The Feathered Tribe
Hi Friends, I’ve got a Sweet art journal page created for Gwen Lafleur’s Artist Tribe to share that I’m really excited about. If you haven’t heard, StencilGirl’s StencilClub release for February 2021, the Feathered Tribe was designed by Gwen Lafleur. And as members of her team, my creative co-conspirators and I got the opportunity to play with the set before its release.
This page is all about layering papers, specifically layering stenciled papers using Gwen’s designs from her Feathered Tribe set with my own December 2020 StencilClub design called Block Prints to recreate a framed garden motif in my art journal reminiscent of 17th century Chinoiserie wallpaper.
My inspiration for this journal page was actually a cabinet that I saw at Home Goods. It was backed with a colorful fabric that reminded me of Chinoiserie wallpaper complete with birds and flora. The only thing it was missing was a trellis. While I may have left the store empty handed that day, I ended up with a free spark of inspiration and a smile on my face knowing that I already had the perfect kind of paper in my stash to make it work.
If you’ve followed me for very long, you know that I’m a huge fan of Japanese papers and that I buy them straight from the factory by the roll. Two of my favorite papers are Awagami’s Tengucho and Kitakata. Tengucho looks like tissue paper but believe me, its anything but. This extremely thin Washi paper was tough enough to survive a week of my torturous wet rust printing process, so you know it’s not your mother’s tissue. Kitakata is a delicate, thin, surprisingly strong paper made of Gampi fibers that I first came to love in a printmaking class. I had a good feeling that they would work well together for the layered design I envisioned.
Stick with me and I’ll show you how I did it.
For the background layer, I started with a piece of Kitakata, Liquitex Prussian Blue Acrylic Ink, Walnut Ink, and some water. Mixing the inks together in varying proportions with the water produced some lovely tones on the paper. This may not look much like a trellis at this point but it’s perfect for what I have in mind. And while the backside of the inked paper had so much potential, I’ll just have to remember to recreate the look again for the start of another project.
I used gesso to stencil the large 9x12 stencil from my December 2020 Block Print set on top of the inked paper to create a trellis from which to ‘perch’ my design atop.
Next I began creating my flora layer. I cut a piece of Tengucho paper the same size as the Kitakata. (The pieces that I cut were much, much larger than I really needed for this project, but fear not, I know I’ll find a home for the extra.) I used a blue ink pad and the large 9x12 stencil from the Feathered Tribe set to fill the paper with branches and flora. Then I used one of my favorite art supplies, Faber-Castell Big Brush Pitt Artist Pens to add color. Pitt Pens contain India Ink so they are translucent and permanent when dry. While the inks did bleed a little, it only reinforced the look of old wallpaper that I was going for. I didn’t get a pic, but I filled in most of the white space with a wash of watered down, Dr. Phil Martin’s Bombay India Ink in yellow.
I wanted an all over layered effect, so I bonded the Kitakata and the Tengucho papers together with a concoction of Yes Paste thinned with Satin Glazing Liquid. The glue was applied only on the Kitakata paper and I made sure to cover the entire surface before I carefully laid the Tengucho paper on top. I sandwiched the bonded paper between sheets of cardboard and deli paper and then stacked heavy books on top to dry over night.
When I uncovered the paper the next morning, I was rewarded with just the look I was going for - flowering vines covering a garden trellis.
Every chinoiserie motif needs a bird don’t you think? And I love the songbird in Gwen’s Feathered Tribe set. I repeated the stencil several times onto a piece of Tengucho paper that had been dyed Shibori style with yellow India ink mixed with just a hint of orange. And then I auditioned a few color palettes with my Pitt Big Brush Artist Pens. I highly recommend adding a white Pitt Pen to your Big Brush collection so that you can blend some luscious colors on your birds.
When I finally decided on the bird I wanted to use in my art journal motif, (believe me, it wasn’t an easy decision...) I tore him off of the paper leaving plenty of space around him. Then I used a glue stick to adhere him to a scrap piece of Kitakata paper. I trimmed him down, leaving just a hint of yellow around the edges and got out my wood burning tool to distress the edges. Remember - Safety First when using a wood burning tool, (notice the large piece of floor tile I’m working on in this pic? Floor tiles from the big box stores are a really inexpensive way to protect your work surface.)
I love how my little songbird looks with this old Japanese block printed text in the background.
Now that the prep work’s done, I turned my attention to my art journal. I began by repurposing an old spread that I wasn’t overly fond of. It was on a kraft page in my large, Dina Wakley 10” x 14.25” Mixed Media Journal. First I freshened it up with a few Feathers from the 6x6 stencil in the Feathered Tribe set and then I randomly slopped, (A highly technical term...) pale acrylic paint all over the page
Then I painted in a navy blue border to serve as the frame base and embellished it with a single row from the 9x12 stencil in the December 2020 Block Print set. A little masking tape helped me mitre the corners of the frame and a line of a Cold Grey III Pitt Big Brush Pen around the edges helped to give it dimension.
Then I used more of the Yes Paste concoction to adhere the bonded background of my motif into the frame
I placed a piece of deli paper over the page and used a brayer to ensure good contact throughout.
Finally, I perched my song bird onto the page with the Yes Paste mixture, and made a few finishing touches with gold gesso, more Pitt Big Brush work, and mark making. And that’s a wrap for this page.
This month’s exclusive Feathered Tribe Set has already become one of my favorites. I’m dreaming of those branches as borders on my journal pages. If you’re a member of StencilClub your set are being mailed on 2/15 so get your journal pages gessoed and ready to go. If you’re not a member, there’s still to get in on all the fun if you enroll on or before 2/14/21 (And if you miss the deadline there’s still hope; membership comes with the option to order any of the previous club sets including this one and the set I designed for December 2020.) I’ll add some more information about the club at the end of this post to give you a better feel for what you get. I’ll also add a link to Gwen’s reveal video where she talks about her inspiration for the designs and reveals her project for the club this month, and links to the projects that the rest of the Artist Tribe created with the set.
More info about StencilClub:
If you’re not a member and are interested in getting in on all the StencilClub fun let me tell you about it. I’ve been a member for the past 5 years and personally think that it’s one of the best deals around. Each month you’ll receive an exclusive 9X12, a 6X6, and a 4X4 stencil set designed exclusively for club members, a link to a workshop/tutorial created by the designers demonstrating a project using the stencils set, and a step by step pdf to print out. (I can’t wait to see Gwen’s tutorial... check out the link I’ve listed below to see her videoed reveal and a preview of the project she has in store for us. And I happen to have it on good authority that her downloadable step-by-step-step tutorial includes a printable download with antique postcards and stamps to use in your own version of the project.). There is a really supportive FaceBook group where club members share their projects, ideas, questions, and maybe participate in a swap or two. All of the past StencilClub video workshops are archived in the files there so you’ll have access to hundreds of hours of tutorials to view anytime you want. There is a $25 monthly fee, ($35 international) but absolutely no commitment on your part. You can leave at any time with no hassles. Oh and I almost forgot, being a club member also gets you a 20% coupon to use on your StencilGirl®️ public stencil purchases. It’s a great deal.
Links to more inspiration using the Feathered Tribe set:
Inspiration from my other two Tribe compadres. (As always, I am in total awe of their creativity.)
Linda Edkins Wyatt - Native Feathers
Jackie P. Neal’s Dimensional Garden
and last, but not least;
Gwen Lafleur’s blogpost where you’ll find this months StencilClub project plus even more ideas.
And that’s a wrap for this edition of the Artist Tribe.
I’d hope you have as much fun with this set as I did. Until next time stay safe, stay well, and create on. Hugs, Jill