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Stencil Butters

Learn how to create this amazing background in 56 seconds!

Close up image of the background that this post is going to teach you how to make.
Close up image showing the completed stenciled butters background.

Hello! Recently, I created this fabulous background using our stencil butters. For fun, I made up a bunch of postcards and mailed them to art friends to see if any of them could guess how I’d created the background. While there were a few elements guessed correctly and some pretty close guesses, no-one actually guessed the correct combination of products or techniques. Today, this post reveals the process and products I used that kept them guessing!

The Crafter’s Workshop provided me with some product to create this project. The opinions I share are solely my own.

I decided to use some dark blue textured drawing paper, TCW926 Bubble Rebound stencil, and delicate surface tape (which is less sticky than painter’s tape and less likely to tear the paper when removing). Now, the real trick with this background technique is to choose an analogous color scheme (colors next to one another on the color wheel) that matches the color of the paper that you are using. Since I chose royal blue paper, I decided to choose three cool colors to match, and white to provide contrast against the darker blue paper. I chose shades that were lighter than the paper in order to have the paper texture show up and be more visible in the end design.

Image showing Fabriano Color Drawing Paper 160 gsm, 98 lbs
Textured Paper
Image show TCW926 Bubble Rebound Stencil
TCW926 Bubble Rebound Stencil
Image showing the paper taped down over the stencil using 3M Delicate Surface tape.
3M Delicate Surface Tape
Image showing the NeoColour II water soluble wax pastely crayons (aquarelles).
Caran D’Ache NeoColor II Aquarelles (Water soluble wax pastel crayons)

For this technique, you’re going to work with the stencil under the paper. Tape the paper in place over the stencil. For the first step, I chose to work with NeoColor II water soluble, wax pastel crayons. I wanted a water soluble product so that it would react later in the process, as you’ll see. Laying the crayon almost horizontally on the paper, color random patches of each color over the entire paper. Don’t press too hard, or you’ll lose the paper texture, yet press gently enough so that you can see the edges of the stencil’s outlines on the paper, as shown in the image, below. (You might want to try a couple of practice pieces first to get the amount of pressure just right).

Close up image showing the stencil beneath the paper. A white NeoColour II crayon is laying on top of the textured paper which has had the crayons applied to it.
Close up image showing the stencil taped under the paper, and the NeoColor II crayons applied to the top of the paper.

Next it was time to apply the stencil butters. Again, I stuck within the same analogous color palette, so I chose to use the TCW9064 Turquoise stencil butter and the TCW9066 Orchid stencil butter. Using a fairly wide palette knife, I applied the orchid stencil butter randomly over the page first, immediately followed with the turquoise stencil butter randomly in other places (yet overlapping here and there so they blend a little). The trick with this technique is not to load the palette knife with too much stencil butter, don’t press hard with the palette knife, and just lightly scrape the palette knife at a 45 degree angle across the top of the paper. The stencil butter will get caught by the stencil cut out areas, showing the shapes and outlines of the stencil. It’s important that you don’t cover the paper completely, you still want to be able to see some of the Neocolor areas through and under the stencil butters in places. This is what gives the background depth and dimension. Do not wait for the stencil butters to dry!

Use a wide palette knife to apply the stencil butterrs
Use a wide palette knife to apply the stencil butters
Turquoise and Orchid stencil butters
Stencil butters – metallic, pretty, creaminess. Goes on just like buttah!
Orchid stencil butter on palette knife
Orchid Stencil butter – just look at that sheen!
The paper showing the applied stencil butters
Stencil butters applied to the paper

The next step is to use a spritz bottle to add water drops to the top of the entire paper. You want random drops in different sizes scattered across the page, not a shower or a soaking. Think of the drops as adding a new layer of design to the background. Let the water drops sit on top of the butters and paper for 2 minutes. Note: The water will activate the NeoColor II crayons, blending them where the drops have landed.

Lay a dry piece of kitchen paper towel, with the embossed design down, over the stencil butters, and the entire paper. Using your hands horizontally across the paper, very gently pat the paper towel to remove the water drops and impress the paper towel texture into the stencil butters. This creates two levels of texture, one from the water drops (where the stencil butter will lift off the paper when you remove the paper towel), and one from the paper towel embossing impression pressed into the stencil butter.

spritz bottle waiting to be applied to the page
Love this adjustable spritz bottle!
Water droplets sitting on page
Close up image showing water droplets on the page
Water droplets rested for 2 mins, about to be removed from page using paper kitchen towel
Page resting for 2 mins with water drops. Paper towel at the ready!

Your background is now complete. It is also able to be reactivated by any moisture or wet product, so keep that in mind if you want to be able to work over the top of it. You will want to apply a coat of matte or gloss gel medium to seal it. I would use either an old credit card or a silicon catalyst blade/mini scraper to apply the medium, but you’ll have to work fast and light so as not to smear or reactivate the background design! Pro Tip: Get your medium set up on the tool first, and start it on a scrap piece of paper to adjust it before applying it to the actual piece.

The finished background
Close up image showing the completed background.

If you’d like to watch a super quick fly-by video (56 seconds) of this process with captions, please hop on over to my YouTube Channel @TealHareCreations.

By Michaela Butterworth

Mixed media artist and teacher. Owner of Teal Hare Creations studio. TCW International Design Team 2020-21.

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