Winter Wishes with Emerald Creek & Eileen Hull

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends, and welcome to my stop on today's blog hop with Eileen Hull and Emerald Creek! Eileen, Kim and the teams have created a fun blog hop challenge to kick off the Winter season and holiday festivities... we're bringing you Warm Winter Wishes!

For my project, I've created a winter-themed mini art journal using one of Eileen's Scoreboard Dies and plenty of embossing powder


To show you more about how I made my journal, I've put together a little tutorial.

Starting off, I used Eileen's Sizzix Passport Book die and cut the covers, spine, and several inside pages.


I set the inner pages aside until I was ready for them, then attached the covers to the spine with a strong glue. When it was dry, I pulled out a few collage papers and adhered them onto the front and back covers with matte medium.

Embossed-Mini-Art-Journal---Step-2-3---Gwen-LafleurNext I took my Winter Cardinal & Holly stencil from StencilGirl and stenciled in a few places on the front and back covers using gold texture paste. You could do this with an embossing ink and embossing powder, of course, but I knew I was going to be using a lot more layers of EP and doing quite a bit of heating and I'd lose the outline of the design if I didn't use a texture paste that wouldn't melt. Once I had it the way I liked it, I let it dry.

With the stenciled texture paste dry, I used some Marabu Art Crayons to add a few spots of color in the background, blending them out with my fingers. I also added a bit of a frame around the edges of the cover with StazOn ink pads in brown and black.

Embossed-Mini-Art-Journal---Step-4-5---Gwen-LafleurI also pulled out some bronze acrylic paint to integrate some of the background elements.

Finally it was time to start embossing... I used a VersaMarker and embossing ink to trace around the outside of the holly sprigs and coat the background, then I coated it with Vintage Beeswax Baked Texture embossing powder. I let it cool, then repeated the process to make sure the coat was nice and thick. It also tends to smooth out more and give better clarity to the layers underneath when you add 2-3 layers of the Vintage Beeswax. I also used my heat gun to re-melt the Vintage Beeswax and embed some small metal star embellishments in a few places on the front cover.

Embossed-Mini-Art-Journal---Step-6-7---Gwen-LafleurNext I used my VersaMarker to color the berries of my holly design and used a tiny spoon to scoop in some Chinese New Year Classic embossing powder, tapped off the excess and put it back in the jar, and melted it. Then I repeated the process inside the holly leaves and used Patina Oxide Baked Texture embossing powder as my green color.

With the front covers done, I turned it over and painted the inside covers red, then used clear embossing ink through my Art Deco Sunburst Background stencil and embossed that with Charred Gold Allure embossing powder.


Once I'd finished all of the paint and embossing on the inside and outside of the covers, I took the inside pages and attached them through the die cut holes in the spine. I just used some waxed linen thread and lined up two pages stacked inside of each other with each set of holes on the spine and then ran the thread through the holes so I could tie it on the outside. This is how it looked inside:


Above, you can see where I pulled the threads through to the outside of the spine and tied them off. I repeated it until I had all three mini-signatures attached.

For the finishing touches, you can see below where I wrapped some fabric around the outside of the spine to cover the threads, then I used some washi tape on the inside to cover where the covers and spine are joined together.

Embossed-Mini-Art-Journal---Step-11-12---Gwen-LafleurVoilà! A finished mini winter art journal! I just took a scrap of red sari ribbon to use as a closure for the book when I'm not using it. Here you can see the finished insides and outsides of the book:


Heat-Embossed-Passport-Winter-Art-Journal---View-3---Gwen-Lafleur Heat-Embossed-Passport-Winter-Art-Journal---View-3---Gwen-Lafleur

That's it for my project today... now for all the details on how you can get a chance at the big giveaway! To join in all you need to do is follow along and comment on every blog. If you play along and link up your own creation using Eileen and Emerald Creek products, you will get 2 bonus entries for the draw. Contest Closes on Sunday November 25th, with the Winner announced Cyber Monday!
The prize includes an Eileen Hull Journal Die and a $50.00 gift certificate to the Emerald Creek Shop.

Make sure to go through all of today's blogs for lots of inspiration and more chances to win!

Mixed Media Boho Fish Art with Ampersand & StencilGirl

Hi all, I'm excited to be joining in today on a fun and fabulous blog hop with StencilGirl Products and Ampersand (the makers of some truly fabulous panels, art boards, and other art products.) For today's project, I tried out some new-to-me products including an Ampersand 8" x 8" Gessoboard Shadowbox and a package of Ampersand Stampboard - I used the 1/2 lb bag in assorted sizes. I combined that with stencils, paint, fabric, beads, embossing powder, and a few other supplies to make this underwater-themed mixed media shadowbox. 


Of course, I also put together a tutorial showing how I made the fish as well as some of the details on the box itself. Ready to get started?

To begin, I took my Boho Fish stencil and stenciled one of the images onto a .20mm thick piece of acetate using black StazOn ink and then traced over the lines with a black Sharpie.


I cut the fish out and then flipped it over and used some metallic alcohol inks and Vintaj Patina inks (both from Ranger) and dabbed color onto the back of the acetate with a felt pad. I wanted it on the back of the image so that none of the ink would be scratched or wiped off of the plastic as I added layers onto the front.

Next, I took out some of the pieces of Stampboard and started laying them out - I had the idea in my head to do a kind of layered, cubist approach (with lots of boho flair, of course!) and so I played around with the arrangement of the tiles until I liked it, then auditioned several different materials for fins and accents. For those, I landed on a few types of shell beads. Once I had everything laid out the way I wanted it, I took a photo so I could match it all back up as I worked on each layer.


Once I had a plan for how it would all come together I took the Stampboard and coated the front and sides of each piece with black gesso then laid out the bottom layer on top of the acetate fish and glued the pieces down. (I used Weldbond glue - this works especially well when I'm gluing anything to glass or plastic.) When the glue was mostly dry and the tiles didn't wiggle, I took some gold embossing paste, lined up my Boho Fish stencil so that it matched the outline of the acetate one on the base, and then used a palette knife to add the texture paste. I carefully removed any overhanging bits of paste and let it dry.


Once my texture paste was dry to the touch, I used some iridescent paints (I used Finnabair and Viva paints here) and added some color to the first layer of stenciled Stampboard blocks.

When the texture paste and paint were both dry, I repeated the process with the next layer of Stampboard, adhering them in place and then lining up the stencil and stenciling with more gold embossing paste. I also tucked some small green vinyl disc beads into place to give the suggestion of scales. Since they're fairly thin, I cut some of them so they'd follow the contours of my fish.


When the texture paste on this layer was dry I used clear embossing ink and a VersaMarker to coat the areas where I wanted color and then used some Baked Texture embossing powder from Seth Apter and Emerald Creek to add the colors. I added the powder one color at a time and then heated it all at once. You have to be careful with this step as the heat will curl the acetate in the base layer if you don't watch what you're doing. If that starts to happen, just press the plastic back into place while it's still warm and put something flat and heavy on top until it cools again.

I added one more layer of Stampboard and more embossing powder, then I adhered my shell bead accents in place. I put some vintage rhinestones in the bead hole openings, then used a mix of Rocky Road Baked Texture embossing powder and chunky gold glitter and added it like shading around some of my elements, then carefully heated and melted those sections. I also added a glass Nazar bead as the eye of the fish. I used a bit of gold wax over the tops of the shells and embossed sections to highlight the raised areas.


When the fish was done I moved onto the shadowbox. I painted the inside with a few colors of Matisse background paints and then used bronze gesso on the front edge around the opening and let it all dry.


I used a bit more paint to add a cruciform in the background, then stenciled Seth Apter's Spinner stencil in the middle in bronze paint and layered my Decorative Medallion stencil over top and carefully stenciled so that the design looked like it was coming out of the one already in the middle (I love to do this with my medallions - you can mix them with other circle elements to create something totally new!)

I knew I wanted to "float" some beads as bubbles coming from the fish, so I used an awl to bore some holes inside the shadow box where I could insert some wire, as well as a hole in the bottom where I was going to anchor my fish focal point.


I didn't really take pictures of the decorating portion, but I had some embroidered and embellished fabrics that were shaped a bit like sea plants and added those to the background (I adhered those with soft matte gel,) as well as some gold glitter circles from a holiday floral pick I'd bought at a craft store.

For the bubbles I took some beads that I'd coated with Deep Sea Baked Texture embossing powder that had some glitter and microbeads embedded in the enamel and strung them along a wire that runs from the top to the bottom inside the box - I used crimp beads between the "bubbles" to hold them in place. I also used a coat of Dirty Sand Baked Texture embossing powder along the bottom - it seemed like the obvious choice and it gave me the perfect texture and color to mimic the ocean floor.

For the focal point, I took a thick gauge of wire and attached it to the back of the fish with Aves Apoxie Clay, then ran the wire through some beads and into the hole in the bottom of the box, anchoring that with more Apoxie Clay. I used some props to hold the fish in place while the clay cured. To finish it off, I added a piece of white Kuchi beaded trim along the inside bottom and glazed that to integrate it.

Finally, I did some more stenciling around the outside of the panel. First I collaged on some pieces of newspaper from India, then I used my Collage Textures & Patterns, Circles stencil as well as one of the splats from Seth Apter's Text and Texture Discovery stencil and added a few of the circles along the top and sides with some molding paste and a palette knife.


When the molding paste was dry, I coated it all with a brown glaze, then added some paint around it (I used PaperArtsy paints,) leaving a bit of the newspaper in the background showing around each stenciled design. I highlighted the raised areas with some gold and indigo wax. I also drilled a hole in the top and inserted a cool vintage drawer pull as a handle.

Voilà! My finished layered and stenciled cubist-esque boho fish shadowbox (that's a mouthful! lol.) Here are a few more photos so you can see some of the details:




And now for the part you've been waiting for... the giveaway!

One lucky winner will receive a $50 Gift Certificate to Ampersand
AND a $50 Gift Certificate to 
StencilGirl® Studio!

StencilGirl & Ampersand Blog Hop GIVEAWAY image
Enter to win by leaving a comment below then be sure to visit the other blogs in the hop and comment to win. The more blogs you comment on, the more chances you have to WIN! One winner will be chosen at random from all blog comments. 

(One comment per person per blog please.)

You have until Tuesday, November 20th at 11:59PM Central Time to leave your comments. The winner will be announced on StencilGirl® Product's Facebook page on Wednesday, November 21.

Make sure you visit and comment on all of the blogs in today's hop to increase your chances to win - here are all the links:

Fall Texture with Stencils, Molding Paste, and Acrylic Skins

Hi all! I'm up today on StencilGirl Talk with my quarterly blog column focused on paint and texture. This month I've taken inspiration from the fall season and made a mixed media panel with a tree bark-esque textured background, and fall leaves made from acrylic skins.


Of course, there's also a tutorial for both the background and the leaves, so make sure you head on over to check it out!


An Artist Book Cover with Stencils and Embossing Powder

Hi all, and welcome to my stop on this week's blog hop with StencilGirl and Emerald Creek! At this point I don't think that it's really any secret that I love me some embossing powder. It's such a versatile medium, and you can use it in so many different ways! Of course, embossing powder also pairs perfectly with stencils, so I was thrilled to hear that StencilGirl and Emerald Creek were teaming up to do a second blog hop (we also did one in December of last year. If you missed it, make sure to check that out too for even more inspiration!)

This time around, I decided to decorate the cover of a handmade artist book that I've been working on. I wanted something that was extremely textured and grungy, and yet still fit with the overall theme of the book, which is courage.


Of course, I also put together a short tutorial so that you can see how to recreate these effects in your own projects. Ready?

To start, I coated the cover with black gesso, let it dry, then used a gold texture paste with my Chinese Garden Plum Blossoms stencil to get the flowers onto the background. You could do this with pigment or embossing ink and embossing powder, but I knew that I was going to do quite a bit of layering and melting in the vicinity of this design and I didn't want to lose the crisp lines, so I used the texture paste instead.


Once the texture paste was dry, I took out some scraps of tissue paper, matte medium, and a brush, and started laying the foundation of the texture in the background. It doesn't really matter what the pattern is on your paper, (or if there is one!) as it will all be covered up in the end. (Old sewing patterns also work great for this.) 

I coated the background in matte medium, scrunched up some tissue paper and then coated the back of that as well, and then laid it on the wet background, manipulating it with my fingers as I went so that I created lots of peaks and valleys with the paper. I kept doing this until most of the cover was coated, leaving the flowers peeking through.

I worked fairly quickly at this point - this was partly to keep myself from overthinking the positioning of the tissue paper, and partly because I needed the matte medium to be wet for the next step, which was the application of a lot of Baked Texture embossing powder.  I started with Rocky Road, sprinkling it around the edges and right along the areas next to the flowers - I wanted something very textured and crusty looking, and this was the perfect way to get that look. I tapped off the excess powder and returned it to the jar, then I used Dirty Sand, making sure to leave some areas open, then repeated one more time with Chunky Rust. I put the extra powder back in the jar each time so that I could use it again later.


Once the entire background had its first coat of powder, I pulled out my heat gun and went to work. I kept it pretty close to the surface so that the medium and powder would bubble as it melted. The effect you achieve with this is fabulous! (Just a note that you may have heard from me before, but because you're heating acrylic mediums here, you get fumes. I always cover my nose and mouth for this process - I even have a respirator in my studio for really extended embossing sessions!) 

After the first layer was melted, I took out Ancient Amber, Deep Sea, and Patina Oxide and alternately re-melted the surface with the heat gun, sprinkled powder on the hot surface, and then heated to fuse it into the surface. The result is a gorgeous, mottled look that you really can't get any other way!

Once I'd gotten the texture I wanted in the background, I pulled out a blend of gold leafing flakes and applied some on the background, then used some gold wax from PaperArtsy and applied with my finger on the tops of the texture - it adds depth and shine, all at the same time.


Next I used Seth Apter's Never Again stencil along with clear embossing ink and Charred Gold embossing powder to add a few words into the openings of my flowers.

To this point, I'd done a pretty good job of adding the grunge factor, but I needed some boho - bright colors to the rescue! I used my Posca paint markers to color in the flowers. I like to add in a few shades of the same color or two similar colors and blend them with my finger while they're still wet.


I also pulled out my Marabu Art Crayons and added bits of color into the background, using my finger and a water brush to spread it out a bit.

Finally, I took some Emerald Creek Fleur brads, poked holes in the cover with an awl, and then inserted them to give a subtle, decorative touch to the cover. I used my finger to wipe a bit more of the gold PaperArtsy wax over the surface - the raised design on the brad really picked it up beautifully!


Voilà ! The finished cover!


Here are a few close-ups so that you can get a good sense of the amazing texture you can get by using embossing powder in your mixed media work:


I hope you enjoyed today's project... I know I did! Of course, now for the part you've all been waiting for!

One lucky winner will receive $50 in Gift Certificates to Emerald Creek and StencilGirl® Products!

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

You have until Tuesday, August 21st at 11:59PM Central Time to leave your comments.
The winner will be announced on the StencilGirl® Products Facebook page and Emerald Creek’s Facebook page on Wednesday, August 22.

Make sure you check out all of today's posts for lots of fabulous inspiration!

My First Online Class - Boho Grunge!

I've had requests to do online classes for quite a while now, and I'm thrilled to share that it's finally become reality! Today I'm releasing my first online class, "Boho Grunge," with StencilGirl on their StencilGirl Studio website.

This course will walk through the creation of a mixed media panel, done in my signature Boho Grunge style, from start to finish . I didn't have the project pre-planned other than to bring some likely options to the shoot, so you get to see the organic process as it really happens in my studio!

Here's the project that I make in this class - it's called "Crossroads."

Boho Grunge Full Promo - Gwen Lafleur

In the workshop, I'll share the background technique that I used for this piece, as well as some stenciling tips, how I created the layers, and how I selected and assembled the elements of the focal point. I'll even show how I made different metals look the same and applied a faux rust effect! You can use these techniques to create a similar piece on your own, or apply them individually to your projects.

I'm very happy with how the class came out, and it was a lot of fun to film it... I hope you'll enjoy taking the workshop just as much! You can check out the introduction video and intros to each of the course chapters for free, or register now! I hope you'll join me!

Blockprinting for Mixed Media - My Tips & Tricks

Over the last year or so I've received lots of questions about how to use woodblocks for printing, especially on paper. I love to use block-printed images in my work... they make beautiful focal points for collage, and there are also a lot of stunning patterns that are great for backgrounds and patterned papers. One of my favorite things about them is that they give you the ability to create your own unique collage fodder as you can change the colors of your paints and colors and types of papers, the arrangement and combination of the blocks when printing, etc... so that you can create something that brings your personal flair into your work!


While I'm definitely not a pro at printmaking, I've been fortunate enough to get some good instruction that's helped me find what works for me. First, I was at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria Virginia a few years ago and had a great demo from the owner, Judy Gula. (She has a video out there too that's also helpful!) They carry lots of blocks, and they work directly in families in India to have them made, so they're Fair Trade and support the artisans directly.

I was also very lucky to be able to attend several demos and workshops while I was in Jaipur, India last year. I got some real hands-on experience, observed masters at work, and was able to talk to one of the workshop owners about some of the details of the printing process, especially how they set up their printing tables.

This was a demo of Dabu block printing. It's similar to Batik, only they use mud as the resist instead of wax and coat it with sawdust while it's drying.


At another workshop in Jaipur, we observed and then got a chance to participate in more traditional block printing on fabric. This gentleman appears in my video below:


And here I am, printing a border on my fabric (the final product was pretty nice, if I say so myself! And the owner of the workshop asked me if I was an experienced printer... lol. I was proud of my meager skills.)


The workshop was filled with inspiration... blocks were piled on shelves under every table, and vats of ink sat in the sunlight, waiting to be used...


We also had an opportunity to see how the blocks are carved. There are videos of this process online if you do a search - it's mesmerizing and awe-inspiring.


A close-up of his work - gorgeous.


You could buy blocks from the street vendors! I had one follow me with some gorgeous border blocks and I was able to negotiate a crazy good price for them... between that and the workshops, I came home with a lovely selection to add to my collection.


With that introduction, on to the tips and tricks!

I put together a video which includes a clip that I took in one of those workshops along with my tips for printing surfaces, choosing and applying paint, printing, and cleaning your blocks. I'm also showing the two main types of woodblocks that I use in my own work, and then below I've broken out the highlights in case you want a refresher or just want to skim instead of watching the video (it's about 18 minutes.)

1. Printing Surfaces

Blockprinting for Mixed Media - Printing Surfaces - Gwen Lafleur

You need something with some give under your paper or fabric while printing; traditional rubber stamps are usually mounted on some kind of cushion, but blocks also need that "give" in the surface in order to get a good impression, especially since these are all hand-carved and the surfaces may not be completely even. A few options:

  • My surface is a sheet of foam core that's been covered with four layers or 1/8" thick fun foam from the craft store. I made sure that they all fit together very tightly so there are no gaps in my surface. This works for me because it's large enough that I can print on parent sheets of paper (usually around 24" x 36") and then cut them down, and I can also pick it up and put it away when I'm not printing.
  • You can use something like a mousepad or a yoga mat. In the video I show a mousepad, a Pergamano mat (Pergamano is parchment craft where you emboss and pierce vellum to make beautiful designs... I'm not kidding when I say I've tried everything!) I also showed a thick piece of something like craft foam that also works great.

2. Paints, Papers, & Tools

First up, paint. Generally speaking, ink doesn't work - it dries too quickly (although after a conversation on Facebook, I do want to experiment a bit with some types of pigment ink, just to see if I could heat emboss one of these images.) The "ink" they use in India is like a very thin paint, and they have shallow open boxes with thick pads in them that soak up the paint from below and they use it like a stamp pad, refilling it when it starts to get low. While that's practical in a professional printing workshop, it's hard to find a way to store and maintain that sort of thing at home, so I just stick with paint, a palette, and a brayer.

I use acrylic paint - student grade is fine for this... I save my Golden and other professional grade acrylic paints for other applications, especially because you can go through a fair amount of paint in a printing session and it could get expensive fast if you're using the good stuff.

Blockprinting for Mixed Media - Paints - Gwen Lafleur

That said, paint on its own dries too quickly to print with, so you need some kind of extender. That has the benefit of both thinning the paint for better application and printing with the blocks, and extending the open time of the paint so that it doesn't dry before you can print with it.

Blockprinting for Mixed Media - Paint Extenders - Gwen Lafleur

I use a fabric or textile medium as my additive. You could use something like the Golden GAC-900, but again, I tend to save the expensive stuff and use the craft product here. The other one I've got in the video is from Delta, and you can find it in the aisle with the craft paints. It works just fine, and it will save you a lot of money! Of course, you can use other extenders, but this lets me print on both fabric and paper without having to change mediums. (You can print on fabric with another medium, but if you want it to be washable, you'll need to make sure you're using a fabric medium and then heat set it later.)

Blockprinting for Mixed Media - Mixing Paint - Gwen Lafleur

I just put the paint out on my palette (I use a metal inking plate - the one I have is Jack Richeson and I like it because it has a lip that goes over the edge of the table to help anchor it.) I add in my medium and mix it up with a palette knife. In the video I said that it's thinner than heavy body acrylic but not as thin as fluid acrylic, but that's personal preference. The ink in the workshop in India was quite thin, and I've used some other paints that were thin and those worked great too. You can also premix your paint and medium and store it in an empty bottle - I do this sometimes as well.

A few other thoughts on paint and ink...

Printing ink like Speedball works great. But, it's generally water soluble so if you're going to use your papers for collage, it smears. A lot. (Take it from someone who knows!)

There's a brand of printing ink called Akua that works really well and prints beautifully, but it has some drawbacks that make it so that I, personally, prefer not to use it. It's made from an oil (it smells like tung oil to me, and I don't care for the scent,) and it's crazy messy to clean up... it gets under your fingernails like nobody's business and good luck getting it back off. The other thing is that it dries through absorption, so if you print on thinner paper or print multiple colors on top of each other, if there's not enough paper to absorb all of the ink, it will never dry. (But, you can leave it out on your metal inking plate and walk away for a few hours and you're golden when you come back!)

Also, Golden OPEN acrylics work great - I do thin those with the OPEN medium. They print beautifully and the open time means they don't dry before you can print, but they're very expensive and because they're meant to have that really long open time like oil paints, your prints can take up to several days to completely dry. I don't know about you, but I sure don't have time for that! LOL.

To apply to the blocks, I use a brayer:

Blockprinting for Mixed Media - Brayers - Gwen Lafleur

Soft rubber brayers tend to work best, especially with the hand-carved and slightly uneven surface of the blocks. If possible, it's nice to use a brayer that's about the same size as your block or a bit larger - this helps to keep lines from the edge of the brayer from showing up in your print. The one I used here is my favorite - it's a 6" Japanese brayer, but you can definitely get more budget-friendly brayers from Amazon or your local art or craft supply store. (I said in the video that I thought the name of the place I get them from was MacPhersons, but it's actually McClains - close!)

Finally, choosing your substrate...

Woodblocks are designed for printing on fabric, so obviously fabric is going to work perfectly. I usually just use cotton, muslin, or even like a duck cloth or canvas and they've all worked great for me. But paper is where it gets tricky, and I have a lot of people tell me that printing doesn't work and half the time it's because of the paper they're printing on.

I'll just say this, cardstock has never worked well for me. The combination of thick and stiff means that it's pretty much the antithesis of fabric, and that means that it doesn't mold to the block when you're printing, even with the right surface underneath. Try and find paper that has a lot of the same qualities as fabric. For me, that means something very flexible and fibrous - my go-to papers are rice and mulberry, but I've also used printmaking paper like BFK Rives with a lot of success. It's thick, but has the other qualities you need.

Blockprinting for Mixed Media - Paper Types - Gwen Lafleur

My friend Jill takes a lot of printmaking classes and she shared a good tip with me that I've used successfully... if you have a thicker / stiffer paper, you can spritz it with water and then blot it with a towel. The water will help break down the fibers so that the paper loses that stiffness, but you need to blot it so that it's not actually wet - you don't want your paint to seep or spread after you print. (Unless you do, of course... that could be a cool effect if you wanted to do it on purpose!)

3. Printing

Wow... that's a lot of build-up before getting to the main event, right? But the printing doesn't work if you don't have the right surface, paint, and paper.

You'll want to ink up your brayer, but make sure you don't get it too gloppy or you'll get gloppy prints (probably best to watch the video for this part.) Then I put my block face up on the table or in my hand and apply the paint, making sure to get good coverage. You'll want to make at least one or two test prints on scrap paper (I use deli paper) because you generally need to prime your block the first time you use it in a printing session before you get consistently good prints... the first few usually have gaps and faint spots.

Blockprinting for Mixed Media - Test Prints - Gwen Lafleur

To print, just carefully place the block where you want it, then press down with both hands - even pressure, and make sure that you press all areas of the block. I do this standing - it gives the best leverage. (And as I mention in the video, I've had sore abs the next day after printing for a few hours straight!)

Blockprinting for Mixed Media - Printing Pressure - Gwen Lafleur

If you want to see how they do it in India - which is painful to watch AND do yourself, make sure to check my clip in the video! It does work, though!

Also, as I mentioned, you can use a baren - I usually only  do this with my smaller blocks... it helps to apply even pressure on the block so that you get a complete print without having an uneven application of paint. (If you want to do this on larger blocks, you can make or get a press - there are lots of different ones available.)

Blockprinting for Mixed Media - Using a Baren - Gwen Lafleur

4. Clean Up

The last question I get is whether / how to clean your blocks. Yes - I clean them. I try to clean them as quickly as possible after use so that the paint doesn't dry in the nooks and crannies of the design. I use water and a bristle brush called a mechanic's nail brush so it's fairly gentle. Of course, this also has the benefit of doubling as a way to clean your hands - mine always get covered in paint! This particular type of brush has a line of bristles on the back that's meant to get under your nails. Very handy!

Blockprinting for Mixed Media - Bristle Brush - Gwen Lafleur

In addition, I sometimes use a gentle soap - I like this Savvy Soap that I get from McClains - it also smells nice! They say it has a "citrus scent," but it actually smells more like cinnamon to me. Either way! Again, this is good on both the blocks and your hands. If you use the blocks that have the white stain to show the design, usually the white is still there after you clean them. It depends on what the maker used when the block was created - some will rub off, but most of mine come back - the block below has been used and cleaned a few times and still looks great.

Blockprinting for Mixed Media - Block after Cleaning - Gwen Lafleur

Whew! That's a lot of information, but hopefully it helps! And if you're interested, I do have a few larger woodblocks from India now available in my shop, plus various smaller designs, elephants, and borders as well.

 Happy printing!

Textured Abstract Art with Paint, Stencils, and Embossing Powder

I'm up today with my first quarterly column on the StencilGirl blog, focusing on paint and texture. Today I'm sharing a tutorial for this abstract mixed media piece called "Sands of Time."



I've used stencils along with a few different acrylic mediums and paints, collage, embossing powder, and a few other fun dimensional elements. Make sure to head over and check out the step-by-step tutorial and lots more photos!

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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





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


Mixed Media with Relics & Artifacts

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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



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


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

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

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


Today's Blog Hop Order:

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

Mixed Media Texture with Baked Texture Embossing Powder

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Gwen's Gems - Make a Wire Jewelry Pattern from a Stencil!

Just popping in to let you know that I'm up on StencilGirl Talk today with the March edition of Gwen's Gems. This month I'm showing how you can use a stencil to create a pattern for wire jewelry - see how I made this wire peacock feather pendant from start to finish!


Make sure you head over to StencilGirl Talk to see the tutorial. (PS... the necklace is now sold - thank you!)


Create a Beautifully Etched Decorative Window with Stencils

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


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



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


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

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


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



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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Gwen's Gems - Add Some Glam to your Grunge!

Hi all - just popping in to let you know that it's time for Gwen's Gems again over on StencilGirl Talk! This month I'm sharing a pretty intuitive mixed media piece with a super textured and grungy background accented with pink, gold, and plenty of glam!


Head on over to StencilGirl Talk to see the full piece along with a tutorial.

Mixed Media Abstract with Embossing Powder Tutorial

You may have noticed that I've been using a lot of embossing powder in my recent work. I've actually been using EP in mixed media for several years, but started doing it with much greater frequency after discovering Emerald Creek last year. Their powders really lend themselves well to working with mixed media; from the fabulous colors and blends to the mix of textures, plus they melt quickly and most of the powders I've used can be re-melted over and over as you build layers. Of course, they also partnered with Seth Apter to release Baked Texture - a new line of embossing powder that just debuted last week at Creativation / AFCI. I may be just a little bit addicted. Or a lot. Maybe. (The Artist Tribe has also been playing with them recently and has referred to them as crack, magic dust, and a few other similar terms, so I know I'm not alone!)

With that said, in the spirit of enabling... err, sharing, I've put together a video tutorial using Baked Texture and one of the Emerald Creek Allure embossing powders to show you some of the techniques I used to make a piece of abstract art from start to finish. This was based on a project that I originally shared in last year's free online class from Nathalie Kalbach, Artful Adventures, so the process may be familiar to some of you. However, this rebooted version has some updates and additions that I hope you'll enjoy.

Here's the piece that I made in the video along with a few close-ups so you can see some of the details:


And without further ado, here's the video! It runs just a bit over 30 minutes, so grab a drink and a snack and sit back and enjoy!

As you saw at the end of the video, I also went back and finished the panel that I used to demo the DAP - here are a few photos of how that turned out so you can see them a bit better:





Finally, here's the original panel that I did in the workshop last year; you can really see how much I was able to amp up the texture with the new embossing powders!



So there you go! I hope you enjoyed it, and if you try this at home make sure to link me up so that I can see what you do!


Gwen's Gems - 3D Collaged Boho Fish!

Hi all,  just popping in to let you know that I'm up today on StencilGirl Talk with the January edition of Gwen's Gems! This month I'm taking my collaged boho fish and making them 3D, using a stencil as a pattern.


There are lots more photos and details in the post, plus a tutorial to show how I did both the fish and the background! I hope you'll head over and check it out!


Gwen's Gems - Translucent Mixed Media with Stencils!

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


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


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

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



Mixed Media Abstract with Stencils & Embossing Powder

I love embossing powder. Love it. So when I found out that the StencilGirl team would be doing a blog hop with Emerald Creek (who makes pretty much my favorite embossing powder ever,) I may have jumped up and down a little in excitement. (On the inside, at least!) I started heat embossing twenty or more years ago as I dabbled in other crafts, but as my interests have evolved, my love of embossing has remained. I never get tired of watching that powder melt, and in recent years I've found a few ways to make it even more fun to use! I've mixed a few of my favorite techniques together in today's project, which is an 8"x10" abstract mixed media panel with lots of EP and stencils.


I've put together a little tutorial so you can see how I used the various products in this piece and hopefully give it a try yourself!

To start, I took a plain 8x10 canvas panel and coated it with black gesso.


I set that aside to dry and pulled out a few sheets of deli paper that had some paint on them and not much else - I formed my color palette as I looked through what I had that was already painted and ended up with yellow, teal, dark gray, and a kind of blend of all of the colors with a bit of stenciling already on it. I pulled out a few different stencils, inked through them with a foam applicator and pigment ink, then heat embossed the designs.


I used the X Rows stencil by Michelle Ward along with Mirror Gold embossing powder, my Ornamental Floral Screen stencil with some Fractured Ice Embossing Crystals, and two StencilClub stencils by Mary Beth Shaw: the one on yellow is the 6x6 from the April 2016 StencilClub collection used with Oil Rubbed Bronze EP, and the one on teal is the 9x12 from the January 2016 StencilClub kit along with Northern Lights EP.

I wanted to have each paper be roughly one quarter of a wonky circle, so I made a template from a piece of copy paper and used it to cut the pieces I wanted from my embossed deli paper, then adhered them onto the panel with matte medium. When collaged, deli paper wants to wrinkle much more than regular paper - sometimes I want that look and let it happen, but here I wanted it smooth so I used an old hotel room key and scraped it over the top to force out all of the bubbles.


I let the panel dry thoroughly at that point since I was going to add more embossing powder, which would stick to anything that was still wet. Once dry, I used some soft gel medium and painted a thick outline around my circle of patterned papers, then used Charred Gold EP on that. I did not let that dry - if you melt embossing powder on a wet acrylic medium, it will bubble... and I love to make it bubble. (However, it will also create some not-so-lovely fumes - protect your nose and mouth or even better, use a respirator while doing this - especially for extended periods of time.) You have to be careful that you don't burn it, but this process makes a really fabulous texture in your work.

With the circle done, I got out the Verdant Moon stencil by Carol Wiebe and used gold pigment ink to stencil parts of the border designs into a slightly skewed cruciform over the seams of my papers. I embossed that with more Charred Gold EP.


To create a bit of a halo effect around the circle, I just used some teal fluid acrylic paint along with acrylic glazing medium and my finger and spread the paint around the edge of the embossed circle.

Next, I glazed the patterned sections with gray, then used some gold paint in a fineliner bottle to scribble an echo of the embossed circle.


I wanted to add a touch of contrasting dimension and texture, so I used some Pebeo relief paste to add tiny gold glass seed beads into the center of my Xs.  (As you can see here, I generally use a needle or hatpin to place beads.)

With that, the background was done and it was time to start building my focal point. I started by stenciling my Art Deco Sunburst Medallion stencil onto deli paper that had been painted black, then I embossed it with Mirror Gold EP. Next I took a shape from the Periscope Die Set by Seth Apter that had been cut from a thin sheet of teal colored aluminum and added some alcohol inks, then glued it on top.


I cut around the diecut piece and then adhered it onto my panel. To go on top, I rounded up a few found objects - a metal clock face, some broken jewelry parts, and a glass Turkish Nazar. I assembled those into a focal piece and adhered it in the center of the diecut.


Finally, I added a sprinkling of Pyrite Gemstones around the border of my focal piece, and it was finished!

Here are a few closeups so you can see some of the details of the embossing - it's such a natural pairing with stencils!


Whew... that's it! I hope you enjoyed today's project as much as I enjoyed making it :) 

Now for the best part... we have two amazing giveaways this week!

Emerald Creek Blog Hop Giveaway image

One lucky winner will receive a $25 Gift Certificate to StencilGirl Products AND a $25 Gift Certificate to Emerald Creek!

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

You have until Tuesday, December 19th at 11:59PM Central Time to leave your comments. The winner will be announced on StencilGirl's Facebook page on Wednesday, December 20th.


Seth Apter is also generously giving away his original artwork which he created for this blog hop!


 Head over to Seth's blog and leave a comment on his post to be entered to win this piece. You need to do this by Tuesday, 12/19 at 11:59PM Central Time to be eligible.

Here are all of the posts so far:

December 13:

December 14:

And... don't forget to come back tomorrow for the final four projects!

December 15:

Mixed Media Seahorse Sculpture

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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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

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



Gwen's Gems - Winter Art Journaling

Hi all! Just popping in to let you know that I have a new project available over on StencilGirl Talk... this month I'm sharing a tutorial showing how I made this page in my art journal featuring my new Christmas Cardinal and Holly stencil.


Be sure to check out the full post for lots more photos and that tutorial I mentioned :)



Make a File Folder Art Journal with Stencils & Tim Holtz Distress Oxides

Hi all! I can't tell you how excited I am to be participating in this week's blog hop... all of the members of the StencilGirl creative team are using some of Mary Beth's favorite Tim Holtz products with our StencilGirl stencils. 

Tim Holtz Blog Hop Header

Today is all about the Distress Oxide Inks, and I'm so excited that I got to work with them! My friend Tracie owns Papercraft Clubhouse in Connecticut, and when these ink pads first came out, she couldn't say enough about how awesome they were, so I couldn't wait to play with them. I was not disappointed... in fact, if you've seen my projects lately, you can probably tell that I'm more than a little bit addicted!

For today's project, I've made a file folder art journal and then used my stencils and Distress Oxide Inks to decorate the front and back covers and to make five different backgrounds on the inside pages.


Here are all of the inside spreads, and rather than my usual photo tutorials, I've made six little videos showing you how I made each one of the backgrounds in the journal. Ready to get started?

For my first spread, I used lots of browns and had a lot of fun with the oxidized background effects! I used my Art Deco Sunburst Background stencil, the X Rows stencil by Michelle Ward, and the Numbers and Inside Out stencils by Seth Apter.


Here you can see a few close-ups of the finished backgrounds:


For the second spread, I went much brighter! I did some reduction printing with my Ornamental Petals Screen stencil, then added a few layers of pattern with my Ornamental Peacock Feathers and Decorative Medallion stencils.


Here's the video for this spread:

And of course, a few close-ups of the finished pages:


I just love the way the layers of pattern blend together when you use these inks!

For the third spread, I tried out an idea I had to use the Distress Oxide Inks with some Distress Paint to do a page inspired by a piece of metal with lots of patina. In the video, I added a little Wild Honey Distress Oxide on the right-side page to add a bit of a rusty effect as well. I love how it turned out! On this one, I used my Art Deco Borders stencil along with the Numbers and Inside Out stencils by Seth Apter. 


Of course, the video to go with this spread...

Here's a close-up of the effects I got on this background:


For the fourth spread, I added in some Distress Glaze to do some resist effects using the Marrakech Mix stencil by Michelle Ward.  I also used my Ornamental Floral Screen stencil and the Decorative 6-Petal Flower Screen to build up some layers of pattern and texture.


Here's the video for this one:

It's a very subtle effect, but I really like how it turned out!


For the final spread inside the book, I used the Distress Oxides to print directly from my stencils onto the background. On these pages, I used my Ornamental Floral Screen stencil along with the X Rows stencil by Michelle Ward.


One more background tutorial video... 

With a close-up, of course! This technique was a lot of fun and I love how it looked with the stamped border!


Last but not least, I have a tutorial for the front and back covers of the journal. This one used quite a few stencils! The focal point was my Art Deco Bookplates stencil, then I did the lettering with my Art Deco Alphabet stencil and the front also uses the word "inside" from Seth's Inside Out stencil. I added a bit of texture with my Ornamental Floral Screen stencil and my Decorative 6-Petal Flower Screen.


The last video tutorial... in this one I show you the back cover from start to finish:

A few close-ups from both sides... did I mention how much I love the way the Distress Oxide Inks blend and fade into each other to make such gorgeous effects?


Whew! That's it! I probably went a little overboard with this project, but I really loved using the Distress Oxides with my stencils. It was so fun to play and experiment!

The links for my stencils go to my own website, but of course you can also find all of my stencil designs on the StencilGirl website.

Of course, it's not a blog hop without a giveaway, and StencilGirl has an especially awesome prize this week!


One lucky winner will receive a $50 Gift Certificate to StencilGirl Products!

Tim Holtz Blog Hop Giveaway image

Sign Up for The Scoop for your chance to WIN!

* indicates required field


Visit the blogs of Team StencilGirl and comment for MORE chances to win!

The more blogs you comment on, the more chances you have to WIN! One winner will be chosen at random from The Scoop subscribers and blog comments! (One comment per person per blog please.)

You have until Tuesday, October 24th at 11:59PM Central Time to leave your comments.

Winner will be announced on StencilGirl's Facebook page on Wednesday, October 25th.


Here are all of the links for the posts that have gone up so far - make sure you comment to be entered for this awesome prize!

October 18: Adirondack Alcohol Inks

October 19: Distress Oxide Ink Pads 

Check tomorrow to get the links for all of the posts using Distress Crayons!







Kantha Quilting with Stencils and Kuchi Patches

Hi all, it's that time again... today I'm up on StencilGirl Talk with this month's edition of Gwen's Gems! For October, I used some of the things I learned in India about Kantha quilting to make some hand-stitched embellishments for a canvas handbag. I used some of my stencils as my patterns and embellished with Kuchi patches and sari appliques.



Make sure to head over and see the whole post for more photos and a tutorial!

Also as a reminder, if you're feeling inspired by all of the projects with Kuchi patches that are being shared this month, they're on sale in the shop for 15% off all through October!


Just use the coupon 15OffKuchiPatches when you check out to get 15% off! (It only includes patches specifically marked Kuchi, and doesn't include other Kuchi textiles or jewelry.)







Artist Tribe Blog Hop - Making ATCs!

Welcome to the first ever blog hop for The Artist Tribe at Gwen Lafleur Studios! I'm so excited to see and share all of the fabulous projects from these talented ladies, and I hope you'll enjoy it just as much!

There are three posts today, and three tomorrow, and of course, there's a giveaway! But before we get to that, here's a summary of today's inspiring projects:

First up, we have Jackie Neal,  who's sharing some beautiful diary style art journaling!

Dear Diary (29)

Here's what Jackie had to say about her project:

"Today I would like to share with you a journal spread I put together using some of Gwen's yummy products.
Most times I gather my inspiration from things around me, something in my studio or from the beauty out in nature.
For this journal spread, I was actually was inspired by Gwen and her travels to exotic countries where she procures these gorgeous papers, trims and embellishments!
Thank you and please stop by my blog for more details on how I put this together."
Items from Gwen's Mixed Media Supplies store:


Next up in today's lineup, Lynda Shoup is sharing another fabulous project! Lynda took inspiration from a recent outing where prayer flags and beautifully carved paving stones helped bring everything together.

Mixed Media Elephant Banner - Lynda Shoup

Lynda used some Turkmen jewelry parts, newspaper yarn, an image from the Enchanting Elephants downloadable collage cut-outs, and some hand-printed paper I sent to the team that's similar to the ones in my themed collage and embellishment packs to make her beautiful banner!


Last up for today... it's me! I'll show you how I used my stencils and some goodies from the shop to make a set of ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) for my latest swap.

Here are the cards - believe it or not, I made all of these in one sitting... it just took a few hours (which for me is pretty fast!)


Ready for a little tutorial? I started with an 11"x14" sheet of heavy weight paper, then I blended some Distress Oxide Inks onto the surface, spritzed with water, and dried it. I wanted to do two different colorways so that I would have some variety in the backgrounds for my cards.


Next, I pulled out my stencils and just started adding designs all over the background without much rhyme or reason. Here, I used two designs from my Art Deco stencil collection: Art Deco Sunburst Background, Art Deco Sun Medallion, then the Decorative Medallion stencil and Decorative 6-Petal Flower Screen, and from my Ornamental stencil collection, the Ornamental Peacock Feathers stencil, Ornamental Floral Screen, and Ornamental Embroidery. I stenciled all of those with Archival Inks - I wanted the slightly more soft and transparent look of inks for this, plus they give a nice, crisp image and no drying time. 

With that done, I cut the sheet down into 2-1/2"x3-1/2" cards, then took paper scraps and adhered them along the bottom or side with matte medium.


Then I took different washi tapes and added those as another layer, sealing them with matte medium.

With the matte medium dry, I took some different Dresden trim border designs and added a small section on each card.


Next I cut out nine images from the collage sheets (these were provided as part of a kit for my swap group, but you can find similar designs in my Irresistible India downloadable collage cutouts.) I decided which backgrounds looked best with which images and then adhered them in place with matte medium.

After that it was time to embellish! For this, I mainly used different trims, jewels, and charms from various ATC kits for my swap group and glued those in place.


Finally, I used Sepia and Jet Black Archival Inks along the edge of each card, then finished them with a line of gold from a Pen-Touch paint pen.

That's it! The cards themselves are quite easy to make - the key is the background, which adds a lot of complexity and depth without a lot of work. Then you just add a few layers on top, and voila! Fun ATCs, all ready to trade!

Here are close-ups of each of the cards I made:


And of course, one final look at all of them together:


I hope you enjoyed my project today! Of course, wow it's time for the part everyone is waiting for... a GIVEAWAY!

Blog Hop Giveaway Banner

One lucky winner will receive $20 Gift Card to the Shop at Gwen Lafleur Studios! All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on any or all of the blog posts 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 Sunday, October 1st at 11:59pm mountain time to leave your comments. The winner will be announced on the Gwen Lafleur Studios Facebook page on Monday, October 2nd.

 Today's posts:

Make sure to come back again tomorrow to see the next three projects!




Gwen's Gems - Using Stencils in my Travel Journal

Hi all! Today I'm up over on StencilGirl Talk with the September edition of Gwen's Gems! This month I'm getting ready to travel, so I'm showing how I use my stencils to help prep my travel journal so it's all set to go on the road with me :)


Head on over to see lots more photos, as well as a little overview of how I used stencils to make the covers and decorate the inside pages of my journal. Enjoy!

"Choose Love" Mixed Media Panel

Hi all! I'm up on StencilGirl Talk today with this month's edition of Gwen's Gems! This month I'm making a large mixed media panel featuring clay, collage, painting, and lots of stencils, of course!

Here's my project:


Make sure you head over for more photos and a tutorial!

(P.S. - for those who are interested, this piece is now available for sale on my website.)


Art Journaling with StencilGirl and Colourcraft

Hi all! Welcome to my stop on our blog hop with StencilGirl and Colourcraft! I was so excited to get to try some new-to-me products with stencils; I was able to just play and experiment and have a lot of fun in the process! 

SG Colourcraft Blog Hop banner

For my project, I used the Brusho starter pack with 12 colors along with Aztec Lustres Craft Paints in Aquarmarine and Dark Blue. I also got to try a very cool medium - EXpandit 3D Expanding Fabric Medium - you can see how I used them all with StencilGirl stencils in the tutorial below, but first... here's the art journal spread that I made:


Ready for that tutorial?

I started with a spread in my handmade journal (my book is 11x11) and the elephant was actually a large patterned diecut that I bound into the book - it was fun to work that into the spread! I coated the pages and the elephant with gesso, then when it was dry I took out some of the turquoise Brusho crystals and sprinkled them on the background. I spritzed with water until it looked like they were dissolved.


There was a good amount of water, which made for a great vehicle to move the ink around the page and get a cool look in the background. I dried that layer, then repeated with purple and dried it again.

I pulled out my Aztec Lustres Craft Paints and used a paper towel to dab them around the page - it added a subtle difference in color and some shimmer.


With that layer dry, I took the EXpandit 3D Expandable Medium and mixed it on my palette with some Leaf Green Brusho crystals and then used a cheap bristle brush to stencil the mixture through my Ornamental Peacock Feathers stencil


Then while it was still wet, I used my heat tool to do the magical expanding! I have no idea if this was what it was supposed to look like when I was done, but I really liked it - it feels like it's been flocked, and adds such cool texture to the background! (I think a thicker coat of the tinted medium would give you a more solid expanded surface, but I liked it this way.)    

Next, I mixed up some orange Brusho crystals and airbrush medium in a glass dropper bottle and dropped tiny puddles around the page. I waited a minute - just until I could see the color underneath start to reactivate and come to the surface, then I used a paper towel to blot it back off. This is a fun reduction technique; it pulled out the blue / purple colors but left a bit of an orange stain, which looks pretty cool!


Next I used some white acrylic paint with my Ornamental Floral Screen stencil and randomly added some pattern to the background. I like white for this since it brightens up the page and unifies everything all at the same time. 


With the background pretty much done, I moved on to the elephant inclusion. I used sepia and black Archival Inks to edge it on the outsides...


Then on the inside - when I opened up the diecut, I painted it with aquamarine Aztec Lustres Craft Paint, stenciled "TIME" from the Story Time stencil by Seth Apter and added the rest of the title with small alphabet stamps.

I decided that the title area needed something more, so I used my Art Deco Sunburst Background stencil and sepia ink to add a bit of pattern.


I had originally planned to do my journaling on the background of the spread, but after some trial and error I decided to add it as an outline around the elephant instead which I think worked really well. From there, I pulled my orange Brusho acrylic ink back out and added a few splatters, then let it dry.

To finish up the entire spread, I pulled out my washi tape - I love to use this to add just a little something to the edges of my pages.


I sealed the tape with a coat of matte medium, and voila! Completed art journal spread with fun new techniques and products.


Here you can see either side of the spread when the elephant is folded over:


 Just a few close-ups so you can see some of the cool effects I got with the Colourcraft products...


That's it! I hope you enjoyed my project for today. Now, without further ado, it's time for the giveaway!



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

SG Colourcraft GIVEAWAY image

Visit the fabulous designers from both teams and comment for your chance to win! The more blogs you comment on, the more chances you have to WIN! (One comment per person per blog please.)

You have until Sunday, August 20th at 11:59PM Central Time to leave your comments.

The winner will be announced on StencilGirl's Facebook page and Colourcraft’s Facebook page on Monday, August 21st.

In case you missed it, here's the list of all of the blogs in this week's hop: 

August 16

August 17 

August 18 


A Dimensional Mixed Media Panel with StencilGirl & Imagine Crafts

Hi all! Welcome to my stop on this week's fabulous blog hop with StencilGirl and Imagine Crafts! I'm sure it's fairly obvious at this point that I'm a stencil addict, but I'm also a big fan of Imagine Crafts' products - I have a ton of them in my studio that I work with regularly, so it was fun to feature a few of my favorites along with my trusty StencilGirl stencils!

SG Imagine Blog Hop banner

For this project, I had an idea for a technique I wanted to try and dove right in - I was pretty pleased that my little experiment actually turned out a lot like I'd envisioned! I used stencils, cardboard, and some of the irRESISTible products, along with a few others that I'll mention below to make a dimensional mixed media panel: 

StencilGirl-Imagine Crafts Mixed Media Panel - Gwen Lafleur

It's hard to really capture in photos how this project looks in real life, but it's actually pretty cool looking! You can get a better sense for the details in the tutorial photos.

Ready to see how I made this piece?

My idea was to do something that would create depth, so that I could have pools of color that were reminiscent of enamel or stained glass. I had a few different ideas on how to do that, but decided to go with cardboard to create the dimension. I started by tracing the Ripples Small stencil by Michelle Ward onto the surface. Since I had decided I was going to layer this on a 6x8 panel, I then flipped the stencil and lined it up so I could continue the pattern and make it taller.

Dimensional Mixed Media Panel - Step 1 - Gwen Lafleur

Then I used an x-acto knife to cut it out. (The lines on the stencil were where I wanted to have "channels" on my piece, otherwise I could have just used molding paste. This gives me a reverse of what I would have gotten by just stenciling.) You can also see that I added a few bridges to the design so that my circles would still be attached after they were cut out.

Dimensional Mixed Media Panel - Steps 2-3 - Gwen Lafleur

Again, there were several methods I could use to adhere the cardboard to my panel and then cover the raw edges, but I decided to use masking tape because it's cleaner, a bit faster, and has the bonus benefit of no drying time! You can see above how I took small pieces and laid them over the cardboard, adhering to the wood panel on either side. 

Dimensional Mixed Media Panel - Steps 3a-4 - Gwen Lafleur

Above, you can see how I used the tip of a bone folder to trace along the edges of the cardboard and make sure the tape got worked into the corners and was flush with the wood along the lines of the cardboard. This gave me much cleaner channels for the next steps.

Next, I wanted to create a metallic surface across the whole panel. I painted the entire thing with white gesso, and then while it was still wet I coated the entire piece with gold embossing powder from Imagine Crafts. Without waiting for the gesso to dry, I used my heat gun to melt and bubble the embossing powder. (The bubbling happens because of the wet acrylic medium under the embossing powder. I love to do this! You can also use gel medium, matte medium, paint, etc...) I should note that because of how long it took to heat something this large, I covered my nose and mouth to help minimize any unhealthy fumes that might come from this process.

Dimensional Mixed Media Panel - Step 5 - Gwen Lafleur

This gives you such cool texture! I continued heating and bubbling until the whole thing was done, then I started adding color. I took my irRESISTible sprays (I took the sprayer off and poured as you see below,) and my irRESISTible Pico Embellishers and started flooding some of the channels with color. (I used Paris Dusk, Copper, and Morocco.) I love these products because they look so much like stained glass when they're dry.

Dimensional Mixed Media Panel - Step 6 - Gwen Lafleur

In the last photo above, you can see where I also used some of the StazOn Studio Glazes to add color to some of the smaller areas (I used Ganache and Gothic Purple.) Once all of the color was in place, I set the panel aside to dry overnight.

With all of the color in place (and looking pretty cool, I think!) I wanted to add some last accents. I started by taking one of my medium sized Kuchi Patches (which was also the inspiration for my color palette,) and putting it in the center of the top set of circles.  Then I added one of the Imagine Crafts Ancient Dynasty Coins on top of that.

Dimensional Mixed Media Panel - Steps 7-8 - Gwen Lafleur

I decided that the sides of my panel needed a little something extra, so I pulled out my Art Deco Borders stencil and used some Royal Purple StazOn ink to add the pattern on all four sides.

It felt like the front of the panel was still missing something, so I dug through my stash and pulled out one of my Beautiful Butterflies tassels from India and hooked the loop around my coin and adhered that in place, letting the tassel itself hang free. Then I used my purple StazOn Studio Glaze and my finger to add a little color along the edges, as you can see below.    

Dimensional Mixed Media Panel - Step 9 - Gwen Lafleur

Finally, I took my StazOn Studio Glazes out again and used them to add some dots throughout the design.

Voila! A finished dimensional mixed media panel with some fun new techniques, and some unique accents!

Dimensional Mixed Media Panel - Side View 1 - Gwen Lafleur

Here are a few close-ups of the project so that you can see some of the details:

Dimensional Mixed Media Panel - Closeup 5 - Gwen Lafleur
Dimensional Mixed Media Panel - Closeup 5 - Gwen Lafleur

I hope you enjoyed today's project and tutorial as much as I enjoyed making it!

Of course, the part everyone is waiting for...

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

SG Imagine GIVEAWAY image

Visit the fabulous designers from both teams and comment on their posts 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 Sunday, July 23rd at 11:59PM Central Time to leave your comments. Winner will be announced on StencilGirl's Facebook page and Imagine Crafts’s Facebook page on Monday, July 24th.

July 19

July 20 

July 21 



Making a Decorative Clay Flower with Stencils

Hi all! I'm up on StencilGirl Talk today with the July edition of Gwen's Gems. This month I used Aves Apoxie Clay and stencils to make a fun, decorative flower that you can use on an art journal cover, in mixed media projects, or add to home decor. You can even make a smaller version to create your own statement pendants to use in jewelry making!

Here's my flower:

Stenciled Clay Flower - Gwen Lafleur

Head on over to StencilGirl Talk for lots more photos and a full project tutorial. Enjoy!

Gwen's Gems - Textured and Layered Art Journal Cover

Hi all! I'm over on StencilGirl Talk today with the June edition of Gwen's Gems. This month I'm using lots of stencils and even more molding paste to make a layered and textured cover for a new 9"x9" handmade art journal.

Textured Stenciled Book Cover Angle 1 - Gwen Lafleur
Textured Stenciled Book Cover Angle 1 - Gwen Lafleur

Head on over to the blog for more photos and a tutorial on how I made the cover! Enjoy!

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.


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.


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.


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!



It's Time for an Artful Adventure!

Hi all, I'm super excited to share that I'm a surprise guest instructor today in Nathalie Kalbach's FREE online class, Artful Adventures! We're celebrating the release of her new book and taking a Stroll through the Hood where we find inspiration based on fun prompts to help you look at your surroundings in a new way and interpret them in your art.


My prompt was "cracks" and I've put together a 20ish minute video tutorial showing you how I interpreted my inspiration for the day and turned it into a fun piece of abstract art.

Here's just a little peek at my project:

Cracked Pavement - Mixed Media Sneak Peek - Gwen Lafleur

I don't do pure abstract pieces a lot, but I really had a lot of fun playing with different products and techniques for this one, including a  few that might surprise you! Head on over and check it out! If you're not registered for the class, jump in and sign up - it's free! There's already a ton of great inspiration and lots of fabulous tutorials, with more to come. Hope you enjoy it!