Monday, September 24, 2018

Stored in My Studio: Collage All The Nice Bits Together

Like everyone who likes to play with paper, scissors, and glue, I have a ridiculous stockpile of paper scraps.  I spend lots of time experimenting with different media on different types of paper.  You too, right?  How often do you end up with a stack of papers, most of which may not be very useful but which have sections you really like?  And how often do you sort through those stacks of paper, speaking very sternly to yourself about tossing anything that's not really very good and usable?  If you're like me, hardly ever.  I hate to throw away anything pretty, and stopping the fun to do tedious clerical sorting and filing isn't my idea of the best thing to do at any given moment in my studio.

But seriously, every once in a while I HAVE TO CLEAN my studio.  If you are generous with the definition of "stored in my studio" you could say that slithering heaps of paper on every flat surface count as "stored," but really, I have reached a point where I have no more working surface.  It's all storage.  That means it's time to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Random Acts of Paper Experimentation
One thing that I do along the way to this mess that works in my favor is that I tend to experiment with one color or color group at a time, and as a result, I may end up with stacks that are grouped by color.
If I have a stack of gel prints of mostly one color, or pages I was trying out a new stencil or stamp on with a particular inkpad or paint tube, I can then go to my real storage (organized by color, more on this later) and find assorted ephemera or scraps of other work, and create a stack of more or less harmonious papers.  This is exactly that kind of stack.

The next thing to do is take a hard look at each piece of paper. Is the entire piece of paper a masterpiece that must remain in my life forever?  No.  No.  A thousand times no.  So out comes the trusty paper trimmer to reduce this unruly stack into manageable pieces of just NICE BITS.  And then here comes the hardest part: if what's left is Not Nice, you must throw it away.  Trust me on this.  You will never actually run out of paper, so you can take the risk and throw out the less than really nice pieces, the ugly color, the messy blob that got under the stencil, the gel print that didn't turn out at all like you imagined it would after the video you watched on YouTube.  Bring a little Marie Kondo (Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up) to your paper stash and ask does this "spark joy?"  If not, toss it.
Nice Bits
Preliminary Layout (before gluing - then it changed!)
Now I have a smaller pile.  Ideally these are all Nice Bits. Maybe my opinion of what counts as a Nice Bit changes from one day to the next.  Today, I have this pile of nice bits, and it's time to put them together. You may have heard of "Frankenpaper."  That's essentially what this is.  You are making new paper out of parts of other papers.   The risk is that you end up with something stiff and clumsy and hard to control, and you do not want the villagers coming to your castle with torches and pitchforks tonight.   The trick is to keep it light and flexible, and not gunk it up.  I use deli paper as the substrate, since it's thin but strong, and I use a glue stick to keep the adhesive to a minimum.  You could use matte medium, but adding that much acrylic gives you layers of plastic coating, and that may end up being less manageable later on.

Now I have a collage made up of Nice Bits, but it looks rather patchwork and a little disjointed, despite the fact that it's all very similar in color.  In order to make this new piece of paper cohesive, I want to take some of the design elements from the bits, and reuse them.   This will give the new sheet of paper some uniformity of design.  You could certainly use paint, but again, I urge you to keep this layer thin.  I use Stay-zon inks.  I studied my nice bits to identify the stencils I had used, and pulled those out of my storage rack (more on that in a little while, like I said...)
Finished Frankenpaper
As you can tell, there were quite a few stencils involved in the various  original papers, and I didn't want to reuse all of them.  That would make it a bit chaotic, so I chose three:  Kate Thompson's Angel Circle, which has a nice small pattern in a circular border, Terri Stegmiller's Antennas, which adds a nice linear element, and Valerie Sjodin's Sunburst, which adds a strong graphic shape.  I started stenciling with yellow and orange inks, but they were a bit too subtle,
so I ended up adding black for more contrast.  I like how the Antennas look like rows of stitching or haphazardly stapled seams, which I thought was a nice nod to the Frankenstein project.  The goal here is to add your new layer of stenciling across the underlying collage, thus unifying the paper.  I've now managed to reduce a slithering pile of papers into one new sheet that is all my own.  I can use it as is, I can cut it into smaller pieces (making more Nice Bits!), I can isolate some sections with white gesso in order to feature the vintage photo transfer in the middle - you name it, whatever you might want to do with patterned paper, you can do with this.

But wait!  There's more!  Do you also keep the Little Bits?  Sometimes we cannot help ourselves - we just can't throw out those precious darlings.  You can use them the same way and make your own patterned paper tape.  Get some wide painters tape and tear off a long strip.  Put it on your surface sticky side up and start sticking down the Little Bits!  Once you've collaged all the tape with Little Bits, stencil (ideally with small shapes or patterns) across the whole thing and bring cohesiveness to your Frankentape.  It no longer has a sticky side, but you know how to handle that.  You can use it to add borders, frames, cut thinner strips, you get the idea.
S271 Angel Circle
S092 Antennas

M214 Sunburst
I mentioned above that I would say more about my storage system - I follow the organizational principles laid out by Tiffany Spaulding on the Totally Tiffany blog.  Her basic premise is that we design by theme, not by medium or tool, so if I have botanical-themed stencils, rubber stamps, ephemera, stickers, etc. they should be stored together in one place.  That way, if I want to add a flower or tree to a composition, I can go to that location to find all the ways I have to add that botanical element, instead of going to where my stencils are, then to where my rubber stamps are, then to where my clip art is, etc.  After themes (stored alphabetically) come colors, so I can gather all the miscellaneous black and white scraps together, all the reds and pinks and oranges - you get the idea.  I also use the ScrapRack system that she designed, so I can flip through all my categories and find what I want to use.  I tend to be lazy about putting things away, but periodically I sort everything into their categories and return them to their designated zone.  Many of my StencilGirl® stencils are graphic design or pattern, and I lump them into subcategories of circles or round patterns, linear or grid patterns, organic or abstract patterns. My thematic categories are letters and numbers, animals, architecture and landscape, botanicals, graphic design (with the above subcategories), mail and postal, maps/charts/diagrams, people/figures, photos (vintage), text/words, then Halloween, Christmas, and then color groups.  I find that this system works well for someone with a large mixed media collection - your categories depend on what you have lots of.  You may need a whole category just for dogs, or you might really dig Valentine's Day and have a section just for hearts and related sentiments.  You may have your own preferred way of describing the most prominent characteristic of a stencil - for example, if you consider the most prominent feature of the Angel Circle stencil to be the angel, maybe you keep it in a section of people/figures, but if you think of it primarily as a circular design element, you might find it more useful to store it with other circles.

And now, it's time to go tidy up the studio.  If all goes well, I will have fewer piles of messy paper, and a few more sheets with only Nice Bits!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Stored in My Studio & Stencil Storage Idea by Cheetarah

Hi everyone, it's Cheetarah here and this month the StencilGirl® Creative Team shows how we store things in our studio. I'm fortunate enough to have an apartment where we both have our separate offices / creative space and I just love spending time in my little home studio.

This is my art desk where all the art stuff happens :) I have a LOT of stuff stored here that I need in reach, like brushes, markers, glue, my art journals, ink, watercolors etc. but I am good at keeping my work surface clean after a project, thankfully. That is the traveler's notebook I currently am working in. Let me give you a little tour of the room. 

This is what it looks like when you come in, on the left side my art desk with boxes of papers and trays of markers & cups of brushes and yes I store stuff on my windowsill as well, things I want near but have no room for on my desk. 

On the other side is my writing desk. You can see the stack of planners I use for my writings and my Lamy fountain pen collection display box on the window sill. Here I do stuff that is writing related but as you can see, there is a lack of computer here which I like because I don't want to get distracted by the internet in this room! I also try to leave my phone out but it's difficult as it's also my camera, haha!

When you turn to face the wall on the right side you'll see my rubber stamp storage - wood mounted stamps that is. The cling & clear stamps are in ring binders. Sprays are stored in open boxes next to the "spray work surface" on the smaller cabinets that created an impromptu work surface. 

In the cabinet drawers (which were donated to me by very good friends who moved away) I have paints, mediums, masking tapes, pigment powders, pastels, etc... all drawers are labeled and the cabinet closest to my desk has all the ink pads and markers (yes more...) and watercolor paints.

And one last thing I wanted to show you in my studio is the shelf where I store my little collection of figurines/vinyl toys of Cheetara's of the Thundercats :) The one from the far right is an original one from the 1980's. I also collect prints of her and have quite a few.
And this concludes the tour of my home art studio :)

"Stored in my studio" is of course also about how you store your stencils. So this got me thinking on how to effectively store my stencils because I want a fast visual reference. The storage solution I had was not sufficient for this and I kept forgetting which stencils I have. I stored them in see-through file folder & have an excel file with the stencils I own.

This is fine in itself but the visual reference, locally in my studio, was lacking. As I told you earlier, I rather do not want to look up stuff on the internet while I am working. So I set out to make a visual storage with the help of a vintage postcard storage idea.

I have bought these vintage postcard binders at a thrift store on vacation in Sweden and just LOVE how these albums look. 

They have paper sheets inside them and I figured I could store the stencils in them instead of the postcards that were currently still there. 

I stenciled on the paper sheets (and also made reverse prints of them in some cases) with black acrylic paint to create my visual reference album and stored the coordinating stencil on the sheet.

Of some, I kept the packaging of so it would not tangle with the stencil on the opposite page. All the small and mini stencils I currently own are now stored in the binder. The large stencils I did stencil out & printed in the visual reference book, but kept them in the large file folder still. 

I've filmed the process of how I made this stencil storage and there is a flip through of all the stencils I currently own. So if you're curious about that, definitely have a look :) A full list of them is under the video:

List of stencils used in the video: 

9"x12" Large Stencils:

L578: Spirit Wind Mask by Valerie Sjodin

L606: Soulful Scribbles by Traci Bautista 

L543: ATC Mix Up 1 by Mary Beth Shaw

L258: Uplifting Words by Carolyn Dube

L200: Map by Mary Nasser

L215: Celestial Cove by Kae Pea

L598: Sacred Feminine by Carol Wiebe

L346: Pen and Ink by Lesley Riley

6"x6" Small Stencils:

S576: Art Deco Peacock Feather by Gwen LaFleur

S498: Moon Phases by Cat Kerr

S323: Sunburst by Daniela Woolf

S288: Pretty as a Peacock (face) by Andrea Matus DeMeng

S242: Diamond Dance by Terri Stegmiller

S203: Thanks a Lotus by Andres Matus de Meng 

S264: Doodle it Tornado Flowers by Maria McGuire 

S224: Succulents by Daniel Woolf 

S027: Peacock Feather by Kae Pea

S080: Marbled 6 by Cecelia Swatton

S260: Encouraging Scribbles by Carolyn Dube

S233: Cornish Petals by Lizzie Mayne

S278: Starlight by Lesley Riley 

S295: Deconstructed Chrysanthemum by Traci Bautista

Hope you enjoyed having a stroll in my studio and that the video inspired you to create your own stencil reference & storage book.  Thanks so much for stopping by! Have an awesome day & see you next time :) 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Creating an Ombre Effect with StencilGirl® Stencils by Ann Butler

Hi, everyone! Ann Butler here! I love testing products and seeing what I can do with them, beyond their original use.  For this post, I am sharing a technique for Creating an Ombre Effect with StencilGirl® Stencils…Actually creating a 12” square Ombre Effect from a 3” square stencil.  This is the perfect size for a pillow or the beginning of a table runner or quilt!
StencilGirl® Stencil: Squares and Tris Set 2 by Ann Butler

Other Supplies:
Ann Butler’s Stencil Tac by Earth Safe Finishes
Ann Butler’s Crafter’s Ink by Clearsnap: Sunshine, Tangelo
Crafter’s Ink by Clearsnap, Fire
Cotton fabric, White, 16” x 16” (pre-washed and dried without fabric softener)
Daubers (3)
Baby wipes

Step 1:
Optional: Brush on a thin coat of Stencil Tac to the back of the stencil.  Let dry.

Step 2:
Place the desired 3” square from the stencil in the lower right corner.  Apply Fire ink over the stencil square using a dauber. This is row 1.
Then remove the stencil.
Step 3:
Line up the stencil right up next to the pattern you just created.  Apply Fire ink over the bottom right corner of the stencil square using a dauber.
And then, apply Tangelo ink over the top left corner of the stencil square using a dauber, blending into the Fire ink. 
Remove the stencil.
Step 4:
Repeat step 3 directly above the first pattern created.  This is row 2.
Step 5:
Line up the stencil between the 2nd and 3rd pattern.  Apply Tangelo ink over the bottom right corner of the stencil square using a dauber.  
And then, apply Sunshine ink over the top left corner of the stencil square using a dauber, blending into the Tangelo ink. 
Remove the stencil.

Step 6:
Repeat step 5 on the left side of pattern 2 and above pattern 3.  This is row 3.

Step 7:
Create row 4 the same as previous rows using Sunshine ink in the lower right corner and Tangelo in the upper left corner.  You will have 4 squares with these colors. 
NOTE: Now the pattern is 4 squares high and 4 squares wide.  You will not increase the height or width.
Step 8:
Create row 5 using Tangelo in the lower right corner and Fire in the upper left corner.  You will have 3 squares these colors.
Step 9:
Create row 6 using Fire in the lower right corner and Tangelo in the upper left corner.  You will have 2 squares with these colors.
Step 10:
Finish off the last row with Tangelo ink over the entire stencil square.  Iron to heat set.

NOTE: Use baby wipes or paper towels as needed between colors of ink.

NOTE: I use my stencils a lot with fabrics and use a product called Stencil Tac, on the back of the stencils to help keep them in place.  Stencil Tac, is a temporary adhesive that helps to keep my stencils attached firmly to fabrics and avoid any leaks when applying paints and inks.  You check out this video for Stencil Tac How-to: if you want to see how to apply it on your stencils.

Thanks so much for visiting today!
Happy stenciling!
Ann Butler’s Blog:

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Frolic with flowers, send jack-o-lanterns, and access to your muse with these stencils from Sandee Setliff, Jennifer Evans, and new designer Wendy Brightbill!

Wendy Brightbill's Floral Frolics stencils have arrived in our office and are ready to bloom big in your studio. Wendy is StencilGirl's newest designer, but we also have stencils for you by Sandee Setliff and Jennifer Evans. Sandee's whimsical Artistic Muse stencils are simply delightful. For those of you planning for Halloween parties and decor, Jennifer Evans has a couple sweetly spooky stencils.

Wendy Brightbill

Peony Blooms 6 x 6- The Peony Blooms stencil is an elegant silhouette of Wendy Brightbill’s favorite flower, the peony. Use this stencil to add peonies to mixed media art journals or a canvas. Embellish old cigar boxes or the cover an altered book. Create dimension by using cold wax medium or molding paste in the stencil.

The Wildflower Bouquet stencil by Wendy Brightbill is a playful design of an abstract wildflower bouquet filled with unique flowers and foliage. Add whimsical design to mixed media art. Use this stencil to create a floral background in an art journal. Create painted papers to use in collages. Create three-dimensional flowers with a palette knife and cold wax medium or any texture building medium.

The Floral Frolics Pattern stencil by Wendy Brightbill is an abstract pattern of playful flowers and messy marks. Use this stencil to create homemade wrapping papers, cards or other paper crafts. Create playful floral backgrounds in mixed media art pieces. Paint papers to cut up for collage. Create three-dimensional flowers with texture building mediums, such as molding paste.

Artist Intuition Cards by Sandee Setliff

The artist intuition cards are for unlocking our creative strengths. Great for those art journaling moments when we doubt ourselves to remind us; if we can imagine anything then why not imagine being creative and empowering? This artful take on tarot cards will inspire your inner muse to be your constant companion that is both supportive and nurturing.

There are no rules here, just a fun take on the spirit board to help us figure out what our muse is trying to tell us. I mean how will you know what it's trying to tell you unless you ask? Great for journaling prompts and decorating for Halloween.

The planchette is a playful take on the original spirit board game but this time adapts to the artist palette with paint splatters adorning its form. Place it on your artistic muse board and give it a spin to see if it takes you in a new artful direction. Can also be used alone in art journaling or Halloween decor.

Stencil your own Art Cards with the customizable border and the artist archetypes represented in Sandee Setliff's Artistic Muse Card 1 Stencil. It includes: 

The Sun - You are in the right place at the right time. Relax, enjoy the inner artist in you! The child is holding a bunch of paint splatters instead of sunflowers.

The Empress - Look for opportunities to be generous, warm, and nurturing. She sits there meditating, balancing her art utensils. Share your artistic side with the world. No one can do it better than you! You are in control!

The Fool – Let go of expectations and trust your instincts. She is running around throwing paint in the air in her art smock and fools crown, happy as a lark without a care in the world!

Now that you got your artistic muse on why not experiment with some other elements? Mix up your creativity with some mystical ingredients and get your artistic groove on. 

Complete with artful potions, a candle to guide you, an all-seeing eye to watch over you along with a mystical hand symbolizing both abstract and concrete artful energy. This stencil will be loads of fun to play with.

Jack-witch Mini & Jackwitch Boo-tiful by Jennifer Evans

Jennifer Evans' Jack-witch Mini Stencil (pictured below) is sized perfectly for you to make Halloween greetings, party invitations, and decor that is spookily fun!

The Jack-witch Boo-tiful Stencil is ready for you to make seasonal decor.

Are you counting down to Halloween yet? What art will you make to celebrate?

Will you frolic amongst the flowers?

Or, are you ready to engage your muse in a fun way?

You'll find all these stencils over on

Thanks for taking the time to enjoy our blog today!