Stencils – How to Make Your Own

 

 

Art Journal Page; Spray Ink; Pen and Ink;
                 “Go Gently” ©2016 Tracey Hewitt Art Journal Page with hand cut stencils

Stencil Love

During art journal classes, the one thing that everyone seems to have great fun with is stencils.  Spraying ink over stencils, and rubbing back paint through stencils is one of the first lessons I teach in art journal class. It’s quick, easy, effective and seems to unleash our inner child faster than anything.

There are endless suppliers of ready-made stencils – just Google ‘stencils’  and you could disappear for a week checking them all out, and still not have exhausted the possibilities. But, for artwork that is uniquely yours, with the fun level only stencils can provide, cutting your own is the way to go.

 

handcut stencils made by drawing the stencil design onto copy paper, laminating and cutting design with a stanley knife
Hand cut Stencils

 

 I’ve tried all sorts of material to cut stencils from, some more successful than others. Template plastic (a refugee from my patchwork days) worked well, but was murder on the fingers to cut, and so hard to get a knife through, crisp detail was hard to achieve. Manila folders work OK for one or two uses. Much easier to cut, but once they’re wet with ink or paint, the light cardboard buckles and tends to fall apart pretty quickly.

Enter laminated copy paper! I guess I must have been doing a bunch of laminating for something, and I wondered if maybe this might work well? Turns out it does. I’m not sure how long these will last, I suspect that ultimately the laminate may let go, but they’ve survived one round of art journal classes in tact, so I’m feeling hopeful.

 

How It’s Done

Grab a sheet of ordinary copy paper

Draw your design – make it simple, and remember that you need to leave some ‘veins’ or connecting pieces, or you’ll just end up with one big hole. A series of simple shapes – squares, triangles, circles – repeated many times are some of the most effective stencils you can use.

Whack the sheet with your hand drawn design through the laminator. I’m lucky to have one here in my office. If you are seriously deprived and don’t own one, try an office supply store or perhaps your local school or printing works. They’ll probably have a small charge, but it will be pittance compared to buying ready-made stencils.

Grab a Stanley knife, self-healing mat and a cuppa (probably not a wine – though I have done that, and the stencil and I lived to tell the tale) and settle in to cut out all the little pieces of your design. Remember – you need to leave little ‘bridges’ in more intricate designs.

Give your fingers a bit of a massage. While the laminated sheet is much easier to cut through than some stencil material, by the time you carefully cut out all the bits, you’ll still be a little tender in the digits

Pull out the spray inks and paints and get cracking on experimenting with your new hand cut stencil, by laying the stencil down over your page which has a bit of background colour on it, and spraying some ink over the stencil onto the page. Carefully lift off the stencil, and Viola! (Have a spare sheet or journal handy to mop up the ink from the stencil after you remove it)

 

 

A Mask is a Stencil in Reverse

 

Art Journal Page with spray ink
Payton and Pa Mask

 

Silhouettes make great stencils, too. As well as eliminating the anxiety about leaving little bridges and connecting bits, if you are careful as you cut, you will end up not only with a stencil, but also the piece you cut out ever so carefully, which can be used a mask. For this one of Payton and Pa, I printed a photo onto copy paper, laminated it and cut out around the outline, yielding a positive and negative image. A stencil and a mask. Lay the mask (the cutout piece) over a page with a background already laid down, spritz spray ink over the mask, carefully lift the mask off, and there you have it – Payton’s first horse ride with her Pa frozen in time, and spray ink!

There’s a bunch of ways you can incorporate stencils into your creations… this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. You can give yourself a little detective challenge and see if you can spot where I’ve used stencils on the works in the Art Journal Pages Gallery. Or, have some fun in an Art Journaling Workshop with me!

 

 

 

 

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Serious Fun

Seriously. Fun is serious stuff.
This little tin came into our lives as the packaging for a rally car drive gift certificate. And no, it wasn’t me doing the rally driving! I leave that thrill seeking stuff to the man in my life (the one I married – though the ones I gave birth to are all up for that as well, as I think about it!) I was, however, quick to grab the tin, and squirrel it away in the studio, because, really…what could be better than to open your traveling art supplies tin and be reminded that what you’re doing is Serious Fun?
There is a group of Serious Fun seekers hanging out here with me on a Sunday afternoon lately… I’m teaching them the basics of art journaling (and art, as well, with a focus on low pressure and low anxiety) and, as is inevitable when one teaches, they teach me things as well. One of the important things I keep discovering is what a great benefit it is for grown up women (and men!) to set aside their responsibilities and obligations for a couple of hours and just muck about and have some fun. To play. They leave looking somehow lighter, and brighter; and seeing that is Serious Fun for me.
This trolley (which my Dad made for me many years ago) has seen duty in my life for all manner of purposes. It’s current role is by far my favourite. All those drawers are chock full of inks, sprays, pens, pencils, pastels, paints, stencils, stamps, watercolours, tapes….. so many opportunities for Serious Fun in there; and it can wheel out of the studio and onto the verandah, where all my Serious Fun seeking companions can dip in and share in the fun with me.
Play is recognised as being critical to childrens development… and there’s more and more evidence that it has powerful importance for adults as well. (Check out the writing of Brene Brown if you need  any convincing). I know for sure that I’ve got more to give and am much nicer to be around if there’s been a little play time in my day. How about you? What counts as Serious Fun in your world? I’m always on the lookout for an opportunity to have fun – tell me what works for you!

Making Friends with Muriel – The Joy and Wonder of Art Journals

posted in: drawing, Fun, journalling | 4
Making Friends With Muriel; Art Journal Page
©2014 Tracey Hewitt

Let me introduce you to Muriel. I think she is in fact a little older than she looks; and she is the face belonging to the voice inside my head. Some people would call her the “Inner Critic”, there are probably a hundred titles we could give her. Please tell me you have one too? You know, the voice that tells you how much you suck; that you’re too fat, too skinny, too loud, too…. you can fill in the space. That ever present nagging that you’re not enough of the good stuff and too much of the not good stuff. A little while ago, she was getting real loud. It was time to deal with her. It started with some writing, and at some point, I burst out laughing, because I realised that she reminded me of my high school Home Economics teacher. This woman had a most unfortunate voice, and was possibly the most negative human being I had encountered in my fourteen or so years. She would hawk up some spit onto her fingers to wipe chalk from the blackboard, and, most unfortunately, would swipe her finger through one cake batter after another in the Home Ec kitchen, suck it off, and move on to the next bowl, until she had tasted them all – never washing that finger off. And yes, she probably had spat on it to clean the blackboard first. Toss in sarcastic and a tiny bit mean, and (not that I consider this a character flaw, but it affected my opinion of her back then) sorrowfully dowdy and dull.

But, back to Muriel. It was time, as I said, to put her in her place. A quick sketch with a water brush filled with Sumi Ink (which might just be the best fun you can have with any drawing instrument on earth), and suddenly, she was getting a makeover. Sparkly turquoise glasses, bright pink lips and a big, fat piece of my mind! Who knew that could be so much fun?

Again, I was reminded of the power of art. To start with a topic, subject or feeling that has negative aspects; express it with colour and movement, and through the process transform it completely. The great thing about it is this – it happens every time.

Muriel will forever live in my head, and sometimes, she has some useful stuff to offer – like “For heaven’s sake, get OFF Facebook and DO something!” But, when she’s being a cow; thinking about this journal page makes me smile, and quietly ignore her and get on with shooting for stars and aiming for awesome. (Neither of which I accomplish, but I figure it’s good to set your sights high!)

Art Journaling – It Feels A Bit Like Therapy

Does this pile of luscious goodness look like fun to you?
How about all this snowy, fresh paper and clean brushes?

Wheel that trolley out onto my back verandah and into a gorgeous autumn afternoon, and the stage is set for some serious Art Journaling fun.
A while back, I sent out feelers to see if maybe one or two people might be keen to spend a bit of time here exploring a few art techniques and materials in the safety of their very own Art Journal. While I love where I live, it is a small community, and I thought I might be lucky if I could find any takers. To my surprise and delight – there were nine! All keen to excavate the creativity they hoped was buried in them someplace. 

Over the course of three hours, they were introduced to Dyelusions Sprays, Distress Stains, stamps, stencils and all kinds of markers and pens, which they used to create some really fun backgrounds and play with lettering styles. Of course, many of them (OK – most of them) looked a little horrified when I suggested it was time they write – in their own handwriting – in their journals. When I asked how many of them hated their own writing – hands went up all around the table. What I told them in essence, was this:
 Every mark we make, every word we write, comes from us. Is us. Our essence cant help but show up in everything we do. Hating our handwriting (substitute voice, thighs, drawing, tummy, crows feet, toes, teeth…. you get the idea) is to hate a unique and authentic part of ourselves.
I know we all do it (I am guilty of it often!) But, I’m coming to believe that we have more to give when we give ourselves a break. When we are OK with ourselves and our efforts.
I reckon they all found the tip of their creative icebergs. Which makes me really excited for next week, when we’ll have a play with acrylic paints, try drawing faces and dedicate a page to our Inner Critics. I’ve named mine “Muriel” (apologies to any wonderful and beautiful Muriel’s out there…) and she can be a real shrew. Should be fun to share our stories and see the portraits these great girls create of their own versions of Muriel.
 

Rocks, Owls and “Pinspiration”

posted in: Etsy, Fun, Rock Art | 0
Do you ever find yourself in a creative blue funk, hankering for a bit of fun?
Have you discovered Pinterest? (It’s only fair to warn you that Pinterest has the potential to inspire you to such an extend that you may be rendered mute and motionless, continuing to flick through ever more amazing images, and not actually doing a thing! Ask me how I know….)
This little family of Rock Owls was the result of my latest blue-funk-busting, fun-craving wanderings. The idea came from a ‘pin’ shared with me by my daughter-in-law Caitlyn, of a funky little owl family, much like this one, created by Carolyn Johansson for her Etsy store. They seem so much cooler than the ‘pet rocks’ of my youth!

A pile of stones, a couple of Sharpie marker pens in different nib thicknesses, a metallic gold felt tip pen, a white journalling pen and an hour or so of doodling; and voilà! Blue funk officially busted, fun had AND a cute bunch of Owls to decorate a shelf on the back verandah.
Sometimes we’re so busy being serious and focused on ‘important’ stuff that we forget the really important stuff – goofing off, taking the pressure down and just having some fun. I am really grateful to Caityln for sharing; to Carolyn for inspiring; and to my small friend Tilly, who arrived part way through and created a couple of rocks of her own, reminding me how wonderful it was to be five years old, in the moment and  free of self doubt.
If only I found the pictures of enticing food and organised tidy cupboards and weight loss workouts equally inspiring! What’s your favourite thing to search for on Pinterest?