Sunday, May 25, 2014

Make Lemonade ... Or ... Add Lemon Juice to Your Art Supplies

This technique is probably older than dirt, but -- after getting the initial idea from my friend Mary Ann Russo -- I applied it to stencils and refined my approach to make it work to my satisfaction.

Above:  one of the finished prints using my stencil Borders 1.
I started with a shallow basin of lemon juice -- I used an expired bottle of Nellie & Joe's Key West Lemon Juice.  (In my refrigerator, it's easy to find expired condiments ... just reach all the way to the back.)

Above:  A basin of lemon juice with the stencil.
I tipped the basin back and forth to make sure the stencil was coming into full contact with the juice.  Then I pulled up the stencil, let it drip excess juice, and placed it onto a sheet of vintage paper that already had foxing along its edges.

I lightly pressed a finger alongside the two edges of the stencil to make sure it came into full contact with the vintage paper.  Then I lifted off the stencil and set aside the paper to dry.

After it dried, the last step was to heat the surface with an iron.  (I also tried a heat gun but it didn't work well for me.)  I used a specialized iron made for crafters (see below) but a dedicated household iron would work fine.  I used the hottest setting on my crafters' iron, but with a household iron (dedicated to crafts only), I would experiment with dry settings, starting with low heat to be on the safe side, and gradually increasing heat till the results began to show.  It's a simple matter of slightly scorching the dried lemon juice to make the design become visible.  Prior to being heated, it's nearly invisible.

The above prints show the variety that results from using this technique.  Each print is unique, altho the differences are subtle.
As you can see, I've cut the stencil to separate this vintage-looking border from the other two borders that come in this 9"X12" stencil.  I've been cutting up color-stained stencils for some time now, using them as collage embellishments -- it hurt, the first time I cut into one of my precious stencils, but by now I've done it so often that the pain is gone ... nearly.

Borders 1 stencil is available here: 


  1. What a cool technique, Cecilia!!
    I love the vintage look of this!
    Would love to give this technique a try.

  2. I love this effect. It looks like an old scroll. Beautiful.

  3. Wow, that is very interesting. Love the effect.

  4. Lovely effect! I remember using lemon juice as a kid to make 'invisible' writing... then set it out in the sunshine in the summer to make it appear.