Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Oh my heavens, am I excited about today's post!!  Back in October, the always fabulous Jill Berry asked me if I'd like to participate in a blog hop for her new stencil set, called Artistcellar Signature Series Stencils by Jill K. Berry - TEXTures, Vol. 2.  WOULD I?!?!

Firstly, I would do any art-filled thing that Jill Berry asked of me!  A little back story - Jill and I met when she was teaching her "Personal Geographies" class at Valley Ridge Art Studio in Muscoda, WI, back in March of 2009.  I had never taken an art class before, but I loved the idea of incorporating maps into one's personal history.  I had a life-altering time that weekend, meeting wonderful folks, spending a snowy late-winter weekend at a gorgeous studio, and getting to know Jill a little better.  When Jill returned to Wisconsin for the Raevn's Nest Art Retreat in Cedarburg that October, I HAD to go!  That too was a wonderful evening, and further cemented my resolve to be more involved in my art (I quit my 9-5 job to be a full-time artist the following January).

Because of this blog hop, I was also introduced to Lisa Cousineau of Artistcellar, the company who puts out Jill's designs (check out their other products, too!).  When I got the set of four stencils in the mail, I was positively giddy.  The TEXTure designs are just that - abstract designs loosely consisting of various texts and calligraphic mark-making.  I wanted to know more about the inspiration behind Jill's designs, so I rang her up last week.  Besides spending a glorious hour or more getting caught up, Jill explained that her calligraphic style was greatly influenced by Sister Corita Kent, a nun, instructor and artist. She is the author of the "Art Department Rules", which has been widely shared. She also explained that each of her new stencils is based on a different quote or art style she loves.  If you click on this link, you'll see Jill's new series on top.  They're titled, "Picasso", "Bird", "Gera" and "Miro" (I've shared links with each to a different quote or artist's website).

I focused my attention on the Picasso and Gera stencils for my two stencil projects. Here I am using the Gera stencil to carve a stamp:

Spent a wonderful afternoon gallery sitting with
friends and using the Gera stencil for my first
project!  :)  Thanks to Carolyn Brady for taking
this photo.  :)

I traced just a little (2X2"-ish) portion of the stencil, and then carved it and inked it, using two different colors:

I'm on a big blue and orange kick lately!!  :)  After it was inked, I used fine point pens to trace the outline of the image (which to me looks like an abstract map of a city roundabout, doesn't it?):

YAY! Here's the inked image and the carved stamp, showing the actual image.  (For those of you who would like to play along at home, I used the lower right-hand corner of the Gera stencil and modified it a little in the carving process.)

I suppose it could've been done at this point (it's an ATC), but wait!  I wanted to try a little finishing with my sewing machine!

Okay, NOW it's done.  :)  Isn't it amazing how versatile stencils can be? 

What I love about Jill's TEXTures stencils is that they can be interpreted so many ways! For example, as a printmaker, I wanted to highlight the different techniques one can use in this media.  In the first project, we had a relief-based idea (how fitting!).  For my second project, I did a monoprint using my Gelli Plate! Here are some of the papers that I created using the Gelli and the Picasso stencil:

I love how all of them turned out so differently!!  But I really had my eye on the sheet in the lower right, which I created by not cleaning the plate after the initial use.  Happy accidents!  :D  

Next, I took that sheet, which was printed on rice paper, and shredded it using my household shredder:

Then I hand-dipped each strip in natural beeswax:

I love how translucent they became after the dip!

After the wax cooled, I took the strips and wove them across my hardboard canvas.  I then took some encaustic wax in Yellow Ochre and created a thin layer of color over the woven strips.  Here is the final result: 

What I love about how this turned out is that Jill's beautiful calligraphy shows, but it's still a wholly unique piece of art.  My husband Brian calls it an "abstract forest".  I concur!

I hope my two pieces showed just a tiny fraction of what is possible with these amazing stencils, from my own printmaking point of view!  But I haven't told you the best part - you can win a set of your own!!!  YES!!!

Simply comment below how YOU would use these stencils in your own printmaking style, and I'll pick a name using  on Friday, December 13 at 5 p.m. CST.  In order to qualify, YOU MUST LEAVE YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS IN THE COMMENTS USING THE name(at)domain(dot)com FORMAT. I WILL IMMEDIATELY DISQUALIFY ANYONE WHO DOESN'T ADHERE TO THIS ONE SIMPLE RULE. (Can you tell that some people still don't follow the rules?)  :)

You only have 2 1/2 days, so enter now!  I can't wait to hear your ideas!  :)