Friday, June 2, 2017

Carol Wiebe: StencilGirl Stencils & Citrasolv Papers

Hi, everyone! Carol Wiebe here sharing how to create Citrasolv papers with my Asian Character Impressions, Diamond Facets, Organic Roots, and Woven stencils!

Citrasolv papers are the result of one of those processes that make you wonder how in the world it happened. I imagine someone spilling solvent degreaser over their National Geographic, leaving it sitting for a while and coming back to shout “Eureka! These pages are gorgeous!”

I used an older National Geographic Magazine for my Citrasolv adventure. The magazine still used staples, then (mine was a 1999 edition). The usual method is to soak the entire magazine with Citrasolv, but I wanted more control. I removed the staples and pulled out all the pages. I discarded those that were too heavy or had no photos.

There are not a lot of supplies needed to create Citrasolv papers:
1—Citrasolv (available through Amazon)
2—Old National Geographic magazines
3—A foam brush
4—Marking tools (anything with a rubber, plastic or metal tip)
5—Paper towels and baby wipes
6—Piece of plastic (i.e. a sheet protector)

I then sprinkled my sorted pages with generous amounts of Citrasolv, stacked them, and covered them with a piece of plastic (i.e. a page protector). The pages now needed to cook. 

The time this takes depends on factors like the amount of solvent you used, and how much you want the ink to blend. In the video, I stated that I let the pages cook for an hour or two. More accurately, I checked every 15 minutes. Sometime after the 1st hour and into the second, I deemed the pages ready, or “cooked.” They had allover “pools” and “bubbles” of ink, often forming beautiful designs (Make sure you check both sides for some difficult decision making). And, I could easily make marks into the ink with tools such as a rubber tipped brush and knitting needle, or swipe through with a paper towel or baby wipe. 

My goal in marking the pages was to obliterate anything recognizable (like a person or animal). It is not fair, or even legal, to use another person’s work without specific permission. As an artist, I am very conscious of this. Besides, I wanted to make the pages my own. And marking is fun! The ink is SO responsive—the slightest contact changes the design on the page. Touching a page with another transfers marks and patterns back and forth. Experimentation is the name of the game. Beware! You will need a lot of places to set these pages down to dry as you play. The pages are very wet (and greasy), with a lot of black ink. You can tell this from the video, because the pages are so shiny it can sometimes be difficult to see my mark making in the recording. Wearing gloves is recommended (do as I say . . . ). Remove extra ink with a paper towel or deftly taking a print with a clean piece of paper.
I waited until the pages were dry before I brought out the stencils. It is probably quite possible to do stencil work while the pages are wet, but I preferred a cleaner approach.

I placed a stencil on a dry, cooked page, and used a paper towel dipped in Citrasolv to rub ink off of the stencil spaces. I soon discovered a baby wipe worked even better (Citrasolv was still needed).  

Some things to watch for are:

1—Rub carefully. StencilGirl stencils are strong, but over vigorous rubbing might cause damage.
2—Watch what the ink is doing through the stencil. Sometimes several passes are needed to get off enough ink. On the other hand, if you like what’s happening, stop! You can always put the stencil back in position and rub again.
3—Just because you’ve done an area, doesn’t mean you can’t go over it another time. The ink will redistribute itself. You can get some cool effects that way.
4—Too much Citrasolv on your wipe will just run underneath and the rub will not be as detailed as you might like. Blot with a towel and put your stencil back in position to rub it again, unless you like the effect!

To sum up all the tips, rub mindfully!
After having completed a few stencil rubbings on my Citrasolv papers, it was now my turn to shout “Eureka!” I loved the results, and I think you will, too. I have included but a few of my many samples. I am currently pasting these collage papers onto journal pages and paintings. 

Another warning: this process is extremely addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Of course, we are all laughing because what else is new! Just add it to your addiction list, somewhere under number 1: Stencils.
Carol Wiebe


  1. Love this Carol- I have done citrisolve papers for a long time. I have another technique using Geographics or other magazines- I put a stencil girl stencil underneath the page then lightly sand with a sanding block. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Thanks, Terry, that works well. However, I love moving the ink around, which the Citrasolv does. It gives you deposits that look like shading and are a little grungy--a look I like. So it depends what look you are after.

  2. This is so cool. I meant to try this a long time ago and then forgot about it. On the text page, how did you get the brown/colored mandala? Did you first press a different page on the text page? Those colors didn't appear anywhere else on the page

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thanks, Jami! The text page actually had an illustration on it, pretty much the size meant for the mandala on the stencil. I was very happy with the way it turned out. But even just text by itself has possibilities. The Citrasolv lets you move the ink around so that the stencil design shows up nicely, but leaves little bits of text peeking through. The resulting papers are great for inclusion in art journals or onto mixed media paintings.


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