Once the air starts to cool and the days get shorter, trends shift toward warmer colors and more texture for clothing, home decor and even paper crafting. My autumn cards always use deeper, warmer colors such as reds, browns, oranges and creams instead of the brighter tones and white commonly used in the summer months. In addition to a richer color palette, I also reach for the texture pastes and foils to add dimension and dynamics to my harvest-season cards.
Pastes and foils used in conjunction with stencils and eyecatching ink colors can create dramatic backgrounds for your cards. Stencils allow you to create clean and crisp design elements and also help to mold the mediums.
To start, gather kraft, cream and warmer color cardstock for your card base. Next, choose a stencil for your background design. Stencils are typically made out of ridged plastic, so you will need to add some repositionable adhesive on the back or use painter’s tape or washi tape to keep your stencil in place as you use it. You can use stencils without any tape or adhesive, but I am one that can’t seem to keep my paper and/or stencil in place as I use it. When it shifts, the medium or ink being applied can wind up in the wrong spot. Some crafters would just roll with this and use the happy accident. I prefer a cleaner style of card making, so those shifts and misapplication of the medium ruin a project for me.
Once you have secured the cardstock and stencil in place, start applying the medium of your choice. Most card makers have inks on hand that can be used with a stencil to create a background design—almost any type of ink works with stencils. Remember, dye inks dry quickly, and pigment inks will take a bit longer and can be messier if your stencil shifts. To apply the ink, use a blender tool such as the Tim Holtz Ink Blending Tool, or a make-up sponge or dry baby wipe. Start by tapping the blending tool on the ink pad and then gently rub the ink through the stencil in a circular motion. It’s always best to start with light pressure and add more pressure as you go. You can always add more ink but you can’t take it away, so start slowly if this technique is new to you.
Another favorite medium to use with stencils is embossing or texture paste. This comes in a small tub and has the consistency of stiff frosting. Basic embossing paste is white. You can mix the paste with ink or paint to tint it different colors. Using it in its natural form works perfectly as well. To apply embossing paste, start with a dollop on a craft stick or palette knife—I’ve been known to use a kitchen butter knife. Slowly and gently spread the paste over the stencil, distributing the paste through the full stencil design or just a portion of it. Scrape away any excess paste and place it back into the tub. The consistency of the paste will create marks from your knife as you draw it across the stencil. The more evenly you apply the paste, the smoother your finished design will be. Leave the paste thicker in certain areas to create additional dimension. It’s a fun medium to play with in this
manner. Once the paste is applied, slowly remove the stencil and wash off any of the embossing paste with warm water. Allow the paste to air-dry on your project. It dries fairly quickly. Once dry, you can add color to the top with an ink blending tool as shown on the Foxy Thanks card below.
The Love Today card on page 24 demonstrates a combination of ink and embossing paste layers created with different stencils. I loved the look I achieved by mixing up the different designs and mediums on the same project. Both applications are easy and great for creating an interesting design element for your project.
The third background that is demonstrated on the Hello There Friend card on page 24 was created using DecoFoil and DecoFoil Transfer Gel products from Therm O Web and a laminator. I selected a plain stencil design with clean lines as I wasn’t sure how this technique would work. I was thrilled with the outcome! DecoFoil is available in a variety of colors, so I selected a nice rose gold to give my project an autumnal look.
For this technique, place your stencil on cardstock and apply the Transfer Gel with a craft stick or palette knife. Smooth the gel across the stencil and remove the excess. Place the excess back in the jar. Remove the stencil and clean with warm water to remove any gel. Allow the gel design to dry for an hour or until clear. A little tip—do not let this dry overnight. The foil will not stick if the gel is allowed to dry too long.
After an hour, cut a sheet of DecoFoil down to fit your design. Place the silver side down on the project and the colored side up. Trust me, it won’t work if you put the colored side down. Place the project in a folded piece of parchment paper and run through a hot laminator. Allow the project to cool, then peel off the foil. You will have a beautifully foiled background.
I encourage you to try using stencils with these mediums to create decorative backgrounds for your cards. It’s fun to get your hands a little dirty and feel a bit artsy in the process. The basic products aren’t expensive and the techniques are easy enough for even a beginner to attempt. I’m looking forward to implementing these stenciling techniques in many more of my card-making projects! •