Friday, November 21, 2014

Christmas Preparations with Stencils

Aluminum tape -- found in hardware stores and home improvement centers -- isn't just for repairs.  It can also brighten up Christmas cards, tree ornaments and party place-cards.  Altho I posted this write-up back in summer, it deserves a repeat during this season of preparing for festivities.

This beautiful tape, just shy of 2" in width, comes with a white paper backing that, when peeled off, reveals a self-stick backing.

For this project, besides the tape, I used stencils, alcohol inks, Sharpie pens, an embossing stylus, padding (a craft foam sheet and an old mouse pad), masking tape, and a non-stick paper (non-stick aluminum foil or freezer paper, shiny side up) to spread over the work surface for its protection.

 Above, at the top of the photo, is a view of the tape as it comes, in a roll.  Here, I have cut off 2 lengths of it and secured them with masking tape to (left) a sheet of yellow craft foam and (right) an old mouse pad. 

 Below is a close-up of the next step I took in this project -- placing stencils over the tape.  The upper photo shows my 9"X12"
Wrought Iron Gate stencil and the smaller photo shows my 9"X12" Borders 1 stencil.

I traced the stencils' line-work with an embossing stylus, the top of which is shown below -- but a ballpoint pen would work, too.


My next step was to lift off the stencil to reveal the embossed tape -- 

Below are two photos showing the embossed tapes with alcohol inks added--

I liked the colors of these inks, but wasn't happy with the way the embossed line-work disappeared under them.  So I began experimenting.  One experiment was to remove most of the ink with rubbing alcohol.  I also got out my Sharpie pens, knowing that these deeply embossed lines would be easy to trace.  But to be on the safe side, I replaced the stencils, lining them up with the embossed line-work --
After lifting off the stencil a second time, I had the results below.
The lower strip of tape has been embossed, alcohol-inked, and wiped with rubbing alcohol.  Some of the alcohol ink remains, highlighting the embossed line-work.
Below is a 6"X6" greeting card I made using this tape, but the next cards I make with this festive tape will be Christmas cards...
... and they will be similar to the Christmas cards below, except that foil tape will be used instead of the cardstock I used below, along with the same two stencils, Wrought Iron Gate stencil and Borders 1 stencil.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chistmas is Closing In On Us!

... So this re-run features an idea that I'm using to make Christmas cards.

For this project, I recommend wearing disposable gloves and gathering just a few supplies:  iridescent Shiva Paintstik oil crayons, a stencil, thin, dark papers and a sharp knife.  I used black and other dark mulberry papers because of their thinness.  The best iridescent Paintstik colors to use on dark papers are silver, white, and light gold.  For today's projects, I chose gold and silver.

Just before use, a Shiva Paintstik needs to be "primed" because, when not in use, it naturally forms an outer "skin" which must be removed. This is easily done with an Exacto knife -- but it should be done by an adult, never a child; these knives are sharp.

The stencil I'm using here, in Project One, is my 4"X4" stencil Fern Fronds Silhouette.

The stencil is held secure with one hand, while the other rubs across the top of the stencil with the Paintstik -- held flat on one side, as shown below --

The above photo shows that all spaces in the stencil design have been completely filled with a layer of metallic Paintstik crayon.  In the photo below, the stencil has been lifted off the paper and placed above the imprint.  
Above:  The oil crayon-coated stencil is at the top; under it is the imprint.
Below is a close-up of an imprint made in this way.

At this point, the stencil is heavily coated with leftover oil crayon.  To create another imprint of a different kind, without using more crayon, the stencil is placed on fresh paper and held in place with one hand, while the other uses a soft rag or a paper towel to rub across the stencil and the open areas of the stencil --

An imprint made this second way is shown close-up below.

More than one "ghost print" can be made in the way I just described, until most of the crayon has been removed from the stencil.  Then the stencil can be completely cleaned with an alcohol wipe.

Now comes Project Two, using the same materials. 

The first step is to slide the stencil under a fresh sheet of dark, thin paper.

Above:  the stencil is being pushed under the paper.
The second and last step is to rub the sideways oil crayon across the paper, pressing into the outlines of the hidden stencil below.  Below is one rubbing created in this way:
One place to purchase these oil crayons is --

Another vendor is --

The second link, for Dharma Trading, takes you to a webpage where you can watch a video of these oil sticks being used to make rubbings on fabric.  I'm not into fabric arts, but I suspect that when these oil crayons are used on fabric, there are follow-up steps for setting the color permanently.  Dharma would have information on this. 

The stencil used in this post, Fern Fronds Silhouette, is available at

Monday, November 17, 2014

Texture Prints -- The Tool Becomes The Art

Today's re-run features a technique learned from Joan Bess.  I loved the concept she introduced so much that I decided to take it one step farther.  Her  post on this topic -- at -- demonstrates creating a textured paper to use both as a tool and as a final artwork, with the Gelli Plate.  Using a squeeze bottle of textured paint and a sheet of paper, Joan opted for a freehand-drawn approach to making this tool.  I decided to add another step, at the very start:

First, I used masking tape to secure my 9"X12" stencil Mimosa to a sheet of previously painted newsprint. Then I began to outline the design with a watercolor pencil --

Above shows the stencil in full.
The above close-up shows the blue outlines as they are being drawn around each part of the design, by tracing the open edges of the stencil.

Above: The stencil has been removed; the watercolor pencil lines remain.
Above:  The outlining with textured paint has begun.  It's just a matter of following the lines drawn with watercolor pencil.  I felt no need to be exactly faithful to each of those original lines.
Above:  The textured outlines have been completed; now comes an important step --
Waiting for that textured paint to fully dry.  Don't start printing with your Gelli Plate till then!

Once I started printing with my Gelli Plate -- I used the 12" X 14" plate since my large Mimosa stencil measures 9"X12" -- the process was quick and easy.  With a brayer, I spread open acrylic paint over the plate, then pressed the textured paper face-down onto the wet paint.  When I pulled the paper up, it had collected some of the paint, and it had left an imprint.

I pulled one - two prints from the imprinted surface of the Gelli Plate, then repeated the process several times with new layers of paint, continuing until I had pulled a number of prints. 

Having previously used the Gelli Plate with the Mimosa stencil itself -- not an outlined version created from the stencil -- I could immediately see the difference between the two in terms of results.  I'm pleased with the results I've achieved both the original way -- using the stencil itself -- and this new way.

 Some of the "new-way" prints are shown below.

Above is one of the original new-way prints.
Above:  This version was made from the original green print, which I scanned into Photoshop and color-altered -- now, it will be printed out for use in an art journal alongside the original green print.

Likewise, the above pail blue print is the original pull.

And likewise, the purple version below was color-altered in Photoshop from a scan of the original pale blue print.


To show a comparison with the "old-way" Gelli Plate prints, created by using the stencil itself instead of a texture-outlined version, I'll include the images below --

For anyone puzzled by my term "the old way," I'm talking about brayering the Gelli Plate print with open acrylic, then placing an original stencil onto the plate.  The stencil is then lifted, leaving its imprint on the plate.  Next, a sheet of paper is pressed onto the plate, and pulled.  The above two images were achieved this way.  Variety is the spice of life!

Last but not least, here is the paper I had treated with texture paint.  This is how it appears now that it has been used multiple times with the Gelli Plate.  It was a tool, but now it's artwork :

My 9"X12" stencil Mimosa is available at
So is my 6"X6" Mimosa, which fits either of the two smaller Gelli Plates.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

From Collage to Christmas Card

Below is a collage I created for Jane Davies' online workshop, using some papers prepared with a couple of my stencils.  The top image shows 2 places -- upper left quadrant and mid-center-right area -- where I collaged deli wrap imprinted with red acrylic paint.  These two transparent papers were made with my 6"X6" stencil Kaleid  ...

In the close-up above (top-center), you can see a piece of paper printed with my 9"X12" stencil TwinshipHere, I used red acrylic paint on a substrate of black-and-white dot- decorated scrapbook paper.
This collage underwent a few finishing touches after the top photo was taken.  Unsatisfied with those results, I decided to cut out a section and glue it to a 5"X7" blank greeting card.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In a pre-Christmas Mood ...

Between class assignments in the Jane Davies online workshop I’m taking, I grabbed an opportunity to use my round Gelli Plate for the first time.
The first thing I noticed – to my delight – was that the round shape of the printing plate greatly changes the “look” usually achieved from using a stencil.  This happy fact stood out for me when I used my 9”X12” stencil Facets because I’m so conditioned to seeing it in its original 9”X12” shape.
Here are 5 prints that show the dramatic change into a circular format:

The first print shown above  --
-- was to become the first of two Christmas cards, because this image reminds me of a stained-glass church window.

Having started with black-and-white patterned scrapbook paper, I layered red, orange and green acrylic paints over it with a brayer. 

Once that dried, I used my round Gelli Plate, a gesso-teal mix of acrylic paint, and my 9”X12” stencil Facets to pull the print.

To make the first card, I covered a blank 5”X7” greeting card with a background -- green mulberry paper embedded with gold threads of tinsel.
My next step was to add the half-circle I’d cut from my Gelli Plate print.  It was really easy to cut out the printed area, because this stencil’s geometric design is divided equally by its axis. 

On a scrap of the same green mulberry paper, I used a gold-paint pen to write “Christmas Blessings” – I did it on a scrap, not the card itself, because I wanted to make sure it would turn out the way I wanted.  Then I cut out the lettering and glued it to the card cover.  That card is below:
I used part of the leftover print to decorate a matching envelope -- it became a trim that runs along the bottom edge, right under the area where the name and address will be:
Another print I pulled, using the same teal-gesso mix, was on dark blue cardstock that has embedded glitter-like sparkles.  Here, again, is that print:


To make another Christmas card, I chose a 6"X6" card blank made from "pearlized" cardstock.  Because of the change in card size, I cut out a bigger part of the print than I had for the earlier card.  I glued the cut-out to my card and trimmed the edges.
I used a rubber stamp and green inkpad to make the greeting on white cardstock.  After cutting it out with Fiskars Paper Edger scissors, I ran the gold pen along its four edges and added it to the Christmas card.  Here's the card, finished -- except for a red border that I plan to add later:

Here's the matching envelope, again with its decoration along the bottom that leaves room above for the name and address:
For me, it was a natural segue from Christmas cards and envelopes to Christmas giftwrap.  Some of the prints shown at the top of this post were done on foreign newsprint  -- this gives me an interesting background and results in a pliable paper perfect for giftwrap and matching gift-tags.
Here again are those papers:

And here they are as giftwrap --
And finally, with a gift-tag: