Friday, October 27, 2017

Deco Dreams

One of the most therapeutic art things I do is create journal pages. Years ago I tried off and on to keep a journal. Mine never looked anything like the beautiful journals I saw in magazines and books. They were awkward and incomplete. I was intimidated by all the white pages staring back at me, and felt pressure to do a masterpiece…at least on the first page or two.

All that changed when I took a course offered by Ink Pad NYC with instructor Kelly Kilmer. Not only did I create my own handmade journal that day, I learned a step by step technique for journaling and created several good journal pages. Now I’m addicted to art journaling.

When I saw Gwen Lafleur’s Stencil Girl Art Deco stencil series, I just had to have the one with a triangular design that reminded me of the Chrysler building. I am inspired each time I see that art deco structure, and often pass through the lobby of the building on my way to take the subway to and from work. 
First, I gathered my stencil, paints and other supplies.
I tested the deco stencils on several kinds of paper, with several colors, and tried it out on my gelli plate as well. I selected the most perfect print—which was done on lightweight deli paper with a steel-gray paint—and decided it would be the centerpiece of my journal page.

Prints of the deco stencils done with acrylic paint on deli paper.
As I made the page, I was thinking about Sinatra’s song New York, New York—which has become the unofficial anthem of New York—and all the thousands of people who come to the city seeking fame, fortune, love and happiness.

Following Kelly’s formula, I rummaged through my scrap box and piles of hand-painted and commercial papers and pulled out whatever caught my eye at that moment. I also pulled out some papers that Gwen carries on her website. They were a miss-mosh of colors and styles from several different countries, but that seemed right. I also chose a strip paper from a Chinese newspaper, which added to the multicultural theme. I was aiming for a page about New York, with the many cultures and nationalities living and working side by side, so the unrelated designs made sense to me.

Blank journal pages, with assorted favorite papers and ephemera.
Final selection of papers, fabric and images for the journal collage.
I worked instinctively, tearing them to the size that, in that very moment, seemed right, and used both a glue stick and gel medium to adhere them to the page of my journal. Kelly’s method is to work quickly, without overthinking, choose 4-5 background papers, tear then to the size you want, and glue them down quickly. Then, add your focal point. Next, add a stamp or stencil somewhere on the page. Last, add some words or some handwritten marks.

For this page, the focal point was the deco stencil print. I carefully trimmed away the excess deli paper around the image, and later, used a glue stick to hold it in place.

Deco image, printed on deli paper, suggesting the top of New York City's famous Chrysler Building.
 Here is a step by step view of my base page creation process:

Liquitex matte medium was spread on the blank page with an old credit card, and first layer
(hand printed in white on blue painted deli paper with a Nathalie Kalbach art foamie set) was added.
More base layers from Gwen's paper collection were added instinctively.
Yet more layers of fabric and papers were added. Using two of my own fabrics (the green batik and dotted leaf)
seemed especially appropriate because I came to New York to fulfill my dream of becoming a textile designer.
The final base layer is finished, with the cutout deco stencil and butterfly positioned, but not glued.
 I was almost done, but felt it needed something soft to balance the deco building image, so, for an accent, I chose a butterfly from Gwen’s Beautiful Butterflies downloadable pdf. I gently tore the butterfly around the edges, and added Distress Stain and a little sepia ink to age it a bit.

A butterfly was torn from the Beautiful Butterflies sheet.
The edges of the butterfly were aged with distress stain and a sepia ink pad.
 The butterfly represents the hope that so many people have—hope that they will find success and happiness and maybe even love by coming to New York. Aging the butterfly kept it from looking too stark, and also reflects the fact that New York can be a sooty, dirty, noisy place but that doesn’t stop the butterfly or the hopeful people.

When the page was nearly done, I took an old favorite lacy stamp, and, with white printmaking paint, added some soft touches on the right side to represent clouds.

Last, I added a stamped (on deli paper) Dina Wakely quote: “Give the historians something to write about.” It seemed the perfect quote for a journal page about hopes and dreams. The page is a bit autobiographical; 39 years ago I was a bit of a starry eyed young woman, coming to New York to study textile design and hopefully find a fulfilling career. Almost four decades later, I am still inspired by New York, the Chrysler Building and other architectural wonders, and the energy of the millions of people who live and work here.

Close up of Deco Dreams journal page.
And here's some news...Gwen is going to be having a birthday / Halloween sale the 30th-31st on everything, including original artwork and jewelry! So mark your calendars and save the date. There will be a coupon code that has to be used in checkout. Click HERE to go to Gwen's website to see all her awesome merchandise and creations.

For more information about classes sponsored by Ink Pad NYC, click here.
To find out about Kelly Kilmer's technique, click here.
To see Nathalie Kalbach's art foamies, click here.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Kuchi Upcycled Body Butter Storage Container

Among the amazing array of art and craft elements from around the globe that are stocked in Gwen Lafleur’s online store are Kuchi patches. This October, the Artist Tribe (Gwen's posse of like-minded artists) are spotlighting these gorgeous, intricately beaded and embroidered vintage Afghan Kuchi patches...and each one is a mini work of art.

When I opened my box of October supplies and saw a big, round wine-colored Kuchi patch, the creative light bulb went off in my head, and I knew just where to use it.

I am always on the lookout for ways to recycle and upcycle household items. One of my favorite things to repurpose are tubs from the Body Shop’s Body Butter. I had an empty one sitting in my stash for a while and the top of it was exactly the same size as my big Kuchi patch. The question was, what do I do about the rest of the container?

In the past I have covered containers with felt, fabric and molding paste. (Here’s a link to my blogpost about another upcycled storage container.) I searched through my basket of fabrics and box of trims to find similar colors and designs that would work with the wine-colored Kuchi. I decided to go with fibers in the purple and orange family, colors reminiscent of richly colored fall leaves.


 First, I measured around the circumference of the tub and also measured the height, added a little extra, and cut a piece from some beautiful purple and gold paisley fabric that I found in New York’s “little India” neighborhood on Lexington Avenue in the east 20s. I had been hoarding it waiting for the right project…and this was the one. I also traced around the bottom and cut a circle shape.

I smeared a layer of gel medium on the container’s sides, then carefully adhered the fabric to it. I used the selvedge edge of the fabric and brought up close to the spiral threads at the top, but made sure not to overlap, which would interfere with the screw-on lid.

Next, I snipped the fabric every ¼” toward the bottom so it would fan out a little and I could cover the bottom edge. I also trimmed about ¼” away from the circle of fabric that would be used for the bottom, then used gel medium to adhere it.

While the fabric covered jar was drying, I set to work on the top. I used a piece of purple satin ribbon and adhered it to the side of the top with gel medium. It was a little wider than the lid edge, so I snipped it every ¼” and glued the extra ribbon over the edge to the top, securing it with some washi tape. The taped area would be hidden once the Kuchi patch was attached.


The Kuchi patch is quite thick, so I knew that gel medium would not be strong enough to attach it. So, I pulled out my hot glue gun, let it get warm, and squeezed dots of hot glue on the body butter lid, then quickly press the Kuchi in place…easy peasy!

Almost done, but it needed more “bling.” It also needed something to cover up the black selvedge edge near the top.

With the words “More is more!” often said by one of my favorite Fashion Institute of Technology Textile Design teacher ringing in my head, I set to work finding embellishments. I used some of Gwen’s jewelry components and rummaged through my personal stash of jewelry-making parts for the rest. I discovered some long-forgotten carved bone elephants in my stash that were just right and went beautifully with Gwen's dangly charms.

 I also took some of my own handmade Tyvek beads, combined them with small Swarovoski crystals, and added a looped headpin so they would hang. (For my tutorial on how to make beads out of recycled Tyvek mailing envelopes, click here and scroll down to the Tyvek Beaded Necklace instructions.)

On a piece of Gwen’s burnt orange sari ribbon, I alternated the larger dangly embellishments with the Tyvek beads, then tied it around the top of the jar. Last, I wrapped the orange sari ribbon and the dangly elements and fiddled with it until the jar had a casually-elegant appearance.

 Here's a photo of the new storage jar, sitting on my bookshelf along with the other three body butter jars I had previously repurposed. Now the question is...what do I keep in my new India-inspired jar? Art supplies? Jewelry? Coins? Crayons? Mini brads? Beads?

Please take a look the Kuchi patches on Gwen's can save 15% on all Kuchi patches throughout October. And don't forget to surf around and see the incredible papers, trims, stencils and other unique items. The collection of items in Gwen's online store is unlike any other!