Friday, July 20, 2018

Tayala: Golden Rain Goddess

In one of my art groups, a recent challenge was to use glue through a stencil. After debating with myself about which kind of glue to use and which stencil, I decided to give it a try with a favorite StencilGirl design by Andrea Matus DeMeng, and combine the face of Tayala, Goddess of Rain, with some of my favorite Gwen Lafluer stencils.

With the work of Pam Carricker in mind, I wanted to make an ethereal, angelic image with a halo, and I thought Gwen's newest Stencil Club design would be just right to create the angelic feeling.
Tacky Glue was pulled through a stencil to create texture.
First, I pulled some Tacky Glue through the face stencil with the edge of a credit card. I set it aside until it dried.
Gwen's July 2018 Stencil Club design were used for the crown and background.
Next, from the trio of July Stencil Club designs, I used the repeating mandala design above the head with white paint on an ochre ground. It didn't quite say "halo" so I added the top of the fluer de lis stencil (masking off the unwanted areas with washi tape). I used some VersaMark sticky embossing ink, sprinkled on some champagne embossing powder, and blasted it with my heat gun.

I wasn't entirely happy with the face. I had mixed flesh, yellow ochre, white and a little pink. I also wasn't thrilled with the way the paint covered the features--I had hoped the dried glue would act as a resist, but instead it covered up the stenciled facial features. I left it alone, and set to work stenciling more of the white circles in the background and on the body. I decided the use a portion of Michelle Ward's Damask Medium stencil to indicate a neckline.
The face needed more definition and the color was strange in this process shot.
To define the features, I decided to put the Tayala stencil back on. I lined it up exactly where it had been before, applied the VersaMark, and sprinkled the champagne embossing powder. After it turned gold from the magic of my heat gun, the page was starting to shape up.

I added some more white circular stencils, some pink paint, and some yellow ochre circular stencils. I also softened the face with lighter colors. Some gold paint was added to the hair for accent, and accents of gold paint were added to the fluer de lis atop her head.
Champagne embossing powder added more definition to the face.
It looked a little naked, and I wanted to accentuate the crown/halo idea, so I added three brass-colored square mini brads to connect the fluer de lis with the hair. I set it aside and mulled over what it needed to be complete.
Square metallic mini brads added interest on the crown.
It struck me that the crown/halo needed to be more obvious, and three sections from a piece of German Dresden Trim fit perfectly on Tayala's forehead and matched the fluer de lis perfectly.

The facial features needed more definition, so I very, very carefully placed the stencil back over the existing painting and carefully added black ink with a small dauber tool. I also added a little more dark paint in the top left corner and in the hair, plus some dark strokes with a brush tipped watercolor marker in the hair.
Black ink was carefully added to define the features, and Dresden trim enhanced the crown effect.
The final touch was some faux jewels: tiny medium blue and larger metallic indigo mini brads completed the crown. Tayala, the Phoenician name of the goddess of the dew, is rain personified. The blueish color of her blouse and its softness give the feeling of a misty, dewy morning, and mixes with the golden glow of the sun.
Tayala: Golden Rain Goddess

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Stencil Club: A Tuscan Summer Day

Over the past few years, I've gotten hooked on stencils. At first, I thought stencils were something that had to be traced carefully and filled in with color. I thought they would give a stiff, boring look to my artwork. After taking some workshops and watching videos on how to use stencils, I discovered that they were pretty magical.

One of my friends told me about the Stencil Club, which has exclusive designs by some of the top artists of Stencil Girl. Each month, you get three different sized stencils by the same artist plus a video and membership in their closed Facebook group. The Stencil Club designs are not for sale to the public; they are available only to club members.

I decided to give the Stencil Club a try, and as luck would have it, this month's artist is one of my favorites: Gwen Lafluer. When the stencils arrived, I pulled out some of my favorite supplies and got to work.
The tile-inspired designs made me think of an old country home in Tuscany...not that I have ever been there, but I can dream, can't I? I pictured warm golden colors and sunlight and charmingly aged floors and walls. For the background of my journal page, I decided to use a base of turmeric teabags with the biggest stencil (9"x12") done in white.
Dried, empty turmeric teabags ready to be glued to a journal page.
I got to work spreading matte medium on the blank page with an old credit card, placing on the teabags, adding more matte medium on top, and scraping off the excess.
The first row of teabags was applied to the wet, matte medium covered page.
Eight turmeric teabags covered the page perfectly.
Little pieces that were snipped off the top of the teabag (so that it could be emptied) add interest to the background.
White acrylic was applied through the stencil with a makeup sponge.
Once the white paint had dried, I carefully applied VersaMark on top of the 6'x6"stencil, sprinkled on some of my Emerald Creek Baked Texture embossing powder in chunky rust, removed the stencil, tapped off the excess powder, then blasted it with my heat gun. The rust, white and turmeric colors  were perfect together. (I was having such a good time and so far into my "zone" that I forgot to take photos.)

It needed a little more oomph, so I searched through my boxes of ephemera to find just the right item that said 'Tuscan kitchen on a sunny, relaxed day' and auditioned a bunch of items. I finally settled on some birds that I cut from les Oiseaux, a beautiful Florentine paper available on Gwen's website. I carefully tore the birds out of the paper, added antique linen Distress Stain to age them, and edged them with a touch of brown chalk ink. Next, I used gel medium to adhere the birds to the page.
Birds were cut from the gorgeous les Oiseaux Florentine paper.
I was feeling like the page should hint at a window, so I added an edging, at the bottom, of one of Gwen's Art Deco Border designs to suggest the window ledge. Again I used the VersaMark, but this time I sprinkled champagne-gold embossing powder. As final touches, I added small white sections of the fluer de lis, a little gold on  the tips of the the rusty fluer de lis, and with my fingertip, a bit of yellow ochre paint to blend the birds into the background.

I am so glad I took the plunge and joined the Stencil Club! I want to spend the whole weekend playing with the new Stencil Club stencils, which I am sure are going to be among my favorites. I can't wait to see what interesting stencils arrive in the months to come!
"A Tuscan Summer Day" journal page

Friday, July 6, 2018

Turmeric Flip Journal

A lot of artists are hoarders--not the kind on television that need intervention--but we are savers of bits and pieces of pretty things. Sometimes we save ugly things because they are just so very interesting. We save pieces of pretty paper, yarn, fabric, metal, rocks, sticks and weird stuff from garage sales.

One of the many things I save is teabags--used, dried, and emptied of their contents. They add a nice vintage look to a page. (You can see some of my past creations here and here.) My husband recently switched to turmeric tea, and I loved the golden color of the bags, so he started saving them for me. (Is he a good husband or what?!)

Like many, I have boxes and drawers full of unfinished artworks. It turned out that a lot of them were 6"x6"...probably because that is the size of my geli plate. I decided to use the scraps up and put them in a journal.
These are some of the leftover hoarded and unfinished artwork that became book pages.
The center pages were part of a card I received from artist Jeanne Draachreider.
Recently an artist posted a journal she made that had a simple ring closure. So simple. So efficient. I loved it. I ran out to my local office supply store and snagged a package.

One of the problems with most bound journals is that once you start adding layers to a page, it gets fatter and fatter and eventually won't close. Often some of the back pages go unused because the journal just can't hold any more. Some people remove every other page, but that seems tedious and wasteful. A ring-bound flip journal seemed like a perfect solution to the "fat journal" problem.

First, I tried out the ring on my Index Card of the Day collection. I loved it. The cards flipped easily, and I could add and subtract pages without a problem. The cover was made of leftovers from a mermaid doll project.

I used some of Gwen's stencils in shades of blue and green as the base for the fins, and also used some of the embellishments from silk sari scraps plus a seahorse and starfish from the downloadable Stupendous Sea Life collection and a few Turkmen jewelry parts.

The dolls I made for my art doll trade group came out great too. Below are a few of them.
I wanted the turmeric journal to be a little more elegant than the Index Card of the Day flip book, so I decided to make the cover one continuous piece, with an inch or two for a spine, and have two rings. I got to work, cutting watercolor paper, smearing (with the side of an old credit card) matte medium on the paper, and layering the teabags. I was in my zone, working madly and happily like an elf at Christmas.

I especially liked the imperfections of the tea stains and the unevenness of the shapes where the teabags overlapped. I also liked the little snippets that were cut off so that the tea could be removed from the bag.

I criss-crossed the small strips on the book spine to enhance the rustic effect.
The wet spine of the book, with tea bag end strips forming loose crosses.
I left some of the pages with only the teabags. For others, I covered them with the geliplate prints and other small, unfinished artwork.

On some, I had to experiment with a new mandala stencil of Gwen's from the Boho Collection, and tried it several ways.
When everything was dry, I punched holes in the pages. For the holes on the front and back cover, I added some grommets for strength.

I tried out a some of Gwen's Fabulous Floral Embellished Trim on the cover as well as some of the German Dresden Trim, but they were too fancy with the utilitarian ring closure.
The sea-green and gold trim was pretty with the cover, but didn't work with the ring closure.
The Dresden Trim accent was gorgeous with the turmeric teabags, but the rings looked clunky next to it.
I loved the new mandala stencil so much I used it on the book cover with some of Seth Apter's Emerald Creek Radiant Rust embossing powder.

When I put all the pages together and attached the rings, it looked great. The circular design complimented the ring closure and the little grommets, and the warm rust effect went nicely with the turmeric's golden color.
So far, so good--but there was a problem. The journal didn't flip very well. The spine of the cover prevented the pages from laying flat, and the curve of the ring also inhibited the page-turning.
This page has a StencilGirl design by Andrea Matus DeMeng done in Deep Sea Baked Texture Embossing Powder.
This page has a StencilGirl design called Lacy Lotus, by Jessica Sporn.
The left page has a Damask design by Michelle Ward  printed on deli paper.
I tried some substitutes for the rings. A fiber closure was a fail. I tried some jewelry pins with wire twisted through both ends...also a fail. I tried taking apart a D-ring but the metal was too difficult to bend and even if I had been able to get the pages on the straight part of the ring, I wouldn't be able to open and close it.
I decided to go with function over beauty, and cut all my pages, as well as the cover and spine, apart. Now the pages flipped perfectly and the book would open completely and lay flat.

To finish, I dangled some of my favorite Turkmen jewelry parts on the rings. They go nicely with the rustic look of the turmeric teabags, and add a sweet, soothing tinkling sound. This just may be my new favorite journal!
The new journal, open flat, showing the back (left) and front (right)
A side view of the Turmeric Flip Journal
The finished Turmeric Flip Journal, with Turkmen jewelry parts dangling from the ring closures.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Nine-Patch Paper Quilt

When I saw Gwen Lafluer's Spring 2018 Stencil Girl designs, one of my favorites was a large stencil that had words and little flowers. The words said "what could I do if I wasn't afraid to try?" and they really resonated with me. (You can see the artwork I made with those words here.)

The designs surrounding the words also spoke to me. They were based on some hand carved, India-inspired designs that Gwen made during "Carve December."
I decided to try making some fabric designs with the stencils. I studied Textile Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and my early career was as a textile designer and print stylist. I  often visualize stencil and stamp designs as fabrics and imagine their colors and repeats in my mind's eye.

I made a bunch of different designs, and was especially happy with a couple. Then I thought of the words "what could I do if I wasn't afraid to try?" on the stencil and realized that fear can be of big things or of little things. Even the fear of cutting up the new fabric designs gnawed at me. I threw caution to the wind and decided to cut them into squares and try making a paper quilt. Fortunately I took photos of my design so I can recreate it in the future, which eased the fear a little.

Mixing and matching the papers I created with Gwen's new and old stencils.
A StencilGirl stencil by Jessica Sporn was printed on white and green on yellow paper.
One of Gwen's new designs was printed in  turquoise on top of the yellow and green print above.
My paper designs and fabrics in shades of yellow and pink.
My paper designs and fabrics in shades of blue, green and lavender.
These four designs were used to make the final paper quilt.
I didn't have enough of the paper I stenciled with the yellow, green and turquoise designs to make a very big quilt, so I combined them with some of my own fabrics, which I had designed a few years ago and printed at Spoonflower, along with a yellow and white print using a Jessica Sporn Stencil Girl design. Since the prints I made from Gwen's and Jessica's stencils were on paper, I glue-sticked my two fabrics to some heavy paper, then cut it all into squares. I was on a roll.

The 4" squares of the four designs looked pretty good, but the design (above) was too square and boring. I decided to cut all the squares diagonally and rearrange them.

 I almost had enough for a 9-patch, but wanted something in the center. (The red design in the middle is my living room rug, not part of the design!) I thought Gwen's words would work beautifully with the paper quilt. I painted some smooth, heavy watercolor paper turquoise, and stenciled the words on with an indigo ink. They were a little big to fit inside my center square, so I squished them in and hand wrote the word afraid.

 The words were a little too close to the edge, and the colors a little too harmonious, so I tried adding strips of contrasting fabric.
  I wasn't sure I liked it, so I left it and looked at it again the next day. I decided to try cutting the triangles even smaller so that it would be more of a pinwheel design. I liked the new arrangement, so I cut the rest of the pieces smaller, so that each 4" block would have 8 triangles.
 Next, I repeated the pattern until I had a square design with an empty center space. I  lightly glued the pieces to deli paper, leaving the center empty.
I tested out a few different ideas for the center. The words I had originally planned to have in the center didn't fit quite right, so I saved the quote for a future project.
Some reverse applique fabric pieces looked interesting and unexpected. I ended up using them in another project. You can see that project here.

I tried the reverse applique fabric pieces in the center and around the edges, and added some accent strips of another fabric.
The colors of the mermaid journal page worked, but it was too large.
The mermaid artwork looked too small inside the center square.
A piece of silk sari scrap fabric was the right size, but the wrong color.
A print of the Scribble X stencil had the right color, but didn't seem bold enough for a centerpiece.
A piece of deli paper printed with assorted stencils was harmonious, but lacked a central focus.
An art deco stencil print had the right colors, but was the wrong size and shape.
A print of Gwen's Art DecoMedallion stencil was just the right size and color for the center.
I tested some other stencils as accent, but they were too large and the extra brown color didn't work.
Finally, I decided to keep it simple and move forward with just Gwen's turquoise Art Deco Sun Medallion stencil in the center. The color was right, and the geometry worked with the quilt's geometry.
After backing the pieces with some fabric for stability and removing the deli paper that they were temporarily glued to, I zigzag stitched all the pieces together, and the design was finished.
A close up of the stitching in progress.
Detail shot of the stitched center design and surrounding quilt pieces.
My plan is to print some yardage of the green and yellow designs at Spoonflower so that I can play with the design some more, but this time as a real quilted fabric instead of paper. Can't you see this design as a big quilt on a bed, as throw pillows, or even a summer dress?