Gelli lines and blocks of colour tool

Like I said, I the tool is too grand a word for this but it’ll have to do.

I mentioned the class I took from Carla Sondheim.  Her style is wonderful.  I took the class to see how she achieved it, not really to make HER style MY style, if you know what I mean.  Attempts to copy someone’s style, no matter how much you admire it, is just pointless.  Yours will only ever be a pale imitation.  BUT if I break down what I like about her work, it’s al about the lines and blocks.  I already know I like layers, but I also know sometimes (often) I really like just the pattern to be seen.

Carla has this trick for getting a line in the middle of a print without masking off  to accomplish it.  I can’t do it well enough that I am happy.  Thinking about that lead me to this.


I hear you go Huh? so I’ll explain.  Basically all it is a 12×12 page protector, edges and binder holes trimmed off and discarded, each  piece edged on three sides with duct tape. The open edge is cut into strips.

How do I use them?  Well, I tape them to my desk, around the gelli plate. Maybe you can just see that the plate is hiding under the strips.


Just flop the strips out of the way, a bit like they are flopped to the left here


Load up the plate.  You can maybe be a little more generous with the paint than you usually are – unless you are naturally heavy-handed, then just do like you normally do. Flip any number of the strips over on to the plate.  Because they are plastic, the paint will just lay there trapped.

4gelli_linesYou can now add some texture just to the strips of paint

5gelli_linesand then pull your print


Now, of you flip the strips back to expose the paint you can texture that and pull a print – of course I was a bit too frugal and the paint got to dry.  So I just added different colours, flipped over the alternate strips (to block off the part I already printed)  then textured that and pulled a print.  You can match them up if you are careful, but slightly off registration leaves some empty areas.  And using another one of Carla’s tricks for a watercolour effect, you can then fill in the gaps for a softer look in those areas. AND by then using the side-to-side strips you can get bands of colour in the other Direction.


If you use both the up & down and side-by-side strips at the same time you can get blocks rather than strips.

8gelli_linesand you can fill in with a different colour, add texture and fill in bits but but not totally, if you can see what I mean

9gelli_linesand then watercolour over it all (or just in certain areas) to unify it!


I’ve only just started playing with this, but already I am loving the effects I can get.  I think I need to practice and pull a lot more prints! And I need a few for a Christmas gift that will be heading across the pond….maybe two….



This is a bit crazy, I’ll admit, but I think it is fun and not too hard to accomplish with the right tools.  The problem is every time I start to create one, with the idea of making it a tutorial, I make different (and not always better) choices.

There is going to be a LOT of trial and error, depending on your photo, I think.  What I can do is try to explain it then you will have to play with the process to see what you can come up with.  I am sorry, but there are just so many variables, I can’t give you precise settings or a proper step-by-step list.

Basically you want to start with a photo.  A good face shot is probably going to be the best choice.  I have an old one (honestly – so old) that I used for this.

1. Open your photo is PSE or the like.  Start by clicking IMAGE > Mode > Grayscale and click OK to Discard the Color Info

All this does is turns your photo B&W – if you prefer to do it another way, do that.

2. Click FILTER > Sketch > Stamp in the drop down menu.  This will turn your photo into something that looks a bit like this:


There will be issues with this – I had on a patterned sweater and that shows as white spots. Some of the lines are too fine to cut well, or show well when stencilled.  You can correct some things by playing with the sliders in the Filter – take the Light/Dark balance UP and nudge the Smoothness up a bit too.

Another trick is to pick areas that are too thin – like the frames of my glasses.  Select them, then click EDIT > Stroke and make the WIDTH maybe 2 -5 pixels and select OUTSIDE.  Make the colour the same (Black, in this case) the OK.  This will effectively thicken the line.  Sometimes you can also select the area then use the Fill bucket.  That will sometimes smooth out the edges a bit too.  No idea why.

One issue with stencils is the need for things to be connected.  See the WHITE areas to the left?  They fall totally INSIDE the black.  When the black gets cut away they will fall out with it.

I found it easiest to use the Magic Wand to select ALL the White and ALL the Black in turns, then put them on a new layer so I could see them easier.

3. Select all the WHITE with the Magic Wand. Easiest to select one area with the Magic Wand then SELECT >Similar to select all that colour.

4. Click New Layer, be active on that layer, then Click EDIT >Fill Selection and pick WHITE.  You will end up with a layer with just the white areas.  Hide the other layer and you can really see any possible issues.


Now, assuming that the WHITE areas are going to be the MASK (ie when you smudge the black ink on it will fill what you see as the transparent grid above) you need to identify the problems and fix them.

I’ve made the part we want to keep, the MASK part, gray so you can see a bit better:


See to the right?  That white bar?  That connects the face part with the outside.  Without it, the face part would just drop away. And the other bits on the left?  Same thing. I handled those issues differently.  Adding the bar (just use the brush to swipe away that area and connect the face-island to the surround) gives me a usable stencil and all I need to do is fill in that area with paint or ink or whatever.

The black areas you see in the green circles SHOULD be white.  But if I tried to connect them somehow it would look rubbish.  You could just delete them, leaving the left of the face a solid black shadow. But that loses some of the detail.  What I did was select just those areas that would drop out, and repeated the New Layer step.  I save that layer, with JUST THE SPOTS on it.  I’ll use that as a top layer over my main stencil.


This is a prime example of where the select and stroke trick will work well.

I had to resize my two images cause it’s easier to import them to SCAL the right size.  But this shot shows you the two layers.


5. Cut. However you do that.  Any electronic machine that has a TRACE function should work, but you can also cut with a craft knife and a really sharp blade, especially if you really smooth out the edges.

When I import the JPG into SCAL it already smooths things out a lot.


You can really see it with the hair.

6. Stencil the black layer.  


Not too bad!  You can see the left is just a big black area, and here is where the 2nd layer comes in to play.

I lined up the second layer stencil


and punched three registration marks thru BOTH layers. You can see the pencil circles on the stenciled image above.


7.  Once your black layer is dry, you can stencil WHITE over top to add a little detail!


I still need to fill in the bar across the hair, but otherwise it’s done.

So, why use a famous face in your art journal or the face from some random commercial stencil when you can use your own?

I hope I have given you enough info and a few tricks that worked for ME, so that you can give it a go.  I am happy to try to answer any questions, but it really is going to be playing around with YOUR photo.


Famous people stencils

I found a brilliant site!  It’s called Stencilry and it’s just loaded with fab images for making stencils.  I cut them, as I have shown before, with my Cricut from report cover plastic.  I’m back to using my original Cricut, as the mini is boxed up ready to be returned, but my old one works perfectly fine for this.  I just save the image, open it in SCAL and use the TRACE function.  Sometimes I might have to edit it in PSE very slightly to link up an internal area that would otherwise just get cut and fall out, but some work just fine as they are.

Here are a few samples to tempt you:

Clark Gable – cut as it comes with no editing needed


and in use:


I think this guy is called Tom Wellington – I have NO IDEA who he is but I call him Pretty Boy LOL!


Can you see the split in his lip at the right?  I added just that little bar because otherwise the white bit (which fell totally within the bit that cuts out to produce the lip) would just fall out)

Marilyn – same deal with the white of her left eye:


And I was stoked to find a couple of Banksy images.  This one, Girl with Balloon, is iconic.

5stencilsiteTo give the stencil more stability I surround it with strips of firm cardstock

6stencilsiteThen to make sure I can wipe it clean I cover that with packaging tape, like so.

7stencilsiteThen I can smudge ink or paint thru the whole thing or just part of it if I prefer:

8stencilsiteMy camera is acting up – it TRIES to turn on but then shuts down immediately.  I am not sure if it’s the batteries or the camera itself that is causing me problems.  I’m trying to charge the batteries again but we’ll see if it works for my WOYWW photo later.  If not it’ll be my phone.  Arrggh!  Seems like I just bought the darn thing, never been happy with it, if I’m honest, but still annoyed it won’t behave.


More round Gelli masking!

Oh poo.  My camera batteries have died and they take HOURS to recharge so apologies for the not-many, not-great photos but I think the process is a good one so I’ll share them anyway and hope to have another play later.

While working on the circles yesterday it occurred to me that the surrounding cardstock (where the circle had been cut out) works perfectly for a reverse mask to pull a round print on a larger piece.  I would say it is important to cut it from very heavy cardstock so it can stand up to the repeated applying and removing you will be doing.

My goal was to get something like the sample from Gelli Arts.  Of course I don’t have any plant-type stencils or masks, so for my first experiment I went with simple geometric patterns, which I like.  Since I don’t have the Open Acrylics either, getting the sheerness to the prints also took a little doing.  I first squeezed out a small dab of paint on the plate then added another similar sized dot of Glaze Medium.


I mixed up the paint and glaze right on the plate, using a plastic palette knife.  Metal might damage the place, but an old credit card would work just as well.


Then I did the Gelli pattern, laid over the open mask and pulled the print.



I believe the sample was pulled on smooth card, but as far as BIG, I only had a 12.5 x 16 inch watercolour paper pad, which is very textured.  The prints were still OK but maybe slightly less defined.

Lots of photos that COULD go here but one thing about low batteries on my camera is that sometimes I take a photo and it doesn’t get saved.  So you can only se the final piece.  It has issues LOL!



I can see I had the stencil not perfectly aligned and got that thin line right in the middle, from the edge of the plate.  Also, somehow I managed to get the two smaller circles almost perfectly aligned when I didn’t WANT to.

While I can appreciate the whole organic process, I think I might at least plan my print a bit next time.  I think it would really help to maybe draw circles on the back as I want them placed on the front, and maybe even number them, or at least mark the first layer and the next layers,  or note LIGHT v DARK.  As I have said before, if you get  a print you are not over the moon with on plain paper or card, no biggie.  You can always use it for something else and it’s no real loss.  BUT if you get a HUGE print on a more expensive piece of paper or a canvas, for example, not so cheap or easy to reuse, except maybe as a collage background.

One advantage of doing it this way is the ability to vary the size of the circles.  Of course if you have the round plate there is no reason you can’t pull full-plate ones, then use a mask over the outside edges so you then get a smaller circle!  But this way you can actually pick the area of the plate you like best, rather than having to pull the full-plate print.  If there is a bit that you don’t like, or a bit you REALLY want to highlight, just mask around that!

And of course you can expand this to other shapes – stars, hexagons, chevrons … I hanker after a print that is a long line of massive chevrons down one side.

And sorry my post yesterday wasn’t as clear as it could have been about the stencil.  It’s from Stencil Republic, a book that comes with 20 stencils from various graffiti artists.  I saw it first on Marit’s blog during a WOYWW hop (and yes, that was Weds, and I had it in my hands by Friday noon, thanks to Amazon Prime!) and loved the couple she showed.  Here is the back cover so you can see all that it contains:


A random selection

In the spirit of showing what I do with stuff rather than just how to make them, I thought I would share a few things that are almost completed projects using tools or techniques I’ve shared.

First, a Gelli print that uses a foam stamp I cut on the Cricut Mini from a cart image – the skull – as well as some circles I cut with dies.  They are mounted on the cut up bits of plastic placemats as mounts.



Liking that one – you can’t really see it too well but the green letters in the centre section are also from a stencil cut on the Mini (now I have to hunt back to find it… It’s from Edge to Edge) and the lighter green swirls that are buried but you can faintly see at the very bottom,  are also a stencil that I showed in the review, on the right:


Next, an ATC from that same Jake Blues dingbat mask:



That one has the mask, the foam letter stamp cut using the QuicKutz die plate, and printing then embossing on to washi tape.

Now this.  Grrr.  It turned out SO well (at least to MY eye) that I so wish I had pulled it on to a canvas I have kicking around on the side of my desk.  It has just the look I wanted, like a grungy old painted and repainted wall, with graffiti on it maybe.  I just don;t think it would look any good in a frame, but I bet DS would like it.  I thought of maybe sticking it to a canvas but it’s not QUITE the right size, and I am not keen to risk completely ruining ti thru experimentation.


The image is actually cut from another print – perhaps as close as I am likely to get to “collage” – so I just do not know.  Suggestions?  Just stick it to the canvas and do something to hide the edges?  Deli paper prints maybe, or simply paint and ink??


I really do need to come up with something USEFUL to do with all my prints.  I can make endless mini-books, and a gazillion ATCs for sure, but I crave functional use.  and since I can’t make myself art journal no matter how hard I try, what the heck do I do?






WOYWW 224 – more of the same

I am still working with Craft Room, the Cricut design tool, and learning more and more about it every day.  You know I suspect people simply do NOT know what they are getting in to when they ask me to review something!  Is that why Julia put my name forth as a potential reviewer?  She knew I would work the thing to death, squeezing every last bit of info out of my play, and attempting to discover things to do with it that may not be immediately obvious?  And that I am only ever going to be completely honest in my reviews?  Will I ever get asked to do another?  Perhaps not LOL!

Anyway, if you read back you will see that I have been playing more with making TOOLS from the Cricut Mini more than projects or layouts or cards.  I’ve done a lot of cutting of stencils from report covers and even made a few foam stamps – not a perfect process, but certainly doable.  What is quite literally ALL OVER MY DESK and floor and side table is the results of my design and cutting.  I’ll share more about the DESIGN process in Craft Room tomorrow, but for WOYWW it seems better to show actual creative work!

So first we have a stencil I cut using a basic Cricut image that I duplicated, rotated, hid contours, etc. I used it for my Gelli Plate, pulling both thru the stencil and then again after removing the stencil.



And another one, this one created from dozens of individual characters, but well worth the effort.  I really like it! Same deal – thru the stencil and once removed.


I think it would have been MUCH better had I used a lighter colour as the base, especially when I added the foam stamps in black – they would have stood out that little bit more. I also thing masking the center so the fist punching thru didn’t have the letters behind it would have improved the design.


I also sat looking at the waste left from one of the finger stamps and decided that while the finger were a bit thin, overall it would work as a second stamp:


And I think it did.


Now, it’s time to scamper around the desks and see what else will inspire me.  Life is finally settling down ever so slightly, so I hope to manage more than my commenters and the usual suspects that are on my watch list.  I try to get to at least a few people at random, but I have never once made it thru every name on the list.  One day….

Happy WOYWW!


Hide Contours in Craft Room and cutting stencils

One more trick for you.  Perhaps the niftiest trick in Craft Room is the ability to turn off (not cut) areas of a design.  This is, I found, VERY useful when cutting a stencil from report cover plastic.  The first ones I cut were very floppy, due to the thin frame that gets cut as part of the design.  Turning that off leaves a larger area around the stencil design and makes the whole thing much more stable!



Not all designs work flawlessly – for some the lines you might want to delete are part of a line you want to keep.  You’ll probably have to play around with it.

For this one, the outside border was easy enough to turn off



revealing the cutting lines



and the final stencil!



This one was also a good one:



and then I had a bash at designing one – this is two of the Ornamental Iron windows, one flipped, with a different one in the middle, stretched.  Then the frame that makes it a “window” was removed to produce this stencil



Kinda nifty, hummm?  Many of the Edge to Edge designs and the Paper Lace designs will work beautifully for stencils and the Craft Room Hide Contours function makes it possible.  I call that a BIG WIN, although I have to say that it was painfully slow to work with the design incorporating the three elements.  Lots of the spinning beachball of death, if you are a Mac user LOL! Does that tip the scales in favour of Craft Room?  It certainly increases the usefulness of the images a lot and makes designing with the images way more flexible, but you will have to consider that yourself and weigh up the pros and cons, depending on what is most important to you!



Doodle card done, for Dad – and a share from a reader!

I got that card sorted and happy with the result.  I did two things – first, I stamped the word with a Papermania alphabet then doodled inside it and cut it out.  Then I did the doodle inside the Nestie shape to create the focal point element.  Being that DH is a bit busy I know he hasn’t found time to read my blog in a while so I feel safe sharing this:

doodlecard2 doodlecard


I find Washi tape so useful to fill the gap when making an embossed background for a card when the folder isn’t big enough! I did a little pencil shading on this one and there are a couple of fab tutorials here.  I love it on the stripey curve in particular.

Now, I got a comment the other day from a reader named Beverly.  She made a couple of projects from my tutorials and I asked her to share them with me.  I wanted to share them with you so you could see that they are only ever a jumping off point for your own ideas. Here is her version of my circle tray/shelf card – she sort of combined the ideas from the original one (with the photo corners for adding a picture) and the attached butterflies from the Graphics Fairy printable one.  I think it turned out fab!  She tells me the backing butterfly is glittery embossed, which you don’t see in the photo very well:



But she didn’t stop there!  She also made a Word book.  I love the patchwork back cover so much!  I believe she said they are for her grand-daughter’s (?) birthday later in the month.




I just love getting to see how people use my stuff, so thanks so much to Bev for sharing, and for letting ME share with YOU.  I think her versions couldn’t be farther away from my samples, and I hope this gets people thinking of how they can take my basic idea and run away with it.


WOYWW 210 – ATCs and doodles

My WOYWW desk is relatively tidy this week, cause I am working on doodles and need it to be clear.  I do have my ATC binder out – you’ll see why later.




There is a little test sample of doodling in a Nestie there, but I have a new one planned. That’ll be what I am working on today.


I mentioned a day or two ago in the other sample post that I wanted to try my vinyl stencils within the Nestie shapes. Like it was something new. DOH!  I am losing my mind, clearly, because remember this? DH’s doodled iPad cover?


Yep.  Used a vinyl stencil on it.  Talked about it in great length.  In 2011.  Forgot all about it.  It was one of the same stencils I grabbed yesterday and that was the remember-trigger.


I am also planning a word with some letter stamps – I know the stamps will work as well as the stencils would, and either way they need to be hand-cut.

I wanted to showcase the ATCs from the WOYWW 4th anniversary, so here is my official swap from Sandy at Lonelycards (Australia) and it’s just so sweet – hand-painted, don’tcha know?


and one from Annette (also Australia – and mine went to Ros C in Australia) which is totally vintage and lovely.



And here they are in the page protectors, with the rest of the WOYWW ones:


From: Sandy and Annette, then Cardarian, Crafty Gashead Zo, Donna Louise, Helen (H)


From: Kyla, Fairy Thoughts Janet and Shazsilverwolf (and one random one of mine peeking in at the bottom)