Sunday, November 29, 2015

BORDERS #1 Stencil Gives You Designs Just the Right Size for Coaster-Craft

Here I'm using blank compressed-paper coasters that come in plain-Jane form, just begging to be stenciled .  They are available at and many other online venues.  They come in assorted shapes -- square, round, flower-petal-like; and maybe more.
I'm going to show two (one round and one square) that I've used to make stocking-stuffer Christmas gifts; I decided that they will enter their next  life as coasters, rather than refrigerator magnets, altho I had the option of veering in either direction.


Click on the above image to get a closer look.

Above are the two coasters, having just received their first red acrylic coat, inside the spray-box.  

Many artists use ready-made sprays, whereas I make most of my own, including this one, using spray bottles from beauty supply stores and filling them with a mix of roughly 2/3 water and 1/3 acrylic liquid paint, with a few drops of airbrush medium to keep the pain spray nozzle from clogging.

I sprayed the coasters twice, once from each direction, to make the tops moisture-resistant and to coat the edges, all the way around, with matching color.

After my two coasters had dried from their second spray of red acrylic paint, I placed them on newspaper and set my stencil Borders # 1 over them.  The beauty of STENCILGIRL(TM) stencils is that their translucency allows exact placement of the stencil, which becomes really important when working on an object that is coaster-size.  Having achieved the right placement, I used masking tape to secure the stencil to the coaster, and to the newspaper underneath.

Click on the above image to see a close-up.

My next step was to use a sponge-tip applicator to add green paint across the face of the coaster.

What I've learned:  For best results, use a heavy-bodied paint and start with less paint on the applicator than you think you may need.  You can always add more paint if need be.  But if you start with too much paint -- as I tend to do -- you risk it leaking under the edges of the stencil's openings, creating areas of blurred paint.  Less is more. 

After removing the piece of tape opposite the stencil, I then had a hinged stencil that I could simply fold back, away from the still-wet coaster.

Below is another example, using a different area of the stencil and using the other coaster:

While the stencil was still wet with green paint, I did what MaryBeth Shaw calls reverse-stenciling.  I call it stamping with a stencil -- but I like her term better. 

I lifted the still-wet stencil carefully away from the still-wet coaster, placed the stencil face down on the newspaper, and went over it with a hard rubber brayer.  This transferred the reverse pattern onto the newsprint. 

Later, I cut out part of that print and used it on the cover of the handmade Christmas card below:

Click the above image to enlarge it.

Above and below:  I used the same type of sponge-tip applicator to add a circle of gold metallic paint, both to the Christmas card and to the two coasters:

Click the above image to get a closer look. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

First Christmas Card of the Season -- using a Stencil You Might Not Expect

Again I've managed to create a greeting card cover that's impossible to adequately capture for showing on this blog!  Above is a photo...

and below is a scan...

And neither image really shows this Christmas card as it actually is!  

Add an element of foil or foil-like material or metallic-look material to an image -- and this becomes a challenge for me to adequately share.

In this case, the background is a dark bronze blank greeting card ( that measures just under 6"x6"... and perfectly fits my 6"x6" stencil Pressed Leaves.

The bronze cardstock has embedded "metallic" flakes which barely show in the top image.  

The imprint was made with a mix of light modeling paste and Schmincke metallic powder.  (This powder is to be used with caution. Working with it, I wear disposable gloves and am very careful to avoid letting the powder get airborne, where it could be breathed.) 

After spreading the mixture thru my stencil, I set it aside to dry.  Then I added glitter glue highlights.

I don't mean to rush the season the way retailers do, but I start making my Christmas cards at this time every year, because it takes several weeks to make as many as I want.  

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Abstract Collage Greeting Card

Above is an abstract collage on an extra-large (5.5"X8.5") greeting card.  The foundation piece of paper, taking up the right two-thirds, was made with my 9"X12" stencil Mimosa, shown below.
 To achieve the subtle print on this foundation paper, I used what I call the "stencil-and-scrape" technique.  I've described this technique in detail here.  And here.  And here.   It's a technique that remains a special favorite of mine -- it's quick, easy and somewhat unpredictable:  I like not knowing exactly what the results will look like; I like surprises of this kind.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Life to Old Artwork -- with Stencils!

Transforming an old painting:

If the old painting has thick, textured, raised areas of paint, this technique will not yield "perfect" results.  My personal preference for this technique calls for stencils with large openings -- not stencils with lots of fine details.

Secure stencils with masking tape to selected areas of the surface. Mask off areas of the stencils that you choose to avoid using. This masking can be done before or after you attach the stencils to the surface.   Below, in the lower right of a canvas, I've used paper for masking off part of my 9"X12" stencil Mimosa --

--but for smaller areas, I use strips of masking tape, as shown above.
Once the stencil(s) and masking tools are in place, you have choices to make as to what medium or media to use.  

In the examples shown below, I have used a mix of matte heavy gel medium and acrylic paint, applied with a sponge (in large areas) or a stipple brush (in finely detailed, small areas.)  My favorite kind of stipple, or stencil, brush is the kind with a flat-topped round sponge tip.  These are made by Tulip and other craft supply companies.  Stipple brushes also come another style -- flat-topped, stiff bristles.  

Another alternative -- that I highly recommend -- is the Art-C Groove Tool with a brush attachment.

If you can't find this tool, look instead in the cosmetics department of a large department store like Kohls.  In my local Kohls, I saw this very same tool on display in the cosmetics/health care area! 
Another media you might want to consider, for applying color thru your stencils, is Liquitex Professional Spray paint  -- or homemade spray acrylic paint (a mister bottle containing a tiny amount of airbrush medium, a larger amount of liquid acrylic paint, and a larger-still amount of water -- well-mixed, and shaken before each use.) 
I often use both the above methods (spray paint and stippled-on paint) on the same piece of artwork.  Variety increases interest.
I remove stencils immediately after use.  If I'm not feeling lazy, I will float them in a basin of water until I have time to gently go over them with a soft discarded toothbrush.  Most acrylic paint will come off the stencil if it's been immediately soaked in water, but any residue can be removed with rubbing alcohol.  As a final touch, I pat or press stencils dry between layers of paper towel. 
After my first media applications have dried, I repeat the process described above, overlapping layers of design and color as I build up a new painting.
Again, here is an old painting as it originally looked before I started the transformation; if you don't work on canvas, as I do, you can also think of this as a journal page already layered with starter coatings of paint:

Below is a close-up of one area of the canvas where I have taped the first two stencils -- my Seaweed stencil (upper right) and my 9"x12" Mimosa stencil; here you see them with the acrylic paint already stippled on.  

Below is the same close-up section of the canvas, with the stencils removed.

The next step is shown below; the original stenciled areas having dried, another two stencils have been taped on:  Again I used Seaweed; to the right of it, I used another 6"x6" stencil of mine, Marbles.

Below are some close-up details showing my use of 5 of my stencils, 9"x12" Mimosa, Seaweed, Links, Grid and Marbles:

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Nosegay Stencil and Tangled Pods

I've started an online workshop with Jane Davies, this time a workshop focusing on Gelli Plate printing.  I've used a few stencils in making my prints, starting with my 9"x12" Nosegay Stencil. The stencil itself looks like this --

-- and my print looks like this: 

Another fruit of today's labor was made with my 9"x12" stencil Tangled Pods.


That print is a lot easier to recognize --

As I print my way thru Jane's workshop, more results will be appearing here ...  thanks for visiting!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Autumn Birthday Card Made with Pressed Leaves stencil

Project:  birthday cards!

Making this November birthday card became a 2-part lesson learned!

I started with a greeting card blank, light modeling paste and an art spatula.  I applied the modeling paste thru my 6"x6" stencil Pressed Leaves, creating a thick, uneven application of paste.

My intention was to LIGHTLY go over the paste, once it had dried, with Pan Pastels.

I had done this before, with success.  Really.  In the first example below, I had used this method to make the leaves green.  (I used paint to make the buds pink.)

The above greeting card was created with my 6"x6" stencil Budding Branches.

The above greeting card was created with my 6"x6" stencil "Swatton Flowers Version 1"

But in making the autumn-themed card at the top of this post, I made Mistake Number 1, using a greeting card blank cut from a beautiful dark bronze cardstock; mind you, this usually results in stunning backgrounds, because the deep bronze is studded with tiny sparkles that glint happily! 

I have now learned, however, that this particular cardstock does not easily shed Pan Pastel once it's applied.  Especially not when the Pan Pastel is applied too thickly!   

Mistake Number 2 was to add way too much Pan Pastel, with the result that background and foreground both became one shade of orange!  In the second "oldies" example above, I didn't mind the foreground and background being similar in color.  But the orange-on-orange was a different story!  Ugh!

A tiny brush and green acrylic paint came to the rescue.  With them, I created a green background, so that the pressed leaves imprint became visible once again.  

My final touch was to add highlights with glitter glue.  You can see the glitter better by clicking on the top photo to enlarge it. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Gwen Lafleur's Stenciled Jewelry and Fan-Folding Stenciled Prints

Looking for new ways to use your beautiful stencil-printed papers? 

See Gwen Lafleur's post here:!

Or consider going in a completely different direction, with the quick and easy technique of fan-folding.  Photos below show, step by step, a fan-folding project that used a print made with my stencil Nosegay.

Above: a narrow strip of self-adhesive metallic tape is used to bind the bottom of the fan-fold.

Above:  The taping is finished and the fan is ready to be glued to its green cardstock background.

Above:  heavy gel is applied with a cotton swab (far right) to the back of the fan.

Above is the finished project -- glued to a cardstock background, the fan is added to the top of a wooden box, spray-painted black in advance.