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.


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.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Modeling Paste and Other Dimensional Media with Stencils

Another re-run today, as I continue working in an online class taught by Jane Davies ...

Here is my "modeling-paste-with-spray-paint technique," complete with step-by-step instructions and photos.  In addition to modeling paste, I've tried other dimension- building media, as you'll see below.
In this photo sequence, I show how I made several 6"X6" greeting cards with my newly released stencil Quilted Flower Garden.  First, I taped the greeting card into place (over a sheet of freezer paper, shiny side up.) 

 Next, I spread a layer of modeling paste over the stencil --

While the modeling paste was still wet, I sprayed it with liquid watercolor as shown below.  Click on this image to enlarge it -- and take note that, with the spray of liquid watercolor, the stencil has suddenly become a mask.  Its presence masks off parts of the design so that the color-spray can't reach them.

Right after spraying, I lifted off the stencil and placed it, wet side down, on another paper, making a ghost print. Then I washed the stencil before the modeling paste could dry.
I did this project 3 times; the first time, as shown above, I used modeling paste ... and got these results:
Click on the above image to enlarge it.  The enlargement better shows the 3D look achieved with the modeling paste.  It also shows the areas that were masked off by the stencil during the color-spraying.
 On the next go-'round, I used Titanium White heavy body acrylic paint with the same stencil and the same sequence of steps, with these results --

 On the third greeting card, I used Blended Fibers Texture Gel Medium to get the results below --

And now I'll show the ghost-prints I made when I flipped the still-wet stencil and pressed it, wet side down, to other papers:

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Another Re-Run ... While I take a Class under Jane Davies

I used two stencils to create this image -- Warped Holes 9, by Lizzie Mayne, and my 9"X12" Branching Blossoms Silhouette, available at

And I used an idea that has been presented by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.  I tweaked Julie's process, starting with the same basic steps she did, but then launching into another direction, after asking myself,  "What if ...?"

In going thru the process, I made the happy discovery that Branching Blossoms Silhouette is ideal for this technique because its design automatically divides the image-area into vertical halves.  I took advantage of this by making a shift in hues between the vertical left half and the vertical right half.

I started with a sheet of 140-lb. hot press (smooth) watercolor paper, securing it to my work surface with masking tape and using the same tape to align my Branching Blossoms Silhouette stencil in the center of the paper.

Starting with an Ink Sweeper and ending with a cosmetic sponge, I daubed acrylic paint thru the stencil openings and across the paper.

This was what I saw when I lifted the stencil --

Next, I taped Branching Blossoms Silhouette back onto the paper.  I could have aligned it perfectly with the original print, shown above, but instead, I decided to take a risk and line the stencil up just slightly off-register with the original print.

Above:  Placing the stencil off-register creates these uncovered white areas.
Above:  a close-up of the off-register placement of the stencil over the original print.
Then I taped Lizzie's stencil over mine...

Above:  Lizzie's stencil still bears the multiple colors of acrylic paints from the last project!

Below:  a close-up of Lizzie's stencil over mine.

...and starting applying color thru both stencils, still using the daubing technique with acrylic paints.

My last step was to remove both stencils; here are the results:

My 9"X12" stencil Branching Blossoms Silhouette is available at ... enjoy! 

Saturday, November 8, 2014


The origami bald eagle above was made by my friend Claire Murphy and enclosed in a birthday card sent from her new home in upstate NY.  Claire was always clever with her hands -- unlike me -- and I consider myself an origami drop-out.  But seeing this eagle made me think of my growing stack of Gelli Plate prints as well as other prints, all made with stencils.  In my imagination, if not in reality, I can see these papers being folded into clever shapes like this one of Claire's ...





Just scroll thru my jillions of "Older Posts" to see how the above papers -- and many others -- were created.

Stencils used in making the above papers are available here: