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.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Upcycled Stencils

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…

Supplies needed:
  • 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.


Cathy L. Calamas said...

This is really cool and I can just imagine all the really neat stencils you could create. thanks!!

fairyrocks said...

Thanks Beckie, a fun conga for sure!! you always get my creative wheels turning. Keep smiling and creating

Nydia Dominguez said...

What a cool idea! I wondered if this could be done...but never thought of the clear packing tape! Hmmmmmm! Now it's got me thinking! Thank you for sharing!!!