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 :)

 


2016 Asia Travel Journal - Before the Trip

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted anything that wasn't for an assignment I was working on!  Life is as crazy as ever, but I've also been in a bit of a slump where I haven't worked on much besides what I'd already committed to. Sometimes you just have to wait those out, you know? I'm starting to pull out of it, and what better to get me excited about new projects than a big trip that needs a travel journal? 

I'm getting ready to head out on this year's adventure which I started planning more than two years ago. To think that it's almost time to actually go is a little weird - it hasn't quite sunk in yet, but at the same time I'm very excited! I ran across a word the other day - "resfeber." Sounds like something that someone made up, right? But the definition is "the restless race of the traveler's heart before the journey begins, when anxiety and anticipation are tangled together; wanderlust." That's exactly  how I've been feeling lately! But enough of that, on to the journal!

For the last 5-6 vacations I've taken, I've made a travel journal from scratch. I started with the Ali Edwards Scrapbook on the Road approach, using binder rings to hold them all together. I love the three journals I did that way, but I take big trips and save a lot of stuff, and the rings were HUGE - it makes the books a bit unwieldy and it's hard to turn the covers and pages. When I went to Bali last year, I made a case bound book and it worked really well, so that's what I did again this year. 

Here you can see where I've already made the signatures (14 of them!) and started pulling out things I thought I might use to decorate the outside and maybe some of the pages.

Asia Travel Journal - Preparing to Assemble

In case you couldn't guess, China is on the itinerary this year! I had a few bits and pieces I've picked up recently, along with some things saved from when I was there 8 years ago. Also some Russian book pages (because I'll be in Siberia / Russia!) I'll also be in Mongolia - I don't have anything specific to that (go figure,) so I just made do with what I had in my stash. I bound the book - here you can see where I left the end papers to dry overnight. I made the spine bigger than the text block (which is also bound a little loosely) so that I'll have room to add brochures, photos, and other ephemera as I go.

Asia Travel Journal - Gluing Down End Papers

When it was done, I used my Decorative Curvy Repeating Ornament stencil with some molding paste on both covers, leaving room for where I knew I was going to wrap fabric around the spine. I glued down letters for the title, then painted the whole thing gold. When it was dry, I added some color into the decorated area on the front cover, then I clear-coated both front and back and then waxed them lightly. I had a piece of beautiful Chinese silk that I cut to size and wrapped around, then added some dark blue flower trim along the edge.

Asia Travel Journal Covers 1 - Gwen Lafleur

Asia Travel Journal Covers 2 - Gwen Lafleur

Now for the inside! I had some Asian looking wrapping paper in my stash and I used that to cover over the end papers on the inside covers - I clear coated those too to help protect them since the paper wasn't all that durable. Then I started adding a little to the pages. For the front, it needed a title page! I had this awesome stamp of a map of Asia from Studio Calico (it's huge too!) and I stamped that and then added in my route and colored the countries I'll be visiting.

Asia Travel Journal - Title Page and Pre-made Labels - Gwen Lafleur

The title on that page comes from the fact that I will go in a complete circle around the globe on this trip - I'm really excited about that! You can also see all the labels... I've learned through experience that it's much faster, easier, and better for luggage space and weight if I prepare as much as possible in advance, so I take the absolute minimum of supplies with me. I go through my itinerary and make labels for the main things we'll see - cities, countries, points of interest... specific activities that we'll be doing (like sleeping in a yurt in Mongolia!) Then I just tuck them all in an envelope and I don't have to bring stamps, letter stickers, or anything like that. I do throw in a few blank labels so I can add dates or put in something that I did during free time. 

I made a pocket on the back of the title page to tuck in the official itinerary. This is handy, plus it covers up where you can see what I stamped on the front of the page :-P

Asia Travel Journal - Inside Pages 4 - Gwen Lafleur

In the second picture above, you can see where I added a few rubons to one page right at the front where I'll probably put travel info from my flight, add a ticket stub, etc... I also stuck in a fun Chinese envelope from my stash and stamped with a custom designed chop I got in China last time  I was there - it spells out the phonetic sounds of my name in Chinese characters. The third picture just shows a fun piece of paper I had that I stuck in the book to make it interesting.

I had very little to use for the Russia section of the book, so I carved a quick Matryoshka stamp to add into my book.

Handcarved Matryoshka Stamp - Gwen LafleurI mentioned it when I shared this stamp on Instagram / Facebook, but I tried a new kind of rubber for this one (Speedy Cut, ) and I did NOT like it. I keep checking around to see if I find anything new that's really wonderful, but I'll be sticking with my Moo Carve and Speedy Carve for now! I still like the stamp, even if the rubber was too soft for the detail I originally wanted.

Below you can see where I used the stamp along the bottom of one of the pages in my journal:

 

Asia Travel Journal - Inside Pages 2 - Gwen Lafleur

I also added a few rubons here and there, and I collaged in a piece of a map I happened to have that shows an area of China where we're going to be traveling.

Asia Travel Journal - Inside Pages 1 - Gwen Lafleur

The above-left photo has a little tipped-in glassine bag for ephemera, and I stenciled it with the 6x6 stencil from the August 2016 StencilClub kit - it's actually taken from a map of the Moscow metro! We're going to ride the metro while we're in Moscow in order to see some of the historic stations, so I tucked that in toward the end of the book for when we'll be there. Above-right, I found this stamp set by Lynne Perella for Paper Artsy and immediately fell in love. I think it's supposed to be Japanese, but I put her in my Mongolia section - I don't know why, but that's what I thought of when looking at her! I colored the image with watercolor pencils.

Asia Travel Journal - Inside Pages 3 - Gwen Lafleur

Just a few more shots of some of the more interesting spreads in the journal... most don't have anything extra done to them. Top left, I added a layered dragon diecut I've had in my stash for at least 10 years. Anyone remember L'il Davis Designs? Some flocked 7 Gypsies paper I've also had forever that I love... top right, I collaged in some Russian book text on a flap - I'll probably clip something to it. We'll see! Bottom left I've shared before, that uses the July 2016 StencilClub kit - I thought it looked a bit like Russian Folk Art, and since I didn't have much for that section, I just went with it! Bottom right is just the last page of the book.... I have this fun "globe" trotter stamp that I thought was great for the very end - I think that's from Evalicious.

That's it for the interesting (or even sort of interesting) inside pages - they'll hopefully be very cool at the end of the trip! Each signature in the book is made up of patterned paper, a sheet of watercolor paper, drawing paper (mostly for journaling,) and some of the signatures also have manila folders.

Here's what comes with me in my carry-on to work in the journal on the road:

Asia Travel Journal Supply Kit - Gwen Lafleur

I made a travel watercolor palette by cutting off small rectangles from my Peerless watercolors and gluing them inside of a partial file folder - I have a piece of deli paper that I put in to keep them from touching when it's folded. A few sheets of labels and my pocket of pre-made labels, water brushes, a small pair of travel scissors with blunt tips, a mini stapler, some clips and a little twine, a few rolls of washi tape, a glue stick, a tape runner (with a refill,) and a few pens and pencils (plus an eraser and pencil sharpener.) I bring ball-point pens since I've learned from experience that trying to use Microns or similar pens on drawing paper will dry them out quickly - I just use those for sketching. 

Here's the final package of what will come with me:

Asia Travel Journal - Ready to Pack

I also have a pouch with colored pencils that will be dual purpose - I can use them in my journal (since I'm really hoping to be able to add some sketching to this one,) and although I haven't gotten into the adult coloring book fad (despite owning several that I bought for the patterns,) I found one at Michael's recently called Imagimorphia that looks awesome - I figured it would be great for long plane rides when I need some variety to keep me sane.

So that's it! Depending on how much wireless access I have on the road I'll try and post some photos of the trip or maybe do some travel blogging. Hopefully I'll have a cool, bursting at the seams, travel journal when I get back :D Now I just have to get everything packed for a 3 week trip and still under the weight limit with room for souvenirs. Somehow I think I'll manage... I always do!

 


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.)
 
 

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


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.


Documented Life Project: March / April 2015

Wow... I've been meaning to get this post up for weeks and it just kept slipping! But I'm finally getting around to knocking stuff off of my to-do list, and here we are - the last six weeks worth of art journal pages for The Documented Life Project. Again, most of these were posted on Instagram / Facebook, but I like to get them all in one place :)

Without further ado, my pages for March and the first half of April. The theme for the month was mark making and doodling, and the first week was to incorporate doodling as a layer. I did most of my doodling with Liquid Pearls and then added just a bit of pen work (there's a little journaling hidden in there too.)

DLP2015 - Doodle Layer Element - Gwen LafleurThe next week was to use mark making to create borders of some kind. I was at my parents' house after spending a weekend taking classes with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer up in Connecticut, so I kind of slapped this one together using a leftover gelli print from class, and then I doodled on some scallops and then added a baggage sticker - ephemera from my week! It's not my favorite page, but it's good enough.

DLP2015 - 5 Mark Making Borders - Gwen LafleurThe March 21st challenge was using something I'd made as a focal point - I was still at my parents' house, so I pulled out some colored pencils and a sheet of book paper and did a kind of doodled sketch inspired by a bird that Julie had shared that I really loved (and she was inspired by someone else!) I think I'll play with this motif some more... I have a few ideas that are on that never-ending to-do list. (My mom loved this one when she saw it, but she thought it was a Christmas ornament. Ha!)

DLP2015 - Doodle as Focal Point - Gwen LafleurMarch 28th was a challenge to use a custom element. Since we were still talking mark making, I pulled out some hand carved stamps and then added some hand lettering on top (and crossed my fingers that I didn't jinx our weather!)

DLP2015 - Make a Custom Element - Gwen LafleurWith the April 4th challenge, we switched to a new theme: exploring inks and paints. The first one centered around watercolors, so I got out some Dr. Ph. Martin's Hydrus watercolors along with Golden QoR watercolors and used them to do a mini version of one of the exercises in week 2 of the Paint Mojo eCourse with Tracy Verdugo. (I signed up for the course last October and, of course, I'm just now getting around to it. I'm almost through week 3! lol.) I like this one a lot. I used the 6x6 stencil from last October's StencilClub kit for the center of the dream catcher.

DLP2015 - Watercolors - Gwen LafleurAnd finally, the most recent challenge (April 11) was with acrylics. Since this is something I use all the time I wanted to make it a little more interesting for me personally, so I used acrylics to paint a pattern for the background, then stenciled a face on top and used more paint to add some highlights. I'm actually liking this one a lot too - it goes with my new obsession with faces that I succumbed to during Julie's classes (I know this has been a *thing* for a while now, but I didn't think it was my thing, so I'm just getting on board.)

DLP2015 - Acrylics - Gwen LafleurAnd that's it! All up to date again. Hopefully it won't take another 6 weeks before the next round-up :-P


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 :)