ATC mark-making stencil from Toughprint paper

Fun! The artists group I am part of does ATC swaps and I have been looking thru my mark-making stencils and stamps, looking to one to use. I have a bunch of stamps I make where the elements are…arranged I guess, in what is meant to be a “random” layout. I will often get a bit heavy-handed when stenciling and as my mind wanders I end up stenciling the whole area. So I created some using simple images that I like, but arranged them so I can’t over-do it.

As I mentioned yesterday, I just did my design, printed it on the Toughprint paper, then cut it. It did amazing except the tiny little dots in the one design. It got some but missed out more.

I solved that by punching out the dots with my Cropadile!

I grabbed a bunch of papers from my desk and cut them into ATC sized bits, just to test out the designs.

I really like them all. They are quite small scale, and all on one sheet, which is nice. I like the scattered nature of the motifs, and they stencil nicely. A big win!

I have a few other designs I might play around with. I am trying to think of some more unique marks. I am also on the hunt for the exact little man silhouette I used on this piece. I found lots but not this exact guy. Driving me MAD, it is. I found one of the little ladies cute from a transparency, and the file where she came from but the stocky dude is not there.



Interesting material to cut stencils and masks

I have been playing with my Scan&Cut. I feel like I need to always mention I have the oldest version, the CM300. so bear that in mind when I talk about how I do things. This one was cheap in a Black Friday Sale and I am happy with it. Less so my mat issues. But hey ho.

I get annoyed with all the steps sometimes, when I am designing something like a stencil. In reality it isn’t so many but I just want to do it as easily as possible. I had the idea to print on my transparency sheets. But of course they are clear, so all the mat grid lines show and the S&C is going to want to cut them, isn’t it? Then I thought I could back it with paper, but then all the little bits that get cut are not going to be anchored in any way and that sounds like a disaster. I thought about backing the transparency with white contact paper. I still think this could maybe work. In the end I went looking for white transparencies (yeah. right.) and actually found what I wanted. Sadly, it seems to be a discontinued line but I then found this stuff:

I figured out the settings *I* needed to cut (using the regular depth blade) but not before I screwed up royally and:

Yes. That is my window as seen thru the hole in my cutting mat. An ACTUAL HOLE.


The big difference between the initial stuff I found and this is the other one is thicker. This is 174gsm, so more like 50lb. Not as thick as I would like it but not dissimilar to transparency sheets. All I have to do is make my design, print it on the sheet (and I have the Laser printer version) and pop it on my S&C mat. Scan to cut and away we go.

Those guys worked well, but I need to thicken up the stalks before I am truly happy with them. I’ve experimented with placing the resulting bits printed side down and the reverse of the paper side down, Not sure there is a significant difference, and certainly not when the piece is coated with paint.

Of all the things I have cut stencils from, this is, in combination with the Scan & Cut, the easiest. The S&C clearly identifies the laser printed lines (more on that tomorrow) and I only have to create my design and print it, then scan-to-cut and cut. No converting it to an SVG, no need even to use the CanvasWorkspace tool. I love how flexible it is so the things I cut would easily work in an art journal or collage. Sometimes the flexibility works against it, but mostly I like it a lot. Where there is trouble is super thin lines, like those leafy fronds. I mean, it works, but slightly thicker lines would be better.

Is it as heavy as I might like? No. Hands down the best stencil material is my old HiTi dye-sub printer photo sheets. It just performs best. You can’t print on it, which is it’s only downfall from my POV. I’ve heard from an arty friend there is some Xerox paper in the USA which sounds a bit like this stuff. No idea if this exact brand is sold in the USA but have a look for Waterproof Paper and see what you find.

I know I am not done playing with this paper…


Turning my hot glue stamp into a stencil

This was interesting. I had made a hot glue…stencil? I mean, kinda? I think in reality it was more of a mask than a true stencil. I showed it on the last post where I used it on the envelope to mail my ATC swap items.

I really loved the organic shape of it but as a true stencil it was far too thick to really work. Where it was great if I laid it down on a paint-covered gel plat, and then removed it or removed paint from the openings. it really didn’t stencil well at all. I have always hankered after turning it into a proper stencil and once I got a Scan&Cut it seemed possible.

Now, I did buy the very oldest S&C on a Black Friday sale, so it is not the one with all the newest features. I suspect some of this would be easier with one of the newer machines. But it did work in the end. It was a process LOL!

I figured that the hot glue piece was paint-covered so I was probably going t be able to scan it. And I could. But first I really needed to remove all the little glue threads.

Then I just plunked it on my scanner and scanned it. I did convert it to a B&W scan and tweaked the settings to get a dark clear image.

I think you can see that the scan of the paint covered glue was not perfect.

In the end I popped it into Affinity Photo to refine the design, remove some little weird areas, and clean up specks. That gave me a pretty clean image.

I ran into some issues there. Weird stuff. I was able to easily add the .jpg and auto trace it, perfectly fine, great job. But when I transferred it over to the S&C I couldn’t resize it at all. I had to go back to the computer, rotate it, resize it to fit the transparency film I was using to cut the stencil, and then transfer it over again. That sorted that, but it is something I need to bear in mind.

My first cut was not deep enough. For laser jet transparency film I need a cut pressure of 3 (speed of 5 works fine) which is deeper than what is indicated on the chart that came with my machine. This is the second error in the documentation (the other one was using sticker paper on the mat, which totally destroyed it where it needed to be re-stuck) which aggravates me. But I did end up with a fine stencil that I am very keen to use. I think I really need to use it a lot, letting the acrylic paint dry on it between uses, so I can SEE it, and so it has more tooth. I cannot wait to play with it….

Leave a comment

Slightly random for Friday…

Just a chaotic selection of stuff I have been playing with, while still not feeling 100% yet.

Where to begin? Let’s start with a further Teal+Purple play and a technique I played with first in 2013. Yikes. A full decade ago. Mixing up mic and glitter with gloss (or matte) medium then adding it thru a stencil on the gel plate

You don’t need much and mixing well is the real key. But it resulted in some interesting prints.

The last one, I laid the stencil over the clean gel plate then used a baby wipe to “clean it” – this forced a little pigment and a little mica/glitter into the opening which I was then able to pick up. All of them look much better in real life, I promise, the leaf in particular.

Then I also have a swap of ATCs I received, which was the first ATC swap I have done in AGES. I kinda miss it. Lovely getting art i the mail for sure. The envelope was very pretty too and totally going to end up as collage fodder.

And lastly, my own envelop for the swap items, where I used that glue-gun stencil I made ages ago.

Hard to see but man, I really like it. I am thinking of ways I might convert it into a stencil. I might be able to actually scan it, or I might be able to print with it maybe with black to make it into a cutting file? I don’t know – but I know it is something I will hope to play with over the weekend and maybe by Monday I will have found a solution!

This is the best I can do with my current brain fog from Covid. Still am not totally enjoying my coffee and when I do I will know my taste and smell have fully come back. I read it could take a YEAR. Ugh.

Leave a comment

That packing paper from my desk

You may recall seeing some paper on my desk last week. I never shared how it got to what it is and what I used it for.

I got a brand new 12×12 gel plate and was keen to use it but in the end I didn’t actually print as much as I expected. I collected up a bunch of paints and just started adding colour

I did use some of the PM Artist Studio stencils to add some layers

but as so often happens I got into a groove and before you know the whole sheet was full of pattern and design and no process photos were captured.

I will slip in that the one circle motif was a stencil I cut from my new Scan&Cut and I like it a lot, even if some of the closed letters have no middle.

I will have to share the project tomorrow, as the light is crap today and I have so much Holiday stuff to do, not least of which is some decoration repair (a few ornaments, the star on the tree, and the original advent calendar all need a touch of hot glue to fix little issues) so that needs to be my focus at the moment!

1 Comment

Too much to do!

As I mentioned, this week is pretty crammed with commitments. I managed a very short play session, because I just needed it. I really wanted to complete the sheets from last week. I finished one, and used it on the pop-up cube, but I really wanted to finish the final three in one go. I did, and am happy with the results, but I did a really poor job of capturing the process. My desk, floor and side-desk are a literal catastrophe.

I WILL tidy this up for WOYWW (late last week but I did visit every desk so feel like I did an OK job with that!) because I need to before I can do anything else! I am meant to be making some tags for a swap, but I have not yet heard back from my swap-mate. She has never posted on the group that I can see, other than to say she would participate in the swap, has not replied to my message asking to exchange addresses, and the stuff is meant to be sent by the end of the month. DOH! I think I will use what is left from the pop-up cube to make the tags, even if I never hear from her. Maybe someone else might be willing to trade, maybe even a UK person….

I really like it and the piece is pretty big (about 9 x 9 ish) so plenty to work with. Lucky I snapped a shot before my desk devolved into the chaos at the top. Yeesh. Bear with me, it’ll get cleaned for tomorrow.

Well, hopefully ….

Leave a comment

Stencils and a tag

I will hope to find time to add at least SOMETHING crafty most days, but I must sort out the freakin’ guest room for Dear Son, sooner rather than later. Slow and steady work should be enough, but who knows? I also committed to a tag swap on a private group run by PM Artist Studio. Gosh I am out of practice!

I am very happy going back to the stencil organization I had previously (keeping them in binders) but have finally gotten them organized is a sensible fashion. Like my stamps they are all sorted by loose subject. I have 4 binders full:

Simple geometric shapes and markmaking

I have all my texture plates and homemade foam stamps, plus things like bottle tops or other sorts of rubbish-bin tools in the drawers and boxes with all my wallpaper texture plates from a decade ago, still used and useful.

I grabbed a few bits from various recent gel printing sessions, and some random bits I found while tidying – like that little silhouette figure, which was well coated with paint after being used as a mask on MANY previous prints – and had a go at a tag. Not in LOVE with it, but it isn’t bad.

I need to have two, and this one is more of a warm-up than anything else, so I still need two LOL!

Hope I can find the time and I don’t regret signing up for a swap that is time dependent – to be honest, I have done ATC swaps but generally not of the “make X by this date” kind. I may not crumble under pressure but I do stress about it more than I should. And yeah, life has a way of getting in the way…


WOYWW 697 – New Cat Arrival Date! Oh, yeah, and son too.

Happiest of WOYWW days! Back on form last week, despite (or maybe because of?) having to isolate from the family due to Darling Daughter’s positive Covid test. I got to all the desks, commented on all the non-Google sign in blogs, and even emailed a few of the Google folk with links or info. Feeling virtuous, after a month of such a poor showing with my visits. While I aim to continue this trend, we now have a NEW DATE for DS and Dear Cat to arrive. Oct. 24th! One day before Darling Daughter’s birthday. Will she view it as a gift or not? LOL!

I have spent quite some time sorting out all of my stencils, stamps, impression plates, etc for gel printing. Just a day ago….

and the new improved desk(s) – back to more of an L-shaped organization with things on my (seated) level rather than above me. Easier on my back for sure.

I got some fab new stencils from PM Artist Studio and am looking forward to using them. They are quite unique in that when you order the stencils, you also get things like the bits that get cut out, and the surround. That allowed me to try something a bit different. I added both the masks for the large daisy flowers and the open surround to the plate and rolled over some gold paint. Removing the masks (once the gold was dry) and rolling over some dark plum paint, then removing the surround once that paint was dry and pulling the print with a thin coat of white+ plum resulted in a pretty nifty pull.

Now I am organized I am looking forward to a long session of experimentation. Well, after things settle down with our international travellers!

I am also looking to delete useless posts and images from my blog, to extend the space I have to use – after blogging since 2009 (and much of that 5-7 days per week!) there is a LOT of useless stuff. The Librarian in me hates removing anything, cause, well, history, ya know? But common sense must prevail. Who really needs a calendar, in French, from 2015? DOH! But we will see. Just like physical tidying of a real-world space, digital tidying takes at least as much time.

Happy WOYWW and apologies in advance for any upcoming uninspiring post.





I seem to be either in full experimental mode with my gel plates or fumbling about, unsure what to do. I have had a ton of fun playing with various things lately, but I am never seeming to get from paint to project, IYKWIM.

I was looking at my Roben Marie journal (you know I have mad love for that) and trying to decide what to do. I really really wanted to make a page in it. Life has been super crazy on many levels, none of which I am going to bore you with. I also signed up for a handful of free sessions and bought a couple of smaller classes, so keeping on top of all of that is difficult. I really hate that so many of the taster sessions are kinda all at the same time. ANYWAY, I had made a little journal for a freebie class called Flower Magic (more on that at some point) and I had my book-binding cradle out. I was looking at the squidgy foam and my brain went Huh. I mean don’t we ALL have what is, I think, technically known as a shit ton of this stuff hanging about? It comes in about 70% of the packaging we get.

I cut a bit off and used it to stencil thru a stencil previously used to do an alcohol ink technique. And I really liked the results:

It has a really textural effect on the paint, and the rough surface seems to catch and transfer the alcohol ink from the stencil. When you run your finger over it, you can really feel the nubbly effect in the paint.

I also had a bunch of stuff hanging about on my desk, so I decided to pull it all together into a page. I had printed out a bunch of gothic arches on my laser printer (from a free image I found) with the idea to maybe have a go at the Art Journal Journey prompt before we roll over into August.

and planned to have a go at transferring that onto the page, but instead I flipped forward to a B&W page, stenciled that same stencil on it in the background, cut a bit from the stencil and covered it with gold paint. I added a bit of stamping and some Stabilo black for a shadow (I think it really worked to make the arch look very dimensional) then grabbed my pot of printed quotes. I altered the quote with a one word exchange, and that got me where I wanted to be.

It was just good to finish something really, and while it won’t ever win any prizes for great colour choice or perfectly balanced composition, it really made me happy. The fluorescent red. The contrast of that with the gothic arch. The shiny gold. The Stabilo depth. The damask. The altered quote. It is all just very me, in all my weirdness.

I really love using the free resource for stenciling and really love the effect so much. I will play with this a lot more. I know. Will you? Better than buying make-up sponges right? Cause guess what? You can wash it!

me, doing the happy dance…


Finally, and Art Journal page – woohoo!

Easing back in to it a bit. I went back to my own pull-a-quote challenge, where I pick a trio from my little pots of printed and cut quotes. If you want to print your own and challenge yourself, you can find some here and here.

I pulled only one, from the pot of longer quotes, and it was very appropriate for what is going on in the world, both the ongoing war in Ukraine and in the USA, with the leaked Supreme Court decision. Because, yeah, now is not the time to remain silent.

I have been missing the AJJ challenges, but this month it is BIRDS and this page, with the best will in the world, is never going to be about that. I mean, I could randomly stick a bird on it, but that feels too much like cheating, so I’ll have to make another page with an intentional bird on it LOL!

I had an image, can’t recall exactly where from now, that I liked so I decided to cut it as a stencil. {shudder} That meant going back to my old Mac mini, running the last operating system that works with my ancient Cricut (1st gen) and SCAL.

Yep. The one with the mini-Japanese keyboard and the right-only monitor. I had to have The Hubster remind me how to access that. Such a numpty, and a forgetful one at that. But it worked, thankfully, and as I had unearthed a mostly full pack of laser transparency sheets and my stash of new (sharp) blades, I cut it in a flash

And it stenciled like a dream. I did have to add a few lines to join things up but yeah, I love it and can see using it again. I don’t mind cutting a stencil that I need only once or twice when the resources are cheap. I only pray I NEVER need the Great Cheeto Coloured Git’s stencils again. But I digress…

I always love working in my very small journal from a Roben-Marie tutorial. It is by far one of my most favourite ones. especially when I have been away from journaling for a while and need to ease back in to it gently. The pages themselves are bright and colourful (mostly) so I need only add a focal image and a quote for the barest minimum page to feel that all important sense of accomplishment we all need. And…

There we go. Challenge success. Now, about those birds…