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Thanks, Shaz XX

Monday, 14 March 2016

Sweet Poppy Stencils- Demo Day

Well, yesterday, Sunday, I went to a demo day at Pink Tulip Crafts in Studley, taken by my good friend and co- mother in law, Marg, who you may know as Silvercrafter.
 The demo was being done by Lucy Ellis, who I believe is the owner of The Craft Station, and Sweet Poppy Stencils.
 And yes, money changed hands. Well, let's be honest, that was pretty much a certainty. And I'm not going to the NEC Hobbycrafts this March, so......
 The first four stencils(!), some glitters. a pot of Bronze Stencil Paste,some gorgeous Gilding Flake in a colour called Golden Meadow, a beautiful gold/green mix.
 A pot of glue, for using with the flake, and a brush for tidying up your stencil after the gilding has dried.
 Some more stencils- a couple of fairy ones- you may recognise many of the fairy images on the stencils from Lavinia Stamps, but I will tell you now that the fairy stencils are being retired, so many of them are reduced. If you like them, get them now before they're gone.

The butterfly stencil is the one the sample in the top corner was done with.

The bronze stencil paste and the Gilding Flakes.
 I have a few Sweet Poppy stencil pastes, and some Dreamweaver ones too. I will say, as Lucy told us yesterday, the consistency of both are different. The Sweet Poppy one is almost a gloopy, gel- like substance, whilst the Dreamweaver does not have that jelly like feel. But both work exactly the same way.

So, I'm going to run through what I did yesterday afternoon, passing on the tips given by Lucy ( in red). I'm not going to admit to how many 'doh!' moments there were as she explained something that should have been blindingly obvious!

Things you will need- a craft sheet is a good idea as this  can get very messy.
 TIP No 1:   Tape your craft sheet down well onto your desk/worksurface. This way, when you spread your paste, nothing moves, so you can have both hands free for spreading, rather than needing one to hold your work still.
 This simple tip made such a huge difference, no more stressing about not having enough hands!

 I found masking tape/stencil tape wouldn't hold mine down, so used some fancy sellotape. 
Stencil Tape- Lucy said it's important to get tape for Stencils, rather than standard masking tape, to avoid tearing your cardstock when removing it. Sweet Poppy,Stix2 and Woodware all make good stencil tapes. 
A spatula: Mine is metal, but a plastic one suffices just as well. Easiest way to get paste from, and return excess to, the jar.

A Spreader: The one I have is a Dreamweaver one, and is slightly different to the Sweet Poppy one. I have to say, I think the Sweet Poppy one is the better of the two, as it is not so rounded, so the positioning of your hands is easier.
This is the Sweet Poppy one.

A Magnetic Sheet:
 The magnetic sheet doesn't have to be any special type, I'm using one that I've cut down from A4 sheets bought off Amazon, for storing dies on, hence the punched holes.

 TIP No 2: Slip a magnetic sheet underneath  your cardstock & stencil. This holds your stencil in place on your cardstock whilst you apply your tape, and helps stop any slipping when removing the tape afterwards.
 So far I've had two excellent tips in the space of the first fifteen minutes, and having used them now, both have made a huge difference to working with the paste.

TIP No 3:  Do not be stingy with your tape! Lucy uses 6 pieces- 2 at the top, 2 at the bottom, and one either side. Make sure your tape extends past the edges of your stencil/cardstock, and attaches to the craft sheet. Again, you want your work to stay perfectly still without you having to hold it.
This is a huge help in protecting the rest of your cardstock. I have always used one strip on each edge, and almost always have excess paste going on to my cardstock. But the greatest bit is  your work is now held firmly on your craft sheet, so you have two hands free, as neither your craft sheet, nor your stencil, is now going to move. No more trying to work around one of your hands holding the stencil in place!

So, by now you should have your craft sheet taped to your desk,on top of this, a magnetic sheet, a sheet of cardstock, then your stencil.  Now you apply your stencil tape. If all you do have is masking tape, de-stick it slightly by holding it against your clothes/skin first. Overlap the tape at the top and bottom to give you a wider margin. If you thought you needed it, you could do the same at the sides.
Down to business then. 
TIP No 3: Scoop out some Stencil paste and place a line of blobs along the top edge, either on the metal part of the stencil, or going onto the stencil tape. DO NOT put paste directly onto open areas of the stencil. You are pretty much guaranteed to get it going under parts of the design. Make sure you have plenty of paste along the edge, leaving no gaps, so that when you pull the paste down, you do not have bare spaces.

Again, this was great advice. I've never really worried about where I was putting the paste, just dumping it on anywhere, and being very stingy with how much I put out. That's a big mistake. You want to have loads laid down. 
I realised at this point that I hadn't taken any photos of the next bit, so I've re-done it with a different stencil & paste. Apologies for the images, I had to use the camera's self timer, and get my other hand back in the shot quickly, lol. 
 Loads of paste along the top.

 TIP No4: Both hands on the top of the spreader, close together.
 Sorry, had to do a dry-run pic here, I hadn't got my hands close enough together in the others.Now, I have to admit here, that I'd had my spreader a while, I just hadn't tried using it. I'd been spreading using the spatula. I honestly cannot tell you how much easier this is with the spreader.

 Place the spreader behind the line of stencil paste,and with the spreader at a slight angle to the stencil. pull it cleanly towards you in one motion. Don't stop, and don't press too hard either.
 You will have a lot of stencil paste on your spreader at the end, use your spatula to remove it and put it back in the pot.
 Repeat pulling the spreader down over the stencil a second time, to catch any excess you missed.

 TIP No5: Lucy said two swipes should be enough. If you keep repeating it, you will push paste underneath parts of the stencil.

Now you can start removing the tape- reverse order to placing it, so take off one side first, then the other. Next remove the bottom tape- you can peel the two pieces off together.

  This just leaves the top tape as your 'hinge'. Firstly, remove the upper piece of tape, then gently lift the ends of the remaining piece from the craft mat.

Slide the magnetic sheet/cardstock/stencil towards you, so that it overhangs slightly the edge of your desk. Then use one hand to press down on the cardstock/magnetic sheet, and the other hand to lift the stencil up and away from your work.

Swapped back here, as this pic came out better.

Stencil removed, and job done. I really cannot believe how much simpler and effective this method is- I had total success with every piece I did this afternoon. First time I've not had any scrap pieces.

Now onto what was a real 'light-bulb' moment for me, and taught me a second way to stop getting stencil paste underneath my stencils.

 TIP No6: Work with your stencil, not against it. That means, take a close look at your stencil for what Lucy called 'fingers'.

 This design is a perfect example, and one I've always had problems with the paste going underneath the part of the stencil that forms the cats haunch, marked with the arrow.That's what Lucy means by 'fingers'. It's also difficult to avoid catching the finger of metal with a spatula. When using my stencils I automatically place them on the cardstock with the design the right way up.
What I should be doing, is flipping the stencil around, so the finger points in the direction I'm spreading in, like this.


This is what has happened in the past with the way I've always worked. You can see there is very little gap, or none at all, to define his haunch.

 Here I've turned the stencil upside down, and just used one sweep of the spreader to take the paste all the way over. Using a spatula in the past has made it difficult to get a clean sweep, so that has also helped to push paste under the stencil.

Result is a  nice clean stencil, with the haunch of the cat clearly defined! 

So, to the rest of yesterdays playtime:

  Another Christmas Snow-Globe Stencil.

 A whole bunch of stencils- some are glittered, some left plain to try using the gilding flakes with later today.

One thing I didn't mention further up, is getting your stencils clean. It's best to have a bowl of warm soapy water to hand, and a nailbrush, or old toothbrush. If you can't do this, and I can't at the moment, my solution is to have baby wipes to hand. Lay one down, stencil on top, then another baby wipe. If you want to use it again, then use the baby wipes and paper towel to clean and dry it. Word of warning- be VERY careful when cleaning stencils, whatever method you use. Some of the pointed parts of the stencils are very sharp, and it's easy to jab your fingers. It's also very easy to bend such pieces, so take great care.
Then you can take your stencils and give them a wash all together when you've finished.

Lucy did some other techniques, with the gilding flakes, with mica's, glitter and Micro Beads, but I'll get to them in another post, I think this one is more than long enough!


Kelly said...

Good morning, sweet lady. So happy I saw this post before your WOYWW post. I just bought some colored pastes and your tips are great! Especially the not applying to the open areas directly and the 'fingers' would never have thought of those! Hugs and Blessings Kelly aka Rain

Helen said...

great tips, Shaz. I only have one Sweet Poppy stencil but do remember watching demos of these techniques and it's very handy.

Shaz in Oz.CalligraphyCards said...

Awesome post Shaz, shall confess have very few stencils and only two lots of paste so not much experience here at all but really loved the tutorial and all those common. Sense brilliant tips. Loved the finger one, how clever is the difference with that cat.
Maybe one day will get a few more but really need to use what have first.
Shaz in Oz.x PS SOOOO delighted wiht your WOYWW post news. :)

Aimeslee W. said...

Well Shaz, duh me! (Knocks on head to see if anyone home) Of course, a magnetic sheet, what a sillily-simple solution and I have read books on brass stenciling and that has never been mentioned. Unbelievable. I pinned this wonderful tutorial (very clearly explained!) and it might get me into playing as I have several brass stencils and jars of pastes. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to you blogging part 2. xoxo