Journals & Collaborative Projects

Below you will find a sampling our members' work from previous collaborative projects.  Click on images to view them larger. We hope this will inspire you to come and play with us! If you are interested in joining our group, please visit us at:

Tutorials & Techniques

Below are some of our favorite tricks for adding depth and dimension to your art.  We hope you have fun giving these a try!

Current Group Swaps & Projects

Below is a list of current swaps and projects available to group members. If you are interested in joining our group and participating in these projects, please visit us at:  

For existing group members, you can sign up to participate  in these projects here: Swaps & Current Projects.  

We look forward to swapping with you.  Happy Arting!

Member Gallery for Group Swaps
Below you will find a sampling our members' work from previous group swaps and projects.  Click on images to view them larger. We hope this will inspire you to come and play with us! If you are interested in joining our group, please visit us at:
Come play with us... Join today!

Paper Traders is a friendly online community of artists from around the world. We nurture and value creativity, embrace new ideas, products, and techniques yet also value tried and true methods of artistic expression. Our projects consist primarily of paper arts, mixed media collage, artist trading cards, altered art, assemblages, collaborative journals, mail art, and more.

We are interested in creative individuals of varied skill levels who wish to challenge themselves artistically and help build a supportive community. We are at our best when we can share our creative efforts as well as techniques, resources, feedback, and insights. We encourage conversation about art, the art process, and what it means to be an artist.

Paper Traders is hosted on Yahoo Groups at
We hope you will consider joining us on an artistic journey!

In order to prevent spammers and to insure that all applicants are actual persons interested in creating art, a questionnaire will be sent to all potential members. When applying, please submit digital examples of your work or direct us to a website where we can view your art. The intent of the questionnaire is not to judge the merits of your art but to safeguard the integrity of our community.

Free Images for Download

Below you will find images that are owned by our group members and offered for your personal use as well as images found in the public domain. Images may be freely used in your personal artwork but may not be used for commercial purposes of any kind without written permission of the owner. No images may be used to create collage sheets or image collections for resale.

To download, follow the link provided. In some cases, you may be able to just click on the image to enlarge it, then right-click and select "save image as". Content changes frequently and many images are available for a limited time.  Please check back often for newly posted images to use in your art journey.

Open Art Challenges !

We're changing things up here at Paper Traders. Instead of the monthly challenges of the past, we'll now be hosting special challenges that might feature a specific technique or product and will be rewarded with actual prizes sponsored by our group members.

Our new challenge for 2013 is a year long word prompt journaling project/challenge. Each specific challenge will be open for one month and all art bloggers can participate, whether you are a Paper Traders member or not. Each artist will comment with a link to their blog post that features the artwork for that particular challenge. For each challenge, a winner will be selected whose art best exemplifies the challenge. The winning artist will be featured here and get a "Trader Treasure" blog button to display on their own blog. They also will receive one chance for each entry for the end of the year prize drawing. Watch this page for more details and challenge announcements.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Create your own Stencils!

Create your own Stencils
Manila folders
Plaid Simply Stencil blank sheets
Can get them from Amazon $12.00 for 6 (8’x10”) sheets
and at Michael's as well.

Magazine/book pages with interesting patterns
Mod Podge
Black Sharpie pen
X-acto knife- sharp new blade
Light desk or bright window-optional
Scanner –optional , if you want to change the size of your images

Stencils are all the rage now in mixed media canvas art as 
well as art journals. I love what they add to your layering 
process. But they can be expensive and sometimes
the craft supply companies just don’t have the design that
you need or want for your particular project. Pre-cut basic
stencils are about $3.00 and up from Plaid and 
about $5.00-$20.00 for Martha Stewart brand stencils.

How about making your own? It really is quite easy and if you 
dedicate a few hours you can end up with a nice stash of
new and unique stencils. I find inspiration for designs from
magazines, newspapers, books as well as just free-hand drawing of
simple shapes.

I use both manila folders and blank stencils sheets.
You can also use the plastic packaging that comes
with a lot of the supplies you buy. It’s a good way
to “green” up your supplies.

This was a design that I found in an old spanish language
text book. I scanned it into my computer and then manipulated
the size and printed it out on the manila folder 
(cut to size to fit the printer). I could have traced the original
image but it was a bit bigger than I needed. Having a scanner
gives you that flexibility to change the size of your image,
but it is not necessary.

Using an X-acto knife with a new blade, cut your shapes out.

When you are finished cutting the stencil out, coat it with 2 layers
of Mod Podge on each side and let dry. This will give your stencil
durability and you will be able to clean it with baby wipes.

I had received a really cool post card from Australia 
from one of our Paper Traders members (thanks Jo M.)
and it had a wonderful hexagram pattern on it. I used
my Plaid blank stencil sheet and copied the design 
with my Sharpie pen. You will not need to coat
this with Mod Podge as they are made of plastic.

Here, I just free hand drew some fat squiggles on a manila
folder section; cut it out and coated it with the Mod Podge.

This wonderful design was from a local specialty newspaper
we have here in the South. Because the design was rather light,
I traced over it with the black Sharpie. I then used my light desk
and traced the design onto the blank stencil sheet. Using a 
light desk is not necessary unless you are tracing onto 
manila folders where it can be hard to see the design.
You can also tape your design onto a sunny window 
and trace it from there. Nature’s light desk!! 

My husband made my light desk from a 4 bottle wine 
box and a Fluorescent light fixture.

Sometimes, you can find some really unique designs but
the backgrounds may be dark and so the lines are hard
to see. If you trace over it with a white sharpie, you will
have no trouble seeing it through the blank stencil sheet.

Some samples of the designs used on blank art journal pages.

I really like the ghost print you get when you
flip the stencil over and press all the extra ink off.
In some cases, I like it better.


Also, if you own a die cut machine, it is very easy to
create stencils with your waste paper. Another way
to keep your art “green”.

Now that you can see how easy it is to create your own
stencils, we hope you will give this a try. You will be
on your way to creating unique journal pages that will
be as individual as you are.

Cathy C.

1 comment:

Coleen said...

Love the idea of manila folder and ModgePoding them. Just never thought of coating them. Terrific idea.

Coleen in Ukraine