Monday, September 28, 2015

StencilGirl Stencils Star in This Vimeo Tutorial by Patti Brady

Here is a great video all on its own, but I especially like it because Patti Brady has used two stencils by

The first stencil used is designed by Mary Beth Shaw and the second one is my stencil Tangled Pods

Again, this is the link to the video: 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Autumn Colors Waiting in the Wings

In many earlier posts, I've talked about doing "plastic surgery" on stencils that have become stained with layers of paint after multiple uses.  I like to set certain stencils aside to be cut apart for future use as embellishments on collages.  Here are two stencils of mine now set aside:

Above:  This fall-colors stained stencil is my 6"X6" Palm Fronds Silhouette Small.

Above:  This fall-colors stained stencil is my 4"X4" Palm Fronds Silhouette Mini.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Still Enough Sunlight...

... to make sun prints, if you hurry! 

 Sun-prints are fun!

In making them, the first step I took was to paint opaque paint over the stencils to be used.  The four shots below show two of my stencils -- Boxed Vines and Queen Anne's Lace -- while they are creating the prints on the sun-print paper.  Previously they had been painted with opaque green acrylic.  (Any opaque color will work.)

The three photos above show the sun-prints being made -- the top layer is clear acetate (you can see its borders); the next layer is the paint-coated stencil; the bottom layer is the sun-print paper.
Below is a sun-print created with my 9"X12" stencil Queen Anne's Lace--

I'd love to say that the faint double-image and the right-side tone-shift were planned, to create an artsy effect, but the truth is they were not.  These prints were all made on a sunny but windy day and I was just re-learning how to do them, having been originally taught years ago by my friend Mary Ann Russo. 

When making this batch, I had forgotten that the stencil and sun-print paper should be kept in the dark until it is ready to be placed into direct sunlight.  This can be done if you create a "sandwich" with sheets of glass or Plexiglas as the "bread" and the sun-print paper, under the stencil, as the "meat."

But I plan to go for the artsy multiple-exposure look, again -- on purpose, next time.  I'm going to create multiple exposures on each sheet of sun-print paper, so I probably won't use Plexiglas at all.  I will just keep moving the stencil across the paper as each exposure happens.  It takes only a few minutes, on a day with bright overhead sun. 

After the last exposure, the paper is to be placed in a tub of water and swished around, then laid flat to dry.  I dried mine in a shaded area.  After that water-rinse, they should not continue to change with light exposure, but I chose a shaded area just to be on the safe side.

The sun-print paper that I chose -- the only one I could find that would fit my 9"X12" stencils -- was Super Sunprint Kit by Lawrence Hall of Science.

Below are the sun-prints as they were spread out to dry:

Above:  created with my 9"X12" Boxed Vines stencil.

Above:  created with my 9"X12" Mimosa stencil.

Above:  created with my 9"X12" stencil Queen Anne's Lace.
The stencil I used below was my 9"X12" Boxed Vines. 

 It was an accident that I got this double-exposure -- it happened because I moved the stencil during the exposure period -- but I like this look and plan to do it on purpose next time!
Note:  I think it's possible to make sun-prints with stencils that have not been pre-coated with opaque paint.  But the resulting images will have less contrast between the exposed areas and the unexposed areas.  One fun thing to try would be to spatter or streak opaque paint across a stencil and then use it to make a sun-print.  This would result in an exposure that has a hit-and-miss, artsy look. Try it!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Repeating Pattern Stencils -- Readymade and Customized

At, you will find Repeating Designs, the category-grouping of stencils that can be used to make identical repeating patterns in creating prints as large as you like.

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.  Perhaps the  idea started in ancient Egypt with hieroglyphic reliefs along the walls.

My stencils Quilted Flower Garden and Facets fall into this category of stencils.

Here's how the repeating-pattern 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!

One small addendum:  Here is a greeting card cover made with one set of my prints shown above.  I clipped it free from the repeated pattern paper, added it to a blank 6"X6" bifold card from JAM Paper, and embellished it with a cut-out photo of orchids.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

To Celebrate Aurumn's Rich Colors ...

 Autumn colors will soon be all around us; here, I celebrate them using the Gelli Plate ...

The prints above and below were made with my 9"X12" stencil Mimosa.

The print below was made with its corresponding smaller-sized stencil --

 -- Mimosa 6.

Anyone unfamiliar with making Gelli Plate prints with stencils, just click on the Gelli Arts badge in the left column above.  Lots of ideas there!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

One of Many Resist Methods....

Some time ago, my friend Cindy Powell and I were exchanging ideas about different ways of creating resists.  I think she's the one who gave me the idea to trace around the openings of a stencil with a Sharpie oil pen -- available at -- and following this with a coat or two of acrylic paint.

These were my results:

 The image above and the image below were both made with Mary Beth Shaw's 9"X12" stencil Blackout Overlap.

 The page below was made with my 9"X12" stencil Ivy 9.

Speaking of Mary Beth Shaw -- her 6"X6" stencil Leaf Diamond works nicely when paired with my 6"X6" stencil Quilted Flower Garden.  Try using them together, and see what I mean!

This is a crazy-busy period for me, so I'm re-running posts from ages ago.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A New How-To and A Greeting Card Assortment

My friend Mary Ann Russo brought to my attention a video I had seen awhile ago, a presentation by one of my all-time favorite artists, Karlyn Holman.

Mary Ann's creative mind bloomed with the idea of applying the same approach to stencil-using.

I went to work immediately after hearing this idea from Mary Ann.  I pulled out a handful of blank 5"X7" greeting cards and a few of my botanical stencils.  Starting with my 6"X6" Gingko --


-- I began tracing along the openings of this stencil (heavily stained from earlier projects) with an Elegant Writer Calligraphy Pen (fine tip; black), as shown below--
My next step was to lift off the stencil --

(Notice that I used only part of the stencil, since my greeting card blank has a cover 5"X7".)

Then I added just a little water with a mister --
Click on the above image to enlarge it.
If you've watched the video above (by clicking on Karlyn's name) you know that Karlyn uses her pointed paintbrush to toss out random droplets of water across the surface she's prepared with Elegant Writer Calligraphy Pen (fine tip; black).  Either method works -- just apply the water sparingly. 
Once I'd added water, I came in with a point-tip brush to draw color-filled water drops outward from each of the traced leaves and stems.  Drawing the water-drops outward along all edges created a watercolor-like background.  Clicking on the image below to enlarge it, you can see this process taking place.  It happens very fast.  
Here's the finished card cover --

For me, this is as far as I need to go for results that please me.  But as Karlyn's video shows, this can be just the beginning.  Colors can be added using a variety of other media.
The greeting card blank that I used in the project above is cut from 140-lb. watercolor paper, but I've used the same technique and pen on other surfaces, too, with good results.
This technique will work with any kind of ink that's water-soluble.  As Karlyn mentions in her video, there are a lot of pens -- and markers -- on the market; some contain water-soluble inks while others do not.
Above:  a greeting card created with a Marvy LePlume marker/pen and my 6"X6" stencil Silhouette of a Wildflower Bouquet, shown below:
Another water-soluble marker/pen is Marvy LePlume, but take to heart what Karlyn says in her video about these water-soluable tools:  Some of them will re-hydrate after drying, while others (like Elegant Writer Calligraphy pen) will not.
So if you plan to continue adding wet media (such as watercolor or acrylic paint) after having started with this technique, make sure test your marker/pen in advance. 
If you have used the Elegant Writer Calligraphy pen or any other of its kind, your original image will stay intact.  
If you have used Marvy LePlume or any other pen of its kind, the original image will blur, run, or otherwise change as its dried ink is exposed to new liquid of any kind.
The best way to tell which kind of pen/marker you have, again, is to give it an advance test.  Some of these pen/markers will also have this information posted online in their ad descriptions. 
For me this potential continual water-solubility is not an issue, since I don't plan to add any wet media after using the marker/pen.  But I could add Pan Pastels, oil pastels, or any other dry media to add more color if desired. 

Three more greeting cards await showing today; the first one appeared in an earlier stage, before the foreground element had been added.  The background had been created with the same Gingko stencil shown earlier in this post.   The foreground element was created with a cut-out from a print I'd made using another 6"X6" stencil of mine, Cats.  

Another two greeting cards were made with my 6"X6" stencil Quilted Flower Garden --

The same stencil -- but two totally different looks!

Last of all, here is an invitation-sized greeting card created with the Elegant Writer Calligraphy pen; this one was an experiment.  I followed the directions outlined above.  Then I wanted to see what would happen if I swiped a soft cloth over the surface.  The result has an artsy look that I like ...

This one above was made on a slick cardstock surface (not watercolor paper) with my 4"X4" Fern Fronds Silhouette Mini Stencil.

What fun it is to flip a stencil upside down or backwards to use it!  It's almost like getting two designs for the price of one.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Rubbing Plates, Flip-Flops & Stencils

Soon, if not already, the kids will be back in school, but the weather, for most of us anyway, will still be warm.  So, during this ultra-busy couple of weeks that I'm having, I'm re-running a special-favorite post ...

My friend Mary Ann Russo made a series of rubbing plates using my stencils, then used those plates to make prints/rubbings on fabric.   Next, Mary Ann and her granddaughter, Marissa, cut up some flip-flop synthetic sandals and, with a heat gun,  used the rubbing plates to make rubber stamps.  I used those rubber stamps in my artwork; I also borrowed those rubbing plates to make prints/rubbings of my own -- on paper.

Mary Ann's method called for cutting matboard (sturdy cardboard) into squares and rectangles slightly larger than the stencils and coating them  with water-thinned gel medium on both sides, and along all edges.  Coating with water-thinned gel medium is an optional step that Mary Ann took because she wanted the rubbing plates to be washable.

After the gel medium had dried, Mary Ann masking-taped the stencils in place on the coated cardboards and used a spreading tool to apply a mix of molding paste and acrylic paint thru the openings of the stencils.  (Acrylic paint was added to the molding paste to make the resulting 3D patterns easier to see.)

 Above is an example of one of my stencils -- 9"X12" Twinship -- being placed onto the rectangle of pre-coated matboard.

 Above, Mary Ann is placing the mix of molding paste and acrylic paint onto the stencil, which rests on the matboard.  Notice that she had secured the stencil to the matboard with strips of blue masking tape.  This tape also holds the matboard in place on her working surface.

Above, Mary Ann uses an old spoon to spread the mixture thru the openings on the stencil.

As soon as this step is finished, she lifts off the stencil --

-- and places the stencil to soak in a water-filled basin.  It will be cleaned later, when all the rubbing plates have been created.

 My preceding post launched me into the topic of rubbing/printing plates made by my friend Mary Ann Russo.  In that post, I detailed her process, using my 9"X12" stencil Twinship

Now, I'm showing another rubbing/printing plate made by Mary Ann.  This time, she used my 9"X12" stencil Vases.

The difference between this plate and the one featured in my Twinship post is that Mary Ann added one more step at the very end.  She covered the surface with two coats of a rubberizing spray to make it completely waterproof.

Household fix-it-yourself types are probably familiar with Napa Performix Plasti Dip spray.  Created to provide a non-slip, comfortable grip on tools and to provide protection against electrical shock and heat, it's available at --
Originally, this spray came in red -- the color used in this project -- and now comes in black, clear and gray-translucent.  The spray is to be used outdoors and its first coat must be allowed to dry before the second coat is added. 
The finished plate can be used to make impressions on a paint-coated Gelli Plate, for pulling prints on paper or fabric. 
It can also be used in two other ways -- with a Shiva stick and fabric to make rubbings, as well as with acrylic paints to make prints. 
Today's post will focus on the last of these three options.
Above:  The work surface has been covered with freezer paper, shiny side up.  To the right of the plate are a rubber brayer and a dollop of heavy-body acrylic paint. 

Above:  I've rolled paint out across the freezer paper, rolling back and forth until the paint reached a tacky stage.

Above:  I've rolled the paint-loaded brayer across the plate.

 After coating the plate with this paint, I pressed a sheet of pre-painted newsprint over the plate, using both hands across the whole surface, to make sure all of the paper made contact with the plate.  Then I pulled the prints shown above and (with blue paint) below.