Monday, August 18, 2014

Repeating Pattern Stencils -- Readymade and Customized

At, you will find a new category-grouping of stencils:  Repeating Designs. 

A repeating pattern stencil enables an artist to lift the stencil after its first print, then place it back onto the printing surface and easily line it up with the earlier print -- to maintain even, seamless spacing of the overall finished design.  This can be done endlessly to cover a surface of any size.  It's commonly used by artists working in the fiber arts but it's gaining popularity among those into the paper arts, too.  I suspect the whole idea started back in ancient Egypt with hieroglyphic reliefs along the walls.

My stencils Quilted Flower Garden and Facets fall into this special new category.  Here's how the technique works:
Above:  Having made the first print (on the right) I've lifted the stencil.  In the upper left is the sponge dauber I used to apply the acrylic paint thru the stencil. 
Above:  I've placed the stencil down again, lining it up exactly with the first print.  I recommend using masking tape to get exact alignment.

Above:  I've lifted the stencil after making the second print.  Notice there is a space gap between these two prints.  I could choose to make the third, fourth, fifth, etc., prints with this same space gap between each print.  Or, I could approach the whole project, from step one, by eliminating that space gap.  To do that, I would simply overlap the stencil over the original print, as show below: 
Above is a distance shot, showing the stencil overlapping the original print along one edge.  Below is a close-up which shows this better.

I chose to make my second print using a color-blend that differed from the original print.  If I were to repeat this process again and again, I would continue to create color-blends across the entire printed surface, which could end up any overall size that I want.  But this is just an option, to create variety.  Repeating pattern stencils are often used with no variation in color.

Now that I've shown how the repeating pattern technique works, I'll show how some stencils easily lend themselves to customization, so they can be used in the same way. 

For example, you can create long narrow Repeating Pattern Stencils with my stencil Borders #1, simply by cutting this stencil into 3 equal strips.  Just place the stencil over a self-healing cutting mat pre-printed with a measurement grid.  The below photo, and its close-up that follows, show the stencil lined up with the measurements and grid-lines on the cutting mat.

Once the stencil is lined up where you want it, place a ruler where you want to cut the new stencil edge.  Use the mat's guidelines to keep the ruler straight and, with a Sharpie pen, draw a cutting line.  You can then lift off the stencil and cut it with scissors -- but better yet, for a perfect cut, you can leave the stencil and ruler on the cutting mat, and cut along the line with an X-acto knife.

Likewise, you can easily customize my 9"X12" stencil Wrought Iron Gate to make it a Repeating Pattern Stencil.  Just line it up on the cutting mat and cut off the "ornament" at the top of the "gate."  Below, I've used a ruler with a metal edge that will be useful in the next step, when I will use my X-acto knife to do the cut.  But for now, I'm just drawing the guideline for the cut:

Above:  I've placed the stencil onto the cutting mat, lining it up with the measuring grid pre-printed on the mat.  Those blue lines helped me place the ruler exactly where I wanted, to draw a line between the ornate "gate top" and the rest of the stencil.  This is shown better in the close-up below:

Click on the above image to enlarge it.  This will help you better see the ornate "gate top" that is to be cut off.

The above photo shows the ruler pulled away from the line that I've drawn.  The cut will be made here.
One important thing to note is that this stencil customization gives you an edge-free design.  This kind of raw-edged stencil is more fragile, but the lack of an outer border makes it easier to align prints side-by-side, for a seamless overall effect.

Stencils are tools to be personalized any way you want to achieve your unique artistic goals!

1 comment:

  1. Didn't see a picture but I think I know what you are talking about. Cool uses. Love your stencils.