25 August 2014

Stencil Frenzy

Just over a year ago I discovered a new source of inspiration: the Australian artist and art teacher Jane 'Danger' Davenport. (Yes, she really is dangerous: addictively funny and inspirational.) You will hear her name again on this blog, as I have some really exciting things going on at the moment.

Today, however, I'm going to talk about stencils. The reason I mentioned Jane at the start is that earlier this year she released an Art Lesson with Cloth Paper Scissors magazine 'Stencil Auditions', which triggered a veritable stencil frenzy in my life. The Art Lesson is downloadable, very affordable, and very, very inspiring. So inspiring that I immediately went ahead and ordered a whole bunch of stencils online. Many of them were water-themed (corals, waves and ripples), for a reason that I will return to later. :-)

My new stencils had barely arrived before something wonderful happened. A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to borrow her Silhouette Cameo cutting machine and try it out for stencil cutting. Did I ever!! I did a bit of research, and got started cutting stencils from stencil plastic. I couldn't belive how well it worked. Each time I removed a freshly cut stencil from the machine I couldn't help laughing out loud from pure joy. The only cloud on my horizon was that I was just about to move, and really didn't have much time to spend on the Cameo, as I was supposed to go through my stuff and pack it into boxes.That's why my stencil-cutting was a bit frenzied.

Test-cutting my first stencil (a face)

I had time to design (the cutter comes with a software that you can use to design your own stencils) and cut about 12 stencils before it was time to return the Cameo, and I have to admit that I'm really tempted to buy one at some point. I'm all for hand-cutting your own stencils, but it's very time-consuming if you do it from quality stencil plastic, you'll end up with a sore hand, arm and neck, and you'll never achieve the precision of a computer. Some patterns are simply not possible with, or worth the time and effort of, hand-cutting. I guess it's all a balancing act where you need to ask yourself when you should hand-cut, or when to buy a commercial stencil or use a cutting machine. There's a time and place for all three of them.

Oh, and one thing that I love about the cutting machine is that all those perfect little bits that are cut out can be saved and used for masks:

If anyone has a Silhouette Cameo and would like to know what settings I used for my stencils, here's the information. But you might have to experiment to get the right settings, as materials and machines differ. So consider these settings a guide and a starting point:

Speed: 1
Thickness: 30
Blade: 5
Double cut
Brand of stencil plastic: Crea Pop

Here are more images of my favourite stencils:

So far I've only used them for work that I've created for Jane Davenport's Art Lessons (on gesso and stencils) and online workshop 'Supplies Me'.

If you're like me, and have a whole Museum of Art Supplies that you never use, I recommend Jane's Art Lessons and workshops. You cannot help being inspired to use everything you have!

Thanks for dropping by!


  1. Hey Annika!
    I am so very glad to read your post! I had just received a Silhouette before I got sick last year, and was beginning to cut some of my own stencils, but then lost interest (and energy) while dealing with the breast cancer. You have rekindled my interest, and now I can't wait to get home from vacation and begin to play with my almost new toy all over again!
    I will also look up Jane "Danger" Davenport!
    Thanks for this great post!

    1. Thank you Judy! Lucky you to have a Silhouette! I had a lot of fun while I was playing with this one, and it made the process of designing and making my own stencil so much easier. As I said, I just borrowed it for a short time, so I'm very far from being an expert, but if you have any questions about how I did things, please don't hesitate to ask! Have fun!! xxoo

  2. Annika, your stencils are fabulous! As is your artwork from your class. I will have to investigate that course this winter. The Silhouette keeps teasing and tempting me. It looks like so much fun and so much easier than cutting my own. The price has slowed me down and I am hoping that like most everything, it will get less expensive. (Of course, if I added up all the stencils I have purchased, I could have easily have bought the Silhouette. The penny pinching Norse blood of mine! LOL!) Have fun with the stencils and thanks for such a wonderful post!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Jeannie! Yes, the Silhouette is a temptress, but there are definitely many things to take into consideration before you go out and buy one. But if you use stencils a lot and prefer those that are authentic to you, there's no doubt that this machine will make your life a lot easier. ;-)

  3. I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked your site to check out the new stuff you post.
    waist pouch