Thursday, December 10, 2020

NEW DESIGNER: Darlene Olivia McElroy's Ribbons & Relics

Darlene Olivia McElroy's Ribbons & Relics stencil series (each stencil is 6" x 6") is inspired by her love of the mystical, symbols, and ribbon shapes that tie a story together.

She has shared her creative process with these stencils using paper clay, metal, microbeads, and a variety of paints, as well as showing deconstructed stenciled elements. 

Heart in Hand - This symbol represents the love of fellow man and generosity and helpfulness towards others.

Darlene says: In addition to stenciling with paint, I love stenciling with colored molding paste or by sprinkling glitter or microbeads to a stenciled shape made with gels in order to get depth. Below I used green paint mixed with light molding paste. It gives depth but also allows me to sand it when dry.

If I use this technique on a sheet of polypropylene plastic, I can give my stenciled images multiple uses by deconstructing them. These microbead stencil pieces were removed from the plastic and added to a painting to give it depth and interest.

I used all the stencils in the Ribbons & Relics series to create the container and backs of a Tarot deck. The container lid was created by brayering Heart in Hand on Apoxie sculpt to emboss it then adding the leftover pieces from the microbead deconstructed stencil (above). Anyone who knows me knows that I love the perfection of imperfection and I strive for that even when using a stencil.

Thistle & Ribbons - It represents strength, durability, and determination. The ribbons around the thistle show how delicacy and strength can complement each other.

Layering stencils creates a beautiful ornate look. Three stencils were used for this piece; Thistle & Ribbons and Hearts Afire as well as the S-Curve stencil by Daniella Woolf S-Curve Stencil. After the light molding paste was dried and slightly sanded, a wash was applied to it (left). An open acrylic dark blue was applied and while still wet paper was laid on top and rubbed down. The paper was pulled off to reveal the blue print (right).

When the paper was pulled off from the print, the blue paint was left in the recess areas. The panel is now ready to have color added to the thistle and some of the ribbons.

Perched Crow - Growing up around crows, one sees their power, intelligence, creativity, resourcefulness, and playfulness. Crows find treasures in trash, are mysterious and sacred, and in some cultures have possessed magical qualities.

In addition to stenciling on my art, I also will stamp with the excess paint that is on the stencil. I do this either on paper or on the plastic covering my work table which will become a paint skin at some point.

This piece of art was created by placing Creative Paperclay on a wood panel, brayering it flat then laying my stencil over the clay then brayering it again. It creates a nice embossed surface. When the paper clay dries, it was sealed with polymer medium. When dry I sprayed it with Foil (metallic silver) spray paint by Krylon added a black stain to age it. This gives it the look of real metal.

My Heart Afire - Love and passion are the reason for living. The first known depiction of a heart as a symbol of romantic love dates to the 1250s but it exists as a contemporary symbol today.

I am continually creating backgrounds to use on the spur of the moment. This one worked so well with the Heart Afire stencil. The ribbons picked up the loop shapes in the abstract.

If you have ever taken a printmaking class, you know how much fun collagraphs are. By making a raised stencil using either a polymer gel or molding paste (on right), it can turn into a collagraph in order to making wonderful grunge prints. Apply paint to the raised stencil then lay your paper face down on top of the wet surface and rub back of paper with your hand or a brayer. I prefer to use Open Acrylics as it slows down the drying time.

Hummingbird Bouquet - Nothing makes a garden come alive other than the arrival of the hummingbirds. I am amazed how something so tiny can migrate so far, survive the predators, and give us such pleasure.

I love the storytelling qualities of painting and stencils. The more layers in your work, the more depth the narrative has.

Years ago a student asked me what stencil I used for my ribbon designs in my art. I was painting them by hand but the question led me to design these stencils. I like the idea that I can use the stencils as a complete piece or deconstruct them to use all the pieces individually.

My friend Judy has become allergic to acrylic paint so tried using my stencils with watercolors, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, and spritz paint.

How will you tell your story with Ribbons & Relics by StencilGirl's newest stencil designer, Darlene Olivia McElroy?


  1. Love these! Welcome, new Stencil Girl designer Darlene!

  2. I have loved Darlene’s work for years! She is always coming up with some new techniques and I am thrilled she has joined with stencil girl.


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