Saturday, December 2, 2017

Making Holiday Gift Wrapping - Part Two - Holiday Stencils Three Ways

If you have been following me for long you will already know that I am not prone to following the rules. At first, I thought traditionally about using Gwen's Christmas Collection stencils and you can see that I started off by printing out a copy for each of my party guests. (I'd like to mention that they all wanted to use the stencil themselves. It's important to mention we shared nicely, taking turns and saying please and thank you.) When starting to make my own project, however,  I veered off in another direction. 

I quickly realized that the stencil could be used to make the paper reflect any style. It really is that versatile. So I challenged myself to use those two stencils to create three distinct styles. Thinking about the hallmarks of each style and breaking down those elements will help you to use these stencils to get the effect you want. 

For the purposes of this experiment, I went with classic gold and cream, shabby chic and boho bright. I chose to make the papers into triangle origami boxes. You know this is my go-to wrapping style. For each of them, I used paper ripped out of my sketchbook. The paper is cream colored. Each box requires 6 pieces - I made them in 5" and 6" squares. If you have read my origami boxes posts, you will know that I used to work for Japan Publications Trading Company as a copy editor and translator in their craft department. I favor the directions of Tomoko Fuse. You can choose any style of origami box - the more you make them the more you fall in love with them.

Stencils used for all three variations were Gwen's StencilGirl Stencils - Christmas Collection - Christmas and Cardinal and Holly Stencil & Christmas Poinsettia Stencil .

Classic Cream and Gold

Sargent Art - Metalic Marker - Gold

Piece of gold star trim for accent

Apply pattern to the paper by tracing through the stencil with the marker. Fold box in the desired style. Add a gold accent. Viola! Classic gold and cream. 

Shabby Chic

Craft Smart acrylic paint in Sailing Sky, Vanilla and Rosy Posy
Ranger Liquid Pearls - White Opal
Piece of white lace 
paper flower

Honesty time here. I was so focused on making the box that I forgot to take photographs of the paper after I stenciled it. 

Paint the paper with a mixture of the blue and white paints and let dry. Pounce the pink through the stencil. Add liquid pearls to the area of the berries. Let the whole thing dry thoroughly before folding into boxes or the liquid pearls will smear. 

Put the boxes together and get ready to embellish. 

I had a scrap of by-the-yard lace fabric, but you could use lace trim. The lace was cut double wide and folded over to create more puff. Thread the needle and make a double knot. With edges together sew a running stitch along the raw edge. Gather and fan out to make a circular shape. Overlap so that the lace goes twice around. Pull the thread to size and knot. With the shape determined, sew through the layers to secure the spiral. Take the needle through the flower. Cut a piece of lace for the ribbons and cut the ends either at an angle or in an upside down v. Fold in half and bring the needle through the fold to secure to flower. Attach to box by carefully putting the needle through the hole between the pieces (if making a triangle box) or by making a stitch through the paper (if there is no hole.)

Isn't it sweet?

Boho Bright

materials Craft Smart acrylic paint in Plum, Wine, Bright Rose, Bright Magenta, Bright Yellow, and Red.
Dylusions Ink Spray - Tangerine Dream
Ranger Liquid Pearls - Gold Pearl

Irresistible India Mini Woodblock Border Stamps - Paisley 1

Piece of Sari Yarn from Darn Good Yarn - Twisted Sister

Gelli Plate

For the Boho version, I wanted a very layered paper. Out came the gelli plate and a bunch of woodblock stamps from Gwen's shop. The scarf you see in the pictures above was the inspiration for the colors. That's when I discovered that I don't have any strong orange paint. Gelli plates make it really easy to remedy that. 

Each paper was printed many times, layering and layering the stamps and the colors. Some layers are hardly visible, but when tseen together it has a very bohemian, well-traveled feel to it.

When content that there were enough layers the stencil was applied using spray ink. Sadly, it bled. Guess I was a bit enthusiastic. This is mixed media, though, so easy enough to fix. A gold gel pen traced through the stencil put all to rights. 

Add the liquid pearls in gold pearl to the berry areas. That really makes it pop. 

Fold the pieces and put the box together. 

Next, I took out the stitching that kept the embroidered star to the lovely velvet backing and liberated the star. 

To make the tie to hold the boxes together I used sari yarn. Take a stitch at the end of the yarn. Wrap the yarn around your thumb to make a loop. Take a stitch through the bottom of the loop and the end of the yarn. Continue to make thumb-sized loops and secure to the middle using a stitch. When the motif is large enough stitch the embroidered star to the yarn. I put a loop on the back to pull the end through. This is then adjustable. It can secure the packages. It can also be used as an accessory. Two gifts in one! 

So there you have it! Three distinct styles using just the two stencils. So many other possibilities await! 

While I didn't use any Dresden or Scrap in this project (I thought I was still in November! How time flies!) it would be so easy to use it here. Use a gold medallion with the classic gold and white, scrap and medallions with the shabby chic and my, oh, my, the Dresden would look great with the boho look! 

Stay tuned, because there will be no holding me back with the Dresden and scrap. Meanwhile, here is a discount code so you can get some supplies in time for holiday projects. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Making Holiday Gift Wrapping - Part One - A Party

I got my hands on Gwen's holiday stencils and the ideas immediately started going round in my head. I mean, look at them! And yes, those are fairy lights shining down on them. I do so love to have fairy lights shining down on my desk. 

First I stenciled on white paper. Then on a brown tag. Finally on tissue paper. The possibilities for making materials for gift wrapping were amazing. 

I couldn't keep all this goodness to myself, now could I? So we decided to have a gift-wrap making party and enjoy making our wrapping with our friends. Now I must admit that some of my friends are not all that comfortable with being asked to make things. They say things like "I'm not artistic." or "I don't make things." Usually, I nod my head and tell them that there will be refreshments and they can hang out with the other people who don't think they can do it making hot chocolate. Frankly, some of their work ends up being amazing.  

When having a party that involves paint, covering the tables with craft paper and securing with duct tape relieves those what-if-I-spill-on-the-table jitters. Frankly, I encourage people to draw on the paper. It's so much more interesting that way. 

Here's the tag I made using markers. 

One participant mimicked the poinsettia stencil using one of the makeup sponges. 

Another made stripes of color and stenciled the poinsettia over them. 

In this picture, you can see many different approaches. 

This was a careful stenciler who made beautifully crisp images. 

This friend believed she could not do this stenciling thing. Imagine a package wrapped in this! I love the colors she used. 

This friend has a mathematical and geometric sense of balance. 

Here the stencil was stamped onto paper, cut out and pasted to a large piece of paper. Paint was added on top and other elements added around it. 

More color was added ontop. 

Here it emerges. 

Brownish red paint in a spray bottle was used to spritz the stencil. Then the stencil was used with red paint to create more poinsettias. 

They were then layered and glued to the paper to create a full and dimensional work. 

The party was fun. It was especially enjoyable to see the different things my friends did with the stencils. It was a good way to gain a new perspective.

Stay tuned - That was Holiday Gift Wrapping Part One. Later this week I will reveal what I did with these stencils to make some unique gift wrapping. Hope you will come back and visit me then. 

Until then, I would love to know:
Do you make your own wrapping material?
Have you ever done it? How did it go? 
What are your favorite gift wrap go-tos? 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Recycling Silk Threads into New Yarn

I'm wondering if this should be the first in a series of posts about how I recycle things most people would throw away. I mean, you probably would. Me? I just can't let go of certain kinds of materials. 

Point in case - these silk threads. 

I have been saving them for years. At first, I saved them because I was making paper. These threads added to paper pulp make an extraordinary paper. Simply lovely. So I had a little, zippered lunch bag that I saved them in. Now, these threads are the ones that fray off a piece of silk. Silk, that wonderous fabric! How could I let such fiber and color go? And, let's face it, silk frays around the edges like a grad school hopeful that needs those 5 more points on the GREs. There's plenty of this kind of fray if one works with silk. 

So a kind of synchronicity of events lead to the discovery of my wool carders, the silk, an old ball of yarn I spun years ago from natural wool and a wandering mind. It culminated with the box the carders was in fell off a pile, onto the floor and cracked open before my eyes. If that wasn't a sign that I should try them out again, I don't know what is. (So let it be known that I will accept any excuse to spend my time creating. I can tell quite a story, too.)

So here's how that beautiful silk looks when combed out. I added wool, and lots of it, so that there would be something to bind it together. I found that the parts where the silk ratio was too high, the whole thing fell apart. You have to have enough wool to hold it together. 

Here's the drop spindle I used to spin the yarn. I made the bottom out of fimo more than ten years ago. The dragonfly pattern in it was created by referencing a book about making colorful rolled sushi. Haven't touched this in years either, but worked like a charm. 

And here is the finished product. There is not much of it...yet. 

What I have found out is that it is possible. It works and this is something I can incorporate into my work. 

I didn't really have to spin it. I could have carded it and then used it for felting. Perhaps an easier way to make use of the materials. My mind doesn't rest. What about spinning scraps of paper into the yarn? Especially some of that beautiful stuff I get from Gwen Lafleur. I can never bear to throw away even a scrap of that stuff. 

So what say you? Does this sound like something you would do? Are you shaking your head and thinking I had better just go buy some new yarn? Like recycling? Would you like to see more articles like this? 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Reversible Boho Necklace - for the Artist Tribe

A reversible boho necklace to wear with more things than you would at first imagine. I've always wanted a statement piece like this one. What a surprise to me that it was easy and well within my reach to make myself. 

I know you can make one too. If you do, send me a note to let me know where you are sharing it so I can check you out. 

I knew before I started to assemble this necklace that I wanted a variety of paper with the images of Gwen's stencils. I print on reclaimed paper from gifts, packing and shopping. Most of this batch was printed on pharmacy bag paper.

I could have prepared them in a variety of ways - using a spray ink, pouncing paint upon the stencil or using artist marker. I chose the inexact and very flowy look of gelli plate printing. I simply love the process. So much loveliness to work with.

As you can see, I only use a tiny bit of it, so I have plenty left for other projects!!! 

Making the tag

These are the products needed to make the tag: 

The wooden tag - I purchased mine at Michael's.
A piece of gelli printed paper for each side. Using a separate print for each side makes it reversible. 
A piece of mirrored trim from Gwen's shop. 
A handprinted sliver of mulberry paper saved from other projects. This came in one of Gwen's paper packages. 
Gel medium to adhere the pieces.
Ranger liquid pearls - dimensional pearlescent paint -Orchid and Gold Pearl

Pink Side

1. Adhere the gelli print to the tag with gel medium.
2. Adhere the sliver of mulberry paper with gel medium.
3. Adhere the trim with gel medium.
4. Flip and do the other side. 
5. Coat the sides with the liquid pearls. Coat 3/4 of the way around. Let dry. Turn and coat the rest of the edge.

Turquoise Side

1. Adhere turquoise and white stenciled paper. 
2. Cut a piece of trim two flourishes long. Trim off the bottom section for this piece and put the flourishes aside for later. 
3. Using Ranger's Liquid Pearls add embellishment to the tag. 

Wooden Wheel Beads

I found these wooden wheels in a box I had filled fifteen years ago. Immediately using them in a necklace seemed imperative. I chose some of the gelli printed paper that used
Gwen's Ornamental Screen stencil. 

After priming them with gesso, they were painted with aqua acrylic paint. The stencils were trimmed to fit the wooden wheels. 

Adhere with gel medium. Cover with a layer of gel medium. Love these colors together.

The beads were flipped over and the glue gun was heated up. Sari yarn was glued to the indentation in the wheels.

They still looked a bit bare, so dots of Ranger Liquid Pearls were added.

Sari Yarn Wrapped Beads

1. Cover wooden bead with gesso and then paint the desired color. 

2. Thread a needle with like-colored thread. Take a stitch at the end of the sari yarn. Pull the needle through the bead

3. Pull sari yarn up to the opening and stitch through. Pull the needle back down through the hole. 

4. Pull the sari yarn back down to the bottom and take a stitch through. Continue this process until the bead is covered with sari thread. Leaving some space for the color to peek through adds vivacity. When the bead is covered to your liking take several stitches through the end of the sari yarn and trim. 

Eventually, you will use a jewelry wire to thread through the bead to attach to the chain. 

Spool beads

1. Cover spool with gesso. (Optional)
2. Cut the paper the width of the spool. 
3. Adhere paper to spool with gel medium. 
4. Add one flourish from the trim (left from a previous step) to each spool to cover the seam. 
5. Add embellishment using Ranger's Liquid Pearls - Gold  Pearl. 

Putting it all together

An old piece of sari fabric was the perfect color, so that became the hanger for the tag. A piece of sari yarn was used as the back of the neck.  The rest of the components were put together with traditional jewelry materials including some chunky chain pieces that had been looking for a purpose for many years. 

Materials used to make the necklace:
Gwen Lafleur Studios

Papers from Themed Collage Embellishment 

Gelli Arts
Gelli Printing Plate

Ranger liquid pearls - dimensional pearlescent paint -Orchid and Gold Pearl

Regular Gel (Matte)

Hot Glue

Odds and ends from my stash (I'm so curious to hear what you find in your stash to use on a project like this!)


Hair and makeup and portraits by the lovely Madeleine Ooka. You can find her blog, Because We Fall in Life at and on instagram @becausewefall

All other photos by Lynda Shoup