From the Artist Tribe - Mixed Media Shrine

We're starting the new week off on a high note with this fabulous project from the Artist Tribe - this stunning mixed media shrine by Jackie Neal!


Isn't that just gorgeous? She's used one of the small handmade Mexican nichos from the shop combined with a peacock finding, Turkmen jewelry parts, and lots of fun beads and goodies from her stash.

Make sure you head over to Jackie's blog for more photos and details about this stunning project.

Psst... a little heads up - my little shop is a year old this month and I'll be celebrating with a sale! Mark your calendars...

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Gwen's Gems - Translucent Mixed Media with Stencils!

Hi all, just popping in to let you know that I'm up on the StencilGirl blog today with the December edition of Gwen's Gems. This month I experimented with using translucent elements in a mixed media piece, and I'm loving the results!


Here you can better see the translucent part of the piece:


Head on over to StencilGirl Talk to see more photos as well as a tutorial!

PS... in case you haven't heard, I'm also going to be an artist instructor in Creative JumpStart 2018! Join me and 30 other teachers to get a jump on your creative year with daily mixed media video lessons... it says $50 in the image below, but from now until December 31st, it's only $45 - that works out to just $1.45 per lesson, and you can download them to keep forever!



Mixed Media Seahorse Sculpture

The last few weeks I've had lots of energy and inspiration and have been working on quite a few projects! One of them is a new seahorse sculpture that I started before Thanksgiving and just finished up Friday night. I have to say, I absolutely love how this turned out!


It was really hard to get good pictures of this guy because of his size and the darker paint colors I used, but hopefully you get the idea... personally I think he's even cooler in person :)

Over the last few years I've been working a lot with the idea of making 3D sculptures based on stencil designs; my original idea started with inspiration from a class I took at a Create retreat as well as some old grade-school art class techniques, but slowly I've been evolving my process as I find new supplies and tools and get more experience in this area.  At some point I'll probably make this into a class (most likely online or a 2-day in person class,) but for now I thought I'd share a very quick overview of how he was made. 

I started with the Seahorses stencil by June Pfaff Daley and inked it onto cardboard and then cut out the general shape.


From there, I used aluminum foil and masking tape to start to build up the armature. I found that the tip of a bone folder was really helpful for molding some of the details. When the armature was finished, I covered the whole thing with Aves Apoxie Clay and then once it was no longer water soluble, I went back in and added details. While the clay was still workable, I also made sure to insert a wood skewer so that he could be attached to a base later on and then let the whole thing cure overnight.


Once it was cured, I coated it with gold gesso, then started adding layers of paints and washes as well as some waxes and gold leafing until I got it looking the way I wanted. It started to take a very metallic and steampunk-esque turn along the way, so I just went with it. When all the paint was dry, I continued along those lines and started adding some metal gears that I aged in Jax solution as well as some old watch parts and vintage watch faces. I also inserted some vintage rhinestones to tie in the broken Turkmen bracelet piece I had added as a collar.


It still felt like it needed something, so I pulled out my collection of broken Turkmen jewelry (which is admittedly large and also pretty fabulous,) and started searching for the perfect finishing pieces.


I found a few pieces of chain and the absolute perfect section of another broken bracelet to attach to the collar as a kind of pectoral piece. That was the exact detail it needed to feel finished. I added a bit of sari yarn around the skewer and inserted it into a vintage wooden spool that I'd glazed and waxed and accessorized with some embellished sari trim and more broken jewelry parts. (The skewer is held in place with more Apoxie Clay.)

Did I mention how pleased I am with the result? Here are some more photos so you can see details of the finished piece:


The sculpture itself came out quite symmetrical, but I didn't want to have the embellishments the same on both sides so I mixed it up a bit.


On the post, I added more chains and some bronze microbeads to cover the join with the sculpture. (And let's face it... I really just wanted to add more bling!)


I've got plans to keep working on a series of these sculptures - maybe different sizes of seahorses, different animals... (an elephant for sure!) We'll see where it goes!

PS... in case you haven't heard, I'm also going to be an artist instructor in Creative JumpStart 2018! Join me and 30 other teachers to get a jump on your creative year with daily mixed media video lessons... it says $50 in the image below, but from now until December 31st, it's only $45 - that works out to just $1.45 per lesson, and you can download them to keep forever!



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...


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!



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!


Creative JumpStart 2017 Sneak Peek 1

Have you signed up for Creative JumpStart 2017? Last year was my first year, and I was so impressed with the variety of projects and how inspired I was to create and try new things as I watched the videos! 

If you've been thinking about it, I thought I'd post a little teaser that may (or may not!) push you over the edge ;) 

CJS2017 Sneek Peek - Gwen Lafleur

The theme this year is Mix, Match, and Master, and we're mixing styles and supplies in our projects! I'll give you a little hint... mine is mixed media assemblage, and I even added 10+ minutes of bonus video demonstrating how I made the focal point of this piece (you should also be able to download the bonus video.)

Here are some fun facts and figures about what you get with Creative JumpStart:

Hope to see you there!


Gwen's Gems - Mini Hand Shrine with Stencils

Hi everyone, just popping in to let you know that my monthly installment of "Gwen's Gems" is up on the StencilGirl blog. This month I did quite a bit of playing and ended up with a kind of hand sculpture made from a stencil base that lives in its own little box - I'm calling it a shrine for a lack of a better term (and I guess it sort of is one!)

Mini Mixed Media Hand Shrine - Gwen Lafleur

If you're interested, you can head on over to view the full post where there are more photos (with close-ups, naturally!) as well as a tutorial / overview of my process for making this piece. Enjoy!


Going Into the Deep with March StencilClub

It's StencilClub Inspiration Day over on StencilGirl Talk... the new March 2016 StencilClub kit features some fun and versatile designs from Suzi Dennis. They were so much fun to work with! When I looked at these stencils, I saw water and sea plants (because my brain is a bit weird like that... LOL.) I decided to use the stencils to help create an underwater scene in an assemblage piece. The whole thing is based on a cigar box.

Into the Deep Assemblage - Cover - Gwen Lafleur

Into the Deep Assemblage - Inside - Gwen Lafleur

This piece took several days to complete and I didn't do a tutorial, but I did take a few photos along the way so you can get a sense of how it progressed.

As I mentioned above, I knew it was going to be an underwater scene, so I started with the fish. He's made from Aves Apoxie Clay over a small hand-cut cardboard armature with watch parts, beads, and a little vintage art deco finding in his tail.

Into the Deep Assemblage - Step-out 1 - Gwen LafleurNext, I put the base coat of paint on the fish and constructed the porthole that he would be swimming in inside of the larger piece. The porthole is also made out of Apoxie Clay, and the "glass" is a sheet of mica - I sized this part so that it would fit perfectly over the 6x6 stencil, which I used with some turquoise crackle paste to begin making the background for the porthole.

Into the Deep Assemblage - Step-out 2 - Gwen LafleurNext, Mr. Fishy is completely painted, and the stenciled background got a few layers of paint and glaze.

Into the Deep Assemblage - Step-out 3 - Gwen LafleurAssembled porthole with fishy inside... there's no going back on this section of the project now!

Into the Deep Assemblage - Step-out 4 - Gwen Lafleur

Next it was time to start on the cigar box. Rather than invite a giant mess by attempting to stencil inside of the cigar box, I measured and cut a sheet of bristol paper that would fit perfectly inside and created the background on that. Crackle in the background, then I stenciled over top with copper crackle paste. Do you see sea plants coming up from the ocean floor? Maybe that's just me...

Into the Deep Assemblage - Step-out 5 - Gwen LafleurAt this point, I got fully immersed in the project and taking pictures didn't even cross my mind. Everything started falling into place for the cover (inside and out,) and I discovered that I really like making clay tentacles. Never thought those words would ever come out of my mouth...

Into the Deep Assemblage - Cover Close-up - Gwen LafleurI used the 9x12 stencil as the background directly on the lid of the box, the 4x4 stencil used as part of the foundation of my cycloptic tentacled monster medallion box embellishment. (Say that 5 times fast! LOL.) If you look closely, you can see it in copper behind a few layers of metal. The whole thing is set on a Spellbinders circle diecut that I aged with paint to look like rusty metal.

On the inside of the lid, an image of what I was going to do just popped into my mind, so I quickly sketched it out and got to work. I decided to use beads to suggest the bodies of my tentacled sea monsters, and I really like the effect! The beads were all set in Diamond Glaze.

Into the Deep Assemblage - Close-up 1a - Gwen LafleurClose up of the little guys...

Into the Deep Assemblage - Close-up 2 - Gwen Lafleur

You can see where I used the 4x4 and 6x6 stencils in the background to frame each sea monster and show through behind the beads. The stenciling also helps to ground each little sea monster hole within the composition by connecting them to the edges of the lid.

Into the Deep Assemblage - Close-up 1 - Gwen Lafleur

This project was so much fun to make, and I LOVE how it turned out! I think it's also pretty cool that the stencils provided the inspiration, the framework, and necessary detail to make the whole thing happen... bonus! They're super versatile and I'm sure I'll be using these a lot.

Make sure you stop by StencilGirl Talk to see more projects from the team using this month's fabulous StencilClub collection!