Thursday, January 20, 2022

StencilGirl® Upcycled Bangle Bracelets

Hi everyone, Ann Barnes here, and I am excited to be back on StencilGirl® Talk. Today I am sharing these unique, up cycled, bangle bracelets, made using my Alphabet Mixup ATC stencils

Like most people, having spent a lot of time in my studio this past year, I noticed there's a lot of space taken up by my stash of collected items. These are the things that I can't seem to possibly throw away, things that have "potential" to be used in alternative ways for projects...things like spent tape rolls. 

This project uses empty tape roll cores. They can be from any type of tape as long as the circular core is a sturdy cardboard material, and would fit around someone's wrist. For my bangles, I used the cores from painters tape rolls. At first glance (and probably why I saved so many of them) they appear to have a nice finished surface. This works great for the tape, but needs to be sanded off to give the surface a bit of grip when it comes to adhering a base coat of gesso and/or paint. I had a few of my painted designs literally peel off before I realized why it was happening. Roughing up the cardboard base is the first step to creating these pieces. 

Once you have sanded off the nonstick surface, each roll is covered with a layer of gesso or paint. I wanted to have a variety of bases to work on so I chose different mediums for each of the rolls. I used black gesso, black soot distress paint, as well as gold gesso. They all worked well, so feel free to use whatever you have on hand. 

I love the fact that the Alphabet Mixup ATC stencils contain 27 different pattern designs within the alphabet. This gave me a lot of options when it came to design. For my bangles, I chose to keep the pattern and designs pretty close to the original stencil designs; however, I think these would also be beautiful if the designs were abstract. Select the stencil that contains a pattern you want to showcase on your bracelet, then consider what colors you would like to use.

I created five different bangles, each showcasing a different pattern. For this post, I will do a step by step for the bamboo patterned bracelet, made using the letter B stencil (ATC Mixup Alphabet A through I). At the end of the post I will share which letters I used for each of the other bracelets. 

I sanded and prepped my tape roll with black soot distress paint. Once it was ready, I moved my selected stencil above the flat width of the tape roll to envision which section of the stencil would give me the cleanest repeating pattern. For the bamboo, this section occurs along the tall upright on the left side of the letter B. Place the stencil onto the prepared flat surface and gently add green paint through the stencil with a foam wedge. I find it best to use only a little paint and dab the foam in an up and down motion over the openings. It is easier to do multiple light layers to build up color than it is to fix the paint that may seep through if you are too heavy handed. (Tip: if you spray the back side of the stencil with a light coat of a reposition-able adhesive prior to use, the stencil will "stick" in the exact position that you place it without much effort on your part.)

After you are satisfied with the paint coverage, lift the stencil off the surface. You can use a heat tool to ensure that section of the painted design is dry before placing the stencil in the adjacent position. Repeat the paint dabbing, lifting, and drying process, continuing the pattern all the way around the surface. I shifted the stencil up and down each time I moved it to the next position to add interest to the repeating pattern. Allow the painted pattern layer to completely dry. 

At this point, I repeated the process, positioning the stencil in the exact position from the first painted layer, but used a different shade of green paint to give the bamboo pattern a bit of depth. When adding the second color, I made sure to not fully cover the first layer, this allowed some of the lighter areas to show through. I allowed this layer to completely dry as well, then I hand painted additional highlights on each of the bamboo sections with a detailer paintbrush.

Using a fine paintbrush, tarnished brass (metallic) distress paint created highlights along each section of bamboo, further enhancing the dimensional effect. I painted these highlights freehand; however, if you prefer, you could always position the stencil a third time to use as a guide. I like the arty feel of the hand-painted highlights, making my own marks and adding to the uniqueness of each piece.

Once the art on each bangle was complete, I coated the bangle in resin to give it durability. Using a tumbler spinner and high gloss resin, I added layers of clear resin and allowed the bracelet to spin until the resin cured. This step of the process takes the most time and patience. Do not touch the resin until it is completely cured. I left mine to spin overnight so that I would not be tempted in any way. Follow the manufacturer's directions for whatever resin you use. The bracelets only need to spin to avoid drips, one the resin has set up, the remaining cure time can happen in a stationary position.

After the resin on the bracelets has completely cured, I add a strip of black, adhesive backed velvet to the inside. This gives each bangle a finished look and also provides a soft comfortable feel when the bracelet is worn.

Here is the finished "bamboo" bracelet using the B stencil (ATC Mixup Alphabet A through I)

The next bangle was made with the letter J "jonquil" patterned stencil (ATC Mixup Alphabet J through R) Using three colors of distress paint, I created an alternating ombre effect through the stencil. Once dry, I added small gold marks randomly before coating the bracelet with resin. 

I love the grungy look of the "numbers" bangle using the letter N stencil (ATC Mixup Alphabet J through R) Note: the base layer of this bangle was created with collaged vintage book pages. This bangle was not coated in resin, allowing the layers and grungy design to show. For durability, I sprayed the piece with a clear matte spray before adding the velvet to the interior.

This bangle was made using the letter C "circles" patterned stencil (ATC Mixup Alphabet A through I) Gold gesso was the perfect base to build upon, giving the design a lot of depth right from the start. I added layers of stenciling in blues, greens and teals with masking and gold highlights. This bracelet has a chunky feel with its thick coating of resin. 

The wide bangle bracelet made with the letter U "uneven lines" stencil (ATC Mixup Alphabet S through Z &) makes a bold statement. Uneven lines of reds, pinks, coral, orange and gold on a black gessoed base make up the design. I extended the thick gold stripes onto the edges to add interest. 

There is something very satisfying about using items in your stash. I personally know that this is a hard concept to wrap your head around. For years, I collected and admired, and when it came time to use, I shunned away from my "collected" items because I was afraid that once I used them all up, there would never be anything like it or good enough to replace it. This past year, I began to use up some of my gathered supplies and I can honestly say that not only is it rewarding to see these items in a new light, it is like a weight is being lifted off my shoulders as the collections dwindle and the space in the studio begins to open up. Especially when they are used to create something beautiful and useful.

I hope you are inspired to dig into your stash and create something special. These bracelets would make the perfect gifts, and they can be made using items that you've already got on hand, so they won't cost you anything but time, and in my opinion, any time I can be making art is a good time!

Thanks so much for stopping by today, it means a lot to me. If you'd like to see more of my art and creations, you can find me on Instagram (@aksbarchitect) and Facebook (Ann Sullivan Barnes).  

creatively yours,
 Ann Barnes


  1. Thanks for such an inspiring piece! Love the bangles sooooo much. x

  2. Very cute bangles - thanks for sharing your technique!

  3. Omg these are so cool! And I *love* the way you photographed them!

  4. Ann, this is such a wonderful, clever project. I'm amazed with your creativity and love how you styled the photos for the post. :) xx, Autumn

  5. Such a fabulous tutorial Ann and with wonderful results. Love those bangles!! xx


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