One of the things I quickly discovered while cutting this stencil/mask: When cutting your own stencils by hand with an Xacto knife, the edges are really important. You have to pay careful attention to the intersection of horizontal and vertical cuts. It isn't enough for them to just meet each other because you risk frayed corners if the edges don't intersect.
Cutting text is good practice. It helps prepare you for the combined straight and curved lines in artwork. I could have used purchased stencils, but I wanted the practice. And I like that I can control the look when I do it myself. In an Art for Elementary School class I took in college, we were told to emphasize to students how much their drawing would improve if they practiced improving printing, script, and penmanship in general. I think this extends to cutting letters with an Xacto. If you practice cutting letters, your stencil cutting skills in general will improve by leaps and bounds.
Do you recognize this page? I started it a while back and posted about it HERE.
The first decision I made when designing the stencil for this page was where I wanted to put it. This art journal very conveniently has 8-1/2" X 11" pages. That means that if I cut the area which will receive the paint from a separate piece of printer paper and I position the cuts carefully, the stencil I cut will also successfully mask out the rest of the page. Once I decided where I wanted the letters, I drew the letters in a type style that I thought would look good on the page. Cutting out the letters proved to be quite easy.
Here are some notes I took to ensure the success of future projects:
- Make sure cuts intersect at corners
- On some curves it's easier to turn the paper than the knife
- Fresh, new blades. Always.
- Clean, unblemished cutting mat
- No day dreaming! This is not the time to lapse into the zone!
- Remember, you're pulling the knife, not pushing it. All cuts are on the pull.
This is page 23 for Marvel: Your Precious Life, an online art journal workshop offered by Kelly Kilmer. The stenciling exercise is for Stencilry, an online workshop for designing, cutting, and using stencils. It's offered by Mary Ann Moss.
I used Liquitex low odor acrylic spray paint in medium magenta for this stencil. The layer of acrylic spray on top of the printer paper reinforces and strengthens it with a light coating of acrylic polymer. You end up with the best of both worlds: A very easy to cut sheet of paper which becomes more durable after it has been sprayed.
I think the top pic of the stencil cut from the paper is actually pretty cool looking. I'm sure it will find it's way into another journal page soon.