Thursday, April 4, 2013

Make Your Own Stencils

Hello! Time for another tutorial from me (Anna-Karin), using dies, embossing folders and paint. It is very popular to use stencils at the moment. With your dies, you can make your own stencils and masks, just perfect for your project.

I made a mixed media canvas (6x6 in) and a card to show different ways of turning your dies into stencils. It's a fun way of getting even more out of your dies. The techniques can be used on any type of project; layouts, cards, off the page, etc. I always intend to try to do a shorter tutorial, but when I start, the projects take on their own life and it becomes long anyway. Here we go:

Start by gluing torn pieces of old book pages to the canvas, with multi-medium. I used pages from an old gardening book since I was planning to do a spring canvas.

Cover the canvas with gesso using a palette knife (or a plastic card). Don't cover the text completely and leave the gesso thicker in some areas. Ronda Palazzari often uses embossing folders to add texture to paint and gesso, and I thought I would give that a try. Press a swirl texture fade into the wet gesso here and there. Leave to dry.
Here's a close-up of the texture, pretty cool.

Now we are going to make stencils and masks. I used clear Sizzix packaging to make my stencils, since it is a great sturdy plastic. Die cut the Mini Flourish from packaging, or acetate. Now you have one stencil and one mask that you can use over and over again. We are only going to use the stencil here.

die cutting
Die cut both mini butterflies from packaging. If you want to you can make a large stencil and cut many butterflies out of it. Lots of possibilities!

I also wanted to use this Cobblestones Sizzlits, but since it won't be able to cut through the thick packaging, I used Eclipse Art Masking Tape instead, which is a great repositionable tape. It handles paint and water techniques very well, but won't be as reusable as your plastic stencils. Place the tape sticky side down on the die and cut. Gently peel off your stencil. I made mine in two parts, here you can see one that is peeled off and one that is still on the die.

Place your flourish stencil on the canvas and apply modeling paste through it with a palette knife. Immediately clean your stencil.

Repeat three times. It is a good idea to let the paste dry at least a little bit before continuing since otherwise you might smear the flourish next to it with your stencil. You can cut the plastic of your stencil smaller to avoid this, but I also like having some space around the shape so that I don't need to worry about getting paste where it shouldn't be. Leave to dry completely.

Paint the canvas with yellow and green acrylic paints and let dry.
Apply the Eclipse Cobblestone stencil to the canvas. Paint white paint over the stencil.
Repeat on two more places on the canvas.

Mix a bit of Aqua paint into modeling paste. Did you notice that I used packaging as my palette for this?

Place one of your butterfly stencils on the canvas and apply modeling past thickly over it. Carefully remove the stencil and don't forget to clean it immediately if you want to be able to use it again.

I cut the second butterfly stencil a bit so that it would fit without smearing the first one.

Apply a thick layer of paste through the stencil and remove the stencil. Leave to dry.

I wanted to add some gold paint to the butterflies and the canvas. To avoid getting paint around the butterflies, I placed the mask on top of them again and dry brushed a bit of gold paint on them.

Close-up of this step.

I stamped a Tim Holtz sentiment on the canvas with black ink and dots with gold paint (immediately clean your stamp after using it with paint). I also brushed a bit of gold paint on the flourishes and on some of the edges.

The canvas needed some flowers. Die cut flowers from Core'dinations Distress cardstock and from ledger paper with the Tattered Flower Garland die. Sand the Core'dinations pieces.

Apply a little bit of Rock Candy Distress Stickles to the butterflies with your finger and to the flowers.

Glue the flowers to the canvas. I used a hot glue gun.

Here you can see the specks of Rock Candy on the butterfly.

The sentiment was printed on ledger paper, cut into strips and glued to the canvas with Glossy Accents. 

Here's a close-up of the different layers and textures. Love the text peaking through.

It's a pretty sentiment, isn't it?

And now onto the card:

I made a stencil from one of my favourite dies, the Cargo Stencil Numbers. Place the numbers in your base tray as shown and die cut from a large enough sheet of packaging. Love this stencil, I'll be using it a lot.

Place on top of cardstock (I used watercolour paper) and smear modeling paste through the stencil. Let dry.

This gives you very cool textured numbers.

Paint with cream and brown acrylic paint. I watered down my paint a little bit.

To make painting the letters real easy, reapply the stencil.

Paint one number Aqua and the rest with Snow Cap. If you are making this into a birthday card, highlight the age of the recipient.

Dry brush a bit of brown paint over the letters to emphasise the texture.

Place a Cobblestone stencil over the bottom of the paper.

Mix brown paint into modeling paste and apply through the stencil. Remove the stencil and leave to dry.

This is a really cool way of using the Cobblestones die, since it gives great texture and looks like real stones. Try the technique with grey paint mixed into modeling paste over off-white paper. Stamp a number stamp here and there, holding it in your hand for random impressions.

You can see the texture of the numbers better on this photo.

Die cut a butterfly from grungeboard and glue a few pieces of text paper on top. Coat with gesso as on the canvas.

I painted a little bit of Aqua and Lemonade on the butterfly, but you could skip that step, since I got a better idea afterwards. Place the Stone Wall stencil on top and paint Aqua through it. Remove the stencil.

Here's the butterfly.

Apply Glossy Accents over the blue areas, creating a mosaic butterfly.

Close-up of the butterfly. It was adhered with foam dots.

Cut and fold Core'dinations Kraft-Core cardstock for your cardbase and sand the edges. Attach the panel with tiny staples. I die cut a Tattered Banner from ledger paper and stamped a sentiment on top.

Thank you for looking at this long tutorial! Have fun using your dies to make stencils!

Happy Crafting!


die cutting supplies

Surfaces: 6x6 in canvas; Tim Holtz Idea-ology Grungeboard; 7Gypsies Postale 8x8 paper pad; Canson watercolour cardstock; old book paper; clear packaging
Stamps: Stamper's Anonymous Tim Holtz Simple Sayings, School Desk, Tiny Textures,
Ink: Tim Holtz Distress Ink: Gathered Twigs; Ranger Archival Ink Jet Black, Coffee
Paint: Ranger Adirondack paint dabbers: Aqua, Pool, Gold, Sandal, Espresso, Mushroom, Lemonade, Sunshine Yellow, Snow Cap, Citrus, Lettuce, Pesto
Mediums: Ranger Claudine Hellmuth Multi-Medium, Gesso; Golden Artist Colors: Light Molding Paste
Stickles: Ranger Distress Stickles Rock Candy
Embellishment: twine
Adhesive: Ranger Glossy Accents; Judikins Eclipse Art Masking Tape; hot glue

You will find this project and 1000s of others like it in our die cutting project gallery at You won't believe all of the inspiration you will find there!
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  1. Great projects! Awesome tutorial! Thanks :)

  2. Anna-Karin you are a star. It's these sorts of ideas/reminders we need to get even more out of our existing craft supplies. Thanks for the tutorial. Hugs, Jenny x

  3. All that I can say is : AMAZING!!!!!! With which glue did you paste your book paper? does it matter? Hugs! Mojca

    1. Thank you Mojca! I used Claudine Hellmuth multi-medium to glue the book paper, but you could use other glues too.

  4. Gorgeous and so textural! Love your ideas, Anna-Karin!

  5. Great techniques Anna-Karin- I love how you used the packaging... recycling is fun.

  6. Both the projects are fabulous !Thanks for sharing the step by step tutorial !

  7. Awesome! I've been creating my own stencils using leftover packaging materials but hadn't thought about the Eclipse tape, especially on the decorative strip dies. And creating a mosaic piece using this cobblestone die is 'da bomb'! Thank you for such an inspirational tutorial!

  8. I AM GOING TO TRY THIS! Yes, I'm screaming my excitement...thanks for the tut.Amazing, amazing. Laura

  9. Thank you for this awesome tutorial. I was thinking about making stencils with my dies this morning. I have a canvas I have been wanting to create and these techniques will add just the right dimension to what I already have in mind. Great ideas to expand the use of our dies and our machines and plastic packaging. Thinking outside the box!!!!
    Jacquelene L

  10. Completely and utterly fantastic... I often use die-cutting waste as stencils, but this takes things to whole other level... Fabulous tutorial, with such great photos, as always - thanks so much Anna-Karin!
    Alison x

  11. This is a super tutorial! thanks

  12. Great project AnnaKarin! Love all the textures.

  13. that was a fantastic tutorial, I can't wait to try making my own, but even with the ones I already have, this is a very inspiring post and beautiful projects, thank you so much, really appreciated.

  14. I love this! Thanks for the great tutorial/tips.

  15. I love this, I pinned it to try later. I use the packaging in my crafts. I run it through the sizzix machine in an embossing folder then either use it clear or use alcohol ink. you can make really pretty "stained glass" windows for a card.

  16. Awesome! Love your techniques! Great tutorials! :)

  17. Thanks for the how to. I appreciate all the details--the longer the better. Great ideas.

  18. This has been terribly inspiring, thanks a bunch!!!

  19. wow, what a great tutorial, so many fun techniques. Thank you for sharing. I'm inspired.

  20. Love your canvas! I love playing with molding paste and these are great ideas! Eager to try this on cards, too! TFS!

  21. Fabulous!!! I LOVE the canvas and the card is wonderful too!!!

  22. Does Sizzix make a Frame Bracket Die Cut for the original Sizzix Machine?


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