Stenciling Art Journal Pages

Stencils have never really thrilled me; I’ve never believed I knew how to use them. While experimenting this weekend, I discovered what I’d missed–a simple, effective stencil technique that makes great art journal pages or, trimmed down and layered on decorative paper, beautiful cards.

I am a fan of white-on-white or monochrome compositions, so I kept the early design simple:

stencilcurlyWhat you’ll need:

  • Stencil
  • Painter tape (See below)
  • Heavy paper (see below)
  • Palette knife
  • Regular gel (I use Golden’s Satin)
  • Bucket of water
  • Paper towels

1. Use heavy, slightly-sized paper. Print paper (not photocopy paper, but paper you would use for making letterpress or monoprints–at least 100 lbs), hot-press watercolor paper or smooth watercolor cards work well for this.

2. Position the stencil where you want it. Tape it down securely with blue painter tape or, even better, Frog Tape. Test the tape on a piece of paper to see that it doesn’t pull up paper when you remove it.

3. Using a palette knife, spread a thin, even coat of Golden Regular Gel (that’s exactly what it says on the label) across the stencil, working from left to right and top to bottom.

Close up of gel detail

Close up of gel detail

4. As soon as you have an even coat across the entire stencil area, check to make sure there are no gaps or bubbles, then remove the tape and the stencil. Pull the stencil straight up from a corner to avoid smearing.

5. Toss the stencil in a bucket of water until you can clean it. Once the gel sets, it’s hard to scrub off. Allow the card to dry completely before you cut it or trim it.

Once you get tired of the plain gel, you can add interference colors to the gel. (About 1 color to 4 gel). Interference colors give the image a sheen of color at certain angles.

Here are trees so you can’t see the interference in the gel

stenciltree

And here it is tilted so you can see the blue/green shimmer.

stenciltreeshimmer

Want more choices? Try adding Pearl Ex pigment or gold acrylic paint to the gel.

sencilgoldfeather

You can also add silver acrylic paint.

stencilDOT

If you want more color, you can use watercolors or pale acrylic to create a color background. But that’s another post!

–Quinn McDonald is glad she has a stash of stencils to play with. There is writing that needs doing on these pages.

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17 responses to “Stenciling Art Journal Pages

  1. Gorgeous stuff, Quinn. Thanks for the tutorial–I’ll certainly try it. By the way, I just read your article in Somerset Studio, the one about listening. Excellent!

  2. wow! I initially thought you were just showing a photo OF the stencil but that is a photo of the page! Such dimension.

    Adding this to the list of things I want to try.

  3. I love that GEL thing-y. wonder what it would do on silk?

  4. OK, next question: what line of stencils did you use? There are a couple of designs I haven’t seen before and they are really cool!
    Linda D

  5. I love stencils. I use them all the time. I have just made a couple of tutorial videos about them too, although they aren’t done being edited yet. Hopefully they will be up soon. :)

    • I’m working on a tutorial, too. I have to prep for an expo where I’m demonstrating, and I thought, “All that practice–might as well make it useful!” Let us know when yours are up.

  6. A fantastic tutorial – thank you. I only have home made stencils but I will give this a try.

  7. I too never know what to do with my stencils other than decorate the stains on my shirts. LOL. Thanks for this newest idea! I will try it out.

  8. oh, yeah! Love this process – you can also add glitter to the gel. Fine, dust like glitter will not mar the dried surface, whereas chunkier glitter creates texture. Also, this works on fabric – hand wash delicate and hang dry so that the patterned area does not touch itself when drying. The gel becomes cloudy when wet, but will dry clear. I’ve used this to decorate jean jackets…..

    • The gold feather has Pearl-Ex in it, which is a metallic-colored dust. (A bit too much, but there you are). Fine glitter would be really cool, too. I put a great stucco finish on one of them, which was also cool. I had never thought of putting it on clothing–you are brave! and I bet you could use Lumiere paints, too.

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