Sten­cil Tech­niques for Card Mak­ing

CardMaker - - Contents - By Sharon M. Rein­hart

Learn fun sten­cil tech­niques for greet­ing cards us­ing a wide va­ri­ety of col­or­ing and paste medi­ums. There’s no end to the cre­ative fun that awaits!

Sten­cils are won­der­ful lit­tle tools that have been used in many cre­ative av­enues over the years, and card mak­ing is no ex­cep­tion. Although they are not new to the pa­per-craft­ing world, they def­i­nitely have ex­pe­ri­enced a re­birth. Cre­ated from pa­per, plas­tic and metal, they can be found in a va­ri­ety of stores rang­ing from of­fice sup­ply and home im­prove­ment stores to art and craft stores. Aside from real-life images and words, there are also many ab­stract images and pat­terns to choose from. Not only have the va­ri­ety of sten­cil de­signs grown but also the tech­niques that may be ac­com­plished with them.

The re­newed pop­u­lar­ity of us­ing sten­cils in card mak­ing is due in part to the art jour­nal­ing and mixed me­dia world as well as the va­ri­ety of prod­ucts avail­able to the crafter to­day. Prod­ucts such as inks in ev­ery color of the rainbow, paint daubers, metal­lic creams, stains, color wash sprays, glitter, metal­lic and irides­cent sprays along with embossing, mod­el­ing and fiber pastes, and embossing pow­ders all can be used to cre­ate a va­ri­ety of ef­fects with sten­cils.

Both the open and solid im­age styles are of­ten re­ferred to as sten­cils. Tech­ni­cally though, the open im­age de­sign is typ­i­cally called a sten­cil and the more solid im­age styles are masks. That be­ing said, they can all be used to cre­ate won­der­ful ef­fects us­ing many of the same tech­niques. From back­grounds to fo­cal points and ac­cents, sten­cils are a won­der­ful goto prod­uct!

Cre­at­ing Your Own Sten­cils

Another very popular method of ac­quir­ing a sten­cil is to cre­ate your own with the use of punches or die tem­plates. Ob­jects and prod­ucts not specif­i­cally de­signed for this pur­pose can also be used to cre­ate sten­ciled pat­terns. Fiber­glass dry­wall tape cre­ates tiny square pat­terns, and pa­per joint tape, popular in art jour­nal­ing and mixed me­dia, will cre­ate mul­ti­ple cir­cle images. Even punchinella, the waste from punch­ing se­quins, can of­fer beau­ti­ful re­sults. Many of th­ese popular pat­terns have even been re­pro­duced in sten­cil form. So keep your eyes peeled for every­day items with in­ter­est­ing pat­terns that may be used as sten­cils (Photo 1).

Don’t be afraid to ex­per­i­ment with the inks you have. After all, happy ac­ci­dents are how many great ideas are born.

Get­ting Started

When work­ing with sten­cils it is some­times nec­es­sary to se­cure the e sten­cil down us­ing repo­si­tion­able tape de­pend­ing on the tech­nique and medium be­ing used. The use of a non­stick craft sheet on your work sur­face is very help­ful. The sten­cil and the ac­tual pa­per be­ing sten­ciled can then be se­cured to the craft sheet tem­po­rar­ily with­out dam­age, and clean up is just a sim­ple swipe away with a baby wipe, pa­per towel or rag. Some tech­niques, how­ever, re­quire the sten­cil to be moved into dif­fer­ent po­si­tions. In this case sim­ply lay the sten­cil in po­si­tion or hold in place. The re­sults will vary ac­cord­ing to the pa­per and medium be­ing used. Both printed and plain pa­pers can be used to cre­ate in­ter­est­ing ef­fects for your cards. Al­ways wash the sten­cil im­me­di­ately after use or at least place it in a bin of wa­ter, then clean thor­oughly when fin­ished with your project. Let's dis­cuss how to use dif­fer­ent medi­ums with sten­cils to cre­ate some truly unique ef­fects.

Us­ing Inks

For a ba­sic di­rect-to-pa­per inked back­ground, be­gin by se­cur­ing the sten­cil and pa­per to the sur­face with repo­si­tion­able tape. One or more col­ors of ink may be used. If us­ing more than one color of ink, it is best to work from light­est to dark­est. Ap­ply the ink with a sponge or blend­ing tool in a pounc­ing or dab­bing mo­tion. In­tri­cate sten­cils can be dam­aged if a cir­cu­lar mo­tion is used. How­ever if us­ing a large open-style sten­cil, a cir­cu­lar mo­tion is ac­cept­able.

There are many dif­fer­ent types of inks, each with their own unique per­son­al­ity. For ex­am­ple, if us­ing an ink such as Ranger Dis­tress ink, a sim­ple di­rect-to-pa­per ap­proach will af­ford beau­ti­ful re­sults with the method above. Since this ink is wa­ter ac­ti­vated, the sten­ciled de­sign may be lightly misted with wa­ter to cre­ate a blended or water­color ef­fect. Another great tech­nique us­ing this type of ink is to ap­ply the ink to the pa­per, then lay a sten­cil on top of the inked pa­per. To gen­er­ate the sten­cil de­sign, sim­ply take a lightly damp­ened rag or baby wipe and re­move some of the color with a spong­ing or dab­bing mo­tion. By do­ing this, a re­verse ef­fect will be achieved (Photo 2). Don't be afraid to ex­per­i­ment with the inks you have. After all, happy ac­ci­dents are how many great ideas are born.

Us­ing Color Sprays

Color sprays are prob­a­bly one of the most popular medi­ums presently be­ing used in the pa­per craft­ing com­mu­nity. As with inks, there are also many types of color sprays, each with their own unique prop­er­ties. There are a plethora of avail­able col­ors and some even have the abil­ity to cre­ate a shim­mer ef­fect. Be sure to pro­tect the area di­rectly around your work sur­face or spray inside of a card­board box. For easy cleanup, it is rec­om­mended to work on a non­stick craft sheet. Not only will this al­low you to sim­ply wipe up the ex­cess spray, but you can also wipe up the ex­cess with pa­pers and tags to use later in other projects.

As with all tech­niques, one or mul­ti­ple col­ors may be used. Just be aware when choos­ing mul­ti­ple col­ors that some color com­bi­na­tions will re­sult in brown or muddy col­ors, which may or may not be the de­sired ef­fect. Follow the man­u­fac­turer's in­struc­tions as some sprays re­quire prep­ping to mix the par­ti­cles. It is wise to test first to see how a par­tic­u­lar prod­uct is go­ing to spray. Most of­ten, spray­ing from a slight dis­tance of­fers the best re­sults.

Sim­ply place the sten­cil onto the de­sired sur­face and lightly spray. Mul­ti­ple ef­fects can be achieved from one ap­pli­ca­tion. For a re­verse ef­fect, after spray­ing, re­move the sten­cil and lay it wet-side down onto another piece of card­stock. To press the de­sign into the card­stock, place a piece of scrap pa­per on top of the sten­cil or roll brayer style us­ing a pa­per towel roll. (Thanks to de­sign­ers Dyan Reave­ley and Christy Tom­lin­son for this help­ful tip.)

Another tech­nique which re­sults in a ghost­ing ef­fect in­volves the use of a

spray that is wa­ter ac­ti­vated or wa­ter re­ac­tive, such as the Dy­lu­sions brand of color spray. For this tech­nique, ap­ply the color spray to the card­stock and let dry or use a heat tool to speed up the process. Next, lay the sten­cil onto the card­stock and lightly spray with plain wa­ter. Dab up any ex­cess wa­ter and re­move the sten­cil. Voila! The wa­ter on the sten­cil re­moves some of the color, leav­ing the sten­cil de­sign vis­i­ble. This tech­nique re­sults in a sim­i­lar ef­fect to the ink method pre­vi­ously dis­cussed.

Us­ing Paint

The use of paint and paint daubers will re­sult in more won­der­ful ef­fects. With acrylic paint, it is good to take the less-is-more ap­proach, es­pe­cially if it is a fluid paint. A good method to en­sure a lighter cov­er­age is to squeeze or dab some paint, from a dauber onto a non­stick craft sheet. Next take your blend­ing tool or sponge and tap into the paint and tap off some ex­cess onto the craft sheet be­fore ap­ply­ing the paint to the sten­cil. Re­mem­ber, it is eas­ier to ap­ply more medium than it is to take away.

Com­bin­ing Medi­ums

Lay­ers of paint, inks and sprays may be com­bined as well to cre­ate beau­ti­fully lay­ered ef­fects. Make sure you are aware of the prop­er­ties of each of the medi­ums be­ing used and dry each layer be­fore pro­ceed­ing to the next. An easy and quick way to dry each layer is with the use of a heat tool.

Spe­cial Ef­fects

A tone-on-tone or water­mark ef­fect can be achieved by spong­ing on a water­mark or clear embossing ink through the sten­cil and onto the pa­per. For best re­sults with this tech­nique, it is best to stay away from white and black card­stock, un­less adding clear or glitter embossing pow­der. To give it an op­u­lent ef­fect, ap­ply the ink through the sten­cil onto any color of card­stock. Re­move the sten­cil and ap­ply opaque embossing pow­der. Tap off any ex­cess pow­der, then heat with a heat tool to melt the embossing pow­der. The re­sult will be a beau­ti­ful, slightly raised de­sign. There are a va­ri­ety of embossing pow­ders avail­able from clear, opaque and irides­cent to glitter and metal­lic, each will re­sult in a dif­fer­ent ef­fect Col­ored chalks may also be ap­plied by first us­ing a water­mark ink.

For a won­der­ful sheen with­out the di­men­sion of embossing pow­der, sponge a water­mark or clear embossing ink through the sten­cil and onto the pa­per. Next, re­move the sten­cil and ap­ply mica pow­der us­ing a soft brush in a cir­cu­lar mo­tion. Re­mem­ber, a lit­tle goes a long way when us­ing th­ese pow­ders. Mica pow­der can even be sprin­kled onto wet embossing paste but must be left to dry for a cou­ple of hours be­fore blend­ing with a soft brush. Th­ese pow­ders can be found from var­i­ous com­pa­nies such as Ranger's Per­fect Pearls, Jacquard Prod­ucts Pearl Ex Pow­dered Pig­ments or Imag­i­na­tion Crafts mica pow­ders, just to name a few.

Doo­dling or repet­i­tive pat­tern and mark mak­ing may also be com­pleted with the aid of a sten­cil. Trace around the open im­age sten­cil and then com­plete the hand-drawn pat­tern inside. The same idea can be com­pleted us­ing rub­ber stamps. Sim­ply stamp images through the sten­cil onto the pa­per.

Sten­cil rub­bings are a fun way to cre­ate some won­der­ful pat­terns, and this fun is not re­served just for chil­dren. Place a piece of pa­per on top of a sten­cil and rub the edge of a wax or water­color crayon over the top. Mag­i­cally the sten­cil de­sign will ap­pear! Leave as is or take it a step fur­ther by ap­ply­ing inks or sprays over your wax crayon for a re­sist ef­fect. Or mist a water­color crayon rub­bing with wa­ter or color spray to achieve a blended ef­fect.

While we are dis­cussing re­sist tech­niques, keep in mind that by embossing a sten­ciled de­sign with clear or white embossing pow­der and then adding color over top with inks or sprays, a dif­fer­ent type of re­sist can be cre­ated. Air­brush­ing onto sten­cils pro­duces

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