Star Gazing Background

Close up image of the completed background showing the details of the stenciling and layers. The page is created using shades of greens, blues, turquoise, and gold. Patterned tissue paper with starts, planets, and constellations is integrated into the background. A stenciled Celestial Sun image is shown in the top left corner. White clouds and starts are used randomly across the background.
Star Gazing Background on watercolor paper 140 lb, 11″ x 14″

Today’s post is about how to take a brayer roll off page, or a leftover paint page, and turn it into a gorgeous background. The great thing about this technique is that you can use it for almost any project, in any colors, and any theme! Read on to learn my step-by-step process and add these fabulous background techniques to your technique tool-box.

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

Today’s simple step-by-step process teaches you how to create a multi-layered background using a combination of stencils, mediums, and thin tissue or rice paper.

HOT TIPS: Don’t have any patterned tissue or rice paper? No worries!
1. Rubber stamp some images onto some plain tissue paper using a pigment based ink such as Stayz On or Versamark (Important: Do not use water soluble, distress, oxide, or dye based inks for this project), OR
2. Use a patterned paper napkin or serviette. Use only the top printed layer of the napkin or serviette (we’re not going to use the additional unprinted paper layers for this project).
Having trouble separating those layers by hand? Use painters or washi tape to separate the paper layers easily and quickly!
Keep those unprinted thin paper layers and use them to stamp or stencil on and make your own patterned paper for future projects.

Here are the steps I used to create this background which looks super complicated, but it’s really not!

Step One: Gather your page covered with dried acrylic paint or make one if you don’t have one.
I’m a Gel Press Gel Plate lover and user, and so I gel print quite often. While I’m gel plate printing, I use a piece of watercolor paper to roll the excess acrylic paint off my brayer. I save those pages and use them as a starting point for future projects. The page I’m using for this project is a recent page I used to roll off paint from my brayer and onto this white piece of watercolor paper (which is 140 lb/300 gms, 11″ x 14″). Notice that I have chosen to use an analogous color scheme of greens, blues, and yellows (analogous means that these three colors are next to one another on the color wheel). This is a great way to keep your project looking cohesive, calm, and peaceful.
HOT TIP: This is a great technique to use to break your fear of facing a blank page if that makes you anxious or nervous! Got a past failed acrylic paint project? No worries, re-purpose it! You could also paint over a past experiment or project that you no longer like or want with acrylic paint too.

Image showing the paint roll off page with dried acrylic paints in the analogous shades of green, blue, and yellow.
Excess acrylic paint was rolled off from my brayer onto this piece of 11″ x 14″ heavy watercolor paper.

Step Two: Using TCW9001 White Gesso and TCW2308 Slimline Cloud stencil, use a cosmetic sponge to lightly dab, swipe or pounce the white gesso in staggered cloud patterns all over the page.
HOT TIPS: Using a circular motion to apply the gesso will help create ‘cloud like’ marks as you can see in my example, below.
When first loading paint on to the cosmetic sponge, pounce or dab the paint off the cosmetic sponge before applying it onto the page to ensure that you don’t have too much paint on the sponge.
Using too much paint on the sponge may cause the paint to bleed under the edges of the stencil, resulting in a non-crisp stenciled image.
While dabbing or pouncing the sponge, try to keep it as vertical as possible to prevent the paint from seeping under the edges of the stencil.
The harder you pounce, the more paint you’ll apply to the page (until it’s all used off the sponge or the gesso begins to dry).
Try to work as quickly as you can when using this technique. It might help to try practicing a bit first on another piece of paper.

Image showing TCW9001 Matte Opaque White Gesso Jar and TCW2308 Slimline cloud stencil sitting on top of the stenciled page.
A cosmetic sponge was used to apply TCW9001 White Gesso around the TCW2308 Slimline Cloud stencil.

Step Three: Using TCW9001 Matte Gel Medium and patterned tissue paper, rice paper or a paper napkin/serviette, use a brush to lightly apply a thin layer of gel medium first to the page, and then over the top of the thin paper when you have laid it down. Apply pieces of tissue paper randomly across the page.
HOT TIPS: Try to work using very light pressure and as fast as you can when using this technique because the thin tissue or paper becomes very fragile and easy to tear when wet. It might help to try practicing a bit first on another piece of paper.
Work from the center of the paper piece out towards the edges when applying the gel medium over the top of the paper, brushing as lightly as possible to remove any air bubbles and to ensure the paper is completely glued down.
Try not to use too much gel medium when applying the tissue paper to avoid it getting too soggy and soft, as it’s more likely to tear easily.

Image showing the celestial tissue paper with stars, planets, constellations, and writing in french was applied across the page in random pieces using gel medium. This tissue paper is by Finnabair and is available from Prima Marketing.
TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium and a paint brush were used to add the patterned tissue paper.

Step Four: For this project, I decided to use a focal point of the sun using our TCW923 Celestial Sun stencil with our TCW9003 Gold Gesso and a cosmetic sponge.

Partial image of the background shown with TCW9003 Gold Gesso and stencil TCW923 Celestial Sun with a cosmetic sponge, after the image has been stenciled.
A cosmetic sponge was used to apply TCW9003 Gold Gesso through TCW923 Celestial Sun stencil.

Step Five: I used TCW9012 Shimmery Goodness on a cosmetic sponge to randomly stencil stars across the background using our TCW2302 Star Sparkle Slimline Stencil.

Partial image of the background with TCW9102 Shimmery Goodness and stencil TCW2302 Star Sparkle slimline with a cosmetic sponge randomly across the background.
TCW9012 Shimmery Goodness was used to stencil TCW2302 Star Sparkle Slimline Stencil across the sky background.

Here are some close up images so that you can see the details a little bit better:

Step Six: I outlined the TCW923 Celestial Sun stencil with a black Signo uni-ball UM-153 fine point acrylic paint gel pen to help it stand out against the background.

Close up image showing the details of the Celestial Sun stenciled image now outlined with the black acrylic paint pen.
Close up image of the Celestial Sun detail over the completed star gazing background.

I really hope you found this post outline to be helpful and that you feel confident enough to try it on your own. If you have any questions or feedback, I’d love to hear them. Please post them below.

Do you want to see this blog post as a fly-by video (29 seconds)? Hop on over to my YouTube Channel to watch it by clicking on this video link. I’d really love to hear which part of this background is your favorite and why, please leave me a comment, below! Have a great day and happy making, we LOVE to see your projects, so please be sure to tag us using our hash tag of #ilovestencils !

Michaela Butterworth
The Crafter’s Workshop Design Team Member

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