Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Cecilia Swatton: Making & Using Masks from Stencils

Seeing Double: Making & Using Masks from Stencils

Hi, everyone! Cecilia Swatton here to share a tutorial with my StencilGirl designs!

This approach won't work with every stencil in your collection, but if you scroll through, you'll find many that are a good fit with this technique!

Because these projects are on greeting card blanks, I've chosen 6"x 6" stencils, a perfect fit for these square fold-over cards available at

sturdy cardstock
a pen or pencil
the stencils
fine-detail scissors
masking tape (optional)
substrate (I used greeting card blanks)
heavy-body acrylic paints that are translucent
applicator sponges
light modeling paste
gel medium (gloss or matte)
artist spatula (an old credit card will work, too)
spray paints
Here, I've used green masking tape to secure stencils to substrates as well as to my work-surface.
To save time, you can skip using the tape.
My first step was to place two stencils onto sturdy cardstock.
Then I traced inside the openings of three of the ginkgo leaves, highlighted in the photo below.

After cutting out the three leaf-masks, I placed them on my substrate, a white blank greeting card.
Since I would be using spray paint next, I used green masking tape (on the right) and scratch paper to mask off the back of the card blank, as protection from spray.
After the spray paint had dried, I lifted off the masks.

Next, I placed the Ginkgo stencil over the sprayed card.
Although the stencil has been stained from an earlier project, I was able to see through it well enough to place its openings off-register from the image below it.
I used tape to mask off the areas of the stencil that I didn't want to use.
Then I mixed heavy-body acrylic paint with light modeling paste, and used an art spatula to spread it over the stencil.
After I lifted off the stencil and let the paint dry, I had my final greeting card cover.
For my second greeting card, I reversed the order of steps I'd taken in making the first card.
I started with my Osprey Wings stencil, saving its cardstock mask to in the second step.
Another change I made was to use a dark bronze greeting card blank, instead of a white one.
I placed the stencil atop the substrate and masked off the area that I didn't want to use. 
I mixed heavy-body white paint mixed with gel medium, then used a sponge applicator to apply the mixture through the stencil.
Then I lifted off the stencil and allowed the paint to dry.

Next, I placed the cardstock mask over the painted image to make sure it was off-register but still centered on the substrate.
Now it was time to mix gel medium with bronze metallic acrylic paint and, with a sponge applicator, to apply paint over the mask as well as the rest of the 6"x 6" card front.
Below is the final greeting card cover.

Don't want to cut your own masks?
First and foremost, Cecilia is a mixed-media artist whose non-objective abstractions flaunt her love for texture and color. She loves her StencilGirl stencils and uses them frequently as part of her collection of tools for designing faces of canvases to give them life. She creates mixed-media abstractions for the joy of it and paints every day. (Her friends know that if they call during morning hours, they will be leaving messages to be answered later!) 

Until the demise of The Rubber Stamper magazine, Cecilia worked as one of that publication's Contributing Designers where her art appeared monthly, and was once featured as cover art! Her artwork has also appeared in Cloth Papers ScissorsAltered ArtsExpressionSomerset Galleria, and Crafts n' Things. Cecilia's book-inclusion credits include the ebook series Journey into Abstracts by Sue St. John and the soft-cover book Exploring the Latest Trends in Mixed Media, Vol. II by Cynthia Powell and Sherre Hulbert. Her art has frequently appeared in the tri-state juried annual Monmouth Festival of the Arts, Tinton Falls, NJ; and her altered cigar boxes are sold at the gift shop in the Monmouth Museum, Lincroft, NJ.

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