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….

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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.

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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 ….

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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…




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…

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A hard fought art journal page…

I had a page on my desk and things were NOT going well. I got there in the end, but because it was such a struggle (at one point I literally wiped away a whole bunch of paint to start again from the last drying point) I took virtually no photos. Ah well. Here is the page:

I wish I had maybe left the middle of my guy’s face a little more bare, but the fronds were the dried layer, and the point where I was happy. What I wiped away was a large stenciled face:

that just did not work at all. I played around with a couple of other stamps as well, none of which worked either.

I tried to wedge in some collage collective bits, and didn’t like them either. While the leafy frond stencil might look a bit like the (discontinued) Dina stencil that is similar, this is my own version, cut YEARS ago from heavy card and still very usable.

So it’s a weird thing. I joined a FB group for Dina Wakely products. I posted my page from yesterday and apparently I ran afoul of the single rule of the group: If you use a Dina product (and you must or they delete your post) you have to SAY what the thing you used was, if it isn’t obvious. On that page what I used was the asemic writing stamp, within the blue circles. As I was feeling a little playful, I mentioned in my post that I had used a Dina product, it was subtle, guess what it was…One of the moderators slapped me down on that, referenced the rule and said I had to say, not ask them to guess, or my post would be removed. I was ok with that, cause I know how blinkin’ hard it is to moderate a forum (or a FB community) and added the info as soon as I saw the comment, but it really reminded me of a simple fact – FB pages like that one are not really about the people on there sharing their work. They are about both providing inspiration by sharing work using a specific set of products, and getting people to see the possibilities of those products. Equally (more so?) they are about promoting the designer and ultimately about product sales. Which is fine, I get it. But I think how it all ties together with THIS post is that I tried 3, no 5 different Dina products in an effort to finish my page. WHY? So I could share it not only here, but there as well, and not get slapped down, I guess. Well, that’s stupid. No doubt, I am a fan of Dina’s style. And I like her products. But I cannot fall into the trap of thinking that I have to force something DW into every page I do, just so I can share it someplace other than here. That makes my pages less about me and makes me more a shill than an artist (gosh, even typing that makes me feel like a pretender. Working on that….)

In the end my own stencil worked far better on this page than the original one. And my own leafy frond worked every bit as well as the stencil I have looked for and cannot find. I am now officially stopping my search. I did try something with another Dina product, just cause it was out on my desk from a different try – the tissue paper words.

Some of the little text snippets are good, they often resonate with me pretty strongly. But I am never keen on using them cause they really disappear into the background, and my backgrounds are usually pretty chaotic. But applying the tissue with gel medium over white or cream card turns them into something far more usable for my style (the no-white-space-left-behind style LOL!) and worked well on this page. I will do this again, I am sure.

So in the end, I think it was a valuable lesson to learn. Will I share it “over there?” Probably – I’ve satisfied the terms & conditions so I might as well. But I am going to be a little more critical in my choices in the future. After all this is MY art journal. The stuff I buy to use when making a page should not be the driving force, my own thoughts and words should be. Will be.

Now day 23! Next milestone is day 30, or ONE MONTH of the 100 days:

I am coming down to the end of those crackle letters (SO old) and I needed to trim them to make them fit. I added the little snippets in a few places, just cause I didn’t want to throw them away. Also I am at the end of my trimmed number tickets. I used both of the 21, 22 and 23 tickets at some point in the past and I was NOT going to buy a whole new book so those three were 121, 122 and 123 trimmed down. Now I think I am golden for 24-100! I am also branching out, having found other sorts of journaling spots other than the tiny notebook. It’ll add a bit of variety for a bit.

Phew. That got long. Sorry.

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I got so sidetracked – new stencil storage that I LOVE!

Sorry if you were expecting the follow up to the painted papers post from yesterday. I meant to do it today, but my desk is an almighty mess and before I have the room to work I really have to tidy it up. And I am doing another Roben-Marie class called Printmaker Pro: Press, Stitch & Stash that means I need to get my stencils in order, sharpish. They have been in a variety of storage solutions, none of which actually work for me. I have some in a bin, some in a binder, some in one of the old Crop-in-Style 12×12 Paper/Sticker binders…just chaos. Too many places to look so in the end I tend to just use what I can reach or what is already sitting on my desk. It is NOT workable in any way.

I mean really.

So I was looking at it all and thinking How the heck am I going to sort this out? It was treadmill time so I decided to search YouTube for stencil organization. Yeah. 90% of the hits were…what I did. In binders, in sleeves, in tubs with dividers… But then I saw the Stencil Girl video using this what LOOKS like a professional shop display. The stencils were clipped and hanging and although she mentions that the product she used was mostly no longer available, she did link at the end some other people with similar ideas. And of course that gave ME a few ideas. I played around with a few construction-oriented things, using stuff I had hanging around, then my eye fell on a paper bin. it was wire, with two little bars on each side to hold hanging folders…you have never seen a bin dumped out onto the floor so quick! The rest was just finding the curtain clips (old Ikea ones work – the newer ones clip the wrong way) and pulling out all my 12×12 and A4 stencils. An hour or two later and:

Now I can look thru my stencils with ease. and this rack sit nicely to my left, within reach of my gel printing space. I have room to hang rings of the smaller 6×6 and even smaller assorted sized stencils from the sides, hooking BIG rings thru the wire then hanging smaller rings (with similar stencils grouped together) from those. Sorry for the crap photos but I took them yesterday evening.

I have one more small bin of assorted 6×6 ones that I suspect are in that bin cause they are my most used ones. I am considering a different method for those. We’ll see… I think this is going to be a game changer. I looked at stencils I barely remembered either buying or making! Once I saw them I had 100 ideas for how to use them. I am 100% convinced that I will never use what I have if I don’t KNOW what I have. So As this is my desk at the moment:

I have to beg your indulgence for another day until I get this mess sorted out! Once my space is clear I will carry on making the painted papers then link all the posts in each post so you can find everything no matter where (and when) you land on any of them.

I know a lot of people will be less than happy about the new lock down, but honestly? I think it was about time they realized that the partial lock down measures were NOT working against this very virulent new strain of Covid rampaging thru the UK. I just hope it can break the transmission chains and slow things down till the vaccine roll-out can really get rolling! Until then, stay home, say safe and craft away.


Unique Art Journal supplies – handmade, from unusual sources

Happy New Year!! I am scheduling a few posts this week so I can enjoy the family time we have blocked out, before normal life resumes.

Regular readers (I do have a few of them LOL!) will know that I always strive to create art journaling tools that are unique to me. That could be by altering an existing item (like I did with the Dina Wakely face stamp a few posts back, or with the Janet Klein Housewives stamp set the other day) OR by creating a version of something in my own way. My goal was something a bit like this stencil:

I saw this book and mentioned I had it on order.

A bit of a cheek on the part of the seller when they say “a book of stencils” as this is NOT a book of STENCILS but a book of stenciled IMAGES that you are free to cut and use. Humpf. Luckily since discovering a documented issue with the driver on my ancient Sure-cuts-a-lot software and newer versions of Mac OS, and sorting that (thanks to my tech support guy, the Hubster) my Cricut is working just fine again (OMG – touch wood immediately lest I curse it!) So scanning the images and creating stencils was easy enough. The stencils are, in some cases, pretty basic – only the mere hint of the face they depict. This one of a French anarchist, Louise Michel, could be anyone, frankly.

On the other hand, this one of Mother Jones is pretty detailed:

and stencils pretty well

So I scanned a bunch of the faces and edited the stencils to focus on just the facial features. I love I can re-size them so they fit a very small or a very large journal, depending:

I cut a sort of face-shaped holey stencil too. My plan was something like this (and FYI, those faces are Anna Mae Aquash, Brigitte Mohnhaupt and Vera Zasulich), with the heads on blobby bodies.

I changed that idea as I was working. Having just done the little group of ladies with the Housewives stamp, I didn’t want to do another page so similar right away. So I ended up with floating heads instead – this is my last page of my experimental techniques journal, except for completing the Good As Hell page that is creeping towards its final reveal! So funny on this week’s WOYWW post Helen (who’s work I love and who is often right on my wavelength, or I on hers!) did a page that looks so similar, yet different.

I have been loving my gold acrylic inks and my dip pen, although I need a bit more practice with both, but once I scribbled and dripped some of that onto the page, and found this quote, the page came together nicely. Note I took my own advice and used one of my old frame stamps around the quote. And there is another weirdly serendipitous element here. My daughter loves watching beauty videos on You Tube, and she has always loved an influencer called Michelle Phan. We often get roped into watching these videos with her, as she wants to share. Lucky us – and in this case, I kid you not. We saw a video where Michelle gathered up a few other people and did a set of Galaxy inspired things. I think one person painted on cut-off jeans, one did make-up, one did nails, and one maybe … hair? I forget. One of them doodled little crosses and dots to give the effect of stars. I grabbed that technique and ran with it!

I love the look of mark-making on journal pages, but it isn’t something I feel I excel at. But 2021 is a year for moving forward, in all aspects of life, even as we are forced (hopefully for not too much longer) to stay indoors till vaccinated. So I am choosing to shine, even if it isn’t yet to shine brightly. With time, I might get better, but not if I refuse to even try, right?


Saving a page in my art journal

It is totally heartbreaking when you make a background for a page that you LOVE and then have a so-called brilliant idea that you think is going to do justice to that background and instead it totally bollocks it up. Remember this background?

Love it. almost just left it as it was for a bit longer but I got a new stencil I was DYING to try and I was pretty sure it would look stunning over this. Yeah, not so much….

Maybe you can see that I tried to salvage it by drawing around the stenciled areas with a white paint pen, hoping that might make it pop out from the background a bit better, but it didn’t help. What to do but weep.

I had seen various videos about salvaging a page by masking off an area then painting out the whole background black, so just a bit of the ugly page showed thru, but that wasn’t really what I wanted – I loved every inch of the background, it took ages to do over multiple days, and I didn’t want to sacrifice any more than I had to. I considered painting the whole image area black them stenciling over it with white, but wasn’t sure that would look like I wanted. Then I had the idea to cover the stencil with one of the colours from the background and then stencil over it with black again.


I wish the pink, which I mixed, was slightly warmer, to better match the pink in the background – it is more obvious in the photo than in real life, I think. I already know 100% that I need better lighting in my craft room. The combo of it getting dark early, my aging eyes, and the rubbish lighting means no crafting after dark if I want anything like a good colour match LOL!

Still slightly obsessed with the election, and trying to hold the words on the page to heart….