Stencils. Part 4, Stage 2, Project 1 – Monoprinting, Exercise 4 – Working with Stencils.

We are asked to make simple paper masks to create printed shapes.  However, I was unsure about this I felt such masks might be quite flimsy.   In the past I have experimented with cardboard masks, but if the card is quite thick the paint doesn’t always make a smooth margin against the stencil.  I had an idea while rummaging through my desk looking for suitable materials and  have experimented with making masks from acetate sheets, specifically laminating sheets fused together with an iron (two sheets for strength,but still thin).  Then I drew shapes with my soldering iron; it’s easier to go around corners, make intricate shapes, rather than slipping around with a sharp blade.  The fusing effect also makes sure the edges of lamination around the shapes are well joined together.  Some prints didn’t work very well for lack of interest or definition.  These are the ones that show the different techniques I used.

The first design for a stencil is copied from my sketch book drawing of a caddis fly larva, made last summer.


Caddis fly larvae make a ‘house’ for themselves from the bits and pieces lying on the bottom of streams, and can look quite beautiful.

Based on drawing of caddis fly larva, page 14, A3 sketchbook

I printed the stencil several times with the same ink and still made different effects; these are shown together for comparison.  The first image is a fairly thick ink, the second is the ‘thinner’ result made using the left over inks.  Then I added some water which ran through the fibres to make a halo, and then printed again on top to make a visible outline.  Finally I experimented with adding a thin layer of plaster and water which makes a very interesting effect, a process worth exploring more.

This is the stencil after the plaster/water mix had been used together with a larger image.

caddisfly_1        caddisfly_3

I like the way ink has gathered along the edges of the acetate on this one.  It’s not tidy but neither are caddis fly larvae living on river mud.


A simple stencil was made by poking the my soldering iron into the laminate, making different sized holes.   Splattering paint from the brush is effective, but this also worked as  a more controlled method of making splashes.  This stencil has been used in a large collage, to be described later.

holes_1   holes_2

Next I tried to make a design based on this photo of my husband sitting on the side of a Lake District hill.  This time I used freezer paper as a stencil, purchased from a craft shop.  This can be ironed onto paper or fabric, forming a temporary bond.  It worked well, has the advantage of having a drawing surface suitable for most instruments, not just permanent markers (as on acetate).  The side of a ruler was used to make random strips of colour to suggest a rocky surface.  The hills were painted with a roller.


Another freezer paper experiment was made based on the shape of my husband’s echocardiogram during a hospital visit!

img_5624 I used the ‘pie slice’ shape of the ultrasound pattern to practice some tonal changes on polycotton. The whole area was covered in textile ink first, then two more coats were added, with masks from the initial cut-out piece of freezer paper added sequentially.  The upper layer has an interesting texture – quite accidental – where the fabric rucked up a bit within the freezer paper stencil.  The point at the base is smudgy, I think small areas tend to be more difficult to stencil, their edges seem more delicate.  I suppose they are simply harder to hold down.



Idea for stencils inspired by dock leaves in a Summer meadow, which have been eaten by insects.  I took some photos during 2016 of these leaves which caught my eye, and played with the images a little using an iPad app to change the colours.  I prefer the original dock leaves!  However while re-reading Hedley Gwen, Surfaces for Stitch, Batsford 2004, page 53, about making plastic ‘nets’  reminded me of these photos.  Perhaps these could be reproduced using plastic nets?


Strips of plastic bag were cut and placed between sheets of baking parchment, then ironed until fused.  Then I cut out a rough leaf shape.

For me, this stencil didn’t work; it around too much and didn’t make the marks I had planned (no picture).  However, the strips of plastic, once covered in paint, have all kinds of textile possibilities.  I painted a piece of Aida [ thread and laid my ‘net’ on top, ready for stitching together somehow.  I haven’t decided whether to keep with the monotone theme or add contrasting colours.

img_5621  img_06411

I’ve made various attempts at stencilling, several designs as well which have not been carried out yet.  However time is passing, I need to hand my Assignment in, finished or not…



2 thoughts on “Stencils. Part 4, Stage 2, Project 1 – Monoprinting, Exercise 4 – Working with Stencils.

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