Monday, March 20, 2017

Gwen's Gems - A Stenciled Boho Canvas

Hi All! It's Gwen back again this month with the latest installment of Gwen's Gems. I've been collecting blank canvases for a while now, with the vague plan of getting back to doing more of that type of work. I decided that it was past time to pull one out and do something with it! I also happen to have a batch of amazing vintage Afghan Kuchi patches, so I decided to create an entire boho-style mixed media piece around one of them.

Ready to see how it's done?

This is one of those projects where I had a pretty firm concept of where I wanted to end up, so I sketched out a general plan for how I was going to proceed... with all of the elements and texture pastes I wanted to use, I needed an outline for the order I was going to work on each step. I started with an 18"x18"x1" stretched canvas and mixed a few colors of yellow to get a big circle in the center.

When the paint was dry, I used gold embossing paste along with June Pfaff Daley's Fireworks Spritz stencil and covered the entire center section with a textured pattern.

When that layer was ready, I mixed Pyrrole red paint with molding paste (about 8-10 drops was enough to get a really saturated color,) and I spread that through my Decorative Curvy Ornament stencil in the middle of my circle. You'll notice that I didn't get all of the design in the middle - I knew I was going to cover that part up at the end, so no worries.

While that was drying, I started painting blocks of color coming out from the center. I used three shades of each color in order to get some depth to the background; I based the palette on the colors in the patch I was using as the focal point.

Again, I knew I was going to cover up the area between the circle and the color patches, so I wasn't concerned with leaving white patches.

When the paint was dry, I got my gold embossing paste back out and stenciled each color with a different stencil. For the red / magenta areas, I used my Decorative 6-Petal Flower Screen, for the blue areas, I used my Ornamental Peacock Feathers stencil, and for the green areas I used Nathalie Kalbach's What's the Point? stencil.

Once the embossing paste was set, I pulled out some multi-colored sari yarn and glued strips of it along the borders between the different colors.

Next it was time to start to bring in more depth and get things a bit dingy; the patch for the center is vintage and well worn, so I wanted the same feel to the entire canvas. I used a dirty glaze over all of the colored sections (polymer medium, Van Dyke Brown paint, Micaceous Iron Oxide paint, interference gold paint.) I let that sit for a minute or so, then went in with a baby wipe to take off most of it, just adding some grunge to the background and highlighting the raised areas.

Here you can see the difference - the bottom half has been glazed, the top half has not. It's subtle, but it really adds a nice effect!

Next it was time to start getting crazy. I pulled my tub of molding paste back out and used a palette knife to start to turn the center circle into a crater of sorts. (You know that paste at the top of your container that starts to get a bit hard but isn't totally dried out? This is where you dig that stuff out and put it to use!)

I used the palette knife on the inside and outside of my little wall to scrape it out and integrate the molding paste with the rest of the piece.

Next I took some texture stones and some glass shards (no idea what they are - picked them up on a swap table!) I pushed these into the wet paste to start to build up some texture.

I hit that with some heat - just enough to form a skin, but making sure that I didn't make it puff too much (heating wet molding paste makes it puff up, which I frequently do on purpose!)

When the thin sections on the inside were dry, I glazed the middle.

Then, making sure I had a good enough skin, I coated the entire "wall" with gold crackle paste.

I used my palette knife and baby wipes to again pull some of the paste onto the surface of the canvas to integrate it. (As the paste dries, it starts to contract which lets all of that texture I built up underneath show through.)

Fast forward about 24 hours... all of my pastes have dried, crackling ensued, and it's just what I'd hoped for! Next I glazed the whole wall so that the glaze would get down into all of the cracks and dips and give me some contrast.

Once the glaze was dry, I pulled out some waxes and started to rub it over top of the "wall." I wanted to start to hit the peaks of all that texture and start building in more contrast and depth.

I followed the dark with bronze, then went in with black and really upped the contrast...

Then I brightened it again with gold.

Finally, it was time to add the centerpiece of this whole project - my vintage kuchi patch!

I originally thought I was going to be done at this point, but I kept looking at it and feeling like something was missing. I played around with a few options, but finally decided that I needed some repetition of the jewels from the patch in other areas of the piece to create more unity. I used some gold dimensional paint to adhere various sizes of acrylic rhinestones onto my stenciled peacock feathers - sticking them down into the dot of paint pushed it out and around so that it acted kind of like a bezel.

One more step - I went through with a cheap brush and some black Rub 'N Buff and scrubbed in a bit more shading to bring the contrast back up a bit more.

Whew... that's it! It was finally done! Here are a few close-ups so you can see all of the texture and dimension that came from this process:

That's it for today, I hope you enjoyed the project and that you picked up a few tips and techniques to try out in your own work!

Until next time, happy stenciling!


  1. I love it! It's absolutely gorgeous Gwen!

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you so much! Much appreciated :D

    2. I had to come back and look at all the texture again...I really love how you've made this blend so well with the "patch". The antiquing really set off the whole piece.

    3. Thank you! It's amazing what a little glaze will do, isn't it?

  3. Stunner of a project! I've got to try this. Will you have any of those patches in your kits?

    1. Thanks Jill! As a matter of fact... lol. I have small patches that will go into some of the kits and I'll have some large ones for sale individually. I've got a whole bunch of these and they're just gorgeous! (There may be a pile set aside just for me. Maybe. LOL.)

  4. Wow! This is really really cool !!

    1. Thanks so much Kristie! It was really fun to do :)

  5. Replies
    1. Thank you so much Kathy! I'm pretty happy with how this came out :)

  6. Gwen this piece is so beautiful!! Thank you for always sharing your inspiration and talents with us. ❤❤❤

    1. Thank you so much Sherry - I'm so glad you enjoy it!

  7. Absolutely amazing!! I am in awe of your work! Stunning!x


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