Friday, June 5, 2015

Well, it's cut out!

It actually took me less time than I thought it would to cut that out!  I ran a test page today on some construction paper (my normal test papers don't run to 12x12, but this works fine).

I have to say, I'm ABSURDLY pleased with myself.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

On Stencils

I've been playing a lot with stencils--they're pretty awesome, and you can get some really neat effects with them.  I love them, and I've acquired... more than I'm entirely comfortable thinking about, really.  Which reminds me, I've just gotten some new ones that I need to make sure are properly put with the others and indexed so I can find them and I can quit anytime I want, really!  I don't have a problem!

..Actually, that's wrong. Turns out I do have a problem, and like many problems, the solution is to be found at the end of more work than I originally planned to put into it.

See, I love stencils.  They're awesome, and as I play with them more, I realize there are really two kinds--stencils, where the paint you put through them is the picture, and masks, where the paint you put through them DEFINES the picture.

This is the clearest example I have--the two are quite literally the reverse of one another.

 There are options in between, of course--patterns, for instance, where both parts make up the idea, an the like.  And all of them are sold as 'stencils'.  For clarity's sake here though, I will refer to them as separate things, because that difference is important. 

Because, in general, I like masks better than I like stencils. I like the idea that I can get as crazy and creative as I want on the bottom layer, and then just black out everything that's not the picture I want.  And quite a lot of what you can just go buy is stencils, not masks.

And suddenly I want options that I just do not have.

Well, that's okay, I can make stencils, right?  Sure I can! I even have blanks!

And so I made my very first real stencil (well, okay, the *very* first one was a cut-out heart to test things, but as it didn't require the exacto-knife, I'm kind of not counting it.)  I wanted a leaf pattern for a 4x6" post card, and I didn't have anything that would do the leaves the way I wanted them, as a mask rather than a stencil.  So, fine--I have trees!  (oh, do I have trees!)  I grabbed three different sizes of leaf off one of my sweetgum volunteers, traced them out, and got to cutting.

And it was a pain in the ass, but I'm pleased with how it came out, and I learned a lot in the cutting.

Sweetgum mask, obviously having been used a few times

First test print on a 4x6" index card

That gave me what I was looking for--a nice pretty print of leaves, repeatable, where the pattern on the leaves would be whatever I did first, rather than trying to lay down my colors and complexity through the plastic.  (I left a frame around the 4x6 cutout area, so I would have something to hold onto to keep it still while applying paint.  I've done this twice now and I think in future I need to just carry the pattern out to the edges of the plastic to allow for holding, rather than cutting a frame; I just don't have as much room as I'd like for layering.)

This is the final product that I cut the stencil for.  I am absurdly pleased with it.
Since then I've done a few free-form masks, cut at least one more with a frame (again, probably the last one), and planned out a piece for the fall guild show.  I want it to be leaves, too, but it's going to be a larger piece.  So I started planning out what I want, and of course, there still aren't the leaf options I want in commercially available stencils and masks. 

So last night I drew this out.  I... I've got a lot of cutting to do.

....What on earth have I gotten myself into?