Previous month:
August 2015
Next month:
October 2015

Bali Part 1

Well, I meant to try and blog while I was gone, but we were busy from sun-up to bedtime (which, since we were all jet-lagged, was around 9 or 9:30pm.) So I decided to just enjoy myself, take lots of pictures, keep up with my journal, and blog when I got home. I've been home a week now, trying to get over the jet-lag (coming back across the international date line always takes me at least a week) and then getting over the cold I got from not getting enough sleep. I'm finally feeling a bit better and have started editing photos to share.

We did a LOT of stuff every day, but as most of you know, we were filming for a TV show as part of the trip, so I'm just going to give some highlights from each day showing what I'm allowed to share right now. When the show airs next year, I'll be announcing it everywhere, and then you can watch it! Bali was totally amazing, and I'm SO glad that I went.

For the first part of our trip, we stayed at a wonderful little hotel in Ubud. It was beautiful, with a fantastic staff and a really good restaurant. This was our view during breakfast every morning:

IMG_1327On our first full day, after breakfast a few of us went across the street to the ATM and then explored the area around our hotel a bit before meeting our bus. 

IMG_1337We visited some local artisans who greeted us with fresh coconuts. I'd tried it in Thailand and didn't really like it, but the taste of the water varies, so I tried it again and really enjoyed it this time - I drained my coconut!

IMG_1360This was one of the views from their showroom - pictures don't do this place justice.

IMG_1380We had a chance to shop for ikat fabric and were able to stick our heads into their workshop to see where they make it all by hand.

IMG_1407That evening I went for a walk with two of the ladies in the group - we headed toward the Monkey Forest, looking in the shops and enjoying a beautiful evening. As we got close to the forest, we found a few of the inhabitants out making trouble.


We went back to the hotel and had dinner at the hotel restaurant. They had a very nice set menu that most of us tried. Here's the entree which was a tasting plate of Indonesian dishes. Delicious!

IMG_1447The next morning, Tuesday, we started out visiting another artisan shop - it was in their family compound, and they had decorated everything for our visit. The courtyard was beautiful, and their workshop and showroom were amazing.

IMG_1485This is the grandmother - the wife of the founder of the workshop. What a beautiful lady!

IMG_1487I was in Bali with Craft Tours, and all of Jim's trips to Bali include a chance to learn how to make batik fabric. That's what was on the schedule for the afternoon and I was pretty excited about it!

Some of the ladies at work in the workshop:

IMG_1554Eye candy (their batik is very traditional, and GORGEOUS! They sell to haute couture companies and their fabrics have appeared in several international fashion magazines.)

IMG_1532Some of the batik stamps in the stamping room. I wanted to bring just about all of them home with me.

IMG_1535We got to make two kinds of batik on our own. One was stamped, one we traced or drew a design in pencil and then painted over it with hot wax. After we were finished, the dyed them for us (our guide picked them up later and brought them to the hotel when they were done. How's that for service?)

Here are some of the other ladies tracing their designs:

IMG_1566Here you can see my stamped batik piece before it was dyed and the wax was removed:

IMG_1579 croppedAnd here's a shot of my finished ones after I got them back a few days later... I was pretty impressed! I want to find a way to do this at home now.

IMG_5647When we got back to the hotel, Emily and I went down to the pool patio for tea. Isn't that just the coolest? We had a pot of jasmine tea, and these are the refreshments they served us (plus some veggie fritters that were delicious.) That little handmade basket was full of corn and fresh coconut and it was awesome.

IMG_1605After tea, we got to go to the royal palace of Ubud, just up the street. We were able to meet the prince of Ubud! (One of them, there are 3.)

IMG_1613I didn't get a good photo with the prince on my camera - there were several other cameras there, and I'm hoping someone else got one! But here's one with him and Jim.

IMG_1645It was cool to visit there - especially since we got to go into a part of the palace that's normally closed off to visitors :)

Emily and I walked back from the palace through the local craft market. They were closing up, but it was enough to do a little bit of shopping and see what we wanted to see. Since we're gone all day, we usually miss it, so we wanted to find a way to see it while it was open!

Wednesday, we started out quite early so we could drive an hour to go see the elephants. The drive itself was stunning!

IMG_5583The elephants aren't native to Bali, but were actually brought there from Sumatra - they were rescued from government camps where they had been sent to keep out of the way of newly built plantations. We were told that there are now 43 elephants in the park - 4 of which were born in there, and the others were all rescued. (Here's an article that talks about the rescue and their new home.) I love elephants, so seeing these beautiful and happy ones safe and loved made me very happy!

IMG_1693Note the elephant totally laughing as he put the flowers around me.

I stole this one from Emily's Instagram until we have a chance to exchange photos... that's Gigi. Isn't she pretty?

Emily and I on ElephantI took some video a little later when some of the elephants had free time in the pool. They were trumpeting and playing - dunking each other and having a pretty awesome time. I have to get it off my video camera... eventually! It was so fun to watch - and listen to!


Eventually we went back to the hotel to have a late lunch. Emily had gotten a recommendation to try Watercress - very close to our hotel. We went and had a fabulous lunch. I had corn fritters with avocado and poached eggs, and this mango ice-cream shake that was to die for.

IMG_1706Next we went to the Monkey Forest in Ubud - full of monkeys, there were also a few temples and some very beautiful surroundings!

IMG_1747There were several monkeys with little babies - they're so adorable! You can just see the ear of this one:

IMG_1751We left the Monkey Forest about 3:30 so that we'd have time to slip in an extra stop for the day... some of the ladies had asked if it was possible to go visit the shamen from Eat.Pray.Love - Ketut Liyer. Since they close at 5, we had to hustle! We got there and his son, Niyoman was able to see us (Ketut is retired and wasn't seeing anyone that day.) This is where the scenes in the movie were filmed. Just for fun, we each sat with him for 10-15 minutes. Of course, we're all beautiful, intelligent, lucky, and successful. He told me a few things that he didn't tell anyone else (mostly common sense and probably fairly easy to deduce,) but it was all good advice! Most of it I'm even going to try and follow!
IMG_1780Since it was our last night in Ubud, when we got back, Emily got some recommendations at the desk for a dance show that we could go to. We had dinner and then the hotel drove us over to see the Trance and Kecak dance. We had no idea what we were seeing, but the lady at the hotel said it was the best! At the show they gave us a pamphlet with our ticket - I read it ahead of time which is the only way I understood the story. It was about Rama and Sita, and all of the music was from 100 men sitting in concentric circles who sang / chanted - no instruments. It was outdoors and dark, and there were several tall people in front of us, so I didn't get good photos. You can kind of get an idea from these:


IMG_1801I can't imagine how those men manage to sing non-stop for an hour (I got some video of this too - just to remember how it sounded!) That was the trance part of the show - the singers seem to go into a kind of trance for their portion. It was very cool, and the costumes were great and the dancing was beautiful. They finish by putting up barriers to protect the audience and then they light a big fire in the middle. A man comes out and kicks the fire around with his bare feet (it's a hoby horse routine - still don't know what it meant!) and they keep raking it back and he kicks it around again until it mostly goes out. That's the end of the show. After that, we walked back to the hotel and then called it a night.

Now, it's time for me to get busy editing some more photos so I can put up the next set!

Traveler's Notebook Junque Journal

Welcome to today's stop on the StencilGirl and The Groove Tool blog hop!

Groove-StencilGirl-Blog HeaderI'm super excited that I got to work with The Groove Tool for this... you know how much I love anything I can use with my stencils!

For today's project, I thought I'd try something that's been kicking around in my head for a while. Traveler's Notebooks are super hot and trendy, and I've seen some homemade art journal inserts, but I thought I'd like to make a stenciled Junque Journal insert, so I did!

Traveler's Notebook Junque Journal - Gwen LafleurHere you can see mine inserted into my notebook. My cover is actually by Chic Sparrow and I use the wide one that fits the Moleskine Cahiers instead of the original, thinner Traveler's Notebooks (although those fit in here too!) With that, here's a very quick overview of how I made it, and how I used the Groove Tool to pull it all together!

First up, I did the cover. I used a sheet of very thin chipboard because I knew I'd want it to be somewhat sturdy after it's full and I take it out of my traveler's notebook. I cut it to the size of a Moleskine book - 8"x10.5." Then I used the brush attachment on the Groove Tool to stencil the Butterfly Duo stencil by Maria McGuire with acrylic paint.

TN Junque Journal Step 1 - Gwen LafleurI did both butterflies, spreading it across the whole cover so that both sides would be decorated.

TN Junque Journal Step 2 - Gwen LafleurThe brush attachment really works great for this - I just popped it off and cleaned it in water when I was done.

To finish the cover, I added lots of detail to the butterflies and then used pieces from a travel themed ephemera package from Art-C (makers of the Groove Tool) to embellish. I used one of the sanding attachments for the Groove Tool to do a little distressing around the edges of my cover. That's definitely a lot handier than trying to sand by hand!

TN Junque Journal Step 3 - Gwen LafleurNext, I made the inside pages of my journal. There were several very cool sheets of 5x7 patterned cardstock in the ephemera pack, so I combined those with paper scraps and some thin, black masking tape to make each folio - there are five of them, all sized 8"x10" when I was finished assembling.

TN Junque Journal Step 4 - Gwen LafleurI punched holes and bound them into the cover and then started decorating. The backs of most of those pages were pretty blank - perfect for stenciling, of course! This time I used the sponge attachment (I need to get a few refill packs of these!) These work great with ink, but I also really liked using them with paint.

TN Junque Journal Step 5 - Gwen LafleurHere you can see all of the completed inside pages:

  • TN Junque Journal Page 1 - Gwen Lafleur
  • TN Junque Journal Page 2 - Gwen Lafleur
  • TN Junque Journal Page 3 - Gwen Lafleur
  • TN Junque Journal Page 4 - Gwen Lafleur
  • TN Junque Journal Page 5 - Gwen Lafleur
  • TN Junque Journal Page 6 - Gwen Lafleur
  • TN Junque Journal Page 7 - Gwen Lafleur
  • TN Junque Journal Page 8 - Gwen Lafleur
  • TN Junque Journal Page 9 - Gwen Lafleur
TN Junque Journal Page 9 - Gwen Lafleur

I used some of my hand-carved stamps in here to alternate with the stencils. Here's the list of stencils I used in the order they appear in the book:

Finally, the back cover so you can see how it looks inserted into my notebook:

TN Junque Journal Back Cover - Gwen LafleurThere you go! I now have a portable Junque Journal, ready for me to work in on the go (or at home!) I hope you enjoyed today's project and that you've enjoyed our blog hop this week.

Make sure you leave a comment below and on all of the other posts this week since one lucky winner will get their own Groove Tool plus a $25 gift certificate to StencilGirl!

Groove GiveawayComments will close at 11:59PM Central on September 26th, so make sure you get to all of the blogs and leave your comments for your chance to win! (One comment per person per blog post, please.)

Today there's one more stop for you to visit, and make sure to visit StencilGirl Talk to get the list of any posts you might have missed on Monday and Tuesday.

For those who are interested, The Groove is available now at EVERY Hobby Lobby store.  Most Michaels and Joann Fabric and Craft stores have it now, as well. At Hobby Lobby and Michaels, it is in the stamping isle.  At Joann, it is in the paint and stencil aisle, near the unfinished wood.  Of course, it may be ordered directly from Art-C by calling Customer Service at 800-448-6656. (You can also ask your local independent store if they carry it or will order it - I know I'll be calling mine to see about getting more sponge attachments!)
Thank you Art-C for letting me play with this awesome tool! So much fun!

Travel Journal with StencilGirl and USArtQuest

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to my stop on the blog hop with StencilGirl and USArtQuest! I'm so excited that I got to participate in the hop... so many fun products to play with!

I'll get right to the project and then show you a brief step by step of how it evolved. A little background on how this came about - I love to make books, and I LOVE to travel! So naturally, I make books to use as travel journals. Usually I do a 3-ring book and don't actually bind it, but for my trip to Bali this month I decided to try something a little different, and I thought that using StencilGirl stencils and products from USArtQuest would be perfect!

Here's my finished book (pre-trip, of course!)

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 7 - Gwen LafleurAnd now for a little how-to... I started with the covers. I picked out some 8x10 canvas panels to use for those and started decorating. First, I did the back cover. I took a beautiful half-sheet of USArtQuest Art Papers  and decided that I would add a little copper Perfect Pigment Fluid Acrylic paint to the background to make the flowers stand out. I won't lie... this took a while, but I find it pretty relaxing, so I didn't mind.

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 1 - Gwen LafleurNext I started working on the front cover. I used more Perfect Pigment paints to cover the background, then stenciled the main image using the Bloom True stencil by Flora Bowley.

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 2 - Gwen LafleurIf you look closely, you'll see that this stencil comes in two parts - the outline, and then the actual flower mask. I left the pieces together for this part so that I could add an outline later. I used the Perfect Pigments paints again - I mixed Magenta and Wheat to get the lighter color for the flower.

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 3 - Gwen LafleurI knew I wanted the cover to be inspired by batik fabric designs, so for the outline (you can see above that I removed the mask) I used Duo Gilding Adhesive to put down a layer of glue so I could go back through and gild the outline. Once the adhesive was tacky (follow the directions - "when it's white it's not right, when it's clear it adheres!) I put down the Gildenglitz Leafing and then buffed off the excess.

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 4 - Gwen LafleurI used the Spring Fling stencil by Flora Bowley and repeated this process so that I had some leaves. Then I added a few other details and a title. I glazed both the front and back covers to they'll stand up to travel and handling. While that dried, I assembled my inside signatures. I separated the trip into travel time and then actual days in Bali and set up a signature for each day there and then one at the beginning and end for the travel (it's almost 2 days each way!) I bound it all together, and there you go!

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 6 - Gwen LafleurFor the inside, I used more of those beautiful half-sheets of artist papers to make the end papers of the book. Here's the inside of the front:

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 8 - Gwen Lafleurand the back - this paper is really iridescent - so cool!

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 12 - Gwen LafleurI also went through with stencils and Perfect Pigment paints and stenciled designs on some of the blank pages. I liked the transparency of some of the paints, because it makes good backgrounds for writing or other things I might add during the trip.

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 9 - Gwen LafleurAbove, I used the Going Global stencil by Mary Nasser along with the beautiful pearlescent green paint.

On the next ones, you can see where I bound this gorgeous textured artist paper into the book, and then added some stenciling next to it:

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 10 - Gwen Lafleur
StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 10 - Gwen LafleurI used the Floral 1 stencil by Traci Bautista and the Flower and Leaf stencil by Daniella Woolf for these.

And last but not least, the finished and bound back cover:

StencilGirl-USArtQuest Travel Journal 15 - Gwen LafleurI hope you enjoyed today's project!

No blog hop is complete without a giveaway... one lucky winner will receive a $25 gift certificate to StencilGirl as well as some of the USArtQuest Decorative Papers and Perfect Pigment Acrylics that you're seen us use in this week's hop!

USArtQuest Giveaway promo collage

Make sure you visit all of the stops on this fun, 2-day blog hop and leave a comment on each to increase your chances to win! (One comment per person, per blog please.) The giveaway closes on Sunday, Sept. 19th at 11:59pm Central.

Today's blog hop participants:

Inspiration Wednesday Weeks 16-18

Just popping in for another quick update... I wanted to share the last three Inspiration Wednesday challenges I've done in my inspiration journal... I've really liked all of these!

Week 16 involved fabric and molding paste. I had this cool fabric from Alexander Henry - I believe it was from a 2006 collection. I've had it for years and not really used it, so this seemed perfect!

Inspiration Wednesday Week 16 - Gwen LafleurI didn't take a picture of the other side of the inclusion, but it's got more fabric (with some figures on it) and my date tag. The peacock was from a stencil that I roughly drew and then cut out of thin chipboard - I'm pretty pleased with how well it worked! I added words and texture with Seth Apter's Past Present Future stencil. I wish you could see the shimmer of the gold paint from the photos - it's so cool in person!

IW2015 Week 16 Closeup - Gwen LafleurNext up, week 17. I will shamelessly admit that I copied Donna pretty exactly - I used the same paint colors and just followed along because I loved hers so much. My stencil was different - I didn't have hers, but used the Bubbles stencil from StencilGirl and it worked perfectly. I liked all the different techniques in this one - molding paste, gel transfer, and the ways that we did the shading on the bubbles - very fun!

Inspiration Wednesday Week 17 - Gwen LafleurFinally, last week's challenge - week 18 - was mostly just acrylic painting in our journals with a focus on not over-thinking things. This is probably my favorite challenge so far - I absolutely love it! I mentioned it on Instagram in my original post, but I think that means I need to do more of this type of thing. Life is much more crazy than usual right now - travel, assignments, job hunting... but I need to do more of this asap! I'm itching to pull out a canvas.

Inspiration Wednesday Week 18 - Gwen LafleurAnd because I love it so much, close up pictures of either side of the spread:

IW2015 Week 18 Closeup 1 - Gwen Lafleur
IW2015 Week 18 Closeup 1 - Gwen LafleurAnd with that, time to get back to the next item on today's To-Do list while I enjoy our afternoon thunderstorm :)

StencilClub: September Inspiration

Hi everyone, I'm just popping in to let you know that I've got a project I'm sharing in today's group inspiration post for the new September StencilClub stencil kit.

Here's what I came up with - going with this month's theme, I'm calling it "Hidden Messages." It's a 10"x10" mixed media canvas.

Sept2015-StencilClub-Mixed-Media-Canvas---Gwen-Lafleur-sm1There are a few in-progress shots over on the StencilGirl blog, as well as more inspiration from the rest of the creative team. I hope you'll stop by and check it out!