June Classes at Papercraft Clubhouse in Connecticut

Hi all! I've mentioned the classes I have coming up at Papercraft Clubhouse in Westbrook, CT, (in less than two weeks now!) but I thought I'd give a little more detail about each class and also share some videos I've put together that may help decide some of you who are on the fence about coming. Hopefully they'll also help those of you already signed up so that you have a better idea of what to expect, what I'll be providing, and what you'll want to bring to work on your projects.

Here we go!

First up, Friday morning (June 16th) I'm teaching my Mini Mixed Media Medallions class from 10am to 1pm. This class is $60, but it also includes 1/4 lb of Aves Apoxie Clay (normally $10) as well as a few other goodies I'll be supplying for you. (You can also click through to the class page where there are lots more pictures of the class samples, plus a full description and supply list. You can watch the video there as well.) The samples are very much in my style, but you can bring elements, colors, themes, etc... that are totally different and really make these medallions your own!

Mini Mixed Media Medallion Samples - Gwen Lafleur

We'll use clay, beads, metal findings, and more to create 1-2 medallions during this fun and fast-paced class. For those who have taken my Mixed Media Shadow Boxes class, there are some similarities in how the projects start, but then we diverge quite a bit from that approach with how our foundation evolves into a medallion that can be used on a book cover, in a shadow box or assemblage piece, or as a piece of statement jewelry.

Here's a 9 minute video that shows you more about the samples and talks about class supplies and some of what you can expect from this workshop.

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Also on Friday 6/16/17, I'm teaching Boho Art Journaling from 2-5pm... this class is $55.

Boho-Art-Journaling---Class-Preview---Gwen-LafleurIn this workshop, we'll learn a background technique to start our pages (or canvas - you can bring your own canvas or panel if you'd prefer that to working in a journal,) and then we'll use stamps, stencils, and some fun techniques to make boho style animals to go on our pages.

Here's a 7-ish minute video going over more about the class and what to bring with you.

Again, you can hop over to the class page for lots more photos of the class samples with the full description and supply list.

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Finally, on Saturday June 17th I'm teaching a full day class called Of Angels and Icons that runs from 10am-5pm with a one hour break for lunch. This class is $105 and includes the canvas, plus other supplies that I'll be bringing to share.

Of Angels and Icons Class Samples - Gwen Lafleur

We'll create an 11x14 mixed media canvas inspired by Russian Icons and Mexican Folk Art (with my own spin, of course!) You can go in whatever direction you want - lots of opportunities to really customize this for your style. We'll build the background for our canvas (different techniques from Friday,) as well as working on wings and halos and creating the paper doll itself, then we'll pull it all together.

I've got a video for this one as well - also about 9 minutes, that will talk much more about the samples and supplies.

As always, you can check the class page on my website for lots more details as well as many more photos of the class samples.

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Spots are filling quickly for these classes (especially Saturday's class which only has a few openings left!) so if you're interested, give them a call at the Clubhouse to sign up! (860-399-4443 - note that they're closed on Mondays.)

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or message me on my Facebook page. Hope to see you there!

 

 


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!

 


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 :)

 


Playing with New Seth Apter Products

Hi everyone! I'm so excited to have been asked by Seth Apter to create some projects with his new stamps and Wood Chips from PaperArtsy! For these projects, I thought it would be fun to take inspiration from the Library of Memories masterclass I took with him in 2015 and make a new version of that class project. 

Library of Memories Take 2 - Gwen Lafleur

These two projects are made to fit together, so here you can see how it looks when you put the book inside of the case:

Library of Memories Take 2 - Book in Case Open - Gwen Lafleur

Library of Memories Take 2 - Book in Case - Gwen Lafleur wm

There are lots more pictures and some short tutorials and process descriptions over on StencilGirl Talk, but that post is so chock full of photos and information that it was too long to include everything that I wanted to share from this project.

So, without further ado, here's a bonus tutorial showing my process for making my own patterned papers to use inside the handmade book.

On several of the book pages I did a patchwork background technique that Seth taught us in class. This time I made my own patterned papers using his StencilGirl stencils, his PaperArtsy paints, and his new stamp sets.

Library of Memories Take 2 - Book Pages Step 6 - Gwen Lafleur

To start, I took five sheets of 28lb copy paper and painted the backgrounds. (I liked this paper weight because it's sturdier and a nicer quality than regular copy paper, but it was still thin enough to easily use for making backgrounds in my book.)

Library of Memories Take 2 - Book Pages Step 2 - Gwen Lafleur

I used paints from Seth's PaperArtsy paint kit, as well as a collection of some of his favorite paint favorite colors. From left to right, Mahogany, Terracotta, Toffee, Midnight, and Squid Ink.

When the backgrounds were dry, I went back through and used the Urban Outsiders Stencil to stencil repeated shapes. I decided that each piece of paper would be a different shape, and I started with circles. I used Turquoise paint to start.

Library of Memories Take 2 - Book Pages Step 3 - Gwen Lafleur

Next I used the Urban Insiders Circle Stencil and the Techno Insiders Circle Stencil and added patterns inside of some of the outlines. 

Library of Memories Take 2 - Book Pages Step 4 - Gwen Lafleur
I repeated the process using stamps instead of stencils - I used the circle stamp images from both of Seth's new stamp sets. ESA 03 and ESA 04 (part of the Eclectica collection.) I stamped these with teal and red pigment inks and heat embossed with teal and red embossing powder. I also used a Versamark pen to draw in a few places and then heat embossed that as well (it's a fun way to add some extra details!)

Note that in some places, I stamped on top of the stenciling - Seth designed the stamps to work with the stencils, so they layer really well!

Library of Memories Take 2 - Book Pages Step 5 - Gwen Lafleur

I just repeated that process with the other four shapes until I had five full sheets of patterned paper. In the end, I used every stamp in both the ESA 03 and ESA 04 stamp collections, and I also used all of the following stencils:

From there, they were ready to be cut up and used to make patchwork backgrounds!

Library of Memories Take 2 - Book Pages Step 7 - Gwen Lafleur

I also used pieces from these sheets to make the end papers for my handmade book...

Library of Memories Take 2 - Book Step 1 - Gwen Lafleur

...I cut out larger sections to be used as focal points on some of the pages...

Library of Memories Take 2 - Book Pages 9-10a - Gwen Lafleur

... and I also used some of them to make backgrounds and covered the entire page.

Library of Memories Take 2 - Book Pages 5-6 - Gwen Lafleur

I still have quite a few scraps left - they'll be great on future projects, so I'll make sure not to throw them out!

That's it for my post here, but make sure you hop over to StencilGirl Talk to see my full project and more tutorials, plus even more fabulous projects guaranteed to inspire!

 


Mixed Media Medallions with StencilGirl and PaperArtsy!

PaperArtsy StencilGirl Header

Hi everyone, I'm excited to be participating in the blog hop with StencilGirl and PaperArtsy! It was loads of fun to combine stencils together with all the fabulous Fresco Finish acrylic paints, Infusions, and the awesome rubber stamp designs. In fact, it was so much fun that I made two projects!

Mixed Media Medallions 2 - PaperArtsy and StencilGirl - Gwen Lafleur

First, I made what I'm calling a mixed media medallion - I've named this piece "The Lady of the Lake" - I think you might be able to see why!

  Lady of the Lake - Mixed Media - Gwen Lafleur

Here's a little overview of how this came together:

I started with a sheet of vellum finish Bristol paper and put down some color with the Fresco Antarctica paint. Then I stamped the large image from the Lynne Perella Collection 009 stamp set with black Archival Ink (important to have something permanent since I was going to layer on top.) Next I put some molding paste through the Cornish Petals Large stencil by Lizzie Mayne, making sure to put the center of the stencil over the stamped face, and I let it dry. 

Once dry, I cut it out and then used Space Cadet, Turquoise, and Lake Wanaka Fresco paints over top. Originally I wanted more of the stamped image to show through, but as I painted it seemed to be telling me to keep edging in a bit more. I'm glad I listened!

Mixed Media Medallion Steps 1-4 - Gwen Lafleur

I took some Gold Fresco Finish and used my finger to rub it across the raised areas of the design, then mixed Slate with satin glaze and glazed the entire thing, let it dry for a minute or so, then wiped off the excess with a baby wipe. This really helped to highlight the dimension!

Once that was dry, I used gold glitter glue to go over all the gold areas and really bling it up. Here you can see how I considered just stopping here and using this in an art journal:

Mixed Media Medallion Art Journal Idea - Gwen Lafleur

As much as I loved this, and I did! I wanted to keep pushing with this idea. I mixed up some Aves Apoxy Clay and then sprinkled in some Infusions Dye Stain (A Bit Jaded.) I added just a spritz of water to activate the dye as I kneaded it into the clay so that it would stain it for me. I rolled that out and put a ring of clay around the stamped face, then inserted some clear crystals around the outside edge and embedded lots of brown and gold beads into the surface of the clay.

Mixed Media Medallion Step 5 - Gwen Lafleur

Once the clay was no longer water soluble, I filled the well in the middle with Diamond Glaze and then sprinkled more Infusions onto the surface. They spread just a bit on contact with the liquid (which I wanted,) and I was careful not to disturb it so that they would just be dots and splashes of color and not completely dye the glaze. I left this until the glaze was totally dry and the clay was cured (overnight.)

Of course, this still wasn't done in my book! I pulled my Gold Fresco Finish paint back out and rubbed it all over the clay and beads. Some of the color still showed through, but it helped to better integrate that area. Next I took out some brass findings and cut them and attached them onto the back of the medallion using E6000 glue.

Mixed Media Medallion Steps 6-7 - Gwen Lafleur

I wanted a bit of a patina effect on the metal, so I just used my fingers again to rub in a little White Fire Fresco Finish, as well as some Guacamole. I added a strand of rhinestones around the inside of the circle to cover up the seam with the glaze (and add more bling!) and then glued a few jewels into some openings on the metal bits.

Mixed Media Medallion Unmounted - Gwen Lafleur

Loving this! I felt like it now needed to be mounted on something, so I took out an unfinished wooden plaque type thing I'd gotten at the craft store, sanded the rough parts, then painted it with Gold, Guacamole, and Tinned Peas. I stenciled some flourishes from the 9x12 of my Heraldry StencilClub collection with gold texture paste and then filled them with a glaze mixed with more Gold. I also added some stamping using smaller elements on the Lynne Perella 28 stamp collection and Background Plate 5 with gold and chartreuse ink.

Mixed Media Medallion Steps 8-9 - Gwen Lafleur

I edged the whole thing with more Space Cadet and Turquoise paints and then coated the entire surface with metallic glaze for a little shimmer. Finally, I added some Dresden trim borders and some skeleton leaves and glued it all together. I'm so happy with how this turned out!

Lady of the Lake Close-up - Gwen Lafleur
Lady of the Lake Close-up - Gwen Lafleur
Lady of the Lake Close-up - Gwen Lafleur

Of course, that wasn't enough. I also really wanted to do something that I could turn into a big statement necklace pendant, so I used similar techniques along with my stamps, paints, and stencils and made an artsy necklace - a conversation piece for sure!

Mixed Media Pendant - StencilGirl and PaperArtsy - Gwen Lafleur

 

For the pendant, I started with a piece of white cardstock and stamped one of the large images from Lynne Perella Collection 34 with black Archival Ink. Next I took the Marrakech Mix stencil by Michelle Ward and used one of the larger openings to trace around the face - I wanted this to be the part of the stamp that showed in my pendant.

Mixed Media Pendant Steps 1-3 - Gwen Lafleur

I used colored pencils to color in the area defined by the stencil, then I cut it out, leaving about 1/4" since I knew I wanted to frame the colored image with clay. I also knew that I wanted some "stuff" sticking out of the clay, so I got some headpins and various colorful beads and made some picks to stick in there.

Mixed Media Pendant Steps 4-6 - Gwen Lafleur

I mixed up more Apoxie clay (I really love that stuff!) and rolled it out to about 1/4" diameter and then wrapped it around the image, pressing it lightly into the cardstock base so that it would stick (I also covered the back of the pendant with a thin layer of clay.) Since I wanted this to be able to be used as a pendant, I put a loop of wire into the top where I could attach a chain.  I then stuck my beaded picks into the clay around the bottom, added spike beads in between the picks, and added more beads into the other areas of the clay. I let the clay cure until it was nice and solid before moving on.

Next up, I got out my trusty Gold Fresco Finish paint and painted over the clay and beads as well as the back, then when it was dry I flipped it over and glued on some different gold trims that would show around the edges on the front.

Mixed Media Pendant Steps 7-10 - Gwen Lafleur

Again, I took some metal findings and added them onto the back with E6000 (to actually wear this as a necklace, you could cut and glue on a piece of felt or add more clay to cover up any rough bits that might bother your skin.)

Finally, I filled in the front with more Diamond Glaze and then edged the inside of the pendant opening with some fine gold trim to help emphasize the original shape. Add a chain, and voila! A fun and artsy statement necklace. (Of course, this could also be used on the cover or a book, on a mixed media piece, in assemblage art... it definitely doesn't have to be worn!)

Mixed Media Pendant - Close-up 2 - Gwen Lafleur
Mixed Media Pendant - Close-up 2 - Gwen Lafleur

That's it from me today - I hope you enjoyed my projects and that you're having fun as you go through all of the awesome projects in this week's blog hop. Make sure you comment on each one, because there's a giveaway!

PaperArtsy StencilGirl Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $75 Gift Certificate to StencilGirl Products

AND a £50 Gift Certificate for PaperArtsy!!


Visit the fabulous designers from both teams and comment for your chance to win!

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


You have until Friday, December 30th at 11:59PM Central Time to leave your comments.

Winner will be announced on
StencilGirl's Facebook page and PaperArtsy's blog on Sunday, January 1.

 

Blog Hop Order:

Dec. 21

Darcy Wilkinson

Kim Dellow
Mary C. Nasser
Gwen Lafleur <-- you are here!


Dec. 22

Jo Firth Young
Lauren Hatwell
Kristie Taylor

Tina Walker

Dec. 23
Clare Lloyd
Lin Brown
Anna Friesen
Janet Joehlin

Dec. 24
Kay Carley
Emma Godfrey
Cindy Gilstrap
Karen Gaunt

 

 


Art Journal Cover with StencilGirl and Impression Obsession

Hi everyone! Welcome to my stop on this week's blog hop with StencilGirl and Impression Obsession! This week members of both creative teams are combining StencilGirl stencils and IO stamps to make fun new projects that we hope you'll love!

SGP IOS Blog Hop Banner

For my project, I decided to decorate the cover of a small art journal I made a while ago that I haven't used yet (hopefully this will help change that.)

Here's what I came up with:

  Stamped and Stenciled Art Journal Cover - Gwen Lafleur

This could also work for an art journal page, mixed media canvas or panel... it could translate to a handmade card as well! Here's a little overview of my process as I made my cover, along with links to the products I used.

First, I used gold pigment ink and embossing powder and stenciled with my Decorative Folk Flower Screen stencil until I had covered the whole background. (I inked, applied the powder, and embossed before moving onto the next section. The background was painted back when I made the journal, so it made it easy to get started!)

Stamped and Stenciled Art Journal Cover Step 1 - Gwen Lafleur

Next, I took a few stamps and used black ink to add in a little texture. I randomly stamped over the cover without using a mount since I didn't want the entire image to print. I rubbed off over the embossing so that the stamping just showed up on the background (obviously you could do this before stenciling and embossing, but that would just be too easy.) For this step I used images from the Alphabet Scramble and Faded Fragments stamp sets, both by Seth Apter for Impression Obsession. 

Stamped and Stenciled Art Journal Cover Step 2 - Gwen Lafleur
With the background done, I moved on to the frame that I wanted to make for my focal point image. To do this, I got a good piece of thick paper (I used a scrap of Rieves BFK left over from an art class,) and then I tinted some molding paste with fluid acrylic paints. I put a nice, thick coat of molding paste through my Decorative Medallion Repeating Corner stencil - probably about 2mm thick. I used a heat gun to form enough of a skin that I could move on to the next section without smudging the paste (I made sure to oscillate it a lot so that I wouldn't bubble the wet molding paste.)

Stamped and Stenciled Art Journal Cover Step 3 - Gwen Lafleur

Once I had repeated the image four times to complete my medallion, I let it dry long enough to handle and then cut around it and applied some gold spray ink. I used a baby wipe to clean the ink off of the molding paste surface so that it only stained the paper.

Stamped and Stenciled Art Journal Cover Step 4 - Gwen Lafleur

I set that aside and worked on the focal point of the cover - I knew that I wanted to build everything around this Peacock stamp from Hannah Davies Designs.  (As soon as I saw this stamp, I knew it had to be mine! LOL.) I stamped it in black on heavy copy paper and colored it with Inktense pencils and Staedtler Triplus Fine-liner pens. (Later, I colored the background with a gold acrylic glaze.)

Coloring Stamped Image

After I colored the image, I used the Simple Geo Squares stencil by Kae Pea to frame the image and determine what was going to be shown through the frame I was making with my molding paste medallion. I traced the line around the peacock, then as you can see below, I used it again to trace on the back of my medallion to know where my opening was going to be.

Stamped and Stenciled Art Journal Cover Step 5 - Gwen Lafleur

 I cut out my opening and then glued the image to the back of the frame.

Stamped and Stenciled Art Journal Cover Step 6 - Gwen Lafleur

I went ahead and glued the frame onto the journal cover, then used some Aves Apoxie - Fixit Sculpt, and put a clay border around the opening to frame it. I embedded some metal findings and rhinestones, then I used an another image from Seth's Faded Fragments stamp set to add some texture. I spritzed the stamp with a mold release spray and then pressed it into the soft clay. The mold release made it so that it didn't stick to the clay or ruin the stamp, and I got some really fabulous texture!

Stamped and Stenciled Art Journal Cover Step 7 - Gwen Lafleur

When the clay was cured, I painted the clay with black gesso and then added some Art Stones around the edge for texture.

Stamped and Stenciled Art Journal Cover Step 7a - Gwen Lafleur

In between clay drying and paint curing, I also made a little label to be a title for the front of the book. I stamped a ticket image from the Balzer Designs Tickets stamp set, then used another image from Seth Apter's Alphabet Scramble set with gray ink to add some pattern to the background. Once that was done, I took the "Saturday" stamp from the Balzer Designs Days of the Week set and used a black brush marker  to just ink one letter at a time so I could spell "ART" on my ticket / title card. On the back of the stamp I placed my finger over top of the letter so that I would know where the letter was when I went to stamp it - it worked great!

Stamped and Stenciled Art Journal Cover Step 9 - Gwen Lafleur

I finished up by adding a few layers of paint on top of my clay frame, then I glued my title tag onto the cover. 

Stamped and Stenciled Art Journal Cover Close-up 1- Gwen Lafleur

I also decided I wanted a little more stamping on the background, so I used the numbers stamp from the Balzer Designs Tickets stamp set and put the lightest wash of white paint inside the image. I really love how it turned out.

Stamped and Stenciled Art Journal Cover Close-up 2- Gwen Lafleur

Stamped and Stenciled Art Journal Cover Close-up 3- Gwen Lafleur
Voila! Finished art journal cover!

I really hope you enjoyed my project today... make sure you visit all of the blogs on this week's hop and leave comments so that you can be eligible for an awesome... 

GIVEAWAY!!!

 
SGP IOS Blog Hop Giveaway image
StencilGirl Products will be giving away a $25 Gift Certificate to TWO lucky winners!
Impression Obsession will be giving away a $25 Gift Certificate to TWO lucky winners!
Visit the fabulous designers from both teams and comment for your chance to win one of these 4 great prizes during the hop!
The more blogs you comment on, the more chances you have to WIN!
(One comment per person per blog please.)
 
You have until Friday, September 30th at 11:59PM Central Time to leave your comments.
Winners will be announced on StencilGirl's Facebook page on Sunday, October 2nd.
 

n*Studio - A Childhood Memory in my Art Journal

Hi everyone, I'm up on the n*Studio (Nathalie Kalbach) blog today with this month's project using her awesome stamps and stencils. Our theme this month was to represent a childhood memory using the Elephant Stamp and Stencil Set to represent the memory (because an elephant never forgets, right?) This was fun to do...

Never Forget - Art Journal Spread - Gwen Lafleur - wm

Make sure you head over to Nathalie's blog to read about the memory that inspired this page and also get an overview of how I made this art journal spread - there are more photos and a few step-outs. Enjoy!

 


April 2016 Classes at Papercraft Clubhouse

I'm excited to be heading back to Connecticut to teach at Papercraft Clubhouse again on April 8th and 9th! I've been sharing lots of peeks of class samples on Instagram and Facebook, but now it's time for full class descriptions with all the photos!

 

Stamp Carving

Friday April 8th from 6-9pm

Cost:  $40 (take $5 off if you already have your own carving tools and tell them when you sign up)

Stamp Carving Class - Gwen Lafleur
Come join us and learn to carve your own rubber stamps! Perfect for scrapbooks, cards, art journaling, and mixed media, hand-carved rubber stamps help you add your own unique mark to your work. This class is for all experience levels, whether you're a beginner or already carving your own stamps. We’ll go over the basics, including creating your stamp designs, and of course, carving! We’ll make several stamps in class including repeating patterns and word stamps. As a part of the class, you’ll get a stamp carving starter kit that includes a carving tool with blades and rubber. (If you already have carving tools, tell them when you sign up and you can take $5 off the class and we’ll still provide the rubber.) There will also be sample designs for you to use, or you can design your own!

Students should bring: a cutting mat (glass is best if you have it, self-healing will work) an ex-acto knife, pencil, ball point pen, and a ruler. If you're bringing your own carving tools, make sure you have a #1 or detail blade.

 

File Folder Mini Art Journal

Saturday April 9th from 9:30am-1:00pm

Cost: $55

File Folder Art Journal Class Sample - Cover - Gwen Lafleur

Join us to learn how to turn basic office supplies into a fun mini art journal! We'll make our journal using file folders and shipping tags and then we'll use several different background, stenciling, and mixed media painting techniques to decorate the book and tags. These little journals also make great gifts or mini scrapbooks.

Students should bring: your basic mixed media kit (gesso, craft mat, water cup, baby wipes, scissors, pen and pencil, paper towels.) Bring matte medium, several colors of acrylic paint, a 1" flat paint brush plus something to apply gesso and matte medium, sponges and / or brushes for stenciling with both ink and paint (I like Dina Wakley brushes for paint and Tim Holtz Mini Blending Tools for ink,) and a few of your favorite stencils. Bring a selection of patterned paper and / or collage and ephemera materials to decorate your tags and cover. 

Optional: heat tool, washi tape, black gesso, bone folder, ribbons or fibers and any other mark making tools or mediums you want to use in your journal.
 
Here are more photos of the sample project. Please note: in this class I'll be teaching you how to make the album and we'll decorate the background inside and out. I'll also show you 4-5 different techniques to use on your tags (3 background / stenciling techniques, one embellishment technique.) You should have time at the end to work on adding collage or other decoration to your cover and tags and I'll be available to answer questions, give feedback, etc... Come ready to add your own style and flair to your mini journal!
 
2File Folder Art Journal Class Sample - Cover - Gwen Lafleur
 
File Folder Art Journal Class Sample - Inside - Gwen Lafleur

File Folder Art Journal Class Sample - Inside - Gwen Lafleur
 
File Folder Art Journal Class Sample - Tags 1 - Gwen Lafleur
File Folder Art Journal Class Sample - Tags 1 - Gwen Lafleur

4"x4" Mini Hand-Bound Art Journal
Saturday April 9th from 2:00pm-5:30pm
Cost: $55
 
4x4 Mini Art Journal Class Sample - Front Cover - Gwen Lafleur
In this class, we'll make our own hand-bound 4"x4" art journal out of mat board Art Squares from Inchie Arts with a fun and easy binding stitch that will have you wanting to make minis all day long! This little book is also perfect for making mini scrapbooks or gift books. Once we've made the book, we'll decorate the covers and create backgrounds using various stenciling and mixed media techniques (these will be different techniques from the File Folder Art Journal class.)     

Students should bring: your basic mixed media kit (gesso, craft mat, water cup, baby wipes, scissors, pen and pencil, paper towels.) Bring matte medium, several colors of acrylic paint, a 1" flat paint brush plus something to apply gesso and matte medium, sponges and / or brushes for stenciling with both ink and paint (I like Dina Wakley brushes for paint and Tim Holtz Mini Blending Tools for ink,) and a few of your favorite stencils. Bring a selection of patterned paper and / or collage and ephemera materials to decorate and fill your book. 

Optional: an awl and self-healing mat (there will be some available, but if you bring your own you won't have to share.) Heat tool, a ruler, washi tape, black gesso, and any other mark making tools or mediums you want to use in your book.
 
More images of the cover and inside of my sample journal:
 
4x4 Mini Art Journal Class Sample - Outside - Gwen Lafleur
 
4x4 Mini Art Journal Class Sample - Spread 1 - Gwen Lafleur
4x4 Mini Art Journal Class Sample - Spread 1 - Gwen Lafleur
4x4 Mini Art Journal Class Sample - Spread 1 - Gwen Lafleur
4x4 Mini Art Journal Class Sample - Spread 1 - Gwen Lafleur
A few notes about this class... like the file folder art journal class, we will make the book, decorate the backgrounds of the covers, and I'll teach you 4-5 techniques to use on the inside of your book to make backgrounds and accents. These are completely different techniques than the file folder mini album, and you should have time at the end of class to work on embellishing your cover and inside pages. Also, for those who have taken my book-making classes before, this is a new binding stitch that I haven't taught previously... and it's a super fun and easy one too!
 
It's possible that there might be a brand new stencil release from me available at the store the weekend of classes. Just sayin'!
 
I hope to see lots of you in class! Just let me know if you have any questions. If you want to sign up, you can stop by or call the Clubhouse at (860) 399-4443 (note that they're closed on Mondays.)
 
 

n*Studio Project - Opposites Attract

Hi everyone! Today I'm super excited to share my first project as a member of the Creative Squad for Nathalie Kalbach / n*Studio! This month the team is working with the new Bird Stamp and Stencil set from Stampendous. These sets are so cool... you get a 2-sided foam stamp, a rubber stamp, and a coordinating stencil all in one! We're also working with the theme "opposites attract" this month.

NStudio Creative Squad - Opposites Attract

I focused on new / bright / shiny vs. old / rusty / brown for my project. Here's a little peek of what I did this month:

Opposites - Bird Stamp Art Journal Page Teaser - Gwen Lafleur

To see the full page, a few close-ups, and a little write-up of how I made it, make sure to pop over to Nathalie's blog. Be sure to check back every week to see what the rest of the team does with this month's featured theme and products as well!

 

 


Mini Handmade Art Journal #2

I've slowly been working on filling the second of the 4"x4" mini art journals that I made for the StencilGirl / Inchie Arts blog hop last month and I finally finished! All of the pages have been posted on Instagram and Facebook, but I like to have them all together in a single post.

First, a reminder of what the covers looked like - this is the one with all the gold crackle paste that I just loved. It's the one on the bottom in this photo:

StencilGirl - Inchie Arts - Mini Art Journals - Gwen Lafleur

Here's a little close-up of the texture - both the front and back covers looked like this. I used my Ornamental Compass Screen stencil on top of the crackle - I love how the stenciling kind of floats in there.
StencilGirl - Inchie Arts - Mini Art Journals - Gwen Lafleur

Here's the first spread in the book - inspired a bit by the work of Jill Ricci.

Mini Art Journal - Spread 1 - Gwen LafleurI used the Marrakech Mix stencil to trace the main shapes and then lightly stenciled in off white with my Ornamental Flower Screen stencil. I got a lot of questions about the lettering on the left - unfortunately I didn't do that (it would be so awesome if I could letter like that!) but it was cut from an insert in an issue of Uppercase Magazine.

Spread number two uses another word from Uppercase, along with a lot of stamping with a hand-carved stamp I made back in December. I added some diecuts from a Spellbinders set (Persian elements,) washi tape, glitter tape, and the arrows are a diecut border - I think it's an old one from KI Memories.

Mini Art Journal - Spread 2 - Gwen LafleurSpread number three was inspired by nearly 60 degree weather here on President's Day. Yet another cutout from an Uppercase Magazine insert and some fussy cut collage pieces. I went over some of the open spaces with gold ink and my Ornamental Compass Screen stencil again.

Mini Art Journal - Spread 3 - Gwen LafleurLast but not least, I kept going with the theme of cut out words that all kind of worked together. This time it was from a page in an old Smash Book that I've been using for patterned paper. The background was crackled with DecoArt Weathered Wood, and I used my Ornamental Circle Cluster stencil across the background and then heat embossed it in white and distressed with ink.

Mini Art Journal - Spread 4 - Gwen LafleurNaturally some dots, glittery stuff, and Liquid Pearls made their way onto the spread. I love this sentiment... it seemed like a great way to end the book!

So that's it for this one, but I'm working on turning this into a class so you'll be seeing more soon... we'll see how that goes!

 


Journaling with Mindfulness Guest Artist

Hi everyone, just popping in to let you know that today I'm the guest artist over at the Journaling with Mindfulness blog. It's a new blog that has a weekly prompt to get you thinking about including meaningful subjects in your art journaling. They have a wonderfully supportive Facebook group as well, and all styles and experience levels are represented in this group. The prompts so far this year have been great!

My prompt this week was about the place I've visited that has left the longest lasting influence on me. I chose my visit to Soweto when I was in South Africa in 2007...

  Lessons from Soweto - Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur

To see more and read the story behind this spread... not to mention a tutorial, make sure you check out the Journaling with Mindfulness blog and join in if you're feeling so inclined!

 


Carve December Part 2

Whew! It took me a little bit to get back to this, but I'm finally catching up and closing out Carve December 2015. You can see Part 1 here, and below is the rest of the month.

To follow my jellyfish, I added a regular fishy:

Carve December 2015 - Fish Stamp - Gwen LafleurMy fishy needed a little something to swim around in, so I made a few sea plants next.

Carve December 2015 - Sea Plant Stamps - Gwen LafleurNext I took a break from sea creatures and did a fun circular flower stamp. I like the ones that can be used by themselves, but also make a great repeating pattern.

Carve December 2015 - Circle Flower Stamp - Gwen LafleurThen I went back to the sea for one of my favorites... a seahorse. He was hard, but I love him!

Carve December 2015 - Seahorse Stamp - Gwen LafleurThe next few I carved at my parents' house in Virginia - my mom was telling me about a star for a Christmas tree that she'd seen somewhere and it brought an image into my head. Not at all what she had seen, of course... lol.

Carve December 2015 - Ornate 4-Point Star Stamp - Gwen LafleurWhile I was in Virginia, I was working remote during the day and then doing Christmas stuff and spending time with my family, so I missed a few days... but I managed to get a few done while I was there! I don't remember the exact inspiration for this one, but I think it was architectural:

Carve December 2015 - Deco Leaf Stamp - Gwen LafleurThis one was inspired by a Christmas card someone had sent to my mom, plus seeing other people carve snowflake stamps this way. Why carve the whole thing when you can repeat? Plus, this works as a border now too. My 5-year old niece and 4-year old nephew were fascinated by this process... I gave both of them scraps of rubber and a tool and showed them how to carve a line and they had a blast! Plus, no cut fingers!

Carve December 2015 - Snowflake Stamp - Gwen LafleurAnother quarter repeat stamp... always some of my favorites. This was just from my imagination.

Carve December 2015 - Quarter Repeat Doily Stamp - Gwen LafleurThis next one was loosely inspired by an accent on a necklace I saw in a store display. It morphed into a weirdly amoebic sort of thing with bubbles. I kind of dig it too!

Carve December 2015 - Wonky Circle and Bubble Stamp - Gwen LafleurI missed a few more days traveling back to Utah, including a night where I got stranded in Chicago due to a delay that caused me to miss my connection, which happened to be the last available flight back to Salt Lake. Naturally, they wouldn't give me my bags but handed me a new plane ticket and a toiletry pack. At least I could brush my teeth, I guess! It would have been an ideal opportunity to carve, but alas, no such luck.

I got home the afternoon of New Year's Eve and finished the day working remote, then closed out the year carving a set of numbers.

Carve December 2015 - Number Set - Gwen LafleurThat's it! Here's a shot of all of the stamps I carved in December... I'm feeling pretty impressed with myself!

Carve December 2015 - All Stamps - Gwen LafleurI pushed myself with the designs I carved and I can definitely see an improvement. Now I just need to use these puppies... and carve some more, of course! Here's part 1 again, just in case you missed it and want to check it out. In that post I also go over the tools and rubber I've been using for those who have been asking. This was lots of fun, and I'm already looking forward to next year!

 


Carve December Part 1

Last year, Julie Fei-Fan Balzer hosted Carve December on Instagram - where you carve a new stamp every day in December. I really loved seeing what everyone was doing and wanted to participate, but I just couldn't do it at that point. I crossed my fingers that it would happen again this year, and it did! This time I was all ready with plenty of rubber, and some fun new carving tools as well!

Here are the stamps I've carved so far this month... I'm actually pretty impressed that I've only missed one day!

Carve December 1 - Gwen Lafleur

Carve December 2 - Gwen Lafleur

This one is one of my favorites... I love birds, and cardinals in particular as they remind me of family, Christmas, and home.

Carve December 3 - Gwen Lafleur

The next two have specific inspiration... the one on the left is inspired by an old Asian traditional pattern I found on Archive.org, and the one on the right is inspired by some cool kitchen tile I saw online.

Carve December 4-5 - Gwen Lafleur

This one was inspired by a line from "O Little Town of Bethlehem" that was quoted in a Christmas Devotional that I watched that evening. "Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light..." I knew I had to do something about light and Christmas, so there you go!

Carve December 6 - Gwen Lafleur

Next up, this is inspired by a very cool iron window grate on the building across the street from my office. The grate just stacks the pattern like the top of my sample card, but I also really like it turned around.

Carve December 7 - Gwen Lafleur

This one was inspired by a gorgeous piece of architectural scrap I found online that I couldn't justify buying. This is the next best thing, right? I really just liked the pattern anyway. This is close enough for me :)

Carve December 8 - Gwen Lafleur

Just a random quarter-repeat pattern... I always love these.

Carve December 9 - Gwen Lafleur

The next one came from my vow to try something quick and simple. It was originally inspired by a Maltese cross but I kind of screwed it up resulting in these funky spikes. I asked on Instagram and Facebook  if I should carve out the spikes, but the consensus was to keep them. I'm thinking I will, and if I really want one sans spikes, I can carve a new one!

Carve December 10 - Gwen Lafleur

This one was inspired by some cool vintage metal findings I saw online that I really liked... fairly simple, but I loved the result!

Carve December 11 - Gwen Lafleur

Another one initially inspired by a vintage finding (but didn't look much like it in the end!) It wasn't intended to make a pattern, but I think I'll probably mostly use it this way.

Carve December 13 - Gwen Lafleur

Next up, I've been using the lotus image fairly frequently, so I thought I needed a stamp! I love this one...

Carve December 14 - Gwen Lafleur

And finally, the last stamp of this first batch - very heavily inspired by the gorgeous illustrations in Lost Ocean - a beautiful adult coloring book I just picked up. I really love jellyfish (in tanks - not while I'm in the ocean!) and this is a motif I use from time to time, so it had to happen.

Carve December 15 - Gwen Lafleur

That's it for the stamps! Since I've gotten so many questions on Instagram and Facebook about the tools that you see in my pictures, as well as the rubber I'm using, I thought I'd just put that here as well.

I started with Speedball carving tools and Speedy Carve rubber, and I do still use those from time to time. Nothing wrong with any of them, but not long after I started carving, I wanted some tools that were a bit different - smaller blades, different shaped tips... I ran across this Flexcut Relief Printmaking Carving set and picked that up.

Flexcut Relief Printmaking Carver Set

I really liked that a lot, and then when I experimented with different types of rubber and used Moo Carve for the first time with these tools, I really fell in love with them. Of course, then I wanted to expand a bit, and I found this Flexcut Micro-Palm Set. They're not cheap, and they're actually intended for wood carving, but I thought I'd give it a try.

Flexcut Micro-Palm Set

I absolutely love these... you need a strop to keep them sharpened (I use the one that came with my printmaking set.) They're sharp, so you need to be careful. I've developed a preference for Moo Carve, and I think they work best with that, although they do work fine on Speedy Carve as well. I just feel like that rubber pushes back at me a bit. A lot of people really dislike Moo Carve because it's crumbly. I like it for that reason - I think it's easy to get details, and the rubber is unforgiving - one stray cut and you can ruin your design, but it doesn't fight me the same way. I still use both, but I just thought I'd share since I get lots of questions about it.

 

Just a quick reminder... if you haven't yet checked out Creative JumpStart 2016, what are you waiting for? The introductory coupon has expired, but you still get $5 off registration through the end of the year. I hope to see you there!

CJS2016web1


November StencilClub - File Folder Art Journal

Hi Everyone, today is our creative team post sharing projects for this month's StencilClub stencil collection. I say it every month, but this is my new favorite StencilClub release. Take a peek at this month's stencils designed by Seth Apter:

NOVEMBER SC-MAIN(Here's a little plug... if you sign up for the club before November 15th, you'll start your membership with this collection! Just sayin'...)

I may have gone a teensy bit overboard this month. (Cough cough...) Of course, I was sitting in my empty house with nothing to do but play with the stencils and a few bags of art supplies I brought with me from Chicago in the trunk of my car. Thus my file folder art journal was born! I took three file folders, nested and bound them to make the journal (I just used a pamphlet stitch with some waxed thread.)

Without further ado, here's my project... starting with the cover.

Nov2015 StencilClub - File Folder Art Journal Cover - Gwen LafleurI used the 9x12 and 6x6 stencils for this... I took the "TRU" from "TRUTHS" and then the "E" from another word to spell "TRUE" and then stenciled "story" from the 6x6. Word stencils don't always have to say exactly what's on them - you can mix it up!

Nov2015 StencilClub - File Folder Art Journal Cover Close-up - Gwen LafleurSince I'm still working out of boxes, I pulled out a few random things to collage onto the cover that I ended up loving. A piece cut from some Chinese ephemera (it's probably a good thing I don't know what it says.) Also some fussy cut glittery pieces from a fancy paper scrap, some rubons, some dicrofibers (hard to see in the photos) and more stenciling. I love how much depth you can get while keeping the actual project relatively flat.

Next up is the first spread:

Nov2015 StencilClub - File Folder Art Journal 1 - Gwen LafleurOn the left I used a lot of repetition from the 9x12 stencil (my favorite of this set) with paint, ink, and a little collage. On the right, I used the textural elements on the stencil with molding paste and paint. I also added a little window that's framed with a chipboard slide holder (I believe it's a Maggie Holmes embellishment from Crate Paper.) It's backed with a piece of 7 Gypsies printed transparency.

Here are a few close-ups so you can see more of the stenciling on these pages:

Nov2015 StencilClub - File Folder Art Journal 1a - Gwen Lafleur
Nov2015 StencilClub - File Folder Art Journal 1a - Gwen LafleurMoving on to the second spread...

Nov2015 StencilClub - File Folder Art Journal 2 - Gwen LafleurBoth of these pages use the 6x6 stencil - words and textural elements (plus a few details from the 9x12.)

Nov2015 StencilClub - File Folder Art Journal 2a - Gwen LafleurI also used some of Seth's stamps with acrylic paint to get layers of texture into the background. On the right I just used a very old library card pocket and a shipping tag along with a strip of beaded and embroidered ribbon.

Nov2015 StencilClub - File Folder Art Journal 2b - Gwen LafleurFor the third spread I kept going with the 6x6 stencil and more of the textural elements on all of the stencils.

Nov2015 StencilClub - File Folder Art Journal 3 - Gwen LafleurThe butterfly is a Chinese papercut that I picked up in Beijing a few years ago. I added some old Basic Grey rubons, paint (most of this actually came from cleaning my brushes on a spare folder that I ended up using,) very light stamping in the background, and lots of stenciling!

Nov2015 StencilClub - File Folder Art Journal 3a - Gwen LafleurNext up, the fourth spread. I used a mix of the 4x4 and 9x12 stencils for this one.

Nov2015 StencilClub - File Folder Art Journal 4 - Gwen LafleurBits of collage, ink, paint... I really loved using the stencils to create repetition with the words - I felt like it made a powerful statement on the pages.

Nov2015 StencilClub - File Folder Art Journal 4a - Gwen Lafleur
Nov2015 StencilClub - File Folder Art Journal 4a - Gwen LafleurLast but not least, the final spread in my mini journal (which I actually did first!)

Nov2015 StencilClub - File Folder Art Journal 5 - Gwen LafleurI felt like using the entire 9x12 stencil on the right side was begging for an interactive element. It's a little literal, but I couldn't resist.

First, the left-hand side using the 4x4 stencil on the back of my peacock tag and the 6x6 underneath it (the design in the background is from one of my handcarved stamps.)

Nov2015 StencilClub - File Folder Art Journal 5a - Gwen LafleurAnd my overly literal but fun interactive flap on the right hand side:

Nov2015 StencilClub - File Folder Art Journal 5b - Gwen LafleurSo there you go... that's my project for this month! I hope you enjoyed it, and for you StencilClub members, I know you're going to adore this month's stencils!

Don't forget to visit the StencilGirl blog for our group post - there are several other awesome projects using this month's stencils that you won't want to miss!


Library of Memories Masterclass

Last week I had the privilege of attending Art is You - Stamford where I had the opportunity to take several amazing classes.  The first of my classes was a 3-day masterclass - Library of Memories with Seth Apter. I'd always heard wonderful things about his classes, so I was really excited to get to take one myself. It did not disappoint! If anything, it was even better than I'd anticipated.

The morning of our first day was a group expedition to New York where we got to do a little shopping and see some of the sites. We took the train into Grand Central and then spent most of the time in or near the Garment District - M&J Trimmings was like heaven! (I was too busy shopping to take many pictures... LOL.) We also found beads, paper, and spent some time shopping for metal findings to take back and use in our projects. It's probably for the best that I didn't know about some of those shops while I still lived in Branford - it would have been dangerous!

This is one of the few shots I got - we were in the basement of a very cool Japanese bookstore across from Bryant Park.

Japanese Bookstore ShoppingBack in Stamford, we got to work on our projects. The main goal of the 3-day class was to build and complete the box, as well as assembling the handmade book and then hopefully at least getting a start on it. There was such a great vibe in the class. There were twenty of us, and it was so fun to see the evolution of everyone's projects! Here's a quick little shot that Patty got of Donna and I during our second day of class:

Seth's Masterclass 3

After our last day of class finished, there was a mini exhibition for all of the projects in each of the masterclasses so we could see what everyone else had been working on. There was so much wonderful art made in these classes! We went around oohing and ahhing at all of it. Of course, I still think that our class was the best ;)

Patty, Seth and I(Me, Patty, and Seth.)

I kept working on my book pages a few evenings in the hotel after class was over, and have pushed to finish it at home before I move this week - I didn't want to lose my momentum since I know once I get fully into moving mode, it's going to be a few weeks before I'll be able to really get back into the studio.

In any case, I finished and so with no further ado, here's my completed project.

First up is the front cover of the case that we made:

Library of Memories - Cover 1 - Gwen LafleurI haven't done much of this type of collage and assemblage, but I'll definitely be doing it a lot more from now on.

Library of Memories - Cover 2 - Gwen LafleurDifferent pieces of metal, findings, paper, book covers... all kinds of fun things found there way into this project! I found that carved face on our expedition into New York.

Here's what it looks like after you open it up:

Library of Memories - Inside 1 - Gwen LafleurThe left side was more collage with just a few bits of assemblage type work. I really loved blending lots of different styles and types of materials into a single piece. (One of the women in class told me after it was over that she'd watched me making this and didn't think I'd be able to pull it off. Once it was finished though, she loved it! She thought it was very Bollywood. Not quite the vibe I was after, but I'll take it!)

Library of Memories - Inside 5 - Gwen LafleurThe right side of the case cradles a little handmade book. We actually brought in our own book covers and made a new book from them. I used a vintage copy of Kenilworth by Sir Walter Scott. It had some cool debossed areas on edges of the cover that you can still see under the collage.

Library of Memories - Book Cover - Gwen LafleurHere's a view of the completed book so you get an idea of the layers on the cover:

Library of Memories - Book Cover 2 - Gwen LafleurMoving to the inside pages... I used some wrapping paper printed with Turkish patterns for my end papers. The pages themselves were all originally just kraft cardstock. I started working on them in class with what I had and what I liked - initially there was no rhyme or reason to what I was doing, I was just looking for things that would look good together and keeping in mind some of the tips Seth gave us in class for making the pages.

Library of Memories - Book Page 1 - Gwen LafleurI started out doing the patchwork technique that Seth showed us on a few of the pages. This one has a few other bits collaged on top, rubons, liquid pearls, and a bit of stenciling on top.

Library of Memories - Book Pages 2-3 - Gwen LafleurI mainly worked on the foundation of the pages first and then went back and added most of the words later - I had pulled out a bunch of French vocabulary cards thinking I'd use them in one of my other classes, but I ended up liking them here better. The page on the right was a tipped-in transparency. I had a whimsical moment where I decided to add this soldier stamped on vellum (an old Stampington stamp that I've had for years.) I went back and colored him in with colored pencils and used a tiny piece of a stencil to make him talk. It seemed fairly a propos and now he's one of my favorite parts of the book.

Library of Memories - Book Page 3 - Gwen Lafleur

Library of Memories - Book Pages 4-5 - Gwen Lafleur

The "hope" didn't get added until toward the end... I thought it fit nicely with the sentiments on the tag. As for where the inspiration for THAT came from, I couldn't tell you... not quite my usual thing, but it worked! More stenciling and rubons on the top layer here.

Library of Memories - Book Page 5 - Gwen Lafleur

Library of Memories - Book Page 5b - Gwen LafleurI just randomly pulled the image on the left hand side from some Japanese block print book pages that were in my stash. All of the pages were built in stages - I didn't work on any of them from start to finish. I really like how well it all integrated into the book as I kept working, though!

Library of Memories - Book Pages 6-7 - Gwen LafleurThe right hand side images are from a quarter repeat hand-carved stamp that I made a little while ago. It's painted with acrylics with some other detail work on top.

Library of Memories - Book Page 7 - Gwen LafleurI'm going to say that I totally planned the way everything lined up through the opening even though I didn't.

Library of Memories - Book Page 8 - Gwen Lafleur

Another random Japanese block print - I initially used it because I thought it was cool looking, then I found this sticker in my stash that said "Eyes Wide Open" and I thought it fit my Samurai so I went with it.

Library of Memories - Book Pages 10-11 - Gwen Lafleur

Library of Memories - Book Page 11 - Gwen Lafleur

Library of Memories - Book Pages 10-11b - Gwen Lafleur

I love all of the flaps and folds - the interactive aspect of this project was very fun!
Library of Memories - Book Pages 12-13 - Gwen Lafleur

I don't usually like to use red as a main background color, but it ended up working pretty well here, I think.

Library of Memories - Book Pages 14-15 - Gwen Lafleur

Aesthetically, this ended up being one of my favorite spreads in the entire book. Again, totally by chance. I had the different pieces that ended up on the left-hand page on my desk and they kind of fell on top of each other. I would probably never have put them together on my own, but I love how it turned out!

Library of Memories - Book Pages 14-15b - Gwen LafleurI stenciled "Time" with one of Seth's stencils and embossed it with gold. (For those who are interested, all of the stenciling I did in my book was done using his stencils.)

Library of Memories - Book Pages 16-17 - Gwen LafleurFinally, the last page and the inside of the back cover. The flap on the right was painted red and then I used another hand-carved stamp and heat embossed it in gold. You can't tell in the photo, but the texture is very cool!

Library of Memories - Book Page 17 - Gwen LafleurThat's it! My completed project, and one of my favorite things that I've worked on in quite a while. I'll be back soon to post the projects from my other classes.


Traveler's Notebook Junque Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Junque Journal Classes Part 2

Picking up where I left off yesterday, today I wanted to share a quick recap of the projects I did as part of the bundle of Junque Journal classes I took online with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. The second of the two classes is called "30 Days in your Junque Journal," and I did a pretty good job of keeping up, I think! Especially since I was traveling during the class.

So let's just dive right in, shall we? For most of the class, I didn't copy Julie's sample pages exactly (there was a video for every day of the 30 days,) but I tried to stick to similar theme and composition while I was getting the hang of this junque journaling thing.

First pages... Julie had a face, I had to have a face! Since I was still pretty new to faces at this point, I pulled out my "Eve, A Modern Woman" stencil by Andrea Matus deMeng and used that as the foundation for the page. Note my super fancy low-tech redaction technique here... I write a fair amount about work in my journal, but I want to make sure that doesn't get out in public, of course! (I blurred that stuff for the rest of them, as you'll see.)

Junque Journal Spread 1 - Gwen LafleurNext up, there was another face on Julie's, so I opted to try something different by using Jessica Sporn's Krishna Deity stencil in the background. (Julie's background papers in her book had lots of more interesting stuff on them - things she'd drawn, samples and stuff like that, whereas my pages were pretty plain. So in an attempt to make them even half as cool as hers were, I added all kinds of stuff before applying the techniques from the class. Extra work? YES! But I'm glad I did it... love the results.)

Junque Journal Spread 2 - Gwen LafleurThe third spread I kind of followed and kind of deviated... I loved the idea of adding the earth - that was my deviation. The lettering was pretty copy-cat of me. I drew the earth, the leaves were a hand-carved stamp, and the flowers were the Imaginary Bloom and Nonsensical Bloom stencil and mask sets by Rae Missigman.

Junque Journal Spread 3 - Gwen LafleurFun intermission spread! I followed Julie's instruction to use a reference photo and draw my own face with markers and paint pens. The quote on the right was an insert in a Studio Calico kit I got sometime last year.

Junque Journal Spread 4 - Gwen LafleurThis next spread is one where I started to deviate a bit more from what Julie was doing on her pages... and I love how it turned out! I started with a Dina Wakley stamp, along with some techniques that I'd learned in her classes last year. The light bulb is a stamp I made from a stencil in the April 2014 StencilClub kit.  On the right, I used a tag I'd made with the April 2015 StencilClub kit, as well as some hand-carved stamps. 

Junque Journal Spread 5 - Gwen LafleurThis next page was kind of fun, even though it's not much to look at... I used scraps of paper where I'd cleaned off extra paint and tested out some new pens. Also some test stamping with new hand-carved stamps.

Junque Journal Spread 6 - Gwen LafleurNext up... another slight deviation. Julie had a big face on her page, but I decided I really wanted to use this funky drawing. In one of my art classes at SAIC last year, we were working on our final piece based on inspiration from the museum. I'd sketched a very cool African tribal mask and wanted to kind of combine it with a Picasso painting I loved. This was a concept that I whipped out on the paper covering the table, and I loved it so much I cut it out and kept it.

Junque Journal Spread 7 - Gwen LafleurAnother face... I drew this one free-hand on some book paper. 

Junque Journal Spread 8 - Gwen LafleurAnd yet more following along closely with the lesson... I used purchased and hand-carved stamps along with some doodling. The arrows were from the Pointing it Out stencil/mask by Rae Missigman. You can also see lots of fun stuff peeking through from the base pages.

Junque Journal Spread 9 - Gwen LafleurYet another face as I followed along closely... hand-drawn from a reference photo:

Junque Journal Spread 10 - Gwen LafleurAlmost there! I started deviating again (I was watching lots of Teesha Moore videos on the Artstronauts site.) Lots of collage and the quote is another insert from a Studio Calico kit.

Junque Journal Spread 11 - Gwen LafleurLast but not least (okay, it's kind of least... lol) I followed along with Julie pretty closely on this one (shapes were all me, though.) I was traveling at the time so I didn't want to get too fancy!

Junque Journal Spread 12 - Gwen Lafleur

So there you go! 30 days in my Junque Journal... hope you enjoyed it! As I'm sure you've seen on Instagram, I've continued to work in here, so I'll have another update soon with more of the pages I've done since the class finished.


August StencilClub Inspiration

Hi everyone, just popping in quickly to let you know that I have a project in today's August StencilClub Inspiration post over on StencilGirl Talk. Here are some quick peeks at my projects:

Aug2015 StencilClub Fan Close-up - Gwen Lafleur

Aug2015 StencilClub Tags - Gwen LafleurMake sure you click over to see the whole post... I have a few step-outs so you can see how I painted the fan, and there are also two other projects from the creative team!


June Classes at Papercraft Clubhouse

I've been working on a bunch of different projects lately, including planning my next round of classes at Papercraft Clubhouse in Westbrook, Connecticut. I'll be teaching there on Friday, June 5th and Saturday, June 6th - registration is open now!

Here are the classes I'll be teaching that weekend. Note that all students get a 10% store discount on the day of the class, and any supplies that aren't provided in your class kit will be available for purchase at the Clubhouse.

Stamp Carving 101, Friday, June 5, 2015, 6-9pm

Stamp Carving 101 - Gwen LafleurCome join us and learn to carve your own rubber stamps! Perfect for scrapbooks, cards, art journaling, and mixed media, hand-carved rubber stamps help you add your own unique mark to your work.  We’ll cover tools and supplies, drawing and transferring stamp designs, and of course, carving! We’ll make several stamps in class including geometric designs, repeating patterns, and word stamps. As a part of the class, you’ll get a stamp carving starter kit that includes a carving tool with blades and rubber. (If you already have carving tools and you tell them when you register they'll take $5 off the class; we’ll still provide the rubber.) There will also be sample designs for you to use, or you can design your own!    $40

Supplies You Need To Bring:

  • Cutting mat (glass is best if you have it)
  • X-acto knife
  • Pencil, ruler and ball point pen

Getting Started with Handmade Books, Saturday, June 6, 2015, 9:30am-1pm

Getting Started with Handmade Books - Gwen Lafleur

Have you ever wanted to make your own art journal? Or a hand-bound scrapbook? Or just hand-made books in general? Then this is the class for you! We’ll be discussing the basics of bookbinding as well as different types of binding stitches, and we’ll use one of my favorite binding methods to make our own completed book in class. You’ll be surprised by how easy it is! We’ll talk about different ways to make your cover, and I’ll show you an easy way to wrap your cover with paper or fabric.  $45

Supplies You Need To Bring:

  • Basic Tool Kit: craft mat, paper trimmer, scissors, pencil, bone folder
  • 12” or longer ruler (centering is best, but regular will work)
  • 20 sheets of paper sized 9”x12” or larger (can be plain cardstock, watercolor paper, patterned paper, etc… whatever you want for the pages of your book)
  • Gel medium
  • Gesso
  • 1” flat paintbrush
  • 1-3 colors of paint for your cover

Optional: black gesso, washi tape, stencils (for the spine of your book,) embellishments for your cover, paper to cover your book (if you don’t want to paint,) a heavy-duty awl (there will be a few to share, but if you have your own you won’t have to wait.)

Below are two different versions of the book we'll be making together in class.

Sample Handmade Books - Gwen Lafleur
Plaster Sculptures from Stencils, Saturday, June 6, 2015, 2-5:30pm 

Plastic Sculptures from Stencils - Gwen Lafleur

Get ready to take your stencils to a whole new level! We’ll be using stencils by StencilGirl as the basis for creating our own plaster animal sculptures. You’ll be surprised at how fun and easy it is as we work with cardboard and plaster to create our masterpieces. I’ll show you how to use a stencil to start the process, as well as how to go from there into making a pattern to turn it into a 3-D piece. We’ll make and decorate one sculpture in class, but you’ll go home with enough plaster to make more.  When signing up, please choose whether you’d like to make a seahorse, an elephant, or a bird.  $45

Supplies You Need To Bring:

  • Basic Tool Kit: craft mat, paper trimmer, scissors, pencil, bone folder
  • Sharp, heavy-duty scissors (like Tim Holtz)
  • Water bucket or cup with an opening that’s at least 4” wide
  • Flat paintbrush (1/2” to 1”)
  • Detail paint brush
  • Apron (optional)
  • Glue (Aleen's Tacky Glue or something similar will work)
  • Supplies to decorate your sculpture including: paint in the colors you’d like for your animal, any stencils or stamps you’d like to use, beads, liquid pearls, etc…  I will have stencils, stamps, and a few other goodies to share with the class.

These little guys are hard to photograph, but here are individual photos of the three options for class:

Plaster Bird Sculpture from Stencil - Gwen Lafleur

Stencil-Sculpture Elephant Final 3 - Gwen Lafleur

Seahorse Sculpture by Gwen LafleurI'm so excited for these classes - they should be lots of fun! I'll have class samples in the store next weekend for classes with Dina Wakley for those who want to see them in person.

Hope to see you there!


Gelli® Printed Mini Art Journal

Just stopping by to share that I have a new post up over on StencilGirl Talk today - a mini art journal that I made with stencils and the new 4" and 6" round Gelli® plates (plus my 8" round plate) from Gelli Arts®.

Gelli Printed Art Journal - Gwen LafleurThis is a fun little 16-page 6"x9" journal and all of the inside pages are made from a single piece of paper! Head on over to StencilGirl Talk if you want to see all of the inside pages and get more details about how to make your own.

(Note: I  received permission to use the Gelli® and Gelli Arts® trademarks, which are owned by Gelli Arts® LLC.)


Inspiration Wednesday Weeks 4-7

I just realized that it's been a while since I did a round-up of the pages in my Inspiration Wednesday art journal, so I thought I'd post the new ones since my last IW2015 post. All but the most recent one have been shared on Instagram & Facebook, but I have a few additional views below, and week 7 is hot off the press!

First up, week 4 - working on book paper with stamping, molding paste, and glazing.

IW4 - Gwen LafleurI had picked up a book of vintage French comics at the Create vendor fair last summer (I'm so sad that Create isn't happening anymore!) and I used some of those in the background. The stamps are a set by Donna Downey, and the stencil is Rembrandt's Words by Carolyn Dube.

IW4 Close-up 1 - Gwen LafleurAnd the other side with the inclusion flipped:

IW4b - Gwen LafleurNext up, week 5. This one was lots of fun - I didn't realize you could make skins from molding paste the way you can from acrylics, and I loved learning a new technique! This week really has my brain going on other ways to experiment with my supplies.

Inspiration Wednesday Week 5 - Gwen LafleurThere's lots of texture gel in the background, plus the dimension from the molding paste skin seahorses, and I crumpled and collaged on some black paper ribbon at the bottom to kind of suggest coral and then painted and glazed it. I added some turquoise Inka Gold around the edges so it's a bit metallic. The seahorses were done based off of one of my favorite stencils by June Pfaff Daley. I traced the outline onto some thin chipboard and then used that to make masks to create my skins and then stenciled on a few details.

Inspiration Wednesday Week 5b - Gwen LafleurMoving on to week 6; I didn't have any of the tags Donna was using in her background - I had a punch if I wanted to make them myself, but I decided to go with the inspiration she used for this - use up something in your stash. I had a bunch of old Making Memories vellum metal-rimmed tags, so I used all of my circle and oval vellum tags. It gave me some interesting texture that was a bit challenging to work with, but in the end I like it, and I used some tags that I think I've had for 10+ years!

Inspiration Wednesday Week 6 - Gwen LafleurFor the inclusion, I used the Wall of Words stencil by Carolyn Dube - another favorite that's been getting a lot of use lately.

Inspiration Wednesday Week 6b - Gwen LafleurAnd finally, the challenge from last week involved using some of those rolls of gorgeous decorative paper that you get at Paper Source or the art supply store. Yeah... like I have any of those sitting around. (Patty can testify from a trip to Jerry's last year that the previous statement is 100% untrue. My basket of rolled paper is sitting right next to me and there must be 50 of them... some that I've had for 10-12 years!)

Inspiration Wednesday Week 7 - Gwen LafleurI picked one that I thought would work on this (read that as: I picked a roll of paper that I could bear to cut in to) and got to work.

Inspiration Wednesday Week 7b - Gwen LafleurThe words I highlighted on the book text are: gratified, shining eyes, happiness, bloom, flourish, enthusiastic, and indulgence. The test of the text is a bit odd, especially out of context! I might go back and obscure it a bit.

Inspiration Wednesday Week 7c - Gwen LafleurAnd once again, the Wall of Words stencil is making an appearance, looking quite nice with more molding paste and acrylic glazing.

So with that, I'm all caught up on Inspiration Wednesday! I've been keeping up with my challenges really well so far (I'm up to date on Documented Life too and will share an update soon.) And I'm even catching up on some online classes!

Anyway, I hope everyone is having a Happy Easter (or Passover, or just a lovely Sunday!) I'm just enjoying some playtime in my studio between sessions of General Conference... I have some more fun projects that I'll share soon. And with that, I'm back to playing!


Documented Life Project: February 2015

Just popping in to post February's art journal pages for The Documented Life Project. Personally, I'm pretty excited that I've managed to keep up so far! I've posted these on Instagram / Facebook, but I like to gather them together here whenever I can find a few minutes to sit down and post an update.

February's theme was all about layers, and for the first week the challenge was "when not to stop." All about knowing when to push it and when enough is enough. I used a LOT of layers on this one! Acrylic paints, some watercolors, ink, pen, dimensional paints.

DLP2015 - When Not to Stop - Gwen LafleurThe second week's challenge was "Under Cover" - covering up good stuff on your page. This is something I do quite frequently in my work so it wasn't too out of the box for me. To push myself a bit, I started with a layer of writing. I did it with a fountain pen in water soluble ink so that it would float up through the layers a bit, but still be mostly hidden. More acrylics, hand-carved stamps and ink, spray ink, and pens.

DLP2015 - Under Cover - Gwen LafleurThe third week was about using repeating elements. I ended up carving a few more stamps that I used, and did a second page in one of my journals as I was working in my planner. Stickers and rubons, paints, oil pastels, stamps, pen, embossing paste, paint markers. I really liked both of these pages (added words and a border to the larger one later on.)

DLP2015 - It's Worth Repeating - Gwen LafleurThe last week was five layers or more. It's been super cold here with more snow and ice, so I took that as my inspiration for color and theme. Watercolor (with salt,) stamping with more hand-carved stamps, acrylic paint doodles, dimensional paint, spray ink through stencils.

DLP2015 - 5 Layers or More - Gwen LafleurOne thing I liked about this month's pages: I pushed myself to try a new style of working. One thing I didn't like - I felt like my pages looked very similar. I like having things have a style so it's obvious I made them, but these started to look too much alike - especially the first two weeks. I guess we'll see what March's theme is and go from there. If nothing else, I experimented a bit and ended up with pages I enjoy, so it's all good.


StencilGirl: March Club Stencils

Hi everyone, I'm over on the StencilGirl blog today with a post highlighting the new March StencilClub stencils. I've got several new projects that combine stencils with hand-carved stamps.

March StencilClub Project Preview - Gwen LafleurHead on over to StencilGirl Talk if you want to see the full projects and get more details on how I made them :)


StencilGirl Blog Hop: Viva Las VegaStamps!

The StencilGirl creative team is back again all this week with a new blog hop going with the team over at Viva Las VegaStamps.

SGVivaBlogHeaderWithout further ado, here's my project for the hop - a steampunk inspired index card art journal in its own little case.

StencilGirl-VivaLasVegasStamps - Gwen Lafleur - Index Card Art Journal 1I got to use a fabulous plate of stamps - steampunk animals and lots of other fun images. I combined their stamps with a bunch of great StencilGirl stencils and used the steampunk theme as inspiration for the project. Here are the stencils I used:

And now for the tutorial...

I started with the case using a matboard diecut that was made with the Sizzix / Eillen Hull Index Card Folder XL Die. I took the Warped 9 stencil and picked the part of it I wanted to use and traced it onto the part of the diecut that was going to be the front of the case.

I used a sharp X-Acto knife to cut out the pieces and then went through with a small pair of detail scissors and some files to help smooth any little bumps and notches left behind.

SG-VLVS Blog Hop - Gwen Lafleur - Step 2Next I painted the whole thing on both sides with Golden Irridescent Stainless Steel (Course) acrylic paint. I thought that would work pretty well with the vibe I was going for.

SG-VLVS Blog Hop - Gwen Lafleur - Step 3Then I added pewter Liquid Pearls to suggest rivets and some copper mica powder to make it look a little bit aged around the edges (you can also use eye shadow!) For this, I edged the places where I wanted the powder to apply with some Versamark (you need something to make it stick) and then applied with a brush.

SG-VLVS Blog Hop - Gwen Lafleur - Step 4
SG-VLVS Blog Hop - Gwen Lafleur - Step 4To finish off the case, I ended up taking a few pieces of thin cardstock and cutting / folding them to fit on the sides so that the ends would be closed off - I didn't want the cards to slide out the sides. I painted those as well.

For the insides: I took six index cards and gessoed both sides. I only decorated the fronts so that the backs could be used for journaling or adding photos or whatever I might want. Here's the process I used for all of the cards after the gesso layer was dry:

1. Stencil the background - I used either the Industrial Fence or Grid A1 stencils along with either a greenish turquoise or copper ink.

SG-VLVS Blog Hop - Gwen Lafleur - Step 62. Add some collage elements - I used book paper or sheet music along with some graph paper. Just a few bits since I was going to add more layers.

SG-VLVS Blog Hop - Gwen Lafleur - Step 73. Since steampunk is Victorian, I found a piece of patterned paper (an old sheet from Prima) that had some Victorian looking roses and did a little fussy cutting until I had enough flower groupings to use on each card. I added that on top with gel medium and then, while the medium was still wet, I used an eye shadow applicator to add some more copper or blue mica powder.

SG-VLVS Blog Hop - Gwen Lafleur - Step 84. Stamped elements: I stamped one of my steampunk animal stamps onto deli paper with black Archival Ink and cut it out, then adhered on top with more gel medium.

SG-VLVS Blog Hop - Gwen Lafleur - Step 95. I added a few words that I'd cut out of magazines and saved, and then once everything was dry I wrote some journaling around the edges of the front of each card. Then I used my finger to add in a bit of paint here and there.

SG-VLVS Blog Hop - Gwen Lafleur - Step 10You can also see where I added an actual gear onto the card over the gear in the stamp design that was the elephant's eye - I did this on each card using some watch parts I had in my stash from when I thought I was going to make my own steampunk jewelry (ha!)

6. I used some cream Distress Paint and the Seeds stencil to just give a little bit of brightness and texture, and then used a black Stabilo All Marks pencil to outline and highlight a few areas. I went over that with a slightly damp baby wipe to get just a bit of smudging.

SG-VLVS Blog Hop - Gwen Lafleur - Step 11
SG-VLVS Blog Hop - Gwen Lafleur - Step 11And that's it! It doesn't actually take all that long since you can do each step for all the cards at the same time.

  • StencilGirl-VivaLasVegasStamps - Gwen Lafleur - Index Card Art Journal 2
  • StencilGirl-VivaLasVegasStamps - Gwen Lafleur - Index Card Art Journal 3
  • StencilGirl-VivaLasVegasStamps - Gwen Lafleur - Index Card Art Journal 4
  • StencilGirl-VivaLasVegasStamps - Gwen Lafleur - Index Card Art Journal 5
  • StencilGirl-VivaLasVegasStamps - Gwen Lafleur - Index Card Art Journal 6
  • StencilGirl-VivaLasVegasStamps - Gwen Lafleur - Index Card Art Journal 7
  • StencilGirl-VivaLasVegasStamps - Gwen Lafleur - Index Card Art Journal 8
StencilGirl-VivaLasVegasStamps - Gwen Lafleur - Index Card Art Journal 8

For the closure on the case, I had a large, round, silver bezel that happened to be the perfect size for a metal clock face I had (I think it's Tim Holtz). So I glued those together and then added a few other watch pieces. I attached that to the front flap of the case - I used Weldbond glue for all of that part - it's super strong and works great for this kind of thing. I also added a few old Making Memories metal hinges toward the bottom. They help give support and add to the steampunk look.

StencilGirl-VivaLasVegasStamps - Gwen Lafleur - Index Card Art Journal 11
StencilGirl-VivaLasVegasStamps - Gwen Lafleur - Index Card Art Journal 11
StencilGirl-VivaLasVegasStamps - Gwen Lafleur - Index Card Art Journal 11That's it for today's project... I'm loving my little steampunk art journal :)

Don't forget to visit the rest of the blogs on the hop because every comment on every blog will all be eligible for a grand prize from StencilGirl and Viva Las VegaStamps! So, the more blogs you comment on, the more chances you have to win! (One comment per blog per person, please.) 

Updated: Here are the winners from the blog hop drawing - congrats!

StencilGirl - Eileen Hull Hop Winner

Here are the rest of the blogs for you to visit today, and don't forget to check StencilGirl Talk every day to get all of the blogs for the whole week!

Thanks for popping in... I hope you enjoy all of this week's projects!


StencilGirl Blog Hop: Eileen Hull / Sizzix!

This week the StencilGirl creative team showcasing stamps and Sizzix dies by Eileen Hull!

Blog Header HOPSGEH

I was pretty excited about this, because I'm kind of going back to my roots with some stamping and scrapbooking. We got to work with some of Eileen's acrylic stamps and Sizzix ScoreBoards dies. For today's post, I'm using the Picket Fence stamp set, and diecuts from the Sizzix ScoreBoards Mini Album XL Die, and the Sizzix Bigz Flower Layers with Heart Petals Die along with a few stencils from StencilGirl.

And without further ado, here's today's project:

StencilGirl-EileenHull Hop - MiniAlbum - Gwen LafleurI used the mini album ScoreBoards diecut to make... a mini album! It's been a while since I've done any scrapbooking and I had some photos I was excited to use. And I do love me a mini! Not only that, but I wanted to show how easy it is to use stencils and stamps to create your own patterned paper when you want to make a theme album and use the same colors and patterns to tie everything together.

Here's a little tutorial on how I decorated the cover and assembled the book. (The final album photos are in a thumbnail gallery at the bottom so you can see how I used the stamps and stencils on the inside pages.)

To start, I picked out a color scheme I wanted that would go with my theme and photos (yellow, blue, dark blue, ivory, and kraft) and then painted the outside of the album with Golden Titan Buff as the base. Then I laid down the Heart Grid Stencil by Terri Stegmiller and pounced Golden Hansa Yellow fluid acrylic paint through the opening with a Sofft Art Sponge

StencilGirl-EileenHull Hop - MiniAlbum 1 - Gwen LafleurOnce that dried, I put the stencil back in place and then stamped over it with one of the background pattern stamps from the Picket Fence stamp set. Two great things here: first, the stencils are thin enough that they don't interfere with getting a good impression when you stamp through them. Second, the background stamps are designed so that you can create a larger background pattern by matching up the edges. So I just stamped over the stencil like I was creating a large background across my cover.

StencilGirl-EileenHull Hop - MiniAlbum 2 - Gwen LafleurAnd when I finished... pull back the stencil, and voila!

StencilGirl-EileenHull Hop - MiniAlbum 3 - Gwen LafleurI repeated this on the other half of the cover, and then took my Fude black pen and did a little outlining of the stenciled shape.

StencilGirl-EileenHull Hop - MiniAlbum 4 - Gwen LafleurAnd then, even though it wasn't in my color palette, I really needed a pop of color, so I used Liquid Pearls to color the hearts.

StencilGirl-EileenHull Hop - MiniAlbum 5 - Gwen LafleurNext, time to do the inside covers. I painted the background with Golden Cerulean Deep Blue fluid acrylics, let it dry, and then stamped all over the inside cover with a cream ink and the polka dot background stamp from the stamp set. Then I layered the Heart & Flowers stencil by Margaret Applin over top and pounced my Hansa Yellow paint through the openings. Once that was dry, I outlined with a fine line applicator filled with Titanium White fluid acrylics mixed with a bit of airbrush medium. Finally, I masked off around the larger opening and then stamped through that again with more polka dots.

StencilGirl-EileenHull Hop - MiniAlbum 7 - Gwen LafleurYou can see how the this turned out in thumbnail gallery below.

Next, I worked on the inside pages. I cut several sheets of white and kraft cardstock into 10.5"x4.5" strips, folded them in half and creased with a bone folder, and then stacked them inside of each other and clipped them in place. I created a template showing where the holes were going to go (make sure you mark the top,) and used that to poke 5 holes in the fold of the pages.

StencilGirl-EileenHull Hop - MiniAlbum 6 - Gwen LafleurNext, I took my stamps, stencils, and inks and went and sat in front of the TV while I decorated the inside pages. I alternated stamping and stenciling and also switched back and forth between yellow and blue inks, just working steadily through them until all of my pages were decorated with patterns. I continued to use the Heart Grid Stencil, and also added the Inky Hearts stencil (also by Terri Stegmiller) and the Random Squares stencil by Jessica Sporn.

StencilGirl-EileenHull Hop - MiniAlbum 8 - Gwen LafleurFrom there I grabbed my dried cover and used my template and centered it on the spine and used an awl and a self-healing mat to drill the holes. Then I just used a embroidery needle and some bakers twine to bind the book (make sure all of your pages are right side up first. I'm not speaking from experience or anything. lol.) I took the needle through the top hole from the outside, and then just went in and out down to the bottom and then back up again so that there were no gaps between holes inside or out. You'll come back out again through the top hole, and I just tied it off, but you could add some beads or charms or something here - I've done that before and it's a nice effect.

Next I added the photos to the right hand pages and then I just went through my stash and found embellishments and journaling spots that went with my colors and theme to do the rest. Finally, it was time to finish the front cover. I took some flowers cut from mat board and stenciled and stamped them, inked the edges, and then added some blue and yellow ribbons to the back of the largest flower.

You can see here and in the inside pages where I took yellow and blue paint markers (the one below is from Krink) and filled in some of the openings in the stenciled and stamped images. It really made a difference and helped them look more like patterned paper. I loved the effect!

StencilGirl-EileenHull Hop - MiniAlbum 9 - Gwen LafleurThen I stacked them with glue dots and finished it off with a yellow enamel dot and adhered the whole thing to the front of my album along with a blank label to help it pop off the background.

StencilGirl-EileenHull Hop - MiniAlbum 11 - Gwen Lafleur

IMG_9374And that's it! Here are the inside pages:

  • IMG_9375
  • StencilGirl-EileenHull - Mini Album Inside 2 - Gwen Lafleur
  • StencilGirl-EileenHull - Mini Album Inside 3 - Gwen Lafleur
  • StencilGirl-EileenHull - Mini Album Inside 4 - Gwen Lafleur
  • StencilGirl-EileenHull - Mini Album Inside 5 - Gwen Lafleur
  • StencilGirl-EileenHull - Mini Album Inside 6 - Gwen Lafleur
  • StencilGirl-EileenHull - Mini Album Inside 7 - Gwen Lafleur
  • StencilGirl-EileenHull - Mini Album Inside 8 - Gwen Lafleur
  • StencilGirl-EileenHull - Mini Album Inside 9 - Gwen Lafleur
  • StencilGirl-EileenHull - Mini Album Inside 10 - Gwen Lafleur
  • StencilGirl-EileenHull - Mini Album Inside 11 - Gwen Lafleur
  • StencilGirl-EileenHull - Mini Album Inside 12 - Gwen Lafleur
  • StencilGirl-EileenHull - Mini Album Inside 13 - Gwen Lafleur
StencilGirl-EileenHull - Mini Album Inside 13 - Gwen Lafleur

That's my project for today! I hope you enjoyed it :) 

Updated with the winner - congrats Auntie Em!

StencilGirl - Eileen Hull Hop Winner

Here are the blogs to make sure you visit today, and check out StencilGirl Talk every day to make sure you get the full list for the week!

Happy hopping!


StencilGirl Blog Hop: New Traci Bautista Stencils!

I'm so excited about today's blog hop! I love Traci's work and I was pretty psyched when I found out she had stencils coming out. For today's project, I received Circles Circles to play with. If you know me at all, you know I love me some circles! So I couldn't wait to use this. And I used it a lot!

Traci Bautista Circles Circles Stencil - StencilGirlIf you follow Traci's work, you know she has a new book that just came out called Printmaking Unleashed so, inspired by the idea of printmaking, I used this stencil to make a mini art journal with background pages full of lots of prints and mark making using this awesome stencil.

Printed Mini Art Journal by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl Blog HopThe finished book measures 5.5" tall by 4.25" wide, and there are 40 pages packed in there! There's a thumbnail gallery of all of the inside pages at the bottom of the post if you want to see the whole thing. In the meantime, here's a peek into the process of creating it, along with some of the different techniques I used.

First, I got 11 sheets of paper roughly the same size (one will be the inside cover.) I had cardstock, deli paper, cut up manila folders, and some Rives BFK printmaking paper that I cut from scraps from another project. I also pulled out my Gelli Plate and brayer since I knew I wanted to do gelli printing as the basis of most of the pages.

Printed Mini 1 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl Blog HopNext, I got out three colors of paint and started rolling them out on my plate. (Remember to make them colors that blend well together - complimentary colors make mud!)

Printed Mini 2 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl Blog HopHere's where you want to have all of your paper handy ahead of time. I put the stencil down on the painted plate and then used a sheet of paper to print through it, and was able to pull a second print as well.

Printed Mini 3 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl Blog HopThen you lift off the stencil and put another sheet on the plate to print the reverse of the stencil with the paint that was under it. Sometimes you can also get a print off of the stencil itself. I got some faint ones that I built on top of. I repeated this several times, and changed my color palette halfway through to add some variety. On some of the papers, I didn't print, but instead cleaned my brayer on them to just lay down a wash of color... you'll see how I used that further down.

Printed Mini 4 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl Blog HopOnce the pages are printed, it's time to start adding more layers! I put away my gelli plate and got out stamps, inks, rubons, and more stencils. I'll share just a few of my favorite ways that I layered on top of my prints.

First up, part of why I love circles is because they create these happy little spaces just waiting to be filled. For this one, I used the Hunab Ku stencil by Mary Beth Shaw along with a foam stamp that I made out of it to fill in some of the circles.

Printed Mini 5-6 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl Blog HopNext, one of the options for how to use the papers that just have paint straight from the brayer. I layed the stencil on top of the painted surface and then used my blending tool to ink over it so that the color showed through.

Printed Mini 7 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl Blog HopAnother fun way to layer... I got my Circles Circles stencil back out as well as the Runes stencil by Jessica Sporn and layed the circles on top with the Runes underneath and then inked through them (being careful to keep the circle stencil in place as I moved the smaller one underneath.) Then I went back over with my blending tool and ink to add a bit more color to some of the areas that needed definition.

Printed Mini 8 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl Blog HopAbove is one reason why it's cool that these stencils are so thin, and below is another! This time I used one of Traci's stamps to stamp through the openings in the stencil (I lined it up with the print underneath.)

Printed Mini 9 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl Blog HopAnd one more layering photo... in this one I just used paint and a sponge to daub through one stencil directly onto the page. I just watched the lines to keep it within the circles, but you could also layer the stencils like I did with the Runes stencil above.

Printed Mini 10 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl Blog HopThe other layering I did was stamping, more stenciling, paint (and some reduction stenciling,) inking, and adding rubons which you can see in the finished book.

Once all the pages are done and dry, you can do a quick and easy binding technique to make a little pamphlet book. I fold all of the pages individually with a bone folder, stack them inside each other, and then use an awl to make the holes going through all the pages at once. I used binder clips to hold my pages together while I did this.

Printed Mini 11-12 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl Blog HopThen you make the cover. I took a piece of thin chipboard (I save the pieces that I get in the mail if I order paper or anything. The envelopes you get when you order from StencilGirl work well too - just sayin' ;) and cut it so it was about 1/4" larger than the pages on all sides. Then I fold it in half and center the paper that I've chosen for the inside cover and adhere it with gel medium.

Once that's done, find a piece of decorative paper or another print for the outside - it should be about 1/2" bigger on all sides than the cover. Center the cover and adhere with gel medium, and then clip the corners as you see in the photo below so that you don't get lumps of paper in the corners when you fold the flaps around. Once that's done, center the inside pages and use them as a guide to poke holes in the cover, and then tie it all together. I used a piece of waxed linen thread.

Printed Mini 13 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl Blog HopThat's it! Now I have a great little mini art journal with lots of pages that have completed backgrounds ready for me to build on.

The other stencils used in the book not yet linked up are:

Here's the thumbnail gallery, and make sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for the next blogs on the list and a giveaway!

  • Mini Printed Art Journal 1 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 2 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 2a by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 2b by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 3 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 4 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 5 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 6 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 7 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 8 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 9 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 10 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 11 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 12 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 13 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 14 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 14a by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 15 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 16 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 17 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 17a by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 18 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 19 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 20 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
  • Mini Printed Art Journal 21 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl
Mini Printed Art Journal 21 by Gwen Lafleur - Traci Bautista-StencilGirl

Links for today's blog hop:

And... of course, it's not a blog hop without a giveaway!

Update! The winners for the blog hop prize have been announced... congrats to the winners!

StencilGirl - Traci Bautista Blog Hop Winners


On a roll!

Just popping in with another layout. This was for another Studio Calico NSD challenge - this time to use stamps to create your own background paper. I really like how this one turned out, but the weather here has been kind of dank lately, so I didn't get good lighting on the photos (what's new?)

So-Funny-and-Adorable
The pictures aren't that dark and grainy in real life. These are from Easter... and my favorite thing? Facial expressions are priceless. Especially the top one with Eraleigh and Aubrey looking askance at William while he fussed. You can really see their personalities here. Such cuties!

So-Funny-and-Adorable-CloseI'm also taking the Pop off the Page 2 class this month (more like following along really... lol) and was inspired to add some of that layering to the page. I really like this look but don't usually do it, but I think it turned out well.

So-Funny-and-Adorable-Clos2
And here, I tried to get a picture of how I did the stamping. I used several different sets and did lots of layering. I'll have to do this again - it was fun.

That's it for now... I'm off to play. I'm taking Julie Balzer's Gelli plate class online and just got a new brayer so I can really experiment. And tomorrow, I'm back at the scrapbook store in Westbrook to try a Zentangle class! Should be fun :D If it's going to be a rainy weekend, it might a well be a crafty one too!


28 Days of Love... quick update

So I'm trying not to get a full 14 days behind this time... lol. So I did a few more pages in my album. I also realized that I skipped a layout last week.

IMG_1106 web
There weren't any Bright Ideas class challenges on these pages, so just 28 Days challenges. Left was someone I didn't know 10 years ago (photo and journaling on a tag that pulls out of the pocket) and on the right was something I do every day (I picked "go to work" which I'm sure seems weird, but it's totally true!)

Now for the 4 catch-up pages (I'm still a few behind, but it's better than nothing!)

Days 15-16:

IMG_1183
On the left, the prompt was someone I spend time with - I picked my nieces. They're hysterical and so fun. For the Bright Ideas challenge, it was to create texture - I used gold mica paste and modeling paste with a mask to add a little texture to the background, plus used the sketch from the challenge.

IMG_1185
The right side was "my favorite color" (turquoise / sapphire / peacock blue) so I used a picture showing how often I use it in my house. The Bright Ideas challenge was around using grids.

IMG_1186
Then days 17-18:

IMG_1187
The left was "something I listen to" and for the Bright Ideas challenge, I used a mask and the same stamp repeated over and over. I really like the effect - I'll have to do that again! The right side was "I love happy mail" so I used a photo of the stack of boxes that came from UPS after they were able to get back through after the blizzard (3 of those were household items from Amazon. Not really too fun, but after a blizzard it was all exciting!) The Bright Ideas challenge was to use a large photo (on a 4x4 page that wasn't hard) and I used the class sketch.

And meanwhile... it's been a crazy-busy week at work. We've been in scrum training all week. While I've done it before at previous jobs, it's brand new to most everyone else I work with. The trainer we brought in was very good and this was a lot more fun than what I've done before, I also learned a lot - filled in a few holes. We got to play with Legos a lot to practice the sprint process. Eventually, we built an entire Lego Skate Park. It was lots of fun.

Scrum Training Lego Town
Last night we went to BAR in New Haven for a group dinner - yummy salad and pizza and just a fun evening hanging out. Tonight after we finished training, our little team went to this awesome Indian restaurant that's just a few blocks from my house (Darbar). I've wanted to go for a while and I'm glad we did - it was delicious!

I had chicken Korma - medium spice. It was very good...

Darbar - Chicken Korma
Of course, Ryan decided he wanted to go spicy, so he ordered the Chicken Vindaloo Spicy - the server was like, that's very hot. Are you sure? And he was. So I had my camera ready for his first taste...

IMG_1181

(I really enjoy that Ryan hams it up for the camera.)

Ryan tries chicken vindaloo part 2
He was so disappointed... he even felt a little jipped... it wasn't that spicy! We all tried it, and I don't think it was any spicier than mine. But we all loved our food and had a good time. It was nice to unwind after 3 straight days of intense training. I'm looking forward to getting back to normal tomorrow :)


December Daily Day 16

Quick update... yesterday was pretty quiet. I had pictures of the little treat bags I made up with the Candy Corn Chex Mix, along with a photo of me wrapping presents on the floor of my craft room.

December Daily 2012 Day 16I figured the pictures were pretty self explanatory and it would be a nice change to NOT have a ton of journaling... so I just used that cute Kelly Purkey stamp with the 4 food groups from Elf - candy canes checked for the Chex mix, of course!

That's it! Now it's time to go get ready for what I'm sure is going to be a crazy busy week trying to get stuff done before the holiday. But busy makes the time pass more quickly, right?


Sunday Scrapping

More like weekend scrapping, really... I started this layout on Friday and just got back to it this afternoon. I pulled out my Design Your Life class to keep working on chapter 2 about asymmetrical balance. This is the 2nd sketch in the chapter - a 2-pager that required us to spread photos across the gutter of the page. I know it bothers lots of people to do this, but as long as I don't cut the photos in a weird place it doesn't bug me.

For this one, I dug into my pictures from Spain and decided to use some from our visit to the steel showroom in Toledo where I bought my sword. I used pieces of my last 3 Studio Calico kits along with some Papertrey Ink stamps - the Delightful Doilies set.

Hands Off My Sword
I decided to use some blocks of patterned paper instead of doing all photos (I didn't have that many I wanted to use, and I don't really like nothing but photos - I need embellishment!) I also switched the placement of the horizontal and vertical photos on the left - it really just worked better for the photos I had to do it that way.

Hands Off My Sword close-up 1
Before going, I knew there was a good chance I'd buy a sword in Toledo if I had an opportunity and found one I really liked, so I had a mental price range I was willing to go with. Almost right off the bat, I was drawn to the Gladius sword on the rack. I loved the engraved blade and hilt and it just felt like "me." But although the price was in my range, I wasn't quite sure so I put it back on the rack while I looked around and thought about it.

Hands Off My Sword close-up 2
But then I looked over and saw that Eric had taken the sword off and was admiring it. And the voice in my head just shouted "hands off my sword!" Which is how I knew that was the one.

Hands Off My Sword close-up 3

So I took it back off the rack before Eric could decide he wanted it (and he later admitted that if I hadn't bought it, he would have... but since I saw it first and all... lol). I took it and carried it around until I was ready to make my purchases (this is also where I got some demasquinado necklace pendants - one for me and one for my mom). I hauled that sword in my suitcase for another 2 weeks and 4 more plane rides. And I love it... I keep it on my coffee table (except when small kiddies come to visit).

My coffee table with sword
Other things this weekend...

Best exotic marigold hotelI went to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel yesterday... I've wanted to see it since the first preview came out months ago. I absolutely loved it. I don't think it's a movie for everyone, but I thought it was a beautiful story, and beautifully filmed as well. And moving to some random place in India as my retirement is totally something I would do. lol.

I also stopped at Target to run some errands...

Target magical eye cartoon
Yeah. Target = dangerous. They had so much fun stuff, but I managed to resist. Mostly. I was wandering the aisles on my way to get things I actually needed, when I noticed that they had some of their accent tables on sale. I don't want to say that I really needed an accent table, but I kind of did. I had things piled on the floor under my coffee table that I really wanted to have out and that just wasn't happening without one. I've long admired this hexagonal accent table because it fits my style and would work well in my living room:

Target Hexagonal Accent Table
At $20 off plus another 5% off with my Red Card, I decided to go ahead and get it... they only had one left and I knew exactly where I could put it and what would go on it. So I came home and got it all set up with my books that were previously on the floor.

New Hexagonal Accent Table
Doesn't that look nice? With the new arrangement my Venetian mask is much more prominant, which I like, and I was able to put a few things in the opening below that had previously been stored in a cupboard. Nice!

Hex Table Book close-up
That "turquoise" book is actually a cookbook, but with all the photography and the size of it, it works like a coffee table book. I also really love that Paris in Color book - it's a beautiful book of everyday scenes all arranged by color.

The bottom book is a photo book I made of two of my weekend trips. I love that size... and in fact, on Friday night I finished my photobook for Peru. It's going to be 11"x15" and 124 pages. I pared it down to 750 or so of my favorite photos. lol. And it took me HOURS to put together... I edited every photo and then arranged everything and added my narrative... I used a Groupon for Photobook America and they have really terrible templates, so it took a long time. But I'm thrilled with it and can't wait to get it. I have one more Groupon with them and I'm hoping to do my FBE next.

So that's the weekend! I haven't cooked in almost 2 weeks with being sick and all, but I'm thinking I might go down and attempt some quinoa cakes from my newest cookbook... or maybe a quinoa risotto? After doing all those Peru photos, I'm really just craving quinoa!