Thursday, June 24, 2021

Niamh Baly: Art Journaling with Abstract StencilGirl® Stencils

Hi everyone,

I am so excited to be here on the StencilGirl® blog again today as a guest designer. My name is Niamh Baly and I am a Primary (elementary) school teacher from Tasmania, Australia, a content creator and mum to two gorgeous girls. I am also stencil addict! Stencils are such an amazing tool to help produce fabulous artwork and are so simple to use. They are one of the most important tools that I use in my art journal pages, and nearly every page I create has a stenciled image or texture on it. In this project we will be using stencils to create a quirky abstract journal page using lots of mark making. I find pages like this very relaxing to make, and great pieces for days when you want to paint – but aren’t sure what to make. Below you will find a full process video as well if you want to see this page from start to finish.

To begin, paint a number of different colours in your background. I tend to use analogous colours (colours that sit together on the colour wheel) as they blend nicely together – in this case I used warm colours. I tend to apply the colour in threes on my page to create visual triangles. Once dry I then create drama by applying black gesso through the monoprint stencil by Rae Missigman. This allows any marks applied over the top to really sing against the stark black.

Adding marks to a page can be daunting but take a leap and have fun. I use different paint brushes in a variety of shapes and sizes to create my marks, and often the cheaper the brush the better – as you don’t mind squishing it into your page. I tend to repeat colours from the background again to create repetition or chose a contrasting colour (opposite on the colour wheel from the background colours) to create a focus. You can also use paint pens and stamps to add extra marks and interest to your background.

Finally, I wanted to add a focal image to my page. I chose to stencil the bold flower stencils in a number of different sizes to create movement. I used the lapis blue to stencil to give a huge pop of contrasting colour, but also as the blue is semi-transparent, so you can still see the marks and colours from the background peeping through. I then lettered on the words – just breathe, as I found while I was creating this page I felt relaxed, at peace and able to just breathe after a crazy week at work.

Here is a video of the full process creating this page:

Here is a close up of the details in this page.

Here is a list of the StencilGirl® stencils I have used in this project:
Monoprint Stencils and Masks Set
Bold Flower Stencils

Thank you so much for stopping by the blog. I hope that this has inspired you to get into your journals and create something beautiful.

Happy Creating,

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

New Stencil Alert: Build Arches and Towers of Arches

Build your own arched city or Leaning Tower of Pisa with Carolyn Dube's new Arches and Towers of Arches. You can even create artworks where the arches become abstract!

Art journal? Check.
Gel print? Check
Fun? Check. Check.

These stencil/masks are a playful take on the arches in classical Greek and Roman architecture. Stack them, combine them with Arches, or use parts of them.

Towers of Arches. Simply snip out the masks and you are good to go.

Towers of Arches Masks L859

Arches Stencil with 20 Masks, L858

One of the perks of getting the masks with the stencil is it can make deciding where to place an arch before you make the commitment of paint! Not only can this stencil make arches it can make organic oval shapes that look NOTHING like an arch. 

Stretch now. Arch your back. Feel your creative flow. Get ready to play:

Need a little more art inspiration with these arches? Check.

Discover these and all of Carolyn's stencils and masks at

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Paint it Black


Paint it Black

Hi everyone.  I'm Nancy Curry and I am here to give you a glimpse into a little art vacation that I take from time to time.  Perhaps after reading this blog, you might join me.                   

I adore color. I really do, but a few times a year, I take a holiday away from all it for a few days or even a week. For me, the time in retreat from color that I crave acts as an intermezzo or amuse-bouche. It cleanses my mental palette and allows me to focus on other parts of good composition. My intermezzo coincided perfectly with my first project for the team so bear with me if I go against nature and head into monochrome. Last year I focused on Payne's Gray and did a series of florals and a landscape. This year after working with Lamp Black for a class, I decided to extend my time with it and explore different tones, how it reacts to different papers, and where it fits in my art practice. 

As part of my exploration, I took StencilGirl® stencils for a spin. I used them with deli, tissue, rice, drawing, mixed media, and watercolor (cold and hot pressed) paper and loved learning how each took the watercolor. Stencils used from left to right are: Wonky Eyes, Art Deco Fairview, StencilClub 6/2020 and StencilClub 5/2021 (Past club sets are available to current club members.)

All tones of Lamp Black


Collage Fodder

I took some of these paper for a ride in a trio of paint and paper collages on heavyweight index cards. I am participating for the first time in the ICAD (Index Card a Day) challenge by Daisy Yellow in Instagram so why not use them to practice.  They will be the star of the video below and are the beauty shot at the top of the page.  It was fun to add some silver leafing to the small format collages.  My go-to adhesive is Duo by USArtQuest but any low tack adhesive will do.  My go-to paper adhesive is PPA also by USArtquest, but any clear matte drying glue or matte medium will work for the collage. Stencils used in the trio above include: Eddy Rose 6 and Art Deco Fairview.

This more intensive collage piece was done on watercolor paper.  I enjoyed layering the tissue papers with the heavier weight ones.  Stencils used here include: Art Deco Fairview and my Stay in Your Magic set for StencilClub 10/2018.

Shadow Dancing

I really enjoyed monoprinting with the backs of stencils on various papers. I liked using all of the papers other than the tissue paper for this. The resulting prints are largely gestural which makes their imperfections all the more forgiving.  The pictures below show these monoprint results. You'll see the how-to moment in the video, but it's not rocket science. You simply paint on the back of the stencil. The two stencils used: Rural Buildings and StencilClub 6/2020.

It Takes a Village

I also did a bit of painting on plain drawing paper....florals, of course.  That paper doesn't allow for much repetition with the paint, however, I was able to spot darken the tones by letting the paper fully dry and dry brushing in areas (very little water used.)



Finally, I enjoyed using full stencils with repeat images.  I used a larger brush and quickly brushed through the stencil.  The quicker you are the less time there will be for you to overthink and pool the watercolor.  Moving quickly without too much thought will help limit the running underneath the stencil.  I did not use it for my play, but Pixie Spray is awesome for holding the stencil still and affixed to the paper.  If you haven't tried it, you should.  You can see a timelapse of the process at the end of the video. These will be collage fodder for me mostly but once in a while I might frame them as is.

All We Need is Love

Large open areas can be difficult but they can be successful.  This one is not perfect but I love the softness in the black so much.  If I were to redo it, I would do it on hot-pressed watercolor paper. Cecilia Swatton designed this LOVE word stencil. The Rooted in Nature Lg Monarch stencil worked a little better because there is more to the composition to distract any imperfections. 

Fly Away Home

Here's a timelapse video I put together to help you visualize the process:

You may have noticed that the stencil designs stand out in a different way than they do in color. They look very cohesive and soothing to me. But for me, it's also a practice that helps me experiment in brush strokes, composition, tonality, and to just challenge myself more. I can see my own errors better when painting or even in stencil placement, as well as working on transitions between light and dark that will help when I return to color. I also am able to use mark-making more effectively as a tool. Often I resort to color, but here the single color simplifies everything and highlights the marks and their impact on the piece. If you have never taken an intermezzo, try it and let me know how it goes for you. I'd love to hear.  

As always, it's a delight to be on the blog--now as a team member. I'm in great company this year and we all bring a different point of view to the table. I'll be back in August with another adventure. To see more of my pursuits, follow me on Instagram and Facebook at Nancy Curry Art. For my class schedule, blog, and full galleries, hop over to Nancy Curry Art. I often do reels/IG TV to showcase what I'm up to.  I'd love to have your feedback there, too! 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Mini Stitched Collages with StencilGirl® Stencils


Hi, Judy here and I am excited to be here to show you how I make my mini stitched collages.  For many years I have been obsessed with making miniature artworks.  My background is fiber art and once I discovered I could stitch my papers, there was no turning back.  I hope you enjoy this mini tutorial.



Acrylic paint

Watercolor paint

Golden Modeling Paste

Blue Tape

Watercolor paint brush

Foam paintbrush


Various papers: watercolor paper/book pages/copy paper/cardstock or old artworks

StencilGirl® Stencils – 

Nested Squares Full 

Little Eddy Rose

Fragmented Lines Columns

1 by 4 Rails Set 1

Stone & Mortar Version 2


*optional: sewing machine, needles and thread



Start by gathering all your supplies.  I like having everything within reach.  Look through your papers and determine colors.  Generally, I choose two to three colors plus black and white.  But for this project I limited my color choices to one color with black and white.  Sometimes simplicity is best.

I started creating my black and white stenciled papers on vintage book pages, music sheets and copy paper.  I love the textures that these papers give and the hidden words that pop out.  

Next, I created beautiful textured papers on watercolor paper with Golden modeling paste.  You can use plaster, spackle, or any other thick paste like mediums for this.  I chose the modeling paste for the more transparent texture.  Here is a hint, if you don’t like the transparent white color add a drop or two of ink to the paste to give it color.  Explore!

This next step is so much fun.  Here is where I decided to see what watercolor and stencils would do.  I have never had much luck, but this time…Boom!  This time I painted a very wet watercolor background on the watercolor paper.  

Next, I laid my StencilGirl® stencils on top of the wet watercolor paper and taped them in place.  I used a version of blue tape for delicate surfaces, but washi tape works great too.  Once the stencils were secure, I gently went over the stencils with a little more watercolor to add more vibrant colors in different sections.  The most difficult is the next step…let it dry overnight and do not move it.  Funny, I am so impatient, but trust me just let it dry overnight.

Now the fun begins, let’s make some fun mini collages!


I know some of these papers are just gorgeous by themselves, but time to tear and cut them up.  It’s only paper and you can make more.  There are lots of ways to do collages, straight line, rough edges, layers, just have fun re-arranging the papers.   My papers are approximately 2” pieces, some smaller and some larger.  What I was looking for is color and contrast.  I use a glue stick of scotch tape to temporary hold my pieces together to carry them to my sewing machine.

YES!  You heard me.  I have lots of art friends that question why I sew my collages.  My response is that sewing is my mark making opportunity and it gives structure to the collages.    Plus, I used to be a fiber artist.  So why not?


Sewing paper can be a little challenging to do curved lines so I would suggest straight, zig zag and random.  I try to make sure every paper has at least a stitch on it to hold the papers together.

Finishing your little collages is a personal thing with many options.  Some people like them framed with a mat and others like them attached to a wood panel.  It all depends on the finish too.  If framing in a frame, just finish it with a final fixative spray.  If you adhere to a wood panel you can finish it with a varnish, resin, or encaustic medium.  Here I finished a piece with encaustic but like I said it is a personal choice with many options to choose from.

Now go create those beautiful collages and you tag me on Instagram with your creations @judy_applegarth

Happy Stenciling!

Judy Applegarth




Thursday, June 17, 2021

Rust Dye Printing with StencilGirl® Products

Hey everyone, Lorri Scott here to talk about my journey into rust dyeing on fabric using StencilGirl® stencils.

I became interested in rust dyeing several years ago when I was learning how to eco-dye using leaves and flowers.  The rusted areas that transferred from the iron pipe used to roll fabric on for eco dye prints intrigued me.   I began gathering iron objects such as trivets and gate pieces to create rust on and transfer print onto fabric.  The transfer method was to take the rusty metal object, lay wetted fabric on top and then weight the fabric down and let it sit.  Warm sunny days are the best to create rust prints!

After several years of rust printing on fabric I wanted to introduce the technique in classes.  And I have done that but it became cumbersome to lug heavy metal pieces around with me, let alone enough for students to use!  Seemed I would need one of those “Got Junk?” trucks.

One day I was reading a post on Facebook and a woman had mentioned using steel wool and stencils.  I could not find that post again and nothing came up when I did a search online. 

I knew I could figure it out and just started experimenting.  Right away I was hooked and I thought how much easier it will be to take stencils with me to teach workshops rather than super heavy boxes of metal!  LOL!  And so many choices of stencils too!

This is a sample of my own private “junkyard” treasure trove. (Well some of it).

These are samples using StencilGirl® stencils.  These will make great background pieces for art.  These could become wall hangings, modern day prayer flags, and/or get stitched onto garments and accessories.  I use cotton muslin, silk fabrics such as noil and broadcloth and also vintage napkins and placemats, either cotton or linen.

Stencil on right – Basket (S327) Daniella Woolf

Stencil - Winter Trees Bark (L635) Valerie Sjodin

Stencil – Wrought Iron Gate (L224) Cecilia Swatton

Art Nouveau Rug (L695) Kate Thompson

Protector of the Fields (S407) Roxanne Evans Stout

Here are examples of how these could be used for backgrounds.

Kate Thompson sells images of her paintings printed on organza in her Etsy shop.  I have taken one of her prints and laid it over the Basket stencil rust print.  I could attach this using Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 fusible bonding.  It could be that simple or could be further embellished with paint, stitching, lace, etc.

I made this rust printed fabric image into a simple prayer flag.  I printed The Apache Blessing onto organza using an ink jet printer and stitched it onto the rust dyed fabric.  I wrapped the stick with some red embroidery thread and attached to the fabric. 

The Process


Choose the stencil you will use and be sure to use masking tape to cover the StencilGirl® information at the bottom or else that will appear on your rust print.

Fill a spray bottle with ½ white vinegar and ½ water.

Fill a quart size (or larger) baggie with sand and make sure it is sealed securely.

Take the piece of fabric and wet it, wring it out until it’s just damp.

Put a towel down and put a piece of plastic down larger than your piece of fabric.

Lay the fabric on the plastic and then the stencil onto the fabric.

Take a roll of steel wool and unwind it.  Stretch it out a bit and tear/cut the size you need to cover your stencil.  Lay it over your stencil.  If the steel wool exceeds the size of your stencil then the rust will show outside the cut of the stencil.  See the image of Roxanne Evans Stout stencil I used for the prayer flag.  Those rust areas outside the stencil were because the steel wool overlapped. Be sure to wear a mask when handling the steel wool, you don’t want to breathe the tiny particles, and it’s a good idea to wear gloves too.

Using the 50/50 vinegar water in the spray bottle, wet the steel wool until wet.  You do not want it saturated but you need it evenly wetted.

Lay the sand bag on top of the whole “sandwich”.  Plastic, stencil, fabric, steel wool, sand bag.  The sand bag will weigh the steel wool down onto the fabric.

Now the tricky part is how long?  Rust needs, moisture, air, and heat to promote.  So if it’s a hot sunny day this could go fast, within an hour or two.  Keep lifting the sand bag to make sure the steel wool is moist.  If it’s dry spritz it with the vinegar/water. If you have this in a warm room it could be done within 5 – 8 hours.  Or leave it overnight.

Gently lift the stencil and check to see if the image is showing yet.  If not you may need to wet the steel wool some more and leave a bit longer.

After you remove the layers and have the image on the fabric you need to iron it.  Remember that some of the rust is not going to set into the fabric and will rub off so be sure to put down a press cloth on your ironing area and also put a press cloth on top to protect your iron.  I buy cotton sheets at the thrift store and tear them up to use as press cloths.  Be sure the iron is on the hottest setting, this will help set the rust a bit more.

Fill a tub with ¼ cup baking soda and hot water.  Soak your rust piece in that for about 10 -15 minutes.  Then wash your fabric using a mild soap and rinse.  Let it dry and then iron it again and it’s ready to use.

If you want to explore rust dyeing techniques further perhaps you would like to join me and Jen

Cushman for an intimate gathering in Cottonwood, AZ in a private retreat compound.  Oct. 21 -25, 2021.  Five days of art and inspiration, sisterhood and creativity, intention and self-discovery (and rust dyeing).  Mundane meets magic … or better known as “Rust and Stardust”.  The perfect balance of chemistry and creativity with a sprinkling of mysticism.

For more info visit Rust & Stardust — Soul Stir Magic

Lorri Scott