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February 2017
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April 2017

Open for Business!

Over the past several weeks, I've shared photos here and there of things I've been collecting with the intent to sell them. I'm not entirely sure what I was thinking - I'm super busy with all of the obligations I've already taken on, but this is something that I really felt driven to try and do. So I've jumped straight in to starting my own business. A small one. Very small. But I've thought many times over the years how much I would love to be a buyer since I really enjoy the process of seeking out unique items and getting good prices. (Not to mention having said items land on my doorstep!) While I love mixed media products made by big companies as much as the next person, not to mention raiding Blick during their sales, I've been sourcing a lot of my more unique items from outside the country for quite some time now. When it finally hit me that most people aren't willing or maybe not able to find reputable vendors in foreign countries and buy supplies directly from the source, the idea to open some kind of shop started to germinate. In typical Gwen fashion, thought and action weren't all that far apart...

Mixed-Media-Kits-and-Supplies-Category-Header

It's been a lot of hard work and late nights, not to mention shopping on a pretty small budget, but I finally launched an online store! It's not huge, and what's there is... odd eclectic. LOL. If you know my work at all, this shouldn't surprise you. If this is a success (and I'm hoping it will be!) I'd like to expand - I've already been researching vendors for the products I'd like to carry and my tax ID should be coming in the mail any day! But in the meantime, I've started with a kit concept based around themes and supplies that I love and use myself. I wanted to do something where I could include unique, hand-crafted items along with cool products from other countries that are either expensive in the states, or hard to order - especially in small quantities. (Of course, there are some not-quite-as-hard-to-get-but-still-fairly-unique-items too!)

Going Global Collage and Embellishment Pack - Gwen Lafleur Studios

This is my Going Global Collage & Embellishment Pack - lots of papers, trims, and fun embellishments in here (you can click through and read all about each element - what they are and where they're from.)

Every pack (so far,) has at least one sheet of hand-printed paper (printed by me, of course!) I really like the idea of not only using my woodblocks instead of just admiring them on the shelf, but making these prints accessible so that you don't have to go out and buy the woodblock yourself in order to use hand printed paper in your own artwork.

My favorite find by far, are these absolutely AMAZING vintage Afghan Kuchi patches that I managed to buy in a big job lot from a vendor in England. (You might have seen the project I posted Monday where I used one of these on my mixed media canvas.)

Going Global Large Kuchi Patches - Gwen Lafleur Studios

Of course, there are also peacocks. Lots of peacocks. An entire peacock-themed pack, in fact, along with several different individual embellishments. My absolute favorites are the sequined peacock sari patches that I discovered about two years ago, I think? They come in many sizes and styles and they're so cool. (I must admit, however... I do a lot more hoarding than using when it comes to these.)

Peacock Sari Patches - Gold Flower Tails - Gwen Lafleur Studios

Some of you have also already found my new collection of downloadable collage cut-outs. I have a hard time finding images that I can use in my collage work or in my art journals, so I finally decided to just make my own collage sheets. I scoured the web for public domain images that I like and would use, then edited them and cleaned them up so that they would print well. I figured that since I'd done all the work, I may as well make them available to others who might be running into the same issues!

Collage Cut-Outs Category Header
I could go on and on... I'm super excited about what's here. If all goes well, I'm hoping to be able to buy in larger quantities so that I can standardize things and expand my offerings. I'd also like to bring in products like washi tape, carry my own stencils, and there are plans to do my own rubber stamps as well. We'll see! Of course, I'm thinking I'm already so busy I don't know how I'll handle it if things go well (you know, demanding full-time job and existing art commitments?) But when has any of that stopped me before? Bring it on! LOL.

If you have requests, please let me know! Types of products you've seen me use or that are similar that you'd like to see... things in packs that you really want individually... do you want just paper packs? etc... No promises, but if I'm going to do this, I want to do it right!

In any case... check it out - I hope you like it!

 

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Gwen's Gems - A Boho Mixed Media Canvas

Hi all! Just popping in to let you know that I'm up today on StencilGirl Talk with the latest installment of Gwen's Gems. This month I went a bit crazy with different texture pastes and stencils to make a mixed media canvas centered around a vintage Afghan Kuchi patch.

Boho Stenciled Canvas - Gwen Lafleur

There's a tutorial along with lots more photos over on the StencilGirl blog, so make sure to check it out!

 


Boho Art Journaling - Elephants and Peacocks

Lately I've been working here and there on putting together one more half-day class to offer as an option when scheduling in-person classes (for now, at least... I'm sure there will be more later!) The original plan was to make collaged elements, but about half-way through my first sample the boho spin popped out of nowhere and insisted on becoming the theme for the workshop. I'm so glad I followed my inspiration on this - I love this new class which is now, quite appropriately, called Boho Art Journaling with Stencils & Stamps.

Here's the first sample - a boho elephants art journal page:

Boho Art Journaling - Elephant Spread - Gwen Lafleur

The idea for the class is that we'll learn a fun art journal background technique (which can be applied to panels, canvases, etc... as well,) and also make our own patterned papers that will then become part of a collaged element that's the focal point of the spread.

Boho Art Journaling - Elephants Close-up 2 - Gwen Lafleur

I love my boho ellies!

Boho Art Journaling - Elephants Close-up 4 - Gwen Lafleur

Of course, I had to take it one step further and try this out with a peacock:

Boho Art Journaling - Peacock Spread - Gwen Lafleur

This particular shape is not one that I'd recommend attempting in a 3-hour class (unless one is a very fast cut-and-paster!) but I wanted to show some of the possibilities of the techniques.

Boho Art Journaling - Peacock Close-up 1 - Gwen Lafleur

I love adding different textures and dimension into my journal.

Boho Art Journaling - Peacock Close-up 4 - Gwen Lafleur

I'm really excited about the possibilities with this workshop, and I'm crossing my fingers that it gets scheduled! I'm planning on doing some more samples soon to show how this can be adapted for more styles and shapes (it doesn't have to be boho if that's not your thing,) and I'm excited to experiment more.

You can see more photos and info on the class page, and if you're interested in hosting this and / or another class, shoot me an email!

 


Stenciled & Wood-Burned Diptych Photo Frame

SG & WH Blog Hop Header

Hi all! I'm excited to be joining in with the StencilGirl / Walnut Hollow blog hop today! This was a very fun project for me as it gave me the opportunity to try something entirely new with my stencils. I knew as soon as I saw these decorator plaques from Walnut Hollow that I wanted to make a diptych and do some wood burning with my Versa-Tool.

Here's what I made - a diptych photo frame for me to display in my house - I love it!

  Stenciled - Woodburned Diptych - Gwen Lafleur

I've got a quick tutorial to show you how I made this piece. Ready?

First I started by stenciling each piece with my Decorative Medallion stencil using a light color of brown ink. I knew I was going to trace over this design with my Versa-Tool, so I wanted to make sure that the color I used wouldn't interfere with the beautiful burned wood color that was coming next.

Stenciled - Woodburned Diptych - Step 1 - Gwen Lafleur

Next step? Get comfy... this part takes a while. I pulled up a chair and turned on the hockey game and patiently traced over the stenciled lines with the detail tip of my tool. I really wanted that dark brown color, and I love the way that it created almost a debossed effect as I worked over the design. You can clearly see the difference in color and texture as each section was burned. Beautiful!

Stenciled - Woodburned Diptych - Step 2 - Gwen Lafleur

You can also see a circle drawn in the center - I knew that I was going to cover up the middle with a circular element, so why waste time burning sections that would be covered up? This was my line to tell me where I could stop since it would later be hidden.

With the burning done, I didn't want to do any painting, so I coated the plaques with a glaze made from polymer medium, transparent yellow iron oxide fluid acrylic paint, micaceous iron oxide, and gold interference paint. (All from Golden.)

Stenciled - Woodburned Diptych - Step 3 - Gwen Lafleur

I have several ready-made colored glazes I keep in small bottles, so I used those to add a few touches of color to some areas of the design. (These were cobalt turquoise and pyrrole red, both mixed with polymer medium and nothing else.)

Stenciled - Woodburned Diptych - Step 4 - Gwen Lafleur

Next I used some metallic waxes around the edges to frame the design and add a bit more depth. 

Stenciled - Woodburned Diptych - Step 5 - Gwen Lafleur

Everything was still feeling very flat and "blah" to me (keeping in mind that more is usually more in my world,) and I glanced over at my palette and just randomly started peeling off sections of dried gold paint and sticking them around the edges of my plaques. It was working for me - it looked a bit like gold leafing, so I kept doing it and then sealed it.

Stenciled - Woodburned Diptych - Step 6 - Gwen Lafleur

It was still all feeling like it was missing something, so I pulled out some molding paste skins I made several months ago and then didn't use. These were done from the Damask Borders stencil by Michelle Ward. (To make a molding paste skin, you just put molding paste through your stencil onto a non-stick surface like a Teflon of silicon craft mat, then set it aside on a flat surface and let it dry completely. The "skins" will peel off and work great as dimensional embellishments! I stored mine in wax paper until they were ready to be used. As always, make sure to clean your stencil immediately after using any kind of texture paste!)

Here you can see the steps I took to paint them - I wanted them to look kind of like metal, so I used several layers of paint and finished with a bit more wax.

Stenciled - Woodburned Diptych - Step 7 - Gwen Lafleur

I picked out a few other embellishments to use with my flourishes; some Dresden border trim, and some really cool vintage Turkomen jewelry findings. I adhered everything into place and let it dry.

Stenciled - Woodburned Diptych - Step 8 - Gwen Lafleur

From here I got out some small hinges and mini screws and turned my plaques into a diptych by connecting them together:

Stenciled - Woodburned Diptych - Step 9 - Gwen Lafleur

Finally, I took a few family photos and sized them in Photoshop, then printed them and used a large circle punch to shape them. I mounted those on some wood circles (I burned a pattern around the edge of them with my Versa-Tool that looks pretty cool!) I edged the photos with strands of rhinestones and then adhered them in the center.

Stenciled - Woodburned Diptych - Step 10 - Gwen Lafleur
Done? Of course not! I took some gold and brown beads strung on wire and adhered those around the circles - this helped cover up gaps between the circle and the plaques where there weren't any embellishments.

Stenciled - Woodburned Diptych - Step 11 - Gwen Lafleur

Okay, last step - for real this time! I took out some Liquid Pearls and added dots along my Dresden to bring the colors out from the center and into other parts of the piece.

Stenciled - Woodburned Diptych - Step 12 - Gwen Lafleur

Voila! C'est fini! 

Stenciled - Woodburned Diptych 2 - Gwen Lafleur

Just a few close-ups...

Stenciled - Woodburned Diptych - Close-up 1 - Gwen Lafleur
Stenciled - Woodburned Diptych - Close-up 1 - Gwen Lafleur
Stenciled - Woodburned Diptych - Close-up 1 - Gwen Lafleur

I'm thrilled with the results :) I hope you enjoyed today's project! Of course, now is the part that I'm sure everyone is waiting for...

GIVEAWAY!

One lucky winner will receive both a $25 Gift Certificate to StencilGirl Products AND a $25 Gift Certificate to Walnut Hollow!

SG & WH 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 blog please.)

You have until Sunday, March 19th at 11:59PM Central Time to leave your comments.

Winner will be announced on
StencilGirl's Facebook page and Walnut Hollow's Facebook page on Monday, March 20th.

 

March 15

March 16 

March 17 

 


February ARTifacts Art Journal Spreads

It's time for the next monthly installment of the #ARTifacts 2017 art journaling project! (Details about the project and the first month's pages are in my original post.)

ARTifacts-Project-Banner---Gwen-Lafleur

February was a very busy month - lots of projects, lots going on! I managed to squeeze all of my photos into just three spreads, though. I did them more by theme this month instead of chronologically since that seemed to make the most sense.

For the first spread I focused on introducing my artsy goals for the month, then featured my February StencilGirl projects (stenciled and embroidered handmade book using Kraft-Tex, and another handmade book using ICE Resin coated stenciled papers for windows in the pages.) Coincidentally, the little handmade books inside embroidered book from the Kraft-Tex blog hop are the ones I'm using for my ARTifacts journals.

 

ARTifacts Art Journal - February Spread 1 - Gwen Lafleur

The tag pulls out of the little envelope to show pictures of the second project:


ARTifacts Art Journal - February Spread 1 - Gwen Lafleur

The back of the tag has my journaling about the two projects.


ARTifacts Art Journal - February Spread 1 - Gwen Lafleur

 For the second spread, I focused on the projects that comprised my main goal for the month - pulling together the new classes I needed to flesh out my in-person class offerings, along with at least one sample for each class (as well as a new sample for an existing class.)


ARTifacts Art Journal - February Spread 1 - Gwen Lafleur

Here's just the left-hand page - I have kind of a folder that opens up to show all of the other class samples and the journaling. On the front are photos of the samples for the Of Angels and Icons and Mixed Media Floral Still Life classes.

ARTifacts Art Journal - February Spread 2a - Gwen Lafleur

Here's the inside with more samples, including the new one for the Mixed Media Shrines / Shadow Boxes class (which I'm teaching in Connecticut this May if you missed it,) along with the Art Journal Design: Stamp, Stencil, & Collage workshop and the Mini Mixed Media Medallions class.

ARTifacts Art Journal - February Spread 2b - Gwen Lafleur

The last page was just a quick overview of the art journaling I managed to get done from the Wanderlust class lessons. I keep getting further and further behind! Too much to do... I'm always happy when I can get anything done for this.

ARTifacts Art Journal - February Spread 3 - Gwen Lafleur

That's it for this month! Still tons going on even if I managed to squeeze the recap into fewer pages this month. I can't wait to see what the other ARTifacts participants were up to in February!

As always, you can see all of my pages for the entire year on the ARTifacts page on my website :)

 


March ATCs - In the Garden

It's time for another ATC swap! The theme for our group this month was "In the Garden," and it came with another fabulous kit to play with. I managed to work ahead enough that I didn't have to do all nine cards the night before they went in the mail, so that's a win for me!

Here's what I sent in for our swap this month:

March 2017 ATCs - In the Garden - Gwen Lafleur

I dug into my old scrapbook supplies a bit to try and do some stash busting. Here are close-ups of each of the cards and a little description of what I used:

March 2017 ATCs - In the Garden Cards 1-2 - Gwen Lafleur

Both of these use dies from the Spellbinders Art Deco collection. On the left, I layered several cutouts from our collage sheets with patterned paper, ribbon, and adorable pieced bumble bees (Jolee's, I think? They were in the kit.) On the right, similar formula with a white paper leaf from the kit plus some flat-back adhesive pearls from my stash, liquid pearls, an adhesive pearl border, and scraps of a border punched from gold cardstock. Both were edged with gold wax.

March 2017 ATCs - In the Garden Cards 3-4 - Gwen Lafleur

Above left is another frame from a Spellbinders die, flowers cut from patterned paper, ribbon, stenciled background, and the image was selected because her expression seems to say exactly how she feels about that hat. On the right, lots of glitter, a patterned cardstock frame from my stash (Pebbles, I think,) and a cutout layered on patterned paper. There's some stenciling in the background that's hard to see, but it's there!

March 2017 ATCs - In the Garden Cards 5-6 - Gwen Lafleur

Above left, collage cut-out layered over another collage cutout that worked as the background, plus flowers and trims from the kit. The top border was punched from gold cardstock. Top right - this might be my favorite one. I layered three collage images from the kit with ribbon and another punched border, and there's light stenciling in the background.

March 2017 ATCs - In the Garden Cards 7-8 - Gwen Lafleur

Top left, stenciling in the background that I went over with glitter glue, then a few collage cutouts and a "rusted" diecut from a Spellbinders set. On the right, stenciled background, punched border, another patterned frame, and a fun charm from the kit.

March 2017 ATCs - In the Garden Card 9 - Gwen Lafleur

Last but not least, patterned paper background, the frame is a printed chipboard diecut (Studio Calico, I think,) around a collage cutout and patterned background. I added flowers and trim and some Liquid Pearls.

That's it for this month! My cards are off and should be there any day... I can't wait to see what everyone else did and which cards I get back!

 


Fun with Printmaking

If you follow me on social media, I'm sure you've seen that lately I've been a bit obsessed with printmaking. I'm block printing, making my own "blocks" to print with, and I even dipped a toe into screen printing! Why, you ask? Well, more and more I want something really customized in my work, and if it's also a pattern that's unique or special, or even better, something I've designed myself? All the better!

I started by experimenting with some of my previously unblemished Indian woodblocks and tested out the best papers and paints. 

Printmaking - Testing Blockprint Papers - Gwen Lafleur

I'm really liking printing with rice and mulberry papers, and I've settled on fluid textile paints as the medium that works best for me (especially in this dry climate!)

From there, I tried printing on BFK Rives paper and then adding watercolor (and glitter, because I couldn't resist!) I LOVE how this turned out! This particular peacock woodblock is about 7-8" tall and it's absolutely fabulous.

Printmaking - Blockprints with Watercolor - Gwen Lafleur

Having determined that I really love making my own hand-printed papers, I decided to do something to allow me to work a bit more large-scale... I got some large sheets of craft foam and a big sheet of foam core and assembled my own jumbo printing mat. This gives me a lot more surface area to print on larger paper, or to print multiple papers at the same time.

Printmaking - Printing Station 2 - Gwen Lafleur

My studio is fairly small, but luckily I have the perfect little alcove upstairs where I'm able to set up a table and work. This is normally my sewing table, but for now it's a printing station! I lined up all my woodblocks along the ledge (which also doubles as a drying station.)

Printmaking - Printing Station 1 - Gwen Lafleur

I started churning out papers right and left - I was so thrilled with how they looked!

Printmaking - Blockprinting 1 - Gwen Lafleur

It didn't take long before I was experimenting with two-tone printing... it takes a lot longer since everything is printed twice, but it looks soooo good!

Printmaking - Blockprinting Close-up - Gwen Lafleur

From here, I decided to pull out some of my own stamp / block designs and print with them. (You can print with paint on a rubber block, but you need to scrub it out completely as soon as you're done!)

Printmaking - Hand Printing with My Designs - Gwen Lafleur

I think they look pretty good next to the ones from professionally carved blocks!

This encouraged me to start something I've been meaning to do for well over a year - I had all the stuff to make my own screens for screen printing and just hadn't done it. Finally, I buckled down and assembled a screen, then drew out a design, let it dry, filled it, let it dry, and then washed out the drawing so I'd have a finished screen. Once it was ready for printing, I got my inks and some rice paper and had a good time!

Printmaking - Screenprinted Lotus - Gwen Lafleur

I'm pretty happy with it, especially for a first try! I have the stuff to make about 5 more, I think, so we'll see what I do next :)

Finally, I decided that I needed to print some butterflies, but I didn't have any woodblocks and I didn't want to use commercial rubber stamps. So I found several woodblock designs online and used them as the inspiration to design and carve my own butterflies. The large one is about 4" across, and I used Eco-Karve rubber for the first time and I LOVED it!

Printmaking - My Butterfly Stamps - Gwen Lafleur

Of course, I had to do some printing with these beauties as well... 

Printmaking - Handcarved Butterflies on Mulberry - Gwen Lafleur

Finally, this last weekend I decided to do something that's been on my list for a while - I've long wanted to carve some large versions of different Chinese characters; I decided to start with "prosperity" and "double happiness."

Printmaking - Handcarved Chinese Character Stamps - Gwen Lafleur

I'm really pleased with how these turned out, and they print beautifully! I can't wait to try these with some red rice paper.

Printmaking - Chinese Characters on Mulberry - Gwen Lafleur

Whew! That's a lot of printing going on here... I think I've done close to 100 pages in just over a week. I'm excited to start using these in my work, and also to put these into some fabulous themed embellishment packs I'm making up to put in my shop (coming soon!) Of course, this has been so much fun that you can count on seeing much more printmaking from me in the future :)

 


Mixed Media Shadow Boxes / Shrines Workshop

Hi all! As you probably know, I've been working hard over the last few months to get new classes available to be scheduled for in-person workshops. I'm excited to announce that my first workshop of 2017 is now open for registration!

I'll be teaching Mixed Media Shadow Boxes / Shrines at Papercraft Clubhouse in Westbrook, CT. The class will be Wednesday, May 3 from 10am to 5pm (there's a 1-hour break in there for lunch,) and the class is $100 for the day, which includes the cost of the supplies I'll provide (clay, shared tools, a few other goodies...)

Mixed Media Shadow Boxes - Shrines - Class Samples - Gwen LafleurHopefully I'll see plenty of you there! I know it's a weekday, but I'll be in the area for an art retreat that weekend and Tracie was kind enough to invite me to teach while I'm there. As a little teaser, I'll also be back at the Clubhouse June 16-17 with more classes! (We're still working out details, but watch for another announcement soon!)

In the meantime, you can get all of the class details and lots of close-up photos of the samples on my website, or you can call the store at 860-399-4443 to register today!

Hope to see you there!