in and took it!

Our first week, we had a great demo on basic bookmaking along with a really good lecture about paper. Then we went to Blick as a class to buy the paper we needed for our books and came back to make them. After we made our books, we had a great intro lecture to how some of the great artists of the past used sketchbooks as a part of their process and looked at different samples. It was so cool!

Artist and Sketchbook - Handmade Sketchbook - Gwen LafleurThe second week we started out with a watercolor demo and then went across the street to the Lurie Garden at Millenium Park to do some plein air sketching. I wandered around a bit taking photos, and then went across a small hill and was suddenly struck by the most stunning view! One of the volunteers at the garden stopped to chat with me about what they had done - it was landscaped as part of a contest. So beautiful! Especially with that fantastic skyline in the back. This is the view I settled in to try and capture.

Artist and Sketchbook - Garden and SkylineEmphasis on try. Surely you can't tell that this is my first attempt at this kind of watercolor sketching?

Artist and Sketchbook - Sketchbook page 1 - Gwen LafleurIt kind of sucks, but I learned a lot by doing it, and that's what matters! Just turn the page... I did a couple of pencil sketches that turned out better, I think.

Artist and Sketchbook - Sketchbook page 2 - Gwen LafleurI also got a few pictures in other parts of the garden. They had these gorgeous white anenomies all over the place and I loved them! I took this picture while under great personal danger from an extremely angry bird who apparently had a nest nearby. All was well, though... I got my picture (because I obviously wasn't going to sit there to sketch!) and backed off and we made peace. Or at least he didn't chase me. lol.

Artist and Sketchbook - AnenomiesAnd see? I did learn something from that first disaster sketch... practice makes better. It's not a blob. Yay!

Artist and Sketchbook - Sketchbook page 3 - Gwen LafleurWeek three was about primitivism and its impact on modern artists, especially Picasso. We had a great lecture and then went over to the museum where we went through a bunch of the works in the Modern wing (really fascinating lecture!) and then our teacher took us to the Native / Meso-American and African displays for us to sketch (African art had a huge impact on Picasso and others at that time, which makes total sense now that I know that.) I also went to the nearby Asian galleries and sketched Vishnu and Buddha before going back and sketching a bunch of African statues and masks.

Artist and Sketchbook - Sketchbook page 4 - Gwen Lafleur
Artist and Sketchbook - Sketchbook page 4 - Gwen Lafleur
Artist and Sketchbook - Sketchbook page 4 - Gwen Lafleur
Artist and Sketchbook - Sketchbook page 4 - Gwen LafleurBoth sketching days, the teacher would come around and find us and look at what we were doing and offer suggestions. It wasn't a drawing technique class, but we got a lot of tips and I saw improvement even in just a few sessions.

The last two classes were all about learning to use our sketchbooks as springboards for larger works (like so many others - I love Delacroix's sketchbooks!) He had challenged us to think of taking the different things we'd done and using inspiration to take something we'd sketched in class and turn it into something bigger. I had been really impressed by several of Picasso's works, but I also loved the sketch I'd done of an African headdress (2 photos up.) Below is a photo of the actual headdress:

Artist and Sketchbook - African HeaddressI decided I wanted to try and blend this with Picasso, and the teacher gave me a little guidance on how I might try and take it further than I'd originally planned. Here's the Picasso I was using as inspiration - It's called Still Life, February 4, 1922.

Artist and Sketchbook - Picasso Still Life

You can totally see why I thought they went together, right? lol.

So I did an initial sketch on the brown paper on the table and got super excited about it. Then I did a first iteration (we were encouraged to do multiples of the same thing in a row for practice and progress.)

Artist and Sketchbook - Final Project 2 - Gwen LafleurI absolutely loved my original sketch (obviously, since I cut it out and kept it!) But I was trying too hard on the first "real" attempt... trying to match Picasso's lines using pen and ink instead of a brush. I was also sloppy in my background and it was too bold without reason. But it was a fabulous learning experience. I started a second one and the teacher was pretty psyched about what I was doing at the end of that class. I picked it up again in the last class and then quickly moved to a 3rd version after talking to him and identifying what I loved about my sketch and didn't like about my first two versions.

Artist and Sketchbook - Final Project 3 - Gwen LafleurI took his guidance and applied pretty much all of it, adding touches that kind of called out to me. Here you can kind of see the whole progression:

Artist and Sketchbook - Final Project 1 - Gwen LafleurShape, lines, color... I learned so much from this process!

Artist and Sketchbook - Final Project - Gwen LafleurAll of the work on my final project was just done with acrylic ink. Some I used undiluted, some was diulted with water, some was mixed with Golden acrylic glazing liquid to get a glaze.

Anyway, I'll definitely keep working in my sketchbook! I'm signed up to start Sketchbook Skool in July, and also registered for another class at SAIC - Beginning Drawing, also starting in July. I can kind of draw, but I have no formal foundation aside from exercises I've done from books and infrequent attempts at drawing stuff, so I really want to go back and start filling in some of those gaps so I can get better.

Anyway, this class was awesome - I learned a lot, and it really opened my mind and took me out of my comfort zone. I can't wait to keep going with new classes! How lucky am I to have pretty much the best art school in the country right here? Along with one of the best museums in the country? And I've already been to two art festivals this summer. I have to say, I'm liking living in Chicago so far! (Of course, I haven't been here during a whole winter yet. Let's talk again in March. lol.)

StencilGirl Blog Hop: New Orly Avineri Stencils!

I have to say, I was pretty excited when I found out that Orly Avineri had stencil designs coming out with StencilGirl... I've been following her work for years! And I was doubly excited to participate in today's blog hop sharing her new stencils... available starting today!

This is the stencil I received to work with... it's called Soft Bones and I kind of love it.

Soft Bones stencil by Orly AvineriWhen I saw it, I immediately thought that I wanted to do something in encaustics with it. Why, you ask? Well seeing as I've never done any work with encaustics, it seems like the natural choice, right? But I wanted that kind of soft, melting, dimensional, layered, slightly translucent look, so encaustics it was! (Maybe also an excuse to try it out and use the supplies I'd gathered? It's possible, lol.) I figured if it didn't work, I would use it another way, but no harm in trying!

Here's what I did, and below are some details... (and be sure to scroll all the way down for the other blogs to visit, as well as a giveaway!)

Orly Avineri Stencil Encaustic Painting - Gwen LafleurIt's along the lines of what was in my head when I started, so I'm pretty excited about how it turned out and the fact that it actually worked!

First... I wouldn't suggest that a first timer try this without some prep work. I was actually pretty intimidated by the medium and held off on it for a long time because everything I read about it started talking about ventilation, fire extinguishers and safety measures, etc... which you absolutely need and should follow. But it's not as scary as it might seem. I read a bit, watched some short videos, but also watched this online encaustics class by Michelle Belto and took copious notes! (If you're interested, that class is worth the price of the download.)

This is not a tutorial... just sayin'. Because, you know... one sort-of-successful encaustic painting does not an expert make! But these are general steps that I took so you can see how it came together :)

Step 1: Safety first! Mise en place... get everything in place. I did this in my kitchen on my stove-top (using a small electric griddle with temp control and a surface thermometer) so that I could use the hood to draw up the fumes from the melted wax.

Orly Avineri Stencil Encaustic Painting 1 - Gwen LafleurStep 2: A few layers of encaustic medium over my base - I'd already adhered a few scraps of paper to peek through here and there. (Fuse and cool! I did this between every layer.)

Orly Avineri Stencil Encaustic Painting 2 - Gwen LafleurStep 3: Start adding the base color. I added just a bit of melted turquoise into a pot of encaustic medium to get a translucent paint. It was still pretty heavily pigmented... I would go much more translucent next time.

Orly Avineri Stencil Encaustic Painting 3 - Gwen LafleurStep 4: Use a stencil to add some color and texture to my background. (This is the Twinship stencil by Cecilia Swatton.)

Orly Avineri Stencil Encaustic Painting 4 - Gwen LafleurThis is the part where I maybe get a little giddy and dance in place because it's just so cool.

Orly Avineri Stencil Encaustic Painting 5 - Gwen LafleurStep 5: Add a bit of color with an oil stick (I happened to have some of these from years ago and had never known what to do with them. Don't you love it when you can dig out something like that and put it to work? Also, you fuse this layer too.)

Orly Avineri Stencil Encaustic Painting 6 - Gwen LafleurStep 6: I added another layer of wax... a bit orange this time. I deliberately kept in a lot of texture, but you can smooth it down a lot more. I'll probably try that next time to see how I like it.

Orly Avineri Stencil Encaustic Painting 7 - Gwen LafleurStep 7: Time to add the top layer... Orly's stencil! I used a pearlescent copper from Enkaustikos. Looking back, I'd probably have gone with white or something that would really stand out more from my background. Live and learn!

Orly Avineri Stencil Encaustic Painting 8 - Gwen Lafleur
Orly Avineri Stencil Encaustic Painting 8 - Gwen LafleurStep 8: I spent some time working on ways to make the top image stand out a bit more. I could probably have left it - it looks pretty darn cool, but it was a bit too subtle for what I wanted. In the end, I made it red, but still wanted it to stand out a bit more. I pulled out my clay carving tools to do a little carving in the wax.

Orly Avineri Stencil Encaustic Painting 10 - Gwen LafleurAnd that was it!

Orly Avineri Stencil Encaustic Painting - Gwen Lafleur

Orly Avineri Stencil Encaustic Painting close-up 1 - Gwen Lafleur
Orly Avineri Stencil Encaustic Painting close-up 1 - Gwen Lafleur
I hope this gave you some ideas for using Orly's new stencils... and don't forget to keep hopping to see what everyone else has done!

Kirsten Reed

Gwen Lafleur <-- You are here!

Maria McGuire


Before you go... make sure you leave comments as you go through the blog hop because...


All comments will be entered into a giveaway! The more blogs you comment on, the more chances you have to win! The giveaway will close on Sunday, June 29th at 11:59PM Central Time, and the prize? 5 lucky winners will get one of Orly's new stencil releases. The winner will be announed on StencilGirl Talk.


Thanks for stopping by! Linda Kittmer is next on the blog hop, so don't forget to leave your comment and then head on over!

Craft Hoarders | Stencil Girl Blog Hop

SG-CH PostLOGOAll this week the creative team for StencilGirl Products has been joining in with Craft Hoarders Anonymous for a fun blog hop using the mixed media supplies we're all hoarding in our stashes. I know I have more than my fair share, so this particular challenge was made for me and I was super excited to join in!

The challenge: show off your inner mixed media diva using spray mists, inks, paints, modeling paste, embossing powder, pastels, chalks, etc... Pull out the "messy stuff" in your stash and get to playing. Um... I think I have some of that stuff! :D

For this particular challenge, I decided to do an art journal page using lots of different supplies and mediums with the Ripples Stencil by Michelle Ward as the main design element of the page. I had an idea of what I wanted to do in my head and decided to just give it a shot and see if it came out. I'll admit... it was touch and go there for a while, but then it started to come together and I kind of love it!

Here's my final art journal page, followed by a little (or not so little!) tutorial on how I did it.

Craft Hoarders-StencilGirl - Gwen LafleurFor my "messy stuff," I used stencils, paint, spray ink, light molding paste, modeling cream, Viva Ferro (or tinted coarse molding paste), PanPastels, Silks, Liquid Pearls, gel medium, and ink / stamps / pen to finish it off. Whew! For my journal, I work in a large Dylusions journal.

So let's get started with the process!

Step 1: Crafty mise en place... gather your supplies: paint, stencils, painters tape, and the basic mediums and brushes... I picked two colors of paint and two stencils to use for background work in addition to my main stencil.

CH-SG-Gwen-Lafleur-Step-1Step 2: Lay down 2 colors of paint in the background. I just smeared on a thin coat using a Catalyst Wedge.

CH-SG-Gwen-Lafleur-Step-2Step 3: Use stencils to add some layers to your background. I used the Map Stencil by Mary C. Nasser and Words to Live By by Carolyn Dube. I started by spritzing Dylusions "After Midnight" spray through the Map stencil, and then I pounced white paint through Words to Live By with a stiff bristle brush. (Keep in mind that the paint will pick up the color of the spray beneath it. Kind of a cool effect!)

CH-SG-Gwen-Lafleur-Step-3Step 4: Lay down the main Ripples stencil and isolate the area where you want to put down molding paste with painters tape.

CH-SG-Gwen-Lafleur-Step-4Step 5: Using a palette knife, spread a thin coat of molding paste into the opening. Note again that the molding paste will activate the Dylusions ink underneath and it will tint the paste. In this case I would usually tint my paste with paint before applying, but since I knew it would pick up the other color, I waited - I added the color I wanted on top after it dried.

CH-SG-Gwen-Lafleur-Step-5I repeated this step a few times until I had molding paste in all of the areas I wanted. If you work quickly, you won't need to clean your stencil in between. I did it asap afterwards to make sure I got the gunk off before it dried.

Step 6: Add Silks and Ferro into some of the other open spaces on the stencil. You could also just do all of the areas with molding paste and then paint them later... or leave them all white. For the Ferro, if you don't have this, you can use a coarse molding paste and tint it with paint, Perfect Pearls, Silks, Primary Elements, etc...


I decided to use the orange Ferro as my pop of contrasting color against all the blue... I figured this would be my main focus for the page and highlight the stamped image I wanted to add at the end.

Step 7: Collage patterned paper into the design. I picked a scrap from an old atlas page and traced the area I wanted onto the paper through the stencil just using a pencil. Then I cut out the pieces, applied matte medium to the backs with a brush (holding the pieces in my hand) and then applied them to the page through the stencil (keeping it down for placement.) Once all the pieces are down, pull the stencil back off and go over the tops with more matte medium to seal them. This part is a bit tricky - the matte medium will also activate the Dylusions, but in this case I didn't want the color to spread, so I had to be careful and washed my brush a few times during the process.

CH-SG-Gwen-Lafleur-Step-7Step 8: I took off the stencil and pulled out my PanPastels and a Sofft applicator. I wanted to keep with the blues / greens so I used the Pthalo Blue Tint and carefully applied it over the dried molding paste. I love PanPastels with molding paste... they're like peanut butter and jelly!

CH-SG-Gwen-Lafleur-Step-8At this point I sprayed the page with a workable fixative in order to keep the PanPastels in place.

And here's what the page looked like at this point... kind of a hot mess, huh? But I knew I had another layer coming, so I wasn't too worried... yet! lol.

CH-SG-Gwen-Lafleur-Step-9Step 9: Fill in the remaining open spaces with Viva Modeling Cream... I used silver since it would give a little shine without competing with the rest of the page. You could also just use more molding paste and paint it silver or another color. Or just use Silks or straight paint. I wanted the dimension, though.

CH-SG-Gwen-Lafleur-Step-10Step 10: Starting to look a lot better, but it still needed something to unify the whole page, so I went to my go-to supply... Liquid Pearls! I used Adirondack dimensional paint in Stream, plus Liquid Pearls in Platinum Pearl and Cantaloup.

CH-SG-Gwen-Lafleur-Step-11I outlined the areas I colored with Silks in the blue, then the molding paste area with Pearl, and then I added the cantaloup dots around the silver areas.

CH-SG-Gwen-Lafleur-Step-12Step 11: Add stamping and journaling. I stamped a sentiment from a Tim Holtz set with black Archival Ink and then added journaling with my white UniBall Signo pen (it has to be SUPER dry before you do the writing so you don't ruin the pen.)

CH-SG-Gwen-Lafleur-Step-13Step 12: Finally, (because this truly is a 12-step program,) I sprinkle the dry page with baby powder and then kind of buff it in so that you can't see it. This does a pretty good job of making it so the pages don't stick together which you really need, especially with the Liquid Pearls.

CH-SG-Gwen-Lafleur-Step-14And that's it! A completed journal page full of lots of fun, messy mixed media goodies from my stash.

Craft Hoarders-StencilGirl - Gwen LafleurIf' you've made it this far, don't forget to check out the rest of the blog hop! Here's the run-down of today's posts:

I hope you're enjoying this week's blog hop! I can't wait to see what everyone else does for this challenge :D  If you participate, come back and link me up! And make sure you visit each of the blog posts on this week's blog hop because...

What would a Blog Hop be without a GIVEAWAY??!!!


StencilGirl Products will be picking FIVE winners this week--one from each day!

Take your time and visit each blog showcased every day this week and leave a comment. 

The more blogs you comment on, the more chances you have to WIN

One comment per blog please.


You will have until Sunday, June 22nd at 11:59PM Central Time to leave your comments. The winners will be announced on the StencilGirl Facebook on Tuesday, June 24th.

Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal

I shared a few sneak peaks of this last week on Instagram and Facebook, and I finally got all of the photos taken and edited so I can share the entire book.

So here you go... my latest cardboard art journal - this one is almost entirely stenciled. Just a warning... tons of pictures in this post! I'll share the pictures and a few close-ups as well as links to the stencils. I didn't think to take pictures from the very beginning of the project, unfortunately. But I took 7 pieces of cardboard, picked out 12-13 stencils, and grabbed several cans of spray paint (I used Liquitex Professional and Montana Black.) I sprayed the front and back of each of the big pieces that made the pages and then the front of the small piece that's on the cover. Then I just started layering and decorating and writing as I went and bound all of the finished pages together in the end. (Different from my previous books where I bound first, gessoed, and then decorated.)

Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal Cover - Gwen LafleurBackground is the Squares & Circles stencil by Jessica Sporn, and on the smaller piece I used Zen Landscape by Jamie Fingal. The lightbulb is a foam stamp I made from the April Stencil Club set designed by Carolyn Dube (alphabet in the background is also from that set) and then "Enter" is from Seth Apter's Inside Out stencil.
Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal Pgs 1-2 - Gwen Lafleur
The background on the left is Circle on Circle by Mary Beth Shaw, and on the right is Celestial Grove from Kae Pea.

On the left I layered the Union stencil from Carolyn Dube as well as Seeds by Maria McGuire. I drew the leaves (a little carry-over from my classes with Dina Wakley :D).

Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal P2 close-up - Gwen LafleurOn the right I added an image from the large May club stencil by Terri Stegmiller. It seemed like those two stencils were just meant to be together!

Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal Pgs 3-4 - Gwen LafleurBackground on the left is the Feathers & Lattice stencil by Daniella Wolff and on the right is Marrakech Mix by Michelle Ward.

Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal P3 close-up - Gwen LafleurThe left hand page I wasn't sure was going to turn out, but in the end I love it! And I like that I'm embracing purple again after years of shunning it a bit. I used the Layered Peonies stencil by Jessica Sporn for this one. And lots of Liquid Pearls, because it's me. lol.
Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal P3 close-up - Gwen LafleurFor this one, I used the Five Hamsas stencil, also by Jessica Sporn, to get the texture on top of the background shapes. For the window, I used the Inside Out stencil from Seth Apter (which I stenciled on the back of the window, so it was kind of inside out!)

Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal Pgs 5-6 - Gwen LafleurBackground on the left is the Twinship stencil from Cecilia Swatton and on the right is Buildings by Carolyn Dube.

Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal P5 close-up - Gwen LafleurOn the left, I just doodled around the window... nothing too crazy here!

Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal P6 close-up - Gwen LafleurThe right side was the 6x6 from the May Stencil Club set.

Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal Pgs 7-8 - Gwen LafleurThis was a fun pair of pages! Background on the left is Circle on Circle by Mary Beth Shaw and on the right is the Unfinished stencil by Seth Apter.
Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal P7 close-up - Gwen LafleurOn this side, I added the 6x6 peacock stencil from Jessica Sporn's January Stencil Club set and then on top of that was Quatrefoil Mix by Michelle Ward.
Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal P7 close-up - Gwen LafleurThe right side was another where I mostly wanted the background to show through, but I did use the 4x4 stencil from the April 2013 Stencil Club set to get some lines on there as texture.
Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal Pgs 9-10 - Gwen Lafleur
Background on the left is Crop Circles and on the right is the Gears stencil, both by Mary Beth Shaw.

Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal P9 close-up - Gwen LafleurOn the left, I didn't want to cover up the design, so I just used Liquid Pearls. We had been looking at Van Gogh in my art class this week, so I was a bit inspired by his brush strokes on this one.

Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal P10 close-up - Gwen LafleurOn the right, the yellow in the background is the X & O stencil by Andrew Borloz. The circles are the Journal Texture #1 stencil by Pam Carriker and then the butterfly is from the May Stencil Club kit by Terri Stegmiller.

Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal back cover - Gwen LafleurAnd the back cover... background is Tribal Leaves by Kae Pea.

Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal back cover closeup - Gwen LafleurLayered on top were the Latitude & Longitude Large by Mary C. Nasser, a foam stamp I made from the Hunab Ku stencil by Mary Beth Shaw, and the Timeless stencil by Seth Apter.

Stenciled Cardboard Art Journal Overview - Gwen LafleurWhew!!! That's it... LOTS of stenciling here, which I absolutely loved. It gave it a different look from my previous cardboard art journals and I had a lot of fun layering and playing with my stencils along with different techniques and mediums.

So... it would have been nuts to put techniques on here for every page, so if you have a question about how anything was done, just leave me a comment. I'll collect them from here and Facebook and they may turn into future blog posts!

Hope everyone had a great weekend and a Happy Father's Day!

StencilGirl: Fun with molding paste!

Hi all! Just popping in to let you know that my first blog post as a member of the StencilGirl Products creative team is up on the StencilGirl Talk blog today!

Here's my project - it's an 18"x18" mixed media canvas with acrylic paints, molding paste, and of course... lots of stencils!

Bright Stenciled Leaves Mixed Media Canvas - Gwen LafleurI have a little tutorial to show how I made this, so if you have a chance, head on over and check it out!


By the pricking of my thumbs...

... a homemade colored pencil case this way comes!

Yes, corny... but in this case quite literal! I lost track of how many times I pricked (or in one case gouged) my thumbs, fingers, hands, etc... with stick pins while I was pinning various sections of the project I did last night. Trying to pin fabric in place through chipboard? Not so easy, it turns out.

Background: I've wanted to get a case for my colored pencils for months now, but haven't been willing to cough up the money for a big enough case to hold all my pencils (they're like $45.) Every time I thought I would get one, I decided I'd rather spend the money on paints or something since I don't technically need a pencil case. But I really wanted to be able to put them in a general color order instead of jumbled in a bag. Since colored pencils are part of a suggested kit for my sketchbook class, I decided that it was time. But why not make one instead of buying? This way it's prettier (theoretically) as well as using supplies I had on hand. Or mostly on hand... because I needed to buy the elastic, but I had everything else. (Full disclosure, I'd just bought some cute fabric, but technically I had it on hand by the time I decided to do this and it was kind of the catalyst for my DIY idea.)

Anyway... I had no pattern and no real clue what I was doing, (I've said before that it's a good day when I can thread the bobbin without instructions,) but I had a sample case picked out online that was my general guide. Aside from that, I pretty much just winged it!

Homemade Colored Pencil Case - Gwen LafleurI had just picked up this super cute fabric - Valorie Wells Karavan (how could I resist? Thanks Steph!) as well as some newish Joel Dewberry for the inside that was in a similar colorway (Notting Hill Pristine Poppy Teal.) I'm not too squeamish about putting patterns together, so this really worked for me. I already had the turquoise eyelet and all the ribbon and thread - I just picked up some elastic at Joann. I loved that cute ruffly turquoise elastic. It's like they knew I was coming!

Homemade Colored Pencil Case Inside - Gwen LafleurThere's a very thin sheet of chipboard inside each "page" so that it's flexible, but there's still some structure to the whole thing. I was worried about how my sewing machine was going to handle it, but it just plowed through it like butter. I was pretty impressed! On the outside of the covers there's also a sheet of felt underneath to add just a bit of padding and protection and a little more stability.

Homemade Colored Pencil Case Inside 2 - Gwen LafleurMy ability to sew a straight line, on the other hand? Well, questionable. Of course, I wasn't making too much effort... that kind of thing goes along with measuring and using the right tools (I didn't measure, I eyeballed... my cutting would make people who actually sew cringe, and I won't tell you where, but there was masking tape involved here too. Said masking tape was actually pretty handy as an improvised bandage during the aforementioned thumb-gouging incident. Now wondering if I shouldn't keep Band-Aids in my craft room... Squirrel!)

And as you can see, I wasn't about to spend time switching back and forth between white and turquoise thread. It's all turquoise all the time! I'm okay with that.

I did the "pages" first and then sat and stared at them wondering how this was all going to become one. See, that would have required thinking ahead... actual planning. Which I didn't do, obviously. However, a potential solution occured to me and I just went for it. All the time thinking, "there's no way on earth this should be working." And yet...

Homemade Colored Pencil Case Top and Spine - Gwen LafleurIt's like the sewing gods wanted me to complete this project. Very possibly so that everyone who sees this thing in person can laugh at me. But whatever. It's done. It's in one piece (for now, at least...) and in the end, it actually holds colored pencils. About 115 of them! Purpose achieved.

And the final finishing touch... a little closure.

Homemade Colored Pencil Case Closure - Gwen LafleurJust some elastic beading cord and a cheap plastic shank button that I happened to have. I'd been planning to cover something with matching fabric, but I liked this as-is so I just went with it.

And there you go! Total dumb luck and some really cute fabric yielded a fairly attractive and theoretically functional colored pencil holder (and the band-aids will come off in a few days, right?)

The true test comes this weekend when I use it... we'll see how it goes. Crossing my fingers!

StencilGirl and a New Mixed Media Canvas

I've been sitting on a little secret since the end of April... I was asked to join the creative team for StencilGirl Products and I couldn't be more excited! I had been slowly collecting their stencils and then I joined the monthly stencil club and really got hooked. So when Maria asked me if I was interested in joining the team, I was super psyched! I haven't said anything before now since we decided I would officially start today (June 1st) so that I'd have time to move and get settled in. And now that I'm settled, I'm can't wait to participate in all the fun! So make sure to watch here, on Facebook, and on the StencilGirl blog for future posts and projects :)

In the meantime, I do have a new project to share (which just happens to use some stencils!) I did this one over the last week - this is the final redo of the six 16x20 canvases that I had been redoing. (Well, unless I decide to re-redo one of them! Could happen. lol.) I'm calling this one Wanderlust because of the little phrases that worked their way into the piece. They all centered around that theme, and when it was done it felt like it fit.

Wanderlust Mixed Media Canvas web - Gwen Lafleur I absolutely love this one, and although there's no tutorial, I did take photos of the different phases of the project.

First, I gesso'd the old canvas... you can still see texture from the previous design, but I like that so I didn't level it out. Then I drew on circles and added collage elements.

Wanderlust Canvas - Collage LayerThen I painted in the background:

Wanderlust Canvas - Background LayerNext I used StencilGirl Stencils to add some visual interest to the circles before I put on the final color.

Wanderlust Canvas - Stencil Layer 1I used the Wheel in the Sky stencil (that you can see above) and also the Circle Play stencil. I hadn't planned that in advance... it was total serendipity that I had those two stencils and they were the right sizes for my circles - they were perfect for this!

Wanderlust Canvas - Stencil Layer 2Then I added paint to the circles... along with oil pastels and Inka Gold to get the look I wanted.

Wanderlust Canvas - Yellow Layer 2And then, as if that wasn't enough... I added some sparklies :)
Wanderlust Canvas - Close-up 1

And that's it! I let it dry and then put it back in its frame and hung it up. As I said, I really love this one... I'm so happy with how it turned out!
Wanderlust Canvas - Close-up 1I hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend... we've been enjoying beautiful weather here, and I had an awesome Saturday - I started a new series of classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and I loved it. I can't wait to start sharing! Soon... we just started prep work and some lecturing yesterday, but hopefully good stuff coming next week.