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January 2017
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March 2017

Wanderlust 2017 Weeks 1-5

This year I wanted to challenge myself to do another year-long class; the last two years I did Inspiration Wednesday (although I stopped in August 2016 and haven't yet finished - too much traveling the last half of the year!) but this year I wanted to try something different. I liked the idea of Wanderlust from Everything Art, since it looked like a good mix of teachers, techniques, and learning about different tools that I want to try. So I signed up and as the lessons have begun, I've been trying to keep from getting too far behind! 

The first lesson was from Kasia Avery (one of the hosts) and was kind of an introduction - this lesson is the title page in my book, which is a new 11x11 handmade art journal (I'm LOVING both the book and the size!)

Wanderlust Week 1 - Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur

My statement for the year is "to learn, to explore, to grow." 

Wanderlust Week 1 - Art Journal Page Close-up 3 - Gwen Lafleur

Another close-up with some of the layers and texture on the page:

Wanderlust Week 1 - Art Journal Page Close-up 2 - Gwen Lafleur

Week 2 was with Mary Wangerin and I really liked this one - it was kind of a mandala inspired project with a lot of layers and exploration.

Wanderlust Week 2 - Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur

If you look closely, you can see some hints of the many layers on this page:

Wanderlust Week 2 - Art Journal Page Close-up 1 - Gwen Lafleur

Some fun texture too :)

Wanderlust Week 2 - Art Journal Page Close-up 2 - Gwen Lafleur

Week 3 was with Wilna Furstenberg and I really enjoyed this one as well... I added a bit more color and pattern and made it more "me" (but we're supposed to do that, right?)

Wanderlust Week 3 - Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur

Close-up of some of the page elements... the flowers are all hand-painted with a detail brush and acrylic ink. I added stenciling on top.

Wanderlust Week 3 - Art Journal Page Close-up 2 - Gwen Lafleur

Week 4 was a break for catching up (I'm so glad they built those in!) Week 5 was back with Kasia again, this time just working on breaking the blank page and creating backgrounds, with a focus on maybe using products or techniques that we don't normally use. I made a few backgrounds, including this one that featured my neglected Gelatos:

Wanderlust Week 5 - Art Journal Background - Gwen Lafleur

I'm looking forward to finding some more time to get to work on the next sets of lessons. It's fun to have something I can do now and then that's just for me and challenges me to go out of the box, try something new, or look at a new perspective. I like it so far!

 


Art Journal Design: Stamp, Stencil & Collage

Over the last month I've slowly been working on filling out my list of available classes to offer to stores or groups interested in having me come teach in person. I finally finished up the sample and class write-up for the last one that I had planned for now; I'm calling it Art Journal Design: Stamp, Stencil, & Collage. This project is for an art journaling class where we make a simple art journal from watercolor paper and then decorate the cover and do 2-3 spreads. 

Art Journal Cover - Stamp Stencil Collage 2 - Gwen Lafleur

Of course, it's not just any old random art journaling... this workshop is structured around learning fun mixed media techniques along with a series of design principles that I use regularly in all of my work. I'm sharing my secrets here! LOL. Of course, as the name suggests, stamping, stenciling, and collage will definitely be involved!

The cover has some principles and techniques, of course, and then the three inside spreads really get into the meat of the subject.

Art Journal Design Class - Spread 1 - Gwen Lafleur

You can definitely see by the sample spreads that we'll cover quite a variety of techniques and topics in class!

Art Journal Design Class - Spread 2 - Gwen Lafleur

I'm worried that we won't have time to do three spreads in class, but we'll see... I probably over-planned (surprised, anyone?) but I'd always much rather try and give you more in class than less!

Art Journal Design Class - Spread 3 - Gwen Lafleur

This one comes with a surprise inside...

Art Journal Design Class - Spread 3d - Gwen Lafleur

You can see more detail photos as well as course description on the class page on my website.

I've had a lot of requests to make classes available online as well, so if this is a class that you really want to take and it's not offered in person near you, let me know so I can add it to my list to make into a virtual class.

If you're interested in hosting a class, shoot me an email!

 


Gwen's Gems: Stenciled ICE Resin Papers in an Art Journal

Hi everyone, it's time for Gwen's Gems again over on StencilGirl Talk! This month I'm tackling a new technique that I've wanted to try for a long time... I used ICE Resin to coat stenciled papers (so fun and cool!) and then used those papers to make a handmade art journal with window pages and covers.

Stenciled ICE Resin Window Art Journal 3 - Gwen Lafleur

Make sure you head over to StencilGirl Talk to see the full post with instructions and more photos of the finished book!

 


Mini Mixed Media Medallions

I'm still at it, working feverishly in my studio as I try and finish up the samples for all of the prospective in-person classes I'm offering. The latest samples are for a class I'm calling Mini Mixed Media Medallions. I've used clay, metal findings, beads, and other goodies to make "medallions" (for lack of a better term) that can be anything from a funky statement pendant to an elaborate version of a Lover's Eye (or not so elaborate, but I like everything pretty over the top!)

Here are the three I made as samples:

Mini Mixed Media Medallions - Gwen Lafleur

Of course, I have individual photos and close-ups for each of them... I can't decide which is my favorite. Maybe this one?

Mini Mixed Media Medallion 1 - Gwen Lafleur

It would be a bit big as a necklace, but maybe on the cover of a book?

Mini Mixed Media Medallion 1 - Book Cover - Gwen Lafleur

This might be my favorite too...

Mini Mixed Media Medallion 2 - Gwen Lafleur

It could definitely work as a pendant - a very funky, tribal feeling statement pendant...

Mini Mixed Media Medallion 2 - Close-up - Gwen Lafleur

Last but not least, this one went through a rough phase, but I think I pulled it out in the end and I really love this one too:

Mini Mixed Media Medallion 3 - Gwen Lafleur

Maybe a book cover? More likely the focal point of a larger mixed media piece at some point in the future.

Mini Mixed Media Medallion 3 - Close-up 1 - Gwen Lafleur

There are more photos on the class page along with a class description, etc... (this class isn't scheduled anywhere as of right now, but hopefully it will be!) If you'd like to see this as an online class, make sure to leave me a comment and let me know (I'm keeping track of requests so I know what to work on first when I start putting together online classes.) If you're interested in hosting a class, shoot me an email!

 

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Mixed Media Floral Still-Life

I've been on a total creative roll over the last few weeks! So many ideas are running through my mind, and I've been lucky to spend pretty much all of my free time in the studio getting those ideas out of my head and into my art. 

One of the larger ongoing projects I've been working on has been making samples for the new in-person workshops I'm offering for stores or groups who are interested in having me come teach. The latest is a sample for another new full-day workshop - Mixed Media Floral Still-Life paintings, and I was actually kind of shocked at how quickly and easily this one spilled out and onto the canvas. I love how it came out, and I hope you do too!

Mixed Media Floral Still-Life - Gwen Lafleur

Just a few close-ups of the piece:

Mixed Media Floral Still-Life - Close-up 2 - Gwen Lafleur
Mixed Media Floral Still-Life - Close-up 2 - Gwen Lafleur
Mixed Media Floral Still-Life - Close-up 2 - Gwen Lafleur

The focus for this class will be working with paper, acrylics, and mark-making to make our own beautiful floral compositions. If you want more info, you can check out the class page with more photos and description. If you're interested in hosting a class, shoot me an email!

 


Make a Stenciled, Embroidered Book with Kraft-Tex!

Hi everyone, I'm so excited to be joining in on this week's blog hop with StencilGirl and C&T Publishing (makers of Kraft-Tex!) This week the creative teams are using stencils with Kraft-Tex... I can't tell you how much fun it was to stencil on this incredible product. It's so cool! I could keep talking, but why not just show you?

First off, here's what I made - it's a riff on a traveler's notebook style book cover with two book inserts; I made it with elastics to give me the ability to swap pamphlet books in and out of the inside, only I customized the structure to be more like an actual book.

Stenciled-Kraft-Tex-Notebook-Cover---Front-Bottom-View---Gwen-Lafleur-sm

Here's how it all came together...

I started with the brand new turquoise, pre-washed Kraft-Tex and cut a piece approximately the size of the spine and covers, then used some Archival Ink and my Ornamental Peacock Feathers stencil to put down a pattern on what would become the front cover of my book.

Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover Step 1 - Gwen Lafleur

I really wanted to take advantage of the fact that Kraft-Tex is paper, but it has a lot of the qualities of fabric and leather, so I started the process of embroidering my peacock feather designs. 

  Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover Step 2 - Gwen Lafleur

A few tips for sewing on Kraft-Tex:

  • It feels like leather, but it's still paper. If you put the holes too close together, it will tear. (You'll probably want a designated Kraft-Tex or paper needle, for either hand or machine sewing.)
  • If you poke a hole in it and it's not where you wanted the hole, it will show - it doesn't disappear the same way it would on fabric. To outline each section of embroidery, I used a needle to pre-poke the holes for my back-stitched borders.
  • Use a needle with a hole that's big enough for your thread, but not unnecessarily big - you don't want too-wide holes because it will show.
  • It can be hard to pull the needle through - I wore Finger Gloves on my thumb, pointer, and middle fingers. This helped me grip the needle to pull it through as well as protect my fingers (I hate thimbles... I have a really hard time working while wearing one.) The other big help for pulling the needle and thread through - Thread Heaven - it takes some of the hand stress out of the stitching process.
  • Working with a design like this one with sections of color, work from the inside out. Re-use existing holes if you can when setting new stitches.

Honestly, all of that satin stitching probably should NOT have worked... lol, but I love how it came out! Of course, you do NOT have to stitch! You could stencil the design on as a pattern and then use paints, Liquid Pearls, markers, etc... to add in color and details.

When the stitching was done, I wanted to put some structure behind it to make sure that my stitches were secure, so I cut pieces of thin chipboard and adhered them to the back of my cover piece where the front and back covers were going to be.

Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover Step 3 - Gwen Lafleur

Next I cut another piece of Chocolate Kraft-Tex the same size as my cover and clipped it to the back to sandwich the chipboard and give me nice inside covers in a contrasting color. (Mine wasn't pre-washed... I cut a chunk off of the roll and threw it in with a load of colors in my washing machine, detergent, fabric softener, and all! It's colorfast, so there was no bleeding. Then I took it out and laid it on the table to air dry.)

I pre-poked holes around the chipboard and back-stitched with gold Sizzle thread from Wonderfil to bring it all together.

Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover Step 4 - Gwen Lafleur

You can also see where I added some ribbon... I had the perfect piece of peacock feather patterned ribbon so I tucked the ends between the pieces of Kraft-Tex and sewed it into place as I stitched the border. 

After I finished the front cover, I poked the holes for the back and then slipped another piece of chipboard into the spot which would become the spine. I kept stitching until the whole thing was finished.

Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover Step 5 - Gwen Lafleur

Next, I punched holes where I wanted to insert my elastics and put in grommets, then added Tim Holtz elastics (2 kinds - one for the inside to hold the book inserts, one with only one end that would wrap around the outside as a closure.)

Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover Step 6 - Gwen Lafleur

I went back and stitched a few beads onto my peacock feathers as a finishing touch.

Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover Step 6a - Gwen Lafleur

You could leave the inside covers plain, but of course... I stenciled them! I used gold pigment ink through my Decorative 6-Petal Flower Screen stencil and then heat embossed.

Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover Step 6b - Gwen Lafleur

With that, the covers were done!

Of course, next I needed to make some booklets that would fit inside. I measured my book - the height shouldn't be much taller than the distance between the holes where your inside elastics go. I kept the width about 1/4" smaller than the width of the cover. I cut and folded some papers - bristol and watercolor paper, and also cut and folded covers from Stone Kraft-Tex and Chocolate Kraft-Tex. Then I used my awl to punch four holes into the creases (you want an even number of holes for this method.)

Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover Step 7 - Gwen Lafleur

I used the pamphlet stitch and waxed linen thread to bind the books together. In total, it takes about 10 minutes to make one of these little books... quick and easy! I repeated this process for the second book so I could fill up both of the elastics I'd attached to the spine.

Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover Step 7a - Gwen Lafleur

Now for the fun part... embellishing the covers! Starting with the stone book, I once again stenciled with Archival Ink, this time using my Decorative Medallion stencil. Then I used Liquid Pearls / dimensional paints and Stickles and went over the top (this is another way you could do the outside cover if you don't want to sew.)

Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover Step 8 - Gwen Lafleur

I added a sari applique in the center (I picked it out first and then matched the colors of the Liquid Pearls and the Stickles,) and a scribbled gold border around the edge.

Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover Step 8a - Gwen Lafleur

For the second book, I did something a little different to decorate the cover... I stenciled with Versamark ink, then with the stencil still in place, I went over top of it while it was still wet using bronze PanPastels.

Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover Step 9 - Gwen Lafleur

I sealed that layer with a workable fixative, then used the same process to embellish with dimensional paints and Stickles.

Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover Step 9a - Gwen Lafleur

I let everything dry... I just love how these turned out!

Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover Step 10 - Gwen Lafleur

Slide your new journals into the elastic in the cover and you're ready to go!

Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover Step 10a - Gwen Lafleur    

I really like the stiffer, more structured covers, but you could totally follow this same process to construct your book and just leave the chipboard out. In that case, though, you'll want to make sure that the height of the books you make to go inside is a little shorter than the distance between the holes in the spine... without the chipboard, it would probably collapse it a bit to add that extra tension.

Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover Step 10b - Gwen Lafleur

Voila! A finished reusable notebook cover with your own custom books inside. I'm already using mine as an art journal :)

Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover without Band - Gwen Lafleur
Stenciled Kraft-Tex Notebook Cover without Band - Gwen Lafleur

That's it from me... I hope you enjoyed the project and tutorial! Of course, now it's time for the best part of all...

 GIVEAWAY!

One lucky winner will receive a $25 Gift Certificate to StencilGirl Products

AND a $25 Gift Certificate for C&T Publishing!!

February Blog Hop GIVEAWAY image
Visit the fabulous designers from both teams and comment for your chance to win!

The more blogs you comment on, the more chances you have to WIN!
(One comment per person per blog please.)


You have until Saturday, February 18th at 11:59PM Central Time to leave your comments.

Winner will be announced on
StencilGirl's Facebook page and C&T Publishing’s Blog on Sunday, February 19.

February 15

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February 17 

 


Of Angels & Icons

Lately I've been working on putting together a list of class offerings so that I can try and schedule a few in-person teaching appearances this year. I've already added some existing classes to the list, but I've never taught full-day classes and I'm working on developing a few (along with a few new half-day classes) so that I can add variety and options to the list.

One of the new classes I'm going to offer is called Of Angels & Icons and it's inspired by a few things I love all mixed together. The first is Mexican folk art - I love the bright colors and the relative simplicity of the shapes and figures. The second are icons - I spent ten days in Russia last summer and visited a lot of Orthodox churches and cathedrals. I was incredibly impressed by the beautiful icons and the artistry and detail (and let's not kid ourselves... I love how ornate they were with lots of beading, gems, embroidery - they were stunning!) I took those two influences and mixed them with a touch of Indian / Asian flair and my own personal style.

I was super excited to work on the sample for this class, and I LOVE how it came out!

Mixed-Media-Angel---Gwen-Lafleur

Here are a few close-ups so you can see some of the details:

Mixed-Media-Angel-Close-up-1---Gwen-Lafleur

Her halo is based on a gorgeous diecut from Spellbinders, her wings are from the Fractured Angel stencil by Kate Thompson.


Mixed-Media-Angel-Close-up-1---Gwen-Lafleur

The heart is hand-made - I used clay, jewels, metal findings and paints and I love it!


Mixed-Media-Angel-Close-up-1---Gwen-Lafleur

I also hand made my own applique for the sample (making the applique isn't part of the class - sewing takes a while!) I used die-cut felt flowers from the Tim Holtz Tattered Flowers Sizzix die and the leaves were from another Spellbinders die set (did you know wafer thin dies could cut wool felt? I didn't, but they can... beautifully!) I spent WAY too much time adding all the stitching and a little beading, but I love how it came out. I even took my first stab at doing a fish scale technique with sequins. I'm thinking I'll do a separate tutorial on making your own appliques. I know I'll make more - I learned a ton from making this one.

Mixed-Media-Angel-Side-View-2---Gwen-Lafleur

The background features one of my all time favorite stencils - the Marrakech Mix stencil by Michelle Ward. There are tons of other stencils in the background, and some in the body as well but they all kind of fade into the background (deliberately, of course!) The head is a Dina Wakley Media stamp - it was just perfect for this project!

Mixed-Media-Angel-Close-up-5---Gwen-Lafleur

It was so much fun to work on this and to plan out how this class will work. I'm really hoping someone chooses this one for me to teach at some point, but I guess we'll see! If not, I still love her and I'm going to be making more soon!

 


ARTifacts - January 2017

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen a few of the art journal spreads I've posted recently that are labeled #ARTifacts. This is a new art journal I've started to try and document my creative / artsy year. If you haven't heard about this, the mastermind behind this project is Seth Apter (read more about the concept on his blog.) I think it's such a cool idea! I've already been tracking everything I do during the year in a kanban board on Trello, but I love this idea because it really celebrates each project and ultimately the book becomes a piece of art on its own.

So without further ado, here are the pages in my book for January (it was kind of a busy month for me, so there was a lot to document!)

Title page:

ARTifacts-Art-Journal---Intro-Page---Gwen-Lafleur

The first spread was entirely dedicated to my first beaded art quilt. I worked on it for almost 10 months, finally finishing it last month. I think wrapping up a project that big definitely deserves two pages!

ARTifacts-Art-Journal---January-Spread-1---Gwen-Lafleur

The second spread is probably my favorite... this one documented my January Gwen's Gems project as well as the cards I made for my bi-monthly ATC swap.

ARTifacts-Art-Journal---January-Spread-2---Gwen-LafleurThe book I'm working in is handmade, and only about 5"x7". I wanted the pictures to be big enough to really see the project, so that meant I had to get creative in order to have room to write and also decorate the page. So, there are lots of interactive flaps on both sides of this spread!

ARTifacts-Art-Journal---January-Spread-2a---Gwen-Lafleur
ARTifacts-Art-Journal---January-Spread-2a---Gwen-Lafleur
ARTifacts-Art-Journal---January-Spread-2a---Gwen-Lafleur
ARTifacts-Art-Journal---January-Spread-2a---Gwen-Lafleur

For the third spread, I documented the projects I'd done for Seth's new Paper Artsy release, and you can also see where I tipped in one of the jumbo ATC cards I'd made in January as well. Again, I had to get creative with the space, so this time it was a library card pocket and card to hold the pictures and journaling (it was for Library of Memories Take 2, so that seemed appropriate!)

ARTifacts-Art-Journal---January-Spread-3--Gwen-Lafleur
ARTifacts-Art-Journal---January-Spread-3--Gwen-Lafleur
ARTifacts-Art-Journal---January-Spread-3--Gwen-Lafleur

Naturally, the fourth spread including the back of the jumbo ATC included my post on Julie Fei-Fan Balzers blog for her blogiversary celebration. On the right I got pretty fancy in order to document the launch of my new website and Facebook page. I block printed on the flap and embellished, then underneath I did a photo collage of all the work I'd done so far and wrote about it.

ARTifacts-Art-Journal---January-Spread-4---Gwen-Lafleur
ARTifacts-Art-Journal---January-Spread-4---Gwen-Lafleur

For the last January spread, I documented my project day for Creative JumpStart 2017 as well as a few art journal pages I'd managed to get done that I particularly love.

ARTifacts-Art-Journal---January-Spread-5---Gwen-LafleurWhew! That's it for January... looking back at all of that kind of makes me tired! lol. I certainly got a lot done as my artsy year got off to a fast but very good start. Lots more to come, I hope!

I've put together a gallery page on my website where I'll post photos each month so that I have a single location for the entire project... I'll add new photos there as I finish spreads in the book and then link to the summary blog post after it's live. That's the plan, at least ;) Hopefully I can keep it up, the first month was lots of fun!