From the Artist Tribe - 9 Patch Paper Quilt

Hi all! Linda Edkins Wyatt is joining us today with a fabulous nine-patch art quilt made from paper!

Wyatt-9-patch-final

She's using my "Not Afraid to Try" and Art Deco Sun Medallion stencils, along with a few others from StencilGirl. Make sure you stop by her blog to see her whole process as well as lots more photos!


From the Artist Tribe - Boho Cell Phone Case

I'm just loving today's project from the Artist Tribe... Lynda Shoup made this fabulous bohemian cell phone case!

Bohemian-Cell-Phone-Case

Lynda used Irresistible India downloadable collage sheets, sari yarn, Turkmen jewelry parts, Japanese Chiyogami paper, block printed paper from my Irresistible India Collage and Embellishment pack, and more goodies. Make sure you check out her blog for details on her project and lots more photos!

 


From the Artist Tribe - A Mixed Media Journal Cover

Jackie Neal is joining us from the Artist Tribe today with a truly mixed media creation! She's combined lots of different types of products and techniques to make a journal cover full of fabulous details!

Mixed-Media-Journal-Cover---Jackie-Neal

Jackie has used embellished sari scraps, my Decorative Flower Stamen Medallion stencil, block-printed elephants from my Enchanting Elephants Collage & Embellishment Packs, and some Chiyogami papers. Make sure you head over to her blog to see all of the details and lots more photos!

 


My New Boho Bird, Butterfly, and Fish Stencils

Welcome to part two of my posts highlighting my latest release from StencilGirl... my Boho Collection! (If you missed part 1, you can check that out here.)

Boho-Stencil-Collection---Gwen-Lafleur

Today I'm sharing more details and examples using the three Boho animal designs: fish, birds, and butterflies. I'll start with the original Boho design... the fish. This actually came about more than 10 years ago when I was trying to find a way to fill space on the huge walls in the stairway of the townhouse I lived in at the time. I was still pretty much a mixed media novice, but I had an idea to make a series of 16" x 20" canvases and cover the background with textured shapes and patterns and then put collaged animals on top. Heading down the stairs was all cool colors and I used fish, collaged in paper. Heading up the stairs was all warm colors, and I used birds collaged from fabric. It actually turned out really cool, and I kept those installations in place for years, even after moving to Connecticut!

Fast forward to about a year ago... I still have the original collaged fish, and I took one and traced it to make an updated version - my handmade collaged Boho fish. (My original design was a basic hand-drawn shape made from cardstock and I carried that over.) 

Stupendous-Sea-Life---Boho-Collaged-Fish---Gwen-Lafleur-Studios

I was really surprised out how popular these little guys ended up becoming! I continued to make and even teach similar versions of these fish, and then this last January it evolved into what I call my 3D Boho Collage technique. I hand-drew a new fish design for one of my early versions of this technique, named him Gus, and instantly fell in love. That exact drawing was then scanned and became one of the fish patterns on my new Boho Fish stencil.

Boho Fish Stencil - Gwen Lafleur

You may have seen it, but in case you missed him, here's Gus:

3D-Boho-Collage---Gus---Boho-Fish-Stencil---Gwen-Lafleur

I also used the new middle fish design as a beaded embroidery pattern for one of the pages in a new artist book I've started... it's on a transparent page that layers on top of a paper page that has a collage version of the fish on it - they line up so that when you layer them, it looks like this:

Beaded-Boho-Fish---Art-Journal---Gwen-Lafleur

(You can also see where I used my new Collage Textures and Patterns, Circles stencil in the background.) Here you can see the separate pages:

Beaded-Boho-Fish---Art-Journal-Closeup-1---Gwen-Lafleur

The third fish on this stencil is actually the exact same body as my original pattern, and then I added fins and some other details.

Of course, if I did fish, there had to be birds as well (had to close the loop on that original concept from more than a decade ago!)

Boho Birds Stencil - Gwen Lafleur

While I was playing around with the Boho collaged fish, I also drew a stylized bird pattern and made a collage of that:

Collaged-Boho-Bird---Gwen-Lafleur

Like the fish, this guy was traced and scanned and became the first of the birds on my Boho Birds stencil.  Of course, I had to try out my 3D Boho Collage with the birds as well, so he also became Rusty:

Rusty-the-Boho-Bird---Gwen-Lafleur

Rusty-the-Boho-Bird---Closeup-1---Gwen-Lafleur

Rusty needed some friends, so I drew two more less stylized birds to keep him company and added a few words and phrases to the design. One of them cried out to become another 3D collage, so this one is the "Queen of Her Nest."

Queen-of-Her-Nest---3D-Boho-Collage-Sample---Gwen-Lafleur

Queen-of-Her-Nest---Closeup-4---Gwen-Lafleur

Queen-of-Her-Nest---Closeup-6---Gwen-Lafleur

Finally, I wanted to branch out to something new for the third stencil. Butterflies are a motif that I use frequently; for me they symbolize change and transformation. I drew three designs, including a Peacock butterfly, of course! and added those words to this stencil:

Boho Butterflies Stencil - Gwen Lafleur

I pulled out my art journal to work with these, starting with the largest butterfly and some soft pastels on top of a collaged background:

Transform-Art-Journal-Page---Gwen-Lafleur

On another page, I stenciled the other two butterflies and the word "change" and then used watercolors to fill in the designs.

Change-Art-Journal-Page---Gwen-Lafleur

Here are a few closeups:

Change-Art-Journal-Page-Closeup-2---Gwen-Lafleur
Change-Art-Journal-Page-Closeup-2---Gwen-Lafleur

Here again, you can see where I used the Collage Textures and Patterns, Circles stencil in the background.

Whew! That's it for my introduction to this new stencil release! I just love all of these designs, and I hope you do too! I took pictures of the process for several of my samples, so watch for some tutorials in the near future. In the meantime, all of my stencils (including the new ones) are available in my shop, and of course they're also available from StencilGirl.

 


From the Artist Tribe - Not Afraid to Try Art Journaling

Today we're taking a brief break from the new stencil love to showcase one of the designs from my last release in this powerful art journal page by Linda Edkins Wyatt.

IMG_1873 final twk lg

Linda used my Not Afraid to Try stencil along with recycled paint skins from her craft mat. In her post she discusses both the idea fear as well as overcoming it, and she's also sharing several other art journal pages with this stencil. Make sure you stop by her blog to read more and see all of the details!

 


Introducing... My Boho Stencil Collection!

I'm thrilled to share that I have seven new stencils releasing today from StencilGirl!Boho-Stencil-Collection---Gwen-Lafleur

This release includes six "Boho" stencils (hopefully there will be more, but we'll see!) as well as the first of what I hope will be many in my new Collage Textures & Patterns collection. I've been working hard to create samples for these new designs and there's a lot to share, so I'm going to break it into two posts so they don't get too long. Today I want to focus on the circle stencils.

First up, the Collage Textures and Patterns, Circles stencil. The inspiration for this collection came while I was making collage papers in my studio. I started thinking that it would be great to have stencils that had been specifically designed with the idea of making the types of collage papers that I use most frequently, so why not design some? I hope there will be many more, but I wanted to start with my favorite motif - circles.

Collage Textures and Patterns Circles Stencil - Gwen Lafleur

The top section was designed to create random areas of texture and pattern - large or small, and it's great for filling in spaces. The middle can obviously be used as a border, or you can mask off specific areas to use them on their own. The bottom was tricky to design, but I'm so thrilled with how it came out! You can repeat this both horizontally and vertically to make borders and backgrounds, or just use part of it for a section of pattern. The whole stencil works beautifully with molding and texture pastes as well (just make sure to clean it thoroughly so the pastes don't gunk up the openings.)

I've used this stencil on several of my samples, starting with this one - "Crossing Paths," which also features my Boho Striped Circle stencil (more on that one in a minute.)

Crossing-Paths---Mixed-Media-Artwork---Gwen-Lafleur

This piece is 16" x 12" x 2" on canvas and has lots of layers of collage and paint. You can see where I used the top section of the stencil for random pattern, and then the border design was used to decorate and emphasize the lines in the cross behind the focal point.

Crossing-Paths---mixed-Media-Artwork---Closeup-3---Gwen-Lafleur
Crossing-Paths---mixed-Media-Artwork---Closeup-3---Gwen-Lafleur

The focal point of this piece is an assemblage of found metal objects and jewelry parts all layered on top of the Boho Striped Circle stencil. This design was inspired by a hand-carved woodblock I found in India last year.

Boho Striped Circle Stencil - Gwen Lafleur

I used gold texture paste through the stencil onto some painted deli paper and then tore it out and collaged it onto the canvas. You can also see how I've used it on the top and bottom of the "Ornery Ostrich" mixed media piece below:

Ornery-Ostrich---Mixed-Media-Artwork---Gwen-LafleurOf course, this piece also showcases another design; the Boho Star Circle stencil, again inspired by a woodblock from India.

Boho Star Circle Stencil - Gwen Lafleur

Here's a closeup of "Ornery Ostrich" so you can see some of the details:

Ornery-Ostrich---Mixed-Media-Artwork-Closeup-2---Gwen-Lafleur

The ostrich is a digital sketch I did on my iPad that I printed out and accented with colored pencil and an acrylic glaze. The stenciling was done with molding paste on cotton rag paper, then I cut out the star-shaped center of the design and used it as a frame, surrounded by beaded embellishment.

Ornery-Ostrich---Mixed-Media-Artwork-Closeup-3---Gwen-Lafleur

The last stencil I'm featuring today is my Boho Mandala Circle stencil. Again, inspired by a woodblock from India as well as traditional mandala designs.

Boho Mandala Circle Stencil - Gwen Lafleur

On this piece, entitled "Stolen," I once more used the stencil as the base for layering various dimensional elements, then repeated it around the sides of the wooden panel.

Stolen---Mixed-Media-Artwork---Gwen-Lafleur

Stolen---Mixed-Media-Artwork-Closeup-4---Gwen-Lafleur

You can also see where I used the top and bottom sections of the Collage Textures and Patterns, Circles stencil to add to the background:

Stolen---Mixed-Media-Artwork-Closeup-3---Gwen-Lafleur
Stolen---Mixed-Media-Artwork-Closeup-3---Gwen-Lafleur

For a different look with the Boho Mandala Circle stencil, I used it to create a layered and collaged focal point on this art journal page:

Away-Art-Journal-Page---Gwen-Lafleur

Away-Art-Journal-Page---Closeup-3---Gwen-Lafleur

Also, the title of this page - "Away," was done by rearranging the letters from a phrase on the Boho Fish stencil. I stenciled them onto the fabric background with black StazOn ink and then stitched over top with gold thread.

Away-Art-Journal-Page---Closeup-2---Gwen-Lafleur

That's it for today... I hope you love these new designs as much as I do! Check back on Saturday for a more in-depth look at the new Boho Fish, Birds, and Butterfly stencils. Of course, the whole collection (along with all of my other stencils) is available now in my shop as well as at StencilGirl.

 


"Phoenix" Mixed Media Artwork - Phases from Start to Finish

Recently I posted one or two work-in-progress photos and then a picture of the finished product for a new mixed media painting that I called "Phoenix." As it happens, I took photos at the different phases along the way... not a full on tutorial, but I thought it would be fun to share how this piece progressed and maybe a little bit of my thought process as I worked.

To start, I had an inspiration piece in mind - vague, and totally subject to change, as always. I began by gathering supplies to do some collage on the background (as you can see, I always use really cheap, beat up brushes with gesso and matte medium - then I don't feel so guilty about gunking up the ferrule.)

Phoenix-Mixed-Media-Artwork---Phase-1a---Gwen-Lafleur

I pulled out my easel and set up my canvas - 24" x 30," and got to work. Here you can see what it looked like after I wrote all over the background (a highly cathartic part of my process that I do quite frequently on everything from canvases to art journal pages - it shows up in various layers of my work, and here it happened to be the base layer. I also frequently write in French - using a second language seems to make it easier for me to express thoughts and feelings. Weird? Maybe!) On top of the writing is the collage and white gesso.

Phoenix-Mixed-Media-Artwork---Phase-1a---Gwen-Lafleur
Next I started painting. I just grabbed Indian Yellow and Prussian Blue because they look good together and they were right there in big bottles, conveniently sitting out as if waiting for me to use them on this. Over the last few months, I've been very drawn to the plus sign or a modified Maltese cross - for me it symbolizes positivity, healing energy, and renewal.

Phoenix-Mixed-Media-Artwork---Phase-2---Gwen-Lafleur

As I worked, I used my typical process of cleaning off my paintbrushes on scrap paper, creating some fabulous collage fodder in the process...

Phoenix-Mixed-Media-Artwork---Phase-3---Gwen-Lafleur

While I was making these papers, I had no intention of using them in this piece, but the artwork seemed to call for some of the specific motifs that had ended up on those collage papers, so I tore them out and added them onto the painting.

Phoenix-Mixed-Media-Artwork---Phase-3a---Gwen-Lafleur

My original inspiration was already fading fast at this point, and as I continued to work I suddenly started thinking about my visit to the botanical gardens in Singapore four years ago. Don't ask me why... I still haven't entirely figured out how and why my brain makes the connections that it does, but I have learned that it's usually a good idea to go with it. So with that in mind, I sat down and sketched out some flowers and then colored them with soft pastels and then used an aerosol acrylic spray to seal them so I could collage them onto the painting without smudging the color.

Phoenix-Mixed-Media-Artwork---Phase-4---Gwen-Lafleur

After letting the sealant dry overnight, I cut out the flowers and collaged them onto the piece.

Phoenix-Mixed-Media-Artwork---Phase-4a---Gwen-Lafleur

I knew I wanted even more flowers, so I took out my Chinese Garden Plum Blossoms stencil and stenciled some more blooms into each of the clusters, then used acrylic paints to flesh them out.

Phoenix-Mixed-Media-Artwork---Phase-5---Gwen-Lafleur

You can see hints of it in the photo above, but my work wouldn't be "boho grunge" without the grunge - I love a nice, dark texture paste, and I'd added some all over the canvas here, and also used several word stencils and stenciled a series of words on top of each other all around the border of the canvas. More catharsis, plus it framed the artwork quite nicely! I also used my Ornamental Compass Screen stencil here and there in the background for the added impression of texture.

Phoenix---Mixed-Media-Artwork---Gwen-Lafleur

To me, the symbolism of the cruciform motif and plus signs inside circles along with clustered blooms of flowers seeming to burst out of the grit and darkness made me think of a phoenix - rising from the ashes to be reborn and start anew. (If only it was that easy to break through and overcome our challenges in real life, right?)

Here are a few close-ups of the finished piece:

Phoenix-Mixed-Media-Artwork-Closeup-1---Gwen-Lafleur

Phoenix-Mixed-Media-Artwork-Closeup-2---Gwen-Lafleur

Phoenix-Mixed-Media-Artwork-Closeup-3---Gwen-Lafleur

Phoenix-Mixed-Media-Artwork-Closeup-4---Gwen-Lafleur

I'm really pleased with how this painting came out... in fact, it's the first piece of my own work that I've ever displayed in my living room where visitors can see it! In any case, I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my process :)

 


From the Artist Tribe - Beaded Art Journal Cover

Jackie is here from the Artist Tribe to finish out the inspiration for the month (I can't believe it's almost June! ) She's sharing this gorgeous beaded cover for her sari journal:

Sari-Journal-cover-5-29-2018-(14)

Jackie used my Decorative Flower Stamen Medallion stencil as the pattern, then added some sari scraps and a few other goodies from a Curated Stash Pack. Make sure you head over to her blog to see all of the details!


From the Artist Tribe - Scrap Fairy Art Doll

I just love this gorgeous scrap fairy art doll that Linda Edkins Wyatt is sharing on her blog today... isn't it fabulous?

Orange-Sari-Fairy-Art-Doll---Linda-Edkins-Wyatt

Linda used some orange embellished sari scraps, Florentine paper, and Turkmen jewelry parts... I love how it all came together to make this lovely "paper" doll! Make sure you head over to her blog to see all of the details!

For those who didn't see the latest newsletter that went out yesterday, I'm having a Memorial Day sale in the shop! You can save 20% off of supplies and downloadable collage sheets today through Monday - just use the coupon Memorial2018 when you check out.

Memorial-Day-Sale-Banner


From the Artist Tribe - Global Inspired Art Journaling

Are you ready for some truly global mixed media inspiration? (Not that we aren't going global pretty much all the time over here! LOL!) Today Lynda Shoup is sharing a beautiful art journal page with influences from India and the Middle East.

Longing---Art Journal Page - Lynda-ShoupLynda is using hand-printed papers from some of my collage and embellishment packs, along with my new "Not Afraid to Try" stencil, some sari scraps, Turkmen jewelry parts, and an image from my Irresistible India digital downloads. Make sure you head on over to her blog for more photos and details!

P.S. A little birdie told me that there might just be a little sale coming up to celebrate Memorial Day... keep an eye out, just in case!


Stenciled & Collaged Art Cards

I started a project almost two years ago... making small pieces of stenciled & collaged artwork on oversized playing cards. I had originally planned to continue and make lots of small pieces that would be available for sale, but then never made the time to get back to working on them. This week I pulled those cards out again and started reviving that series, and the first three new cards are now done. It was fun... fulfilling, even, to work on these!

Stenciled-and-Collaged-Cards-1-3---Gwen-Lafleur

I started by sanding the glossy surface of the back of each card so that my mediums and paints would stick well. I decided to leave the suits visible as the back of the piece. Each card was then coated with colored gesso, then I layered collage elements on top - Japanese and Florentine papers, vintage book pages from France and Germany... old typed ledger pages... and, of course, my own hand-painted and hand-printed papers. 

Stenciled-and-Collaged-Cards-1-3b---Gwen-Lafleur

I added layers of paint and stenciling on top of that (stenciling was also done with acrylic paint,) and then some rub-on letters and numbers. I followed that with painted elements and emblems, some asemic writing, and some actual writing and mark-making with a black graphite pencil. I finished each piece with a small scrap of sari fabric or trim, attached with six mini staples shaped into Xs. I also added a few stenciled words for the titles and a few splatters of paint to finish things off.

Here are the individual pieces, starting with "Positive Change:"

Stenciled-and-Collaged-Card-1---Gwen-Lafleur

Next is called "In Disguise"

Stenciled-and-Collaged-Card-2---Gwen-Lafleur

The last one (for now!) is called "Warning."

Stenciled-and-Collaged-Card-3---Gwen-Lafleur

I'm looking forward to getting back to this series a little more frequently, I hope! These were so much fun to make, and I really love how they turned out. All three of these are also now available in my shop, just in case anyone is interested.


From the Artist Tribe - Boho Mixed Media Flower Pot

It looks like Spring is finally here, and Lynda Shoup from the Artist Tribe has a fun idea for a boho, mixed media approach to your gardening with her gorgeous embellished flower pot!

Mixed-Media-Boho-Flower-Pot---Lynda-Shoup

Lynda used a sari applique from the Irresistible India Mixed Media Happy Pack, as well as hand-printed papers from a variety of different packs and kits. Make sure you head over to Lynda's blog to see details and description of how it all came together!


Mixed Media with Relics & Artifacts

I'm thrilled to share that I'm the Guest Ambassador this month for Relics & Artifacts! I've been a fan of Sandra's line since it first launched, so I was excited to have this opportunity to put together a project using a variety of the awesome products available. Here's what I made:

Ancient-Energy-Mixed-Media-Canvas---Gwen-LafleurI used resin blanks, wood shapes, Bohemian jewels, Dresden trim, and one of Sandra's rubber stamp designs along with my Art Deco Bookplates stencil, sari yarn and a large Kuchi patch from the shop, and lots of paint and collage. Of course, there's a tutorial to go with it, so make sure you head over to the Relics & Artifacts blog to see my full post with lots more photos and step-by-step instructions.


Top 10 Most Unexpected Must-Have Tools in my Studio

A while ago, I realized that many of the tools I reach for most frequently when working in my studio are not the ones you'd expect to find on a most-used tool list for an artist. Sure - stencils, paint brushes, canvases, etc... are all at the top of that list, but I've found that there are a few more unusual items that I have to have, so I've compiled them here:

10. Respirator & Particulate Masks

Must-Have-Studio-Tool-10---Respirator-and-Particulate-Mask---Gwen-Lafleur

The respirator was a Christmas gift this last year, and one I was super excited to receive! Why? If you've followed me for more than a few months, you know that I like to make things melt and bubble, and this frequently creates fumes and smells that seem like they're probably not healthy to breathe. A respirator is also great for using with spray paint, certain varnishes, and anything else with fumes. I also do some sanding and working with wood and foam, and the particulate mask is great for helping to keep me from breathing in any of that nastiness.

9. Clamps & Table-Top Vice

Must-Have-Studio-Tool-9---Vice-and-Clamps---Gwen-Lafleur

I have all kinds of things that clamp and lock in different ways - the table-top vice was an especially great addition to my studio, since it's perfect for acting as a third hand when I'm using a Dremel or hack saw to cut anything down. Other clips are great for hanging things to dry or holding them in place while adhesives set up, and the binder clips are integral for when I'm doing bookbinding since they hold everything in place when I'm punching holes in the signatures for my book blocks.

8. Ball Peen Hammer, Bench Block, and Safety Glasses

Must-Have-Studio-Tool-8---Hammer-and-Bench-Block---Gwen-Lafleur

So the safety glasses could kind of go with almost any of the tools in this post - you can get these for just a few dollars, but they're a must-have if you do anything where something could fly into your eyes (sawdust, metal particles, etc...) The ball peen hammer is fabulous for eyelets (which I use a lot in my handmade artist books,) or for jewelry making, and just the occasional application of brute force. And of course, a bench block is the perfect surface to put below whatever you're hammering.

7. Protractor & Compass

Must-Have-Studio-Tool-7---Compass-and-Protractor---Gwen-Lafleur

Who says you don't need geometry in real life? I use my compass all the time for marking circles in my work, and the protractor is super helpful for getting angles right, especially if I'm designing something with a repeating pattern. These are always in my desk drawer for easy access.

6. Bench Scraper

Must-Have-Studio-Tool-6---Bench-Scraper---Gwen-Lafleur

I raided my kitchen drawers for this one... a bench scraper works great for getting dough off of counters and also for getting glue and paint off of your craft mat (of course, once you use it in the studio, you shouldn't use it with food anymore.) I also have a little mini scraper that came in a kit of some kind years ago. These get plenty of use helping me clean up quickly in between projects.

5. Copper Tongs

Must-Have-Studio-Tool-5---Copper-Tongs---Gwen-Lafleur

Remember how I said I like to melt and bubble stuff? These copper tongs are crucial when I'm doing anything with heat since they allow me to hold the items I'm heating without conducting that heat up to my fingers. The length also means that my hands stay out of harms way. I use these when I'm heat-priming metal, doing any soldering, and to manipulate any bits and pieces involved in heat embossing. Another tool that goes into my desk drawer so that I have instant access.

4. Tin Snips, Wire Cutters, and Pliers

Must-Have-Studio-Tool-4---Tin-Snips-and-Pliers---Gwen-Lafleur

My tin snips are used all.the.time. Most all of my light-weight metal cutting happens with these, including everything from metal findings to rhinestone chains. Of course, wire cutters for any wire I'm using, and various sizes and types of pliers for manipulating metal pieces for both jewelry and artwork.

3. Files, Rasps, and Sandpaper

Must-Have-Studio-Tool-3---Files-and-Sanding---Gwen-Lafleur

I love my files - as you can tell, since I have multiple sets in different sizes. These are fabulous for wood, metal, paper, chipboard, clay, foam... you name it! Anything that needs to be smoothed or shaped, I whip out my files. I also keep a nice stock of sandpaper on hand, and of course sanding drums to use with my Dremel for larger projects that would take too long to sand and / or shape with just files or sandpaper. The rasps are also great for shaping foam if I'm using it as an armature for any sculpted elements.

2. Hat Pins

Must-Have-Studio-Tool-2---Hat-Pins---Gwen-Lafleur

I picked up several beautiful vintage hat pins at an antique mall several years ago, just because I liked the beading on the ends. They got put into the pincushion in my studio and before I knew it, I was reaching for them to poke holes, open the tips of tubes and nozzles, and my number one use for these babies... placing seed beads when I'm doing any kind of intricate beading in my artwork. These sit on the shelf right next to my desk so I can grab them without taking a single step.

1. Music

Must-Have-Studio-Tool-1---Music - Gwen-Lafleur

 

 

 

 

 

Music is a huge part of my life. When I was four years old, my parents bought an antique upright grand piano for $25 and put me in piano lessons, which continued all through high school. In fact, I still lug that same piano around the country with me so that I can play - it's great for stress relief and as another means of creative expression. (That piano also weighs in at 600 pounds! It made my move in and out of my 3rd floor walk-up in Chicago... interesting, to say the least. lol.) Also, a little known fact, there is always music playing inside my head. Always. Even while I'm sleeping. Sometimes it actually gets too loud and wakes me up!

Given how integral music is to my life, it probably comes as no surprise that this is the number one must-have tool in my studio. I have several different playlists that I put on when I'm working, and I've found that I can influence or vary the feeling or direction of my work by changing the music I'm listening to. So with that said, I give you a list within a list! Here are the top ten artists / composers currently featured on my studio playlists. (These are in no particular order, except for number one.)

10. Linkin Park

9. Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns (especially the piano concertos, which are divine)

8. Depeche Mode (I've been a huge fan since People are People was released in 1984 and I don't really see that changing any time soon.)

7. Frank Sinatra

6. ODESZA (a relatively recent find, and I'm kind of addicted - I really dig their global vibe.)

5. The Mongolian Grand National Orchestra (I picked up one of their CDs after a concert in Ulan Bataar - I put this on and close my eyes and I'm standing outside my ger - yurt - in the Mongolian Steppes, looking at at some of the most unspoiled, beautiful scenery I've ever seen.)

4. Luciano Pavarotti (I can't listen to him sing Puccini's Nessun Dorma without getting emotional. It's sublime.)

3. The Black Keys

2. Muse

1. Hector Berlioz (I first fell in love with his music when we played part of la simfonie fantastique in my high school orchestra - I was a 1st violin, and that's still my favorite of his compositions. The 5th movement - ronde du sabbat, is especially incredible. Just plug in your subwoofer, crank up the volume, and sit back and let it wash over you. It gives me chills every time.)

 

That's it for my top 10 most unexpected must-have studio tool... what's on your list? Any overlap?

 


From the Artist Tribe - Medieval Inspired Art Quilt

The Artist Tribe is winding down the work week with this gorgeous quilt-inspired mixed media piece by Linda Edkins Wyatt.

Medieval-Mixed-Media-Quilt---Linda-Edkins-Wyatt

Linda has used some beautiful fabric work in this piece, along with some Dresden trim, Turkmen Jewelry parts, and my favorite embellished sari patchwork ribbon from the shop. Make sure you stop by her blog to see all of the details and get the background on her project!


From the Artist Tribe - Art Journaling with Fabric

Hi all, Jackie Neal is back again from the Artist Tribe sharing another gorgeous spread from her sari art journal!

In her reflection - art journal spread - Jackie Neal

For this spread, Jackie used embellished sari scraps, Fabulous Florals Skeleton Leaves, and some gorgeous Japanese Chiyogami paper. Make sure you stop by her blog to see up close photos and lots of details!

 


June Workshops at Papercraft Clubhouse!

I'm excited to announce that I'll be teaching two all new workshops at Papercraft Clubhouse in Westbrook, CT next month - June 8th and 9th (Friday and Saturday.) Both classes center around fun, technique-driven projects and I'll be sharing lots of new tips and tricks throughout both days. Registration is now open! You can call or visit the store to sign up (860-399-4443.)

First up, Friday June 8th we'll be Getting Abstract with Crunchy Collage...

Crunchy-Collage-Class-Sample---Gwen-Lafleur

Class is $105 and goes from 10am to 5pm with an hour break for lunch (bring a lunch or plan to order from one of the local restaurants.)

Crunch-Collage-Class-Sample----Closeup-1---Gwen-Lafleur

In this class, we'll work on an 11x14 canvas panel to build a background using paints, stencils, stamps, and collage. Then we'll use my "crunchy collage" technique to add some really cool texture. You'll also have the option to add in some dimensional pieces. You don't have to do circles or flowers - I'll show you how to use this technique to create pretty much any shape, and colors, motifs, etc... are all up to you!

Crunch-Collage-Class-Sample----Closeup-2---Gwen-Lafleur

Check out the class page on my website for more photos, class details, and supply lists, or you can call the store to register (860-399-4443.)

_______________________________________________________________________

On Saturday, June 9th, we'll be making my Translucent Art Journal - a 5"x7" accordion style art journal with watercolor paper, and of course, a few cool translucent pages.

Translucent-Art-Journal-11---Gwen-Lafleur

I'll show you my "faux resin paper" technique, and we'll make some translucent papers to use in our journals. You'll have the option to add in skeleton leaves or dried flowers, or bring something from home! (It needs to be quite thin, though.)

Translucent-Art-Journal-2---Gwen-Lafleur

I'll also show you some fun background techniques and we'll use paint, stencils, stamps, and collage to prep some backgrounds in your new journal, and then we'll assemble it so that it's ready to work in when you get home!

Translucent-Art-Journal-9---Gwen-Lafleur

You can see more project photos as well as class details and supply lists on the class page on my website. The class will go from 10am-5pm with a one hour break for lunch (bring a lunch or order from a local restaurant,) and the class fee is $105. I'll be providing the paper for your journal and supplies for your translucent papers. Interested? Spots are limited, so make sure you call and sign up soon! (860-399-4433.)

Any questions? Feel free to shoot me an email or message me on Facebook.

Hope to see you there!

 

 


From the Artist Tribe - Springtime Art Journaling

The Artist Tribe and I are excitedly welcoming Spring with open arms, and today Jackie Neal is sharing a gorgeous spring-inspired art journal spread!

Sari Journey Springtime (23)

Jackie used some of the embellished sari scraps from the shop along with lots of beautiful papers, beads, and my new Chinese Garden Plum Blossoms stencil. Make sure you head over to her blog for lots more photos and details!


From the Artist Tribe - Art Journaling with Teabags and Stencils

Jill McDowell from the Artist Tribe is jumping in today with a new art journal page done with teabags and some of my newest stencil designs.

Art Journaling with a Tea Bag and Stencils - Jill McDowell

Jill used my new "Not Afraid to Try" stencil as well as my Chinese Garden Plum Blossoms stencil to make this gorgeous art journal page. Make sure you stop by her blog for more photos and details on how this page came together!

 


From the Artist Tribe: Getting Grungy with Vintage Photos

The Artist Tribe and I have all been busy lately, but we're back today! Linda Edkins Wyatt is bringing grunge and vintage together in these gorgeous art journal pages using old family photos. 

FOOTBALL-FINAL-LARGE

Linda is using techniques she learned in "Radiant Rust" a class she took with Seth Apter a few months ago, and the results are stunning!

WeddingGrunge1942

Linda used embellishments cut from sari scraps as well as a mix of various Baked Texture embossing powders to help achieve all of those gorgeous, grungy effects! Make sure you head over to her blog to get more photos and all of the details on these beautiful art journal pages!

 


From the Artist Tribe - Boho Collaged Flowers

The Artist Tribe never stops creating inspiring work, and today Jill McDowell is sharing a stunning piece of mixed media artwork she made in my "All Mixed Up" workshop at Mary Beth Shaw's studio in St. Louis two weeks ago, along with a workshop summary. Here's a little peek at her finished artwork:

Boho Collaged Floral Canvas by Jill McDowell

Jill used Dresden trim, a bunch of my stencils - including the new Decorative Flower Stamen Medallion stencil (and you may also see one here that's going to be released in June that was handed out to workshop attendees as a special surprise!) Make sure to head over to Jill's blog to see the entire piece and get all the details on her class experience!


Mini Stenciled Handmade Art Journal - StencilGirl & Lindy's Stamp Gang

Welcome to day one of a fabulous, inspiration packed blog hop with StencilGirl and Lindy's Stamp Gang! I've been excited to participate in this collaboration because Lindy's has some wonderful products that work perfectly with stencils and they'd been on my "to-try" list for ages! 

For my project, I decided to make a handmade mini art journal; I thought it would be a great way to showcase several fun techniques in a single project. Here you can see the outside of the book as well as the inside of the front cover and the first page:

Stenciled-and-Sprayed-Mini-Art-Journal---Gwen-Lafleur

  Stenciled-and-Sprayed-Mini-Art-Journal-Inside---Gwen-Lafleur

Of course, I put together some tutorials as well so that you can see how I used the different products. I really loved the effects I was able to get as I experimented!

I made the book using Indian cotton rag paper and bound it with the pamphlet stitch. In the past when I've used this binding I've had lots of requests for a tutorial, so this time I took pictures of the process so that you can see how to bind your own book. It's fast and easy!

To start, I took some very heavy-weight cotton rag paper (640 gsm, but you could also use chipboard) and measured and then folded so I'd have creases for my "cut" lines. (I took a class at SAIC in Chicago from a printmaker who impressed upon us that one should never cut the papers... you always tear them with a bone folder. Sometimes I ignore that advice, but because the paper had deckled edges, I tore so that it would match all the way around.)

I left it a few inches longer than I wanted the book to be so that I could fold up the flap to make pockets on the inside covers. Then I tore and folded five sheets of paper to make my book block, making sure to crease each one with my bone folder. (I don't generally like to do more than five sheets in a signature, especially with this kind of binding and the thickness of the paper I used - otherwise it doesn't lay as flat as I want it.)

Pamphlet-Bound-Art-Journal-Step-1-4---Gwen-Lafleur

Next, I made a jig - I just took scrap paper and cut it to the height of my book pages, folded it in half, and marked where the holes were going to be. This is the template you use to make sure that your holes are always in the same place. Technically you don't really need to do this with a single signature like this, but force of habit, I guess! I nested the folded papers, lined up the jig inside, and used my awl to poke the holes. (A traditional pamphlet binding has an odd number of holes, and this one just had three.) I generally place the awl and then let the pages fall so they're laying over my hand before pushing it through; this helps ensure that the tip of the awl will come out in the crease... if you poke the holes with the pages open, it's more likely that the awl will come out to one side of the crease instead. (Hopefully that makes sense!) 

Then it was time to start binding. I took waxed linen thread and cut the length to about 2-1/2" to 3 times the height of my book and then threaded it onto a tapestry needle. For this method, I start in the center hole and stitch from the outside in, leaving a tail of about 3-4" hanging out of the hole. (Bottom-right photo above.)

Stitch 2, go from the inside out (top left photo below,) then on the outside, bring your needle across to the other hole and go back inside (top-right photo below.)

Pamphlet-Bound-Art-Journal-Step-5-8---Gwen-Lafleur

Finally, on the inside you go back out through the center hole (bottom-left above,) and then tie it off on the outside... this way you don't have any gaps in the thread on the inside or the outside so it looks nice and clean. That's all there is to making your own art journal with a pamphlet stitch... I did say it was easy, right?

Now, on to the techniques with stencils, powders, and sprays!

For the covers, I used one of my favorite techniques - embossing powder resist. To do this, I took my Art Deco Peacock Feathers stencil and stenciled with clear embossing ink all across the covers (the stencil repeats so you get a seamless pattern!) Then I heat embossed with Lindy's Midnight Teal embossing powder. Then I used the Dark Chocolate Truffle shimmer spray with a dauber cap to add color in spots around the covers... the melted embossing powder will naturally resist the dye so you only stain the paper.

Mini-Art-Journal-Covers---EP-Resist-Step-1-4---Gwen-Lafleur

I followed up by spritzing with Mystic Malachite vintage spray, and then sprinkled some powder from the Oktoberfest Orange Magical Shaker and spritzed that with water to activate it. I added enough water that it would spread, but not so much that it would completely dissolve all of the powder - I wanted a bit of texture on the surface.

When everything was dry, I sprayed the cover with Krylon Crystal Clear acrylic coating and left it to dry overnight. This sealed anything that was water reactive so that I could work on top with wet mediums if I wanted to add more layers, and also ensured that great texture from the Magical Shaker wouldn't rub off.

Mini-Art-Journal-Covers---EP-Resist-Step-5---Gwen-Lafleur

I added some washi tape on the spine and a bit on the edges for a decorative touch, and the covers were done!

Stenciled-and-Sprayed-Mini-Art-Journal-Covers---Gwen-Lafleur

While I was in the groove, I decided to go ahead and start working on the inside pages of the book. I thought it would be fun to add some stitching and maybe custom dye my thread while I was at it! I started that step first and poured some of the Buccaneer Bay Blue vintage spray into a small paper cup, then added a few yards of regular 6-strand white DMC embroidery floss. I made sure it was totally submerged, then let it soak for a bit. After the color was strong enough, I pulled out the dyed thread and spread it on a paper towel, then used my Guten Tag Teal magical shaker to get a little more color in spots... I spritzed that with water to activate it.

Embroidering-with-Stencils-and-Lindy's---Thread-Dying-Step-1-4---Gwen-Lafleur

Voilà! Custom dyed thread! With that done, I was ready to prep the shape I was going to embroider, so I took out my Ornamental Embroidery stencil and used the Mystic Malachite vintage spray to get the pattern onto the paper. Then I mixed up my own fluid acrylic paint using Shabby Turbine Teal and Rusty Lantern Lime from the Industrial Chic Shimmer Magicals set along with some fluid matte medium.

Embroidering-with-Stencils-and-Lindy's---Pattern-Prep-Step-1-4---Gwen-Lafleur

I painted the center of my stenciled design with my custom color, then used the Dark Chocolate Truffle shimmer spray as a paint to add the details. Finally, I took my dyed thread and just back-stitched around my design and then added some gold seed beads.

Embroidering-with-Stencils-and-Lindy's---Stitching---Gwen-Lafleur

My embroidered embellishment was done, so on to the background! I took my Ornamental Petals Screen stencil and then stenciled with the Dark Chocolate Truffle shimmer spray and a sponge so that it wouldn't be quite as dark and I could get crisper lines.

Sprayed-and-Stenciled-Art-Journal-Page-Background---Gwen-Lafleur

Next, I found some collage paper in my stash that was the perfect shade of green and already had my Art Deco Medallion stencil applied on top with gold texture paste, so I tore that out and adhered it to the background, then tore out my embroidered embellishment, inked the edges with brown and black ink, and glued that on top. I also sprinkled some more Oktoberfest Orange Magicals on the background and spritzed with water - love that color!

Remember that paper towel I used earlier to lay out my dyed thread? There was no way I was throwing that out... it was too cool looking! So I took a large shipping tag (the perfect size for the pocket on the inside of my cover,) and used some matte medium to adhere the paper towel to the tag. I scrunched it up in places so I'd get some nice texture.

Sprayed-and-Stenciled-Tag---Step-3-4---Gwen-Lafleur

From there I brushed on some gold paint to highlight the texture and integrate the paper towel into the background, then stenciled parts of my Art Deco Sun Medallion Repeating Corner stencil onto the tag with black ink.

I wanted a focal point on the tag, so I took the Retreat Circle stencil by Seth Apter and stenciled that, again with black ink, and then stenciled the word "Lost" from Seth's Text and Texture Transform stencil in the center of the circle. (I want to use "found" as the word on a tag in the back pocket.)

To make the word stand out a bit more, I traced over it with a water pen, and then sprinkled pigment powder with the Black Forest Black Magical Shaker, then flipped the tag over and tapped off the excess. I was worried that it would bleed a lot, but it worked really well!

Sprayed-and-Stenciled-Tag---Step-3-4---Gwen-Lafleur

For the finishing touches, I used my custom fluid acrylic paint to paint the inside cover above the pocket, then used the same technique from the covers along with my Ornamental Floral Screen stencil to embellish the pocket.

Stenciled-and-Sprayed-Mini-Art-Journal-Inside-Cover---Gwen-Lafleur

Finally, I mixed some of the Steel Shimmer and Steampunk Sepia powders from the Industrial Chic Shimmer Magic set with some sand texture paste to make my own grungy finish to put on the edges of my tag and on the covers.

  Magical-Powder-Texture-Paste---Gwen-Lafleur

Whew... that's it for today! I'm looking forward to continuing to work in my new journal, but in the meantime, here you can see how the tag and first page turned out:

Stenciled-and-Sprayed-Mini-Art-Journal-Inside-2---Gwen-Lafleur
Stenciled-and-Sprayed-Mini-Art-Journal-Inside-2---Gwen-Lafleur

 

Now for the part you've all been waiting for... 

GIVEAWAY!


One lucky winner will receive both a $25 Gift Certificate to Lindy’s Gang AND a $25 Gift Certificate to StencilGirl Products!

Lindy's Gang Blog Hop Giveaway
Enter to win by leaving a comment below, then be sure to visit the other blogs in the hop and comment to win... the more blogs you comment on, the more chances you have to WIN! One winner will be chosen at random from all blog comments!
(One comment per person, per blog please.)

You have until Tuesday, April 24th at 11:59PM Central Time to leave your comments.
The winner will be announced on StencilGirl's Facebook page and Lindy’s Gang’s Facebook page on Wednesday, April 25.

 

Today's Blog Hop Order:

Mary Beth Shaw
Gwen Lafleur <-- you are here!
Mary C. Nasser
Debi Adams
Tina Walker
Kate Palmer
Cindy Wille
Natalie May
Pascale Bernard
Anat Weksler
Bertheas Peggy aka Nirvana
Elena Martynova


From the Artist Tribe - Art Deco Portal

Linda Edkins Wyatt from the Artist Tribe is jumping in today to share an absolutely fabulous Art Deco inspired mixed media project! I absolutely love the quote by Rumi that she used - it really resonates with me!

 

IMG_1402 final portal

For her piece, Linda used my Art Deco Bookplates stencil, along with some Turkmen jewelry parts, plus some brads and other metal findings and accents. Make sure you head over to her blog for all of the details and lots more photos!

 


From the Artist Tribe - Stencil Your Teabags

We have another fabulous post from the Artist Tribe today as Jill McDowell shares a fabulous way to upcycle your used teabags... stencil them and turn them into mixed media artwork!

 

Stenciled Tea Bags 1 - Jill McDowell

Jill used a bunch of my stencil designs on these projects, including my Decorative 6-Petal Flower Stencil (4x4) and the Decorative 6-Petal Flower Screen (6x6,) as well as my Decorative Medallion stencil.

On the art journal page below, she's used both the 4x4 and 6x6 Ornamental Compass designs from my Ornamental stencil collection.

Art Journaling with Stenciled Tea Bags - Jill McDowell

Head on over to Jill's blog for lots more photos and details, including a how-to on turning those soggy teabags into gorgeous works of art!

 


From the Artist Tribe - Worth Saving Mixed Media Wall Hanging

Another wonderful project from the Artist Tribe today... Lynda Shoup is popping in with this gorgeous mixed media wall hanging!

Worth-Saving-Mixed-Media-Wall-Hanging---Lynda-Shoup

She's used my Ornamental Petals Screen stencil along with some sari yarn, embellished sari scraps, and a Turkmen pendant along with some other beads and papers from her stash. Head on over to her blog where you can see more photos and get details on this beautiful artwork!

Also, today is the last day for the anniversary sale at the shop! 15% off all mixed media supplies with the coupon 1stAnniversary15. The offer expires tonight (3/28) at midnight mountain time.

Anniversary-Sale-Banner---Extended


From the Artist Tribe - Art Journey in an Art Journal

Jackie Neal from the Artist Tribe is joining us today to share how she's journaling her art journey with this gorgeous art journal page!

Art journey - Art Journaling - Jackie Neal

Jackie used my Ornamental Peacock Feathers stencil along with some sari scraps and a few bits of Turkmen jewelry to help complete her page. Make sure you head on over to her blog for lots more closeups and details!

Just a quick reminder - my shop anniversary sale was extended so you can still save 15% on all mixed media supplies when you use the code 1stAnniversary15 between now and 11:59pm mountain time on 3/28.

Anniversary-Sale-Banner---Extended


Five New Stencils, Part 2

Last Wednesday I announced the release of five new stencil designs from StencilGirl and shared the background and inspiration for my two new 9"x12" stencils along with some samples. Today I wanted to focus on the other three designs.

First up is my new Scribble X Mask stencil.

Scribble X Mask - 4x4 Stencil - Gwen Lafleur

I've been a doodler for as long as I can remember - I doodled in my classes all the way from elementary school through college, and then as an adult I've continued; I think that's the reason I continue to take notes in a notebook instead of on my computer! It helps keep my hands busy and my brain focused. 

This particular design was inspired by a series of doodles that showed up in my notebook during meetings at work last Fall. I had the idea to turn a few of my doodles - including this one, into a hand-carved rubber stamps, and I loved this particular design so much that I knew it just had to be enlarged and become a mask that could be used for even more applications in my artwork.

Here you can see how I used it in my art journal:

Scribble-X-Stencil-Art-Journal-Page---Gwen-Lafleur

And a close-up so you can see some of the details for both the stencil and the page:


Scribble-X-Stencil-Art-Journal-Page-Closeup---Gwen-Lafleur

Next, I also used this as the pattern for one of my 3D boho collages. This was done on a 5x5 cradled panel, and you can also see one of the borders from Not Afraid to Try as well as a bit of the Decorative Flower Stamen Medallion peeking out from under the dimensional piece.

3D-Boho-Collage---Circle-X-Scribble-Not-Afraid-v2---Gwen-Lafleur

I really love doing these collages... it's a very detailed process (some might say tedious?) but I find it to be kind of zen. Then there's the fun of finding the perfect way to embellish the openings and add fun little accents to the finished collage. Here's a close-up so you can get a better idea of the dimension as well as see a bit more how I used the Baked Texture embossing powder (Patina Oxide,) as well as some Emerald Creek Pyrite Quarry Gemstones, and more Emerald Creek embossing powders inside the collage and on the background. I also added a button from my Turkmen jewelry parts, and then triangular pendants around the circle are from my personal stash of jewelry bits.

3D-Boho-Collage---Scribble-X-Closeup---Gwen-Lafleur

Next up is the Decorative Flower Stamen Medallion stencil - one of my new 6"x6" designs.

Decorative Flower Stamen Medallion - 6x6 Stencil - Gwen Lafleur

Like the Scribble X Mask, this design started off as a doodle in my work notebook. I had these organic elements that looked like the stamens of a flower growing out of the margins of my pages, so I went home and turned them into a quarter-repeat hand-carved rubber stamp. When I printed and repeated the stamp, the results were so much cooler than I'd anticipated! I knew immediately that it would make a fabulous addition to my collection of medallion stencils. 

This design is perfect for creating background textures and patterns (it worked great with texture paste on my sample canvas below.) Like all of my medallions, it's also ideal for layering... try using smaller circular designs and objects layered over the center and build up from there to create a unique focal point in your art!

Here's the canvas I mentioned - lots of layered and collaged elements, and then I used gold texture paste (Wendy Vecchi / Ranger) to add the stenciling on the top.

Flower-Stamen-Medallion-Stencil---Mixed-Media-Canvas---Gwen-Lafleur

Here's another close-up so that you can see more of the texture and how detailed this design really is!

Flower-Stamen-Medallion-Stencil---Mixed-Media-Canvas-Closeup-2---Gwen-Lafleur

Finally, the other 6"x6" that I released last week is my new Art Deco Peacock Feathers stencil.

Art Deco Peacock Feathers - 6x6 Stencil - Gwen Lafleur

It's really not much of a secret that I love both peacock feathers and Art Deco - I've already created stencils aplenty for both of these themes! That probably means that a mash-up of the two was inevitable at some point, right?

I have a particular fondness for Egyptian Art Deco designs, and have wanted to do something along those lines for quite a while now. While visiting my family in the DC area last year, I spotted a pillow in a shop that immediately sparked the idea in my head to make Egyptian Art Deco peacock feathers. I drew it out and carved it as a stamp to see how it would work, and I loved it so much that it was the first thing I worked on when I started this round of stencil designs. 

The hand-drawn pattern was created to repeat, so all you have to do is line the stencil up along any of the edges to create seamless backgrounds as large or as small as you want. You can also mask off a single feather to use as a stand-alone motif in your work.

Here you can see where I used this design to create a repeating background on some painted deli paper:

Art-Deco-Peacock-Feathers---Collage-Paper---Gwen-Lafleur

If you look closely, you can see where I tore out pieces of the above paper and used them to create the background on a page in my most recent artist book:

Artist-Book-with-Art-Deco-Peacock-Feathers-Stencil---Gwen-Lafleur

On this page I also added some torn sari ribbon on top, along with pieces cut from a Dresden medallion, some sari patches from my stash, printed handmade paper, and a large Kuchi patch (I seriously love these things - so much!)

I also used this stencil along the edges of one of the translucent pages in the same artist book (my Decorative Curvy Ornament stencil is the one you see in the center.) I finished it off with some trim and sari patches from my stash. (I don't have these in my shop, but you can check out my Curated Stash Packs if you're interested in this kind of thing!)

Transparent-Art-Journal-Page---Art-Deco-Peacock-Feathers---Gwen-Lafleur

Finally, I used the Art Deco Peacock Feathers stencil for one of the layers of pattern on the background of the art journal spread I shared last week which also uses my two new 9"x12" stencils.

Art-Journaling---Not-Afraid-to-Try-closeup-3---Gwen-Lafleur

So that's it for this release! I'm so beyond pleased with how the stencils came out... the team at StencilGirl did a stellar job with them, as always! I'm so excited to continue using them in my work, and also to see what you do with them!

Of course, all 37 of my stencil designs are available both in my shop and directly from StencilGirl. You can also check your local stores - I know there are quite a few out there that have some as well (shop local if you can!)

For those who are interested - I've still got my anniversary sale going on in my shop... you can save 15% off of all mixed media supplies and downloadable products with the coupon 1stAnniversary15. Thanks to the great response so far, I've extended the sale so this coupon is good through midnight mountain time on Wednesday, March 28th.

Anniversary-Sale-Banner---Extended

 


Mixed Media Texture with Baked Texture Embossing Powder

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of using embossing powder in my mixed media artwork, so when Seth Apter asked me if I'd be willing to do a project showcasing his seven new flavors of Baked Texture embossing powder from Emerald Creek, I jumped at the chance!

When the long awaited powders finally arrived, I dove in head first and explored. One of the results of my playtime, er... experimentation was this mixed media panel that uses all 7 blends and a variety of different techniques.

Textured-Circles-Mixed-Media-Panel---Gwen-Lafleur

I took some photos as I worked so that you can see some of the ways that I used the Baked Texture powders. To start, I stenciled elements from Seth's Numbers stencil with pigment ink, then added Ancient Amber and heat embossed it. I repeated this randomly across the background (keeping mostly toward the edges since I knew I was going to cover the center,) and making sure to wrap some of the embossing around the sides of my cradled panel. I also used a VersaMarker to edge the panel, and I added more EP and heat embossed that as well.

Abstract-Embossed-Mixed-Media---Step-7-8---Gwen-Lafleur

For the next layer, I randomly stamped some circle patterns from two of Seth's PaperArtsy cling rubber stamp sets onto rice paper using pigment ink. I did them one at a time - stamping one pattern and embossing, then repeating with the other pattern. I used Chunky Rust with the larger stamped circles and then using Dirty Sand for the smaller design. I then tore the paper into strips and collaged sections onto the background of my panel using matte medium, making sure to layer some of it over the embossing that was already on there since I wanted to start to build up layers of texture.

Abstract-Embossed-Mixed-Media---Step-2---Gwen-Lafleur

I set the panel aside to dry, then moved on to the circular elements that I knew I wanted to have running down the center. I took several different sizes of chipboard circles and painted them with different colors of Seth's PaperArtsy Fresco Finish paints.

Abstract-Embossed-Mixed-Media---Step-3-4---Gwen-Lafleur

Once the paint was dry, (which is important because the embossing powder will stick to wet paint and you may get embossing where you don't want it,) I ran the edges of the circles across an embossing ink pad (above,) and then ran them through a pile of Ancient Amber.

Abstract-Embossed-Mixed-Media---Step-5---Gwen-Lafleur

Above, you can see that I heat embossed the circles - I love the effect of the embossed edges! A few of them I just coated completely for some variety. When I'm working with smaller items like this, I have a set of long copper tongs that I use to hold the piece that I'm embossing so that I don't burn my fingers - super helpful!

Next, I went back through and used some of Seth's latest stencil designs from StencilGirl to add patterns to the tops of my circles using pigment ink and then Chunky Rust and Patina Oxide powders.

Abstract-Embossed-Mixed-Media---Step-5a---Gwen-Lafleur

At this point, my circles were ready to add to the panel, so I set those aside and went back to work on prepping my background which I coated with a brown glaze. I applied it, let it start to dry for about a minute or so, and then used a baby wipe to take some of it back off, leaving it darker in the crevices of the texture I created with the embossed stenciling.

Abstract-Embossed-Mixed-Media---Step-6---Gwen-Lafleur

Once the glaze was dry, I placed my circles down the center of the panel and glued them in place, then started coating the background in embossing powder. For this step, I started from the outside and the sides of the panel and worked my way toward the middle. First, I coated sections of the panel with embossing ink and then used Vintage Beeswax on top, repeating this process twice to get really smooth coverage.

Abstract-Embossed-Mixed-Media---Step-7-8---Gwen-Lafleur

Once the Vintage Beeswax is melted, you can see how the texture and color from the background layers still really show through! I continued the same process, adding ribbons of color moving toward the middle with Patina Oxide and then with Deep Sea.

Next comes my favorite part... this was what I knew that I wanted to do the very first time I ever saw Rocky Road - I wanted to create some serious texture using acrylic mediums. For this section, I used High Solid Gel and a small paintbrush to apply the gel around the circles throughout the entire center section. I used a very thick, stiff gel medium because I wanted it to hold its shape so that I would get more exaggerated peaks and valleys in my texture.

Abstract-Embossed-Mixed-Media---Step-9---Gwen-Lafleur

I coated the gel medium section with Rocky Road and then heated it at very short range. Any time you emboss with a wet acrylic medium, especially with the heat gun so close to the surface, you're going to get lots of bubbles. (And fumes! Keep your mouth and nose covered, especially if you do this for extended times like I did here - I have a respirator that I keep in my studio for serious melting and bubbling.) It's going to smell pretty funky, but the texture... oh is it ever worth it. Amazing. (At the bottom of this post there's a link to a video tutorial where you can see this process in action.)

Below, you can see how I went back in with a VersaMarker and lightly brushed ink over the surface of the embossed area...

Abstract-Embossed-Mixed-Media---Step-10---Gwen-Lafleur

I added a light sprinkling of Chunky Rust and embossed, repeated with an even lighter sprinkling of Patina Oxide, and then added a bit more Rocky Road on top. I kept sprinkling and heating until I was happy with the results - I think I had at least 10 layers of embossing powder on this section! When you look at it up close, it's a really cool effect.

Finally, it just wouldn't be one of my pieces unless I added some funky boho touches, so I dug through my stash of Turkmen jewelry parts and added some buttons and other cool bits on to some of the circles, finishing with a Turkish glass nazar bead in the center of my focal point. I used a touch of black wax around the edges of the panel to frame it, and that was it!

Abstract-Embossed-Mixed-Media---Step-11---Gwen-Lafleur

Here are a few close-ups so that you can get a better sense for the different textures you can get using the Baked Texture powders... they're so addictive!


Textured Circles - Top 2 - Gwen Lafleur
Textured Circles - Top 2 - Gwen Lafleur
Textured Circles - Top 2 - Gwen Lafleur
Textured Circles - Top 2 - Gwen Lafleur

Also, not too long ago I did a video tutorial using Baked Texture powders and another Emerald Creek embossing powder, and in that video you can see the live-action version of how I use embossing powder with acrylic mediums (it's fun just to watch that stuff bubble on camera!) Check out that blog post for the video as well as the three samples I shared.

Sadly, this brings us to the end of our week-long celebration of all things Baked Texture, but hopefully you've picked up tons of ideas and inspiration for how you can incorporate these amazing embossing powders into your own mixed media work! If you missed them, make sure to check out these four posts from this week, each with lots of amazing inspiration and fun techniques for you to try:


From the Artist Tribe - Mixed Media Art Paper Dolls

Linda Edkins Wyatt is popping in from the Artist Tribe today with a fabulous project... she's made a gorgeous and totally unique set of mixed media art paper dolls!

Mixed-Media-Art-Dolls---Linda-Edkins-Wyatt

Linda used several different colors of embossing powder to add texture and a bit of shine to the details of her dolls. If you look closely, you'll also see bits of Dresden trim and some embellished sari scraps! Make sure you stop by her blog to see close-ups of each of the art dolls and get more details on the project and products she used.

Also, just a quick reminder that I'm celebrating the one year anniversary of my shop with a sale! Get 15% off all mixed media supplies and downloadable products with the coupon 1stAnniversary15.

Anniversary Sale Banner


Five New Stencil Designs!

I'm super excited to share that I have five new stencil designs releasing today from StencilGirl! I'm really excited about these stencils - it's a bit of a mixed bag and in the past I've always released in collections, but each one is a design that I really loved and so I decided to just put them all out there together in a bit of an eclectic mix. Without further ado... here they are! (You can tell that mine are already getting plenty of use :)

March-2018-StencilGirl-Stencil-Release---Gwen-Lafleur

Do these designs look familiar at all? If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen these motifs before since most of them came from the stamps I carved in the last round of Carve December. It's not unusual for my stamp designs to turn into stencils... I started counting how many of my hand-carved stamps are now available in some form or another from StencilGirl and it was a surprisingly large number!

March-2018-Stencil-Release-Original-Stamp-Designs---Gwen-Lafleur

The Chinese Garden Plum Blossoms actually started as a drawing for a stencil, but then I turned it into a 3-part stamp so that I could print it in different colors. I loved how that came out, so I decided to submit the stencil design, and here we are! I'm especially thrilled to have my first Asian themed stencil... it's been a long time coming, and hopefully this is the first of many!

Plum-Blossoms-Original-Stamp-Design---Gwen-Lafleur

I'll be sharing the individual stencils and the inspiration behind them as well as some sample projects here, as well as on Facebook and Instagram over the next week or so, so make sure to keep an eye out for inspiration with my new designs!

Today I want to share a bit more about my new 9x12 stencils. The first one is called Not Afraid to Try.

Not Afraid to Try - 9x12 Stencil - Gwen Lafleur

As background on this design, in 2009 I went back to school to get my MBA and during my second year I took an elective called Business Judgment, which was my favorite class of the entire program (it was much more interesting than it sounds!) One of the books we read in class focused on the concept that our own fears are our biggest impediments to making decisions and moving forward, and with achieving success in both our professional and personal lives. This really stuck with me, and I ended up making it the subject of my final project for the class (which I aced, by the way!) I've continued to keep that as a mantra in the years since, and for close to a year now I've really wanted to have a version of that concept as a phrase on a stencil so that I could use it for art journaling and other projects. I thought that it was probably likely that others might want this as well, and luckily StencilGirl agreed with me!

Art-Journaling---Not-Afraid-PlumBlossom-ArtDecoPeacock---Gwen-Lafleur

Art-Journaling---Not-Afraid-to-Try-closeup-1---Gwen-Lafleur

The words on this stencil are all hand-drawn, and you can also mask off individual letters to form other words and phrases like I did with the page below from my latest artist book which reads, "Doubt Not, Fear Not." (I stenciled just part of the "o" and then drew in the horizontal line to make an "e.")

Not-Afraid-to-Try---Artist-Book-Page---Gwen-LafleurOf course, I couldn't have a quote without some decorative elements, so I added two borders which were inspired by traditional Indian woodblock designs, as well as a fun ornamental motif that's a combination of inspiration from a vintage metal finding and architectural elements. You can repeat the borders to make them longer, or turn them into backgrounds! That's what I did on the back side of the above page - since the background is translucent, I wanted them to show through to the front a bit (as you can see above,) but also stand on their own if you were looking at the reverse side of the page.

Not-Afraid---Artist-Book-Page-Reverse-h---Gwen-Lafleur

My other new 9x12 is called Chinese Garden Plum Blossoms, and it was inspired by my first two visits to China where I explored the Yu Garden in Shanghai and also learned about the symbolism of the plum blossoms during a Chinese watercolor painting demonstration - these trees flower in late winter and have come to embody the ideas of perseverance and hope, as well as beauty and purity. After I learned about the symbolism, I developed an immediate and abiding love for the blooms of this tree; I have a painting of plum blossoms in my home that I bought from a master artist in Beijing that I had framed and keep displayed in a prominent place to remind me of the concept of hope and beauty blossoming through adversity.

Chinese Garden Plum Blossoms - 9x12 Stencil - Gwen Lafleur

I also added Chinese characters for beauty (top,) harmony (middle,) and tranquility (bottom,) to describe the feeling while visiting those stunning traditional gardens. The design of the plum blossom branch was deliberately created as an outline to allow you to color the flowers with whatever color combinations and mediums you choose. Here you can see how I stenciled the design onto rice paper and then colored it with gouache:

Plum-Blossoms-on-Rice-Paper-with-Gouache---Gwen-Lafleur

I tore out the designs from this page and used them on the same art journal spread I showed above... here's a close-up so you can see the blooms in particular. (The Chinese characters on this page mean "strength" and are from another of my hand-carved stamps.)

Art-Journaling---Not-Afraid-to-Try-closeup-2---Gwen-Lafleur

I also used the Chinese characters from this stencil to make a tag - these frequently end up as tip-ins in my art journal.

Plum-Blossoms-and-Flower-Stamen---Mixed-Media-Tag---Gwen-Lafleur

All five of my stencils are available NOW from StencilGirl, and later this week you'll also be able to get them from my shop!

I'll be back soon with more inspiration behind the other three designs... in the meantime, make sure you're following me on Instagram where I'll continue to post projects with the new designs!

 


Create a Beautifully Etched Decorative Window with Stencils

Hi all, welcome to my stop on the blog hop with StencilGirl and etchall! For my project, I knew immediately what I wanted to do... about two years ago I'd taken an old multi-paned window that I'd found in an architectural salvage shop and painted it, then added some stenciled deli paper to the panes. At the time, I wished that I'd etched the glass instead, so when this project came up, I decided to go back and do what I'd originally wanted to do with that old window. Here's how it turned out! 

Etched-Decorative-Window---Gwen-Lafleur

The how-to for this couldn't be any easier. I took my window (or any glass surface,) and peeled off the old deli paper with a razor, then washed it. (One of the few times you will ever catch me washing windows. LOL.) When it was totally dry, I took the stencil adhesive spray and coated the back of my Decorative Curvy Ornament stencil as well as my Decorative 6-Petal Flower stencil, let the adhesive dry, and then placed them in the center of two of the window panes. From there, I just followed the instructions on the bottle of etching cream; I applied it with a squeegee tool, then scraped up the excess and put it back in the jar. 

Etched-Decorative-Window-Step-1---Gwen-Lafleur

Etched-Decorative-Window-Step-1a---Gwen-Lafleur

When the first two were done, I set a timer for 15 minutes and then rinsed them in the sink under running water, scrubbing lightly to get all of the etching cream off of the glass. I did leave the stencils in place until after I'd rinsed off the cream, as per the instructions. They started to loosen before that point, but it worked out just fine!

Etched-Decorative-Window-Step-2---Gwen-Lafleur

From there, I just repeated the process two more times; each time I dried and re-sprayed my stencils with adhesive since they'd been soaked in water during the previous step and I wanted to make sure they stuck well to the glass so I wouldn't get any seepage with the etching cream.

Voila! It took less than an hour to get rid of my unsatisfactory deli print stenciling and replace it with something that looks pretty darn professional!

Etched-Decorative-Window-b---Gwen-Lafleur

It's hard to get good photos of the glass, but here you can see a bit of the close-up of each of the stencil designs after they'd been etched:

Etched-Decorative-Window-Closeup-3---Gwen-Lafleur

Etched-Decorative-Window-Closeup-5---Gwen-Lafleur

That's it! I hope you enjoyed seeing how I used the etchall products with my stencils to finish off this decorative window... now I just need to find the perfect place to display it.

Of course, now it's time for the best part of a blog hop - the giveaway!

 

GIVEAWAY
One lucky winner will receive an etchall® Glass Etching Bee-ginner Kit, reposition/reuse stencil spray
AND a $25 Gift Certificate to StencilGirl Products!

Enter to win by leaving a comment below, then be sure to visit the other blogs in the hop and comment to win.
The more blogs you comment on, the more chances you have to WIN!
One winner will be chosen at random from all blog comments.
(One comment per person per blog please.)

You have until Tuesday, March 20th at 11:59PM Central Time to leave your comments.
Winner will be announced on
StencilGirl's Facebook page and etchall’s Facebook page on Wednesday, March 21.

 

Here are the links to all of today's blog posts - make sure to visit and comment on each of them for your chance to win!

Mary Beth Shaw
Gwen Lafleur <-- you are here!
Mary C. Nasser
Debi Adams
Tina Walker
Cindi McGee
Nadine Carlier
Joe Rotella