Stencil materials

In my last post I wrote about making my own stencils from my drawings. Today I wanted to share with you the stencil materials I use in my cutter.

I’ve really enjoying making stencils since I bought my Silhouette Portrait machine several years ago. Since then I’ve moved on to the Brother ScanNCut and continue to look for stencil materials. For those who have the ScanNCut I’ve posted the settings that work for me at the end of this article.

I started out using Grafix Dura-Lar, but felt it was too stiff. I also tried Grafix Craft Clear Plastic, similar to Dura-Lar. It will do in a pinch, but I don’t really like it except that it comes in 12 x 12 sheets.

My go-to stencil material is report covers. You can purchase these at the office supply store for $8 for 10 covers which makes 20 sheets or 40 cents a stencil. They are strong enough, but pliable. Then last week I found a another option at the office supply store: Avery 8 tab Insertable Style Edge Pocket plastic dividers ($8 or $1 a sheet) made of  “extra durable tear resistant plastic.” They are similar to the report covers, but even more sturdy. However, they are a bit pricey.

Lastly, I tried heavy duty 2-pocket plastic portfolios for 50 cents each or 25 cents a stencil. I found them at Office Depot in the school supplies. They came in all colors, but I thought white would work best. These are even heavier than the report covers or the tabs.

Here is the stencil made with the portfolio.

I like all three of these. The 2-pocket portfolios are the cheapest and the sturdiest, but they all work.

One of my favorite for fabric, when I’m looking for perfect and not in a hurry, is freezer paper. I use precut sheets, but you can also just buy a roll at the local grocery store and cut your own size.

For those of you who have a ScanNCut, here are my settings. Make sure you test on your machine before cutting out the design.

  • Grafix plastic sheets – Blade 5, Speed 1, Pressure 5
  • Report covers – Blade 5, Speed 1, Pressure 3
  • Plastic dividers – Blade 5, Speed 1, Pressure 3
  • Two-pocket portfolios – Blade 7, Speed 1, Pressure 7
  • Freezer paper – Blade 4, Speed 1, Pressure 1

If you don’t have a machine, you can cut these by hand, but the cutter sure makes it easier. I love being able to take my drawings and make stencils.

If you have a favorite material you use to cut stencils, I’d love to hear about it. Meanwhile, I’m off to Office Depot to pick up more of those two-pocket portfolios before they’re all gone!


Posted in craft product reviews, drawing, mandalas, stencils | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Making mandala stencils

This is a project I’ve been working on for awhile – mandala stencils. I’ve spent quite a bit of time being frustrated – trying to figure out how they are made. There are a lot of beautiful stencils out there, but I wanted my design. Also, making it myself, I can make it as large or small as I need.

It really takes a different mindset from drawing mandalas to drawing mandala stencils. What I need to continue to remind myself that what is black will fall out.  I have to make sure I don’t connect any of the black areas or the design will be gone.

So when drawing the mandala or any design for a stencil, black parts can’t touch. I guess the way I finally am thinking of it, is that all black areas need to be surrounded by white.

So as with any mandala I start in the middle and work out. I draw the outline and then fill it in.

Even though I know the lines can’t touch, I still forget. Here is an example of how close the lines got. I ended up taking white paint and painting over the black.

Here is the finished design.

Here is another one.

Now I take my drawings to my Scan and Cut. If you don’t have a cutter, you can cut it out with an X-acto knife. I don’t trust myself with those things! If you have a Scan & Cut, here is a great video on how to scan your drawing. She’s working on a card, but the information is still applicable to making stencils.

I really like to use report covers purchased from the office supply store for making stencils, but I used other plastic too. I’ll be blogging about stencil material in my next post. I like to secure my stencil material to the mat with painters tape. That way I am assured that the plastic won’t move.

Here’s the second stencil cut and ready to use.

I made these stencils to print on fabric, but before I take them to the fabric, I try them on paper first to see how it looks. Below is the paper print and the stencil.

If I’m happy with that image, I’ll start stenciling on fabric.

And the finished results on fabric.

They also work great on paper.

Finally, after many tries I came up with a couple mandala stencils I actually like and that work!  Next up is my comparison of several stencil materials.

Posted in drawing, mandalas, stencils | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Berea Art Getaway

Last weekend hubby and I took off a few days and drove down to Berea, Kentucky to take some classes at their annual Festival of Learnshops. Oh what fun! Here are the projects I made while there.

This was also the weekend for the annual craft festival.

Here is Dave standing by one of the many hands in Berea.

But let me tell you about the classes I took.

My first class was Embossed and Punched Jewelry with Scott Mattingly. I can’t believe how much fun it was.

We started punching a circle out of a copper blank. Here is Scott explaining all of the different tools that he had to punch holes.

Love that orange hammer!

So my first punch. We were aiming for off center.

Then we embossed.

Scott then showed us how to use the dapping block to dome the metal.

Then to polish it.

This is my finished pendant – our first project.

Then from there we could create whatever we wanted to. I made a set of earrings, but what I wanted to do was make a bracelet. I still need to add a clasp and then I can wear it!

You will definitely see more of this. It was so much fun and so many possibilities.

The next day I took Delicollage with Jacqueline Sullivan. Last year I took the eco print retreat with her in Cincinnati. She’s a wonderful teacher and if she comes to your area, check out her classes.

This class was all about playing with deli paper and then making a collage on canvas.

Jacqueline shows us how to paint on deli paper.

We added bling, stenciled, and stamped. Here are some of my papers.

What a fun weekend and great classes. This event is held every year for two weeks. There were other classes I would have liked to have taken, but we were only there for the weekend.  I hope to return next year.

While I was in my classes Dave was taking classes on growing mushrooms (Shitake and Oyster Mushroom Log Inoculation) and making natural artisanal sodas.

Puddin and Ace returned from camp (vet) refreshed and ready to get back into their routine. I caught Puddin doing some cat yoga yesterday.

Well, now to get back to my other art. Thanks for dropping by.

Posted in art classes, collage, embossing, jewelry, road trips | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Review: Uni-Posca Markers

I’m on the quest to find my favorite ink/markers for painting on rocks. Today I’m reviewing Uni-Posca Markers. I am using the extra-fine point set of 12 markers.

I’ve been using inks to draw and paint the designs on rocks, but thought it would be fun to see if I would like to use markers. I’ll tell you about the inks on another post.

Here are the colors on paper.

You can see by the rock, that they are pretty true to their colors even on this somewhat rough surface.

These markers work great. I felt I had a lot of control of the colors and loved that I could use the black to outline my design.

However, the white doesn’t work well on the rock at all. So, for the white I use this ink with a dip pen. I have found that a 512 nib works great to draw on the rocks.

So using the Posca markers and the white ink I completed this rock design.

The colors from these markers are a matte finish compared to the inks. In the photo below, the first rock is painted with these markers. The other two are painted with ink. They look different, of course, because the ink-painted rocks are outlined in white, but if you focus on just the colors you can see that the inks are richer and darker.

But there’s nothing wrong with that. It just depends on how you want your finished rock to look. I like them both.

These markers come in extra fine, fine, and medium point. I have just used the extra fine. Since I’ve only used these for about a month, I have no idea how long they will last. But I will say, so far, so good.

So here are my pros and cons.


  • Easy to fill in color – more control than ink
  • Great tip to outline
  • All colors are easy to see on an unpainted rock except the white. If you want to outline in white, you need to use ink or some other marker.
  • These markers come in a three tip sizes.
  • $18 for set of 12


  • Matte finish makes the colors look a bit dull.
  • Limited colors

I really like that the paint is so easy to control on the rocks with these markers. If you are just starting out painting on rocks, I would recommend starting with these before moving to the inks. However, I love the intensity of the ink colors. I’ll be back later to review the inks I’ve been using.

Disclaimer:  I purchased these paint markers, and am not getting any compensation for this review.


Posted in craft product reviews, drawing, mandalas, rocks | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Colorful Sunday

Good Morning!

Another beautiful day in Southern Indiana. The weather here has been glorious. I’m not sure I’ve ever used that word for weather, but it’s the only way I have been able to describe it.

Where has the time gone? I did get around to dyeing a couple things. These are for Jillian’s birthday.  I love dyeing these small shirts. They are so cute!

I have lots of white stuff to dye including some old mens’ hankies that I love to use. Since I had mixed up some dye I decided I’d dye a bunch of them. I love pulling color out of my purse in the winter!

If you look closely on the left, you can see the pattern in the hankies. I remember my dad carrying these type of hankies. Of course, they were white!

The dyes have had to move aside in the studio to make room for resin. It’s been a fun diversion from dyeing and drawing on rocks. I’ll be blogging about this new interest soon.

Talking about rocks, I’m continuing to draw mandalas on mine, still experimenting with different markers and inks.

Last Wednesday I took a road trip to Bloomington to see some friends. In addition to having lunch with Gail, I dropped by to see Judy and Joe, who I’ve not seen in many, many years. It was an enjoyable visit. I gave both of them rocks I had painted.  Joe gave me a couple rocks he found while fishing in North Carolina. The bottom one would be perfect for a feather.

That’s about all for now. I’ve got lots to blog about, but just not ready yet to post.

Hope you’re having a colorful day!



Posted in Sunday Roundup | Tagged | 6 Comments

Sunday Recipe: Roasted Veggies

With lots of goodies coming in from the garden, I wanted to share with you roasted veggies, one of my favorite new way to cook them.

As most of you know, Dave and I share cooking duties here at Happy Acres. I cook two weeks and he cooks the next two weeks. One of our favorite dishes in roasted veggies.

In the past I’d line a baking pan with foil, spread out the veggies, and bake. That was good, but the secret to even better roasted vegetables is the cast iron skillet.

Roasted Veggies Recipe

  • Veggies: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, sweet potatoes, fennel, potatoes, carrots
  • cast iron skillet
  • olive oil and salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When oven is ready, put the cast iron skillet in the oven to heat up.
  2. While the skillet is warming, rinse and cut vegetables in small pieces. We’ve found kohlrabi roasts best in thin slices. Toss veggies with olive oil and a little salt. Of course, you can also add other spices.
  3. After the skillet has warmed up for 30 minutes, carefully remove it from the oven.
  4. Place the vegetables in a single layer on the bottom of the skillet.
  5. After roasting for 10 minutes, remove the skillet from the oven and turn the veggies over. Put back into the oven and continue roasting.
  6. Check back in another 10 – 15 minutes. Usually it takes about 30 minutes. However, your time may be different depending on how you cut the veggies and your oven.

Roasted kohlrabi

What I love about this treatment is it’s easy and it absolutely delish! If you have mom’s old cast iron skillet – we are using Dave’s mom’s skillet –  dig it out and start roasting. If you’ve been roasting your veggies without the cast iron skillet, do give it a try. You will be surprised at the difference.

Hope you’re having a great Sunday! See you later this week.


Posted in gardening, Recipes, Sunday recipe | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

June Green Challenge

For the month of June I’ve challenged my Icy Delights students to make a combo with a green and another color. This is a good exercise in seeing how the colors play together, and a great way to find a new favorite combo. Because of how the dye colors split in ice dyeing, you never can be sure what you will get unless you try.

Everyone who participates will be in a drawing for some dye and other goodies.  I decided to join the group by playing too.

I’m not a big fan of Lime Squeeze, so I combined it with 14 other colors to come up with 14 different combos. I do like the majority of the pieces. Here they are all together.

I would never know that Lime Squeeze is in every piece. At the end of the month we’ll all have more combos to play with.

If you’d like to join in the challenge, check out my Icy Delights class here. 

Meanwhile, I’ve decided to play a bit with resin. I’ve been wanting to do this for several years, but hated to drag myself away from my dyeing. I saw something on Facebook that convinced me that I needed to try it. So this past weekend I played with the resin on a tile. The flecks in the tile are glitter and they really sparkle. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to capture that in my photograph.

Anyway, I feel it’s something I need to explore further.

In the gardening arena, we continue to wage our war against the deer. The shade garden contains a variety of hostas we’ve purchased over the years. The hosta addiction started back in 2009 when I was chair of the local master gardener’s garden walk. One of the gardens on the walk was almost all hostas. We both fell in love with this plant and decided to dedicate part of our new shade garden to hostas. The deer in our area seem to think the shade garden is a buffet just for them. We’ve done about everything we could do to keep them away from food and plants in our yard. The main garden is fenced. The blackberries are netted. Dave has purchased a variety of concoctions spraying them every couple of nights to keep the deer away. We’ve done everything but fence and throw down human hair. So last night we gave up. We went out and cut down all of our hostas. I thought I was going to cry. We decided if we can’t enjoy them, neither can the deer. I’ll be digging the hostas up either this fall or this spring, and finding something else to plant there that is less deer friendly. Below are before and after pictures of a few of the hostas in this area.

We may need to turn this into a fern area since the deer don’t seem to care about them. We’ll see. We’ve got plenty of time now to decide what we’ll do with this area.

Thanks for dropping by and letting me whine about the deer!

Posted in fiber reactive dyes, ice dyeing | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Sun Printing Tips

I’ve been sun printing now for almost seven years. Since that time I’ve learned a bit about this fun technique so I’m sharing some tips with you today. Check out my other sun printing posts here.

  • The most important thing you need to know about sun printing is that it is all about HEAT, not sun. So if you have a sunny day and it’s cool, more than likely you won’t get a good print. Humidity also helps because it slows down the drying process. What is happening is as the fabric dries, the pigment is pulled out from under the masks. If it dries too quickly, the pigment won’t be pulled out and you won’t have a good print.
  • Also, make sure it’s not real windy.
  • You can use any kind of paint, but I’ve found my favorite and the paint that gives me the best results is Setacolor Light (formerly known as Transparent). It and Dye-na-flow don’t change the hand or feel of the fabric.
  • If you don’t care about the feel of the fabric, you can use any kind of paint. I would suggest using a paint that has a lot of pigment instead of cheap craft paint. Golden Fluid Acrylics work well, but are a bit pricey. Check out here for my comparison of textile paints vs screen printing inks.
  • Using botanicals or really any masks can be tricky if they are rigid. The masks need to sit flush against the fabric.
  • Using masks that cover large areas with few cutouts such as large flowers won’t look real good. Look for masks that have openings. For example, the following picture shows wood feathers. The resulting fabric is just large areas of white.

  • If working outside, make sure you keep the fabric wet before you set it out for printing. You can spritz it with water to keep it moist, but be aware that you will be watering down the paint.
  • I’ve found cutting plastic sheets to size and then using a foam core or cardboard as  carriers, allows me more time to get them ready for sun printing. I also can do this in the dye studio (garage) away from the sun, and then carry them to the sun.
  • Lastly, since they are sitting on plastic they tend to feel dry on the top but aren’t dry all the way through. Leave them to fully dry and don’t peek!

Those are just some of my sun printing tips for right now. It’s a fun technique. I hope you will try it if you are so inclined.

I was on our local WEHT Local Lifestyles program yesterday demonstrating sun printing. However, the four-minute segments are never long enough! Here is the link to the video.

I’m wearing on the show my new necklace made with my ice dyed bamboo knit.

Meanwhile I’ve been doing a bit more of ice dyeing for the June Challenge for students in my online Icy Delights class. Here are just a few of the pieces I’ve dyed.

What is amazing is the main color in these pieces is green! That’s what is so exciting about ice dyeing. Every piece is like opening a present.

Do you have some sun printing tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them.

Thanks for dropping by. Sure hope you are taking some time for yourself.

Posted in fiber reactive dyes, ice dyeing, sun printing, surface design | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Over Sun Printing

Today is all about over sun printing. Over sun printing is like over dyeing or over marbling. We are sun printing over an already sun printed piece. For directions on how to sun print, check out my posts here.

If you don’t have an already sun printed piece, go ahead and sun print your fabric. Once it’s dry, iron (to heat set), and then sun print again. If you have any questions about sun printing, check out my tutorials here.

For the above piece I used fresh ferns from the shade garden as the masks. I’m using Setacolor Light paints. This is the original piece.

It’s pretty, but it needed more. Also over sun printing is a great way to fix those “mistakes” or pieces you really don’t like. I added magenta over the wet fabric and added additional ferns. Here is my result again.

I went looking in my stash for a couple old sun printed pieces to over sun print. Here is the original.

Number stencils

Number stencils and potato masher sun print

I added orange and added the letter stencils again.

Another original.

Crafters Workshop Harlequin Stencil Sun Print fabric

Crafters Workshop Harlequin Stencil sun print fabric

I added orange and needlepoint canvas.

Here is another fern print which is a bit brighter than the first one I showed you. I forgot to take a before picture.

My friend Lisa Chin wrote a good post about this technique on the Printed Fabric Bee blog back in September. Check it out here.

I love how over sun printing adds a bit of complexity and depth to the piece. As I mentioned earlier, I also love how it can fix a piece.

I’ve learned quit a bit over the last several years about sun printing. I’ll be sharing some tips in my next post.

It’s such a fun technique that produces beautiful results. I hope you will try it this year.

Linking up to

Off The Wall Friday at Creations by Nina-Mary

Can I get a Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Artist


Posted in fabric, Fabric paint, sun printing | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Cherry Picking Time

Cherry picking came a bit earlier this year. Last week I harvested almost a pound – enough for a cobbler – from our little tree we planted back in 2007.

It made this yummy cherry cobbler.

Friday we went to Farview Orchards which is 45 minutes from here.

This is the only orchard in the area that grows cherries – both sweet and sour. Dave and I love to stock up on both kinds for the freezer so we can eat on them all year long. We picked 20 pounds in 45 minutes and then we went home to spend two hours processing them for the freezer.

Here is just one of the boxes from our harvest. Puddin and Ace had to check it out.

Cherry picking brings back such great memories. My first time picking cherries was at Dave’s house in 2005, just a few months after we met. We spent the day harvesting his cherries and putting them up. We always thought when we planted those three trees in 2007 when we moved here, that eventually we’d have as many as his old tree provided. However, two of our trees died and then the old tree that was here when we bought the place was cut down by mistake by the tree service. So every other year we head up to Farview and pick a bunch for the freezer. Now we are stocked up for awhile.

We’ll make lots of cobblers with the tart cherries. I also like to make cherry pie cake (aka cherry upside down cake) with them. The sweet cherries we will use for smoothies and add to our morning dry toasted muesli.

Back in the studio I’ve been stenciling on my dry brush dyed fabric.

Also, I’ve been ice dying a bit. I’ve offered students in my Icy Delights online class a challenge for June. Everyone entering the challenge will be put in a drawing for a prize from me. Sharing their dyeing with the other students will give everyone more ideas for their ice dyeing projects.

I decided I’d take some time yesterday to also participate in the challenge. Taking boring white fabric and making it into beautiful color is why I love it so much. This bunch is waiting to be washed.

Hope you’re having a colorful day!

Posted in Baking, dry brush, Favorite things, preserving, stencils, traditions | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Cherry Picking Time