Thursday, January 12, 2017

Have You Tried Glue Gun Stencils?

     There are so many ways to make stencils, but have you tried making them using a hot glue gun? And if you have, do you realize how many ways you can use them? This came about for me as part of my daily practice of mark making while I was strolling through Pinterest looking for ideas and saw this one and decided to dig out my old glue gun from the garage and see what they looked like. And when I saw the one I made, I was amazed and had a brainstorm of how versatile it could be.
     I had been sending out for thermofax images of leaves, which was somewhat expensive and I had to wait for them to be made and sent to me. Plus, sometimes, I decided I wanted different sizes and didn't want to have to send for yet another one. So if I could make detailed stencils quickly and cheaply, that would be great! Also, I love the look of eco-printed leaves, but don't want to do that process because I don't want my images to fade over time and I think if I use the right amount of paint with colorless extender I can mimic that look with practice.
     The other thing I wanted to accomplish, was to make stencils that I could use as a background texture on my fabrics when creating layers for imagery. So here is what I did and some samples of what I got. I did almost all of my samples with black transparent fabric paint mixed with colorless extender in a ratio of 1:4 just to see what it looked like. On an artwork, I would probably either match the color of the fabric to blend in with it or use a different color to contrast with it. I decided to collect my samples and put them into a fabric book so the photos here show the samples fused to muslin in preparation for sewing into the book.
     First, I drew pictures of leaves onto a piece of paper.
leaf sketches
Then I placed parchment paper on top of the sketches. I could see the sketches pretty easily through the paper.
parchment paper on top
Next, I pressed out hot glue along the drawn lines. And I pressed the hot tip around putting holes in the leaves in places and making them solid in other places. Then I let them cool.

"drawing" with hot glue

one of the glue stencils
The stencils lifted off the paper easily and were like silicon and held together well. They were not at all fragile. They were very flexible. Not at all what I expected. I thought they would be stiff, thin, and brittle. They have a flat side (the side that was on the parchment paper) and a dimensional side (the side that was face up).
leaf stencils (stained from paint)

texture stencils

     The first way I used them was with my gelli plate. I used a brayer to put down paint on the plate, placed the the flat side of the stencil on the plate, lifted it and then stamped it onto fabric. I did that because it put an even coat of paint onto the stencil. On this first one, I sprayed water onto the fabric to wet it a little first to get a little bleed.

stencil used as a stamp

Then, I put more paint onto the plate and placed fabric on top to get a monoprint.

monoprint done two ways; one by removing some paint around
sides first

left side are the ghost prints from the monoprints
right side is a stamp on dry fabric

Then I put stencils underneath the fabric and did rubbings after loading a stencil brush with paint.
texture rubbings
Another look is a ghostly one by placing the stencil on top and using the stencil brush with a light amount of paint and brushing away from the stencil.

brushing away from the stencil

more brushing away
From one stencil, it is possible to get all these different looks.
front cover of my book by stamping

back cover of my book by stamping

     The covers of my book are pieces from a strip of fabric that I used as a test for the stamps for a piece I've been working on for my Art Cloth Mastery Class. So now, I'll sew the pages together and have a record of the techniques and what they look like. I'll make a separate book for the texture stamps and other marks I've been working on, too. So get out those old hot glue guns and see what you can make. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.


  1. This is so clever! I've never thought of using hot glue this way. Thanks for sharing!

    1. My pleasure. I'm practicing more to get better stencils and better marks with them.

  2. That looks like fun. I would love to do a workshop on that glue gun stencil technique. See you soon, Ruth

  3. That has been on my list of things to try for a long time, I think you might have inspired me to actually do it.

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