Monday, February 22, 2016

Gwen's Gems: Use a Stencil to Make a Reliquary

Hi everyone, it's Gwen here with this month's installment of Gwen's Gems. When I was deciding what I wanted to do for this month, I started going through my inspiration file and one idea immediately jumped out at me. I had a picture of an old Roman reliquary - this one didn't have bones or anything in it, but instead it was covered with lots of little tiny round niches with windows, each with an image of some kind inside. I immediately decided to make my own version using stencils, collage, and clay. So I did!


Here's my little modern day reliquary:

Now for a little tutorial on how to make something similar on your own, as well as ideas on some substitute materials.

First up, I took a 6x6 cradled birch panel from Dick Blick and gesso'd and painted it with copper fluid acrylics. Then I took the Circle on Circle stencil by Mary Beth Shaw, positioned it on the panel the way I wanted it, and traced the openings with a pencil onto the panel.


Next, I pulled out different papers; some were already patterned, some I stenciled using my Ornamental Petals Mask, Ornamental Compass Mask, and my Ornamental Circle Cluster Screen. After picking the ones I wanted, I punched circles that were just slightly bigger than the large circles from the stencil design and positioned them on the panel. Then I started building up little mini collages on top of each one.


I added some rubons to some of them, then adhered them to the panel with matte medium. Next up, time for the clay! I used Aves Apoxy Clay for this, but you could use polymer clay, other air dry clays, Liquid Pearls or puffy paints, jewelry findings or bezels, or even the rims from metal rimmed tags. 

Once I had a clay ring around all the large circles, I used little tiny balls of clay to create decorative elements that matched up with all the smaller circles. I put four small balls of clay in a square with a fifth on top, then pushed a pointed molding tool into each one to make a little well. I stuck a little tiny rhinestone into the top of each ornament. Again - you could skip this, use jewelry findings, larger rhinestones... whatever you want in that spot.


Once the clay was down, I set it aside for a few hours to dry enough to paint. When it was ready, I painted the clay with the copper fluid acrylics. After that I left it over night so the clay could completely cure.


Next, I added final details before sealing each of the collages. Liquid Pearls to make some dots (of course,) and also a dirty glaze. This glaze I made with micaceous iron oxide and gold fluid acrylic paints mixed with polymer medium. I wiped it back a bit in a few places, but left most of it to dry so that the collages would have a slightly aged and cloudy look.


After that was dry, I sealed each of the circle areas and turned them into "glass" windows by filling each of the areas with Diamond Glaze. You could also use Glossy Accents, Crystal Lacquer, DecoArt Liquid Glass, Ice Resin, or other similar products. You could also just leave it plain. I picked the Diamond Glaze because I knew it would stay in place with the open edges along the borders of the panel. 


Again, I left this to dry overnight - I filled each circle all the way up to the top because the glaze will shrink down as it dries. The next day, it was crystal clear and glossy!

Now it was time to make the areas around my collages look old. For this, I got out some soft gel (glossy) and mica powders in gold, copper, cinnamon, and black. You could mask off your collaged windows and use sprays, VerDay paints, or another preferred method for aging (or just leave it as is!) I've been experimenting with mica powders lately, so I decided to go that route. I just dipped my brush in the gel medium and then into the powder - that worked better for me than mixing the powder with the gel like a paint. I slowly worked the mica in around the circles until the entire panel was nice and aged.


What a difference that mica makes!

To finish it off, I used the Pilgrimage to Mexico stencil by Laurie Mika and stenciled around the sides of my panel. When that was dry, I added some beaded trim all the way around to finish it off.


Voila! My own version of an antique reliquary! Here are a few of the other views so you can see the dimension and the shading from the mica. It's hard to capture the shine, but hopefully you can see it! I think it looks pretty cool :)





That's it! I hope you enjoyed today's project as much as I enjoyed making it. Have you ever used your StencilGirl stencils to make something with little windows or mini collages? We'd love to see!

Until next time, happy stenciling!



28 comments:

  1. Absolutely stunning, Gwen! I love your attention to detail and your rich colors and ornate style! Thank you for sharing this amazing step-by-step tutorial with us.

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    1. Thanks Mary! It was lots of fun to make... I just couldn't keep this one to myself ;)

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  2. I love these intricate details -- what a great job, Gwen!

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  3. I absolutely love this! This is stunning and I'm inspired to try something like this.

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    1. Thank you Sybil! I'm so happy to hear you're feeling inspired... make sure you post if you do something like it so I can see!

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  4. What a stunning piece of art ! Thanks a lot for sharing the step-by-step process !

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    1. Thank you so much! So glad that you enjoyed it!

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  5. So beautiful Gwen! I love the construction of the circles and rich colors. Thanks so much for sharing the How2 :)
    ~kim

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  6. I love this project. Another i need to try.

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    1. Thanks Denise! If you try it, make sure to post it so I can see :D

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  7. I love this, Gwen. It is gorgeous! I love the mixture of clay/Sculpy and paper collage! Great idea.

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    1. Thank you so much Amy! It was lots of fun to bring it all together in one project :)

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  8. I love the idea of air dry clay as a mixed media element. Did you glue it to the surface? Or does that apoxy brand stick without glue? Do you think sculpt should be glued? If so, what glue would you recommend?

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    1. Thanks Rebecca! The Apoxie clay sticks to the surface as it cures, so no glue needed for that type of clay. If you use Sculpey or something similar, you can either bake it directly on the panel or bake it and glue it later. I've done both and used Weldbond as my glue (I think I also glued before baking now that I think about it.)

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  9. Wow! My jaw dropped when I saw this project. It is just gorgeous and amazing. Your interpretation of a Reliquary is fantastic and the attention to the tiniest of details is what makes this project stand out. You have given me inspiration for a project for my altar as I am always looking for something to add. I'm thinking I have all the supplies needed to make it. Thanks for giving me a kick start and inspiration. It looks beautiful with and without the aging technique and the trim is to die for...may I ask where your purchased it? Thanks for sharing and for the tutorial.

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    1. Thanks so much Sande! So glad to hear you're feeling inspired :D The trim I got from an Etsy shop in India - it was a one-off upcycled product, unfortunately. There's a lot of other similar trim you could try, though! Make sure to post and link us up when you make yours so I can see it!

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  10. I LOVE THIS! Thank you so much for the tutorial.

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    1. Thanks so much Sandra - so happy you liked it!

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  11. WOW WOW WOW! Stunning! Thanks so much sharing the steps...I am surely gonna try it out...

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    1. Thank you! So glad you enjoyed it! I hope you'll post if you make your own so I can see :)

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  12. Thank you so much for sharing your process! I am going to start working on one now. I love when fellow artists share their creations and the steps to make them.

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    1. Thanks Gina! I'm so excited to hear you're going to make your own! Make sure you post and tag me so I can see it when you're done :)

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  13. Love, love, love this! It's absolutely stunning and a fantastic way to use your 'precious' stash! The stuff you keep and won't use for items you're giving away lol. Thank you xx

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    1. Thanks Sharon! I've really been trying to start using all of the "precious" bits in my stash, and it's actually pretty satisfying!

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  14. This is gorgeous thanks for sharing, feeling very inspired

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  15. Wow Gwen you take my breath away with all the layers! Something else and boy do you get my inspiration going! This is going to be filed in my files to go back to again and again to review!! I Can hardly wait to get my hands dirty and try some of these techniques. Thanks for sharing your gifts!!

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