Sunday, April 18, 2021

Stenciling with Paint & Textural Stitching

Hi All, it's Gwen back again with the April Paint & Texture column. This month I'm sharing one way that you can incorporate stitching as a textural element in your work. I'll share the basic technique and then review how I used the sewn design in a larger piece of mixed media artwork.

I've long enjoyed stitching and embroidery and so I'm always thrilled when I find ways to use it in my artwork. For this piece, I decided to use one of my stencils as the template for some painted and beaded embroidery that would become the focal point of the finished piece.

You don't need to know any fancy stitches and you can make it as simple or as elaborate as you'd like; the idea is simply that different weights and types of threads and stitches, along with a few beads if you're so inclined, are a fantastic way to add texture into your work and also a great opportunity to really customize stencil designs and make them your own.

To start, I used one of my most recent stencil designs, the Boho Faces stencil, since I thought it lent itself really well to this technique and I could practically picture the finished piece in my mind. I took a piece of linen fabric with a looser weave (because I wanted to use thick thread,) and stenciled the design with Jet Black Archival Ink and a blender brush. I like Archival Ink for stenciling on fabric because it's permanent and doesn't smudge or fade too much while I'm working over it with thread. You can use any color - I went with black so it would stand out and because I knew I wanted a dark thread outline over top and so it wouldn't noticeable if any of the ink was peeking through.

You can use embroidery fabric, linen, cotton... whatever works for you. I also frequently use vintage or upcycled fabrics because they add such a unique look as part of the finished project. But because I was going to paint this one, I went with a plain white linen.

Speaking of paint, that was my next step. Golden recently released a new line of So Flat Matte Acrylics. They already have some fabulous matte fluid and heavy body paints in their lineup, but this new line is more of a soft body paint - a really perfect consistency for painting on fabric. Of course you can use any paint you'd like (I also use a lot of PaperArtsy Fresco Acrylic paints,) but I love Golden's rich, saturated color.

I just took a paintbrush and filled in the openings of the stenciled design with paint, making sure to work on top of scrap paper (I used parchment paper) since the paint can and usually will seep through the cloth. You may want to tape down the fabric to keep from moving it around while you work since that can smear any wet paint that seeps through and get it all over the back of the cloth - that runs the risk of seeping back through to the front, usually in a very inconvenient place.

One I finished with the paints, I let it dry completely; stitching into wet paint is a good way to make a mess! When it was dry, I put my painted design into an embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taut while adding in the stitching. I don't always do this, but for a larger project that I wanted to make the focal point of a piece of artwork, I wanted to make sure that the fabric didn't pucker (that generally happens when you have uneven tension on the fabric while stitching.)

For the sewing, I used a size 3 perle embroidery thread by Wonderfil to outline the design... again, you can use whatever you'd like. If you're using a stranded thread like DMC or other similar brands of floss you can just use all six strands. Or go with a thinner thread or fewer strands if you want a different look. I wanted bold and that's what I got!

I used a split stitch here - it's one of my favorites for outlining, but you can also use a backstitch or a straight or running stitch. Outlining the painted areas is really the main way that I brought in texture and definition with the thread, although I did add a few beads (because I just can't help myself!) as well as a few other types of stitches. This is where you can really go crazy with details or keep it simple based on your level of comfort and / or the look you want for your piece.

Here you can see how I've added some satin stitching to a few areas and also stitched on some beads where there are dots in the original design. It's a great fit for the vibe of this stencil and also another great and fairly easy way to get more texture.

I also went through and added some outlining with metallic gold thread because I love a good metallic!

Once the stitching and beading were done, I took the piece out of the embroidery hoop, tore off the excess fabric to get it to the size I wanted (you can also just cut it if you want a cleaner look,) and then used some gold ink and the 4"x4" stencil from my February 2021 StencilClub collection to add a bit more stenciled pattern to the background. I also edged the borders of the fabric with Sepia and Jet Black Archival Ink.

As you can see above, I also took a larger piece of heavy-weight paper (about 600 gsm) and stenciled it with my Collage Textures and Patterned - Medieval Cyrillic stencil as well as my Art Deco Sunburst Background stencil. I added a bit more texture by stamping with one of the designs from my EGL10 stamp set from PaperArtsy. This paper would end up being the background for the stitched piece - most would be covered, but I wanted to have more layers of pattern peeking out from behind the cloth.

At this point I knew that my final piece was going to be hung and that I wanted a few dangling accents, so I took a drilled stone and stenciled again with the 4"x4" stencil from my February 2021 StencilClub collection and some VersaFine Clair pigment ink and then heat embossed the design using my Turkish Bronze Boho Blends embossing powder.

You can absolutely emboss rock and stone - just make sure to wait a while before attempting to touch or handle it (or make sure to use copper tongs) as the rock will hold the heat for quite a while longer than paper.

With the stenciled and stitched components complete, I wrapped and added beads to a piece of driftwood and made a few little dangling accents from beads and coins. I stitched my focal point onto the background (with some black lace paper behind) using gold thread and then added some more accents using pieces of Indian sari trim and African sandcast beads. I also stitched a large Dogon or Dutch Donut bead over the eye with the plus sign as a bit of a frame and yet another dimensional / textural element.

Here's a bit more of a close-up so that you can see the texture from the different threads as well as the beads:

There you go! I hope you enjoyed today's project and tutorial and that you'll maybe even try out combining paint and stitching and also exploring using threads (and maybe a few beads) to add some texture into your work.

Thanks for stopping by... see you next time! Until then, happy stenciling.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Frieda Oxenham: Art Journaling with StencilGirl® Stencils

April is one of my most favourite months with lambs in the fields and daffodils in the garden. It’s a month of new beginnings and I fervently hope that will be especially true this year As always the quotation of Ben Okri’s poem this month comes up trumps.  The words I’m using this month are: “Let each moment of our life somehow help the good fight, or help spread some light”. It has been a revelation to me how every part of the poem is so appropriate to the times we are living in, and I think it’s because the entire poem is a beautiful evocation of who we are and what we can achieve if we try. So I wish a more normal life to everyone. It will be a life we no longer take for granted and that makes it extra special.

Here is the tutorial:

1.      Add a variety of colours (I used Fresco paints by PaperArtsy) to an 8 x 10” gelli plate. Brayer them out, and take prints on 2 facing 8 x 11.5” pages.

2.      Still using the gelli plate add one colour to the plate, add the large stencil from the December 2020 StencilClub and take a print. I used red paint on one page and blue on the other.

3.      Add titanium white to your gelli plate, cover both pages completely in white and then remove it in some areas using a baby wipe and the small stencil from the same December 2020 Club set.

4.      Add some text with a variety of text stamps and a permanent black inkpad.

5.      Glue on washi tape and vintage text as shown.

6.      Using three different colours of paint, brayer them onto the pages one at a time and partially remove with a baby wipe through Trillium pattern.

7.     Twice stencil onto deli paper the face from Stone Face using dark blue paint, tear out and glue on using matte gel medium. Also stencil one partial face straight onto the page as shown.

8.      Scribble on areas using the turquoise and dark pink scribble sticks (from Dina Wakley) and remove through Trillium pattern using a baby wipe.

9.      Add more details of the face from  Stone Face to the pages.

10.  Rub on blue paint around the faces using your finger (or a brush if you prefer).

11.  Spray on blue mica spray through Trillium pattern

12.  Repeat step 11 using gold mica spray.

13.  Write on quotation by Ben Okri as shown, using a permanent black marker. Fill in with a gold one.

14.  Outline some of the shapes with a white marker.

15.  Glue on the postage stamps and outline.

© Frieda Oxenham 2021. To see more of Frieda's work, please visit her BLOG.


Thursday, April 15, 2021

One Stencil, Multiple Layers by Cat Kerr

Hi, everyone! Cat Kerr here! I've been obsessed with stencils for a long time now. They're versatile, easy to use, and with all of the amazing designs available to choose from, well, the creative possibilities are endless. I can easily use 5 or 6 different designs in one journal page and sometimes you can even catch me with a stack of stencils, a stack of cardstock, and my Gel Press Plate ready and eager for a monoprinting session! Yes, I love my stencils.  

Now, lately, I've been trying something new. I've been creating a lot of abstract art and in doing so I found that using 1 stencil (instead of using multiple like I normally use) and repeating it in the different layers really helps to unify the piece. This revelation has taken me by surprise. I have always been a "more is more" kind of girl and I still am, but what I've now learned is that there is also great value in using only one design and repeating it. In the close-up photo, you can literally see the four layers in which I used the same stencil. How cool is that! 

Please join me as I create a fun abstract journal page using only my Flock 6 x 6 stencil, acrylic paint and some mark-making tools.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Paint the natural world with intricate stencils by Margaret Peot

You are sure to create artistic delights with these oh-so-intricate, decorative, nature-inspired stencils designed by Margaret Peot.

Tiny scenes of animals, flowers, trees, and berries are snuggled together in the Floral Circle Frames Stencil. Gorgeous as an over-all background or mask off and stencil the frames individually to use as tags or ornaments.

Margaret foiled the frames and cut out the centers in the example above. The frames could also be used to draw attention to mini paintings, photos, or pressed flowers.

A stencil for all seasons, Floral Heart could be used to make a pretty tea towel for a Mother’s Day gift, a color-coordinated decoration for a wedding guest book, or a true love's Valentine. Inside this 9" x 12" floral heart stencil are two of everything: two hearts, pairs of birds, two mice, two owls, a nest with two eggs, plus berries, flowers, leaves, and vines. The inspiration for this heart stencil was artwork Margaret made as a gift for a b’nah mitzvah for fraternal twins, a boy and a girl, children of close friends.

"I grew up near a pond, surrounded by reeds and ferns and flowers," Margaret says. "It was always a thrill when a wild duck would nest in the grasses and bring her babies onto the pond in the spring."

Duck Nesting features flowers and ferns disguising a nesting duck and a hovering dragonfly. "This swirling stencil design can be used as a mirror-repeat for a border, or as the beginning of a narrative for an art journal page," Margaret says.

Tall straight flowers and ferns make a pretty meadow border. Use this versatile Tall Flowers Stencil for spring stationery, a border on fabric, or radiate the straight flowers from a central point to make a floral mandala.

Discover the natural wonder of all of the stencils Margaret has designed for StencilGirl®.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Stenciled Shrinky Dink Cuff Bracelet

Hi, Linda Edkins Wyatt here, with a fun project using a children's art product...Shrinky Dinks!

About a year ago, my arty crew introduced me to Shrinky Dinks. I had vaguely heard of Shrinky Dinks but missed that childhood excitement somehow.

Artists Lynda Shoup and Jill McDowell gifted me with a couple sheets of Shrinky Dink film to try out, and my inner child immediately surfaced. I all undertook all kinds of experiments with paints and inks and stamps and stencils. I watched them shrink and curl in the oven, holding my breath and hoping that they would flatten out and turn into something usable. 

For the debut of my Lemurian Garden stencil collection this past summer, I made some earrings and a necklace.  But, I got busy with other projects, tucked the shrink film away in my art closet, and forgot about it for a few months.

To announce my stencil debut,
this shrinky dink earring was made with my Lemurian Spiral stencil.

The necklace, shown on my page of the StencilGirl website,
features the Lemurian Leaf stencil.

For StencilGirl's "wearables" project, I mulled over my many choices: paint some fabric and sew a blouse or skirt or apron; stencil my old clogs in a psychedelic way; or make some stenciled jewelry. I liked the jewelry idea so I started puttering with the shrink film again.

I had a square of hand needle-felted fabric that I made a couple years ago. After felting, I made a "quilt sandwich" of the felt, thin batting, and a pink and green millefleur for the backing. Next, I free-motion quilted the three layers of the "sandwich" with a variety of decorative stitches in an earth-toned variegated thread, with shades of dark brown, gray, and rust. 

When I held some of my previous shrunken pieces next to the felt, I liked the colors and textures together, and the cuff idea emerged.

I cut Shrinky Dink circles with a 2.5" round punch and small holes with a standard punch.

I painted the film white before stenciling and baking. (I discovered, however, that it is better to paint the back white AFTER baking.)

I cut 9 circles, 4 rectangles, and 1 moon shape from a sheet of shrink film.

After painting, I stenciled the film with Archival Ink.

Above are some previous baked creations
for comparison with the unbaked film.

I chose a section of each stencil for my buttons and charms.

Here's the stenciled button, ready to be baked.
It is important to punch the buttonholes BEFORE stenciling.

I stenciled sections of all five of my Lemurian Garden designs onto the shrink film, using both sepia and cobalt Archival Ink. I made circles with my 2.5" round punch, and with the leftover film, cut squares and rectangles.

I made both charms and buttons. For the charms, I used a standard small round punch near the edge, and for the buttons, punched two holes near the center so they could be sewn onto the felt.

I noticed that the stenciled and stamped designs didn't stand out next to the dark felt, so I tried painting the back of the shrink film white before baking. After baking, the white acrylic became gummy and thick, so I decided to paint the backs of the next batch after shrinking.

The stenciled shrink film on parchment paper, ready to bake.

The film curled and buckled in the oven, but eventually flattened out.

I used a spatula to flatten the buttons and charms that were a little buckled.

The section of felted wool was the right length for a cuff, but it was too wide, so I cut it in half. I stitched the raw edge closed on my sewing machine.

Here are the stenciled buttons and charms after baking:

I used a rotary cutter to slice the felted wool in half for the cuff.

I used a blanket stitch on my sewing machine to edge the felted cuff bracelet. 

I tested various combinations of button and charm shapes and colors on top of the wool, and settled on alternating circle and rectangle buttons of both brown and cobalt. For the cuff, buttons seemed more secure than the one-holed charms.

The rectangular buttons were a happy accident...
I intended to cut only circular shapes,
but had leftover film that was cut into rectangles.

I pinned the buttons onto the felt to position them for sewing.

For the closure, I debated the possibilities: velcro? a jewelry closure? a snap? A tied closure with fibers? A loop and button? Elastic? I settled on a giant vintage hook and eye, which would be durable and easy to use.

I rummaged through my new and vintage closures to find just the right one for my cuff.

The finished bracelet fits loosely at the wrist,
yet tight enough not to slide off.

After doing a little research, I discovered how I missed Shrinky Dinks in my hadn't been invented yet...when Shrinky Dinks debuted in 1973 I was a high school senior! It took me 41 years to discover Shrinky Dinks...and I just might have a new addiction!