Monday, December 29, 2014

Start your stencil collection

The idea is that if you get a new stencil every week, in the end of the year you'll have 52 stencils. YAY!
I don't have much money, or access to some amazing things people in YouTube use, or patience to wait to get those things shipped to me, so I plan on making my own stencils.
For that I have been wondering what would be the best material to use.

Now, I would, of course, want them of brass foil, because those things last forever. (And are pretty, too, and won't tear, wear or stretch.) But I don't have brass foil, tools or knowhow on how to make them, so I'll choose plastic in stead.
Either overhead film, stencil film, thin plastic from file folders, plastic binder pockets etc. One can make stencils of stiff brown paperbags, as well, and basically a lot of things, but plastic lasts longer than paper. Usually. (I could speak a lot of stencils and printing, but now it's stencils for mixed media art and art journals, so I won't.)

Making the stencils of playing cards 
(as she mentions, some cards are of better quality and plastic covered or made of plastic, which are better as stencils)
is a great idea for my purpose, as they will be the exact right size! :-D

One also needs either a knife (exacto knife? Is that a brand or name for the scalpel kind of paper cutting knife?) or a stencil cutter, which is made to cut stencils from stencil film, but can be used to cut any plastic, as it uses heat to cut the plastic. It's really a great tool to use when making stencils, so I'm definitely going to invest some money to that.

Also, you will need a cutting board, and a self-healing cutting board for rotary cutters for patchwork makers is, as far as I know, the best.
(Also, find out how to best take care of your tools, proper storage and cleaning and maintenance etc. and invest some money to see that you have the best possible tools and storage.)

Another thing that I'm going to get for myself is a hole punch made for paper, because I want the polka dot rasters or benday dots :-D 

Now, what I have in mind (with the stencil collection) is more like this:
I think that's a "deck" of 40 or 50 metal stencils that was on sale at Etsy several years ago. I think it's amazing, and I want one. So I will be making me one.

So that's that about making stencils. There's plenty of free tutorials available at YouTube and elsewhere, so that anyone can learn how to make them, and they don't need to be advanced or anything.

Then, start looking at everything around you; anything with shaped holes in it can be used as a stencil.

Save the backgrounds of stickers. Most stickers come printed on a sheet of sticker paper, and the shapes have been punched out, meaning, that when you have used the stickers, you are left with an empty sticker full of holes - star shaped, heart shaped, dots... that's a stencil. If the glue on it is too strong, stick it a couple of times on jeans to make it less sticky, or powder it with baby powder, and brush it off carefully. 

But - the question that now arrives is: WHAT TO DO WITH THESE STENCILS?

The main thing is to LEARN TO USE STENCILS.
Sure, you can just doodle around and use them as you think they are to be used, or you can do it properly. I prefer to use them as they are to be used, properly, that is, neatly and without having the paint bleed all over the place.
One of the most important things is - with stencils you punch and dab, you don't grind, rub or brush. The movement is straight, vertically, not horizontally. You can brush the paint of IF YOU USE AN EDGE STENCIL, and the movement is ALWAYS AWAY from the edges. With a stencil that has a hole, the movement is up and down, not sideways, because the edges are all around the hole, and you can't go sideways because then you will always be pushing the paint under the edge of the stencil. When you use misters, spritzers and sprays, see that the drops fall straight down, not in an angle, because - in the angle the drops go under the stencil.
Also, the horizontal movement is hard on the stencil, too. Even if they don't tear, they stretch, and you'll get more leaks and messy result. Now, if that's what you want, fine, but if you don't want that, this is something you need to consider.

Secondly, there's some color theory about the best way of choosing the colors for your work. 
Some people approach the stencils with the mentality of a kindergarten kid. (Sorry, if this offends you, but - that's the way it is. Change your ways, if it does.) I lead a couple of craft courses with 7yos - felting and paper making - I had with me prepared paper pulp and wool, in all kinds of different, bright, lovely colors. Most kids took a little bit of every color they liked and blended them, and in stead of the rainbow shimmery result they expected, they ended up with a dull brown-grey mass. Some people layer stencils by using their favorite colors - bright, lovely colors - yellow, green, blue, red - and the result is a brown-grey mess with scary intensive dots of pure color, everything the same value, and the effect makes my eyes hurt.

Usually it works better if you start with lighter colors and finish with dark.
I also think it looks better if you vary the pressure on adding the color - to give it more variation and life. Fade it.
It's also good to choose just 2-3 colors and then use these colors in different values, shades, hues and tones. (Those 2-3 colors would be a color; it's neighbors and opposite)

I like this video (even though she rubs...)
This is even better - and shows several ways of choosing colors and using stencils.

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