Stencils and masks seem to be the hottest new thing in art journaling and mixed-media these days. Recently, Cathy shared her techniques for making her own stencils at home.
I read a tutorial from Julie Fei-Fan Balzer in a recent post at Cloth Paper Scissors that I just had to try – creating your own stencils from magazine images. This sounded super easy and fun so I gave it a go. Here are the basic steps plus a few additional tips I learned from my own experience…
- Fashion magazines, catalogs, junk mail flyers, etc. with silhouette-style figures on them
- Clear packing tape or Con-Tact® paper
- Burnishing tool (such as a bone folder, rub-on tool, old credit card, etc.)
- Sharp pair of scissors and/or an X-ACTO® knife
1. Find some images of figures that you think would make a good silhouette. For stencils, be sure to choose an image without little pieces in the center that are essential to the design because you won’t be able to keep those floating pieces in your stencil (although you can use them if you’re only making a mask).
Carefully look over your image to make sure there is a contiguous line for cutting and that no elements are missing. Half way through my first stencil, I realized that some of the people’s feet were cut off and I had to draw them back in before I could continue.
2. Cover the front of the page with clear packing tape (you may need more than one piece) or a sheet of clear Con-Tact paper. Burnish well to adhere the tape smoothly to the paper and remove all air bubbles.
3. Turn the page over and cover the back the same way, making sure you include the entire silhouette that’s on the front. By covering both sides, you will make the stencil/mask sturdier and will be able to re-use it many times.
4. Cut out the image with a sharp pair of scissors. Take the time to cut it out accurately so you will have a smoother, more recognizable image. Tip: To achieve a cleaner cut, Julie says to feed the paper into your scissors rather than moving the scissors around the page. (She’s right! Once the tape is on both sides of the paper, it has a tendency to grab the scissors. For the same reason, make sure your X-ACTO blade is super sharp or the tape will grab the knife and might tear the paper underneath.)
Note: If you want to have both a stencil and a mask when you’re done, then you will have to cut very carefully and cleanly along all of your image lines.
Voila! Now you have a stencil and/or mask you can use over and over again for practically free. After use, it will clean up easily with a baby wipe.
I found my finished stencil had a slight curl to it that prevented me from getting a super crisp image when I sprayed through it. Next time I use the stencil, I’m going to put some repositionable adhesive on the back to hold it firmly to the art surface.