Sten­ciled Back­grounds

CardMaker - - Contents - By Kim­ber McGray

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! •

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