Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fun Foam Stencils

Someone on Facebook asked about how I did the Fun Foam Stencils I mentioned in the last post, so I thought I would do a little tutorial.  Honestly, it's pretty self-explanatory but maybe it's a new idea to some or maybe I have a tip that you didn't know here we go:

  • Fun Foam (you can get this at craft stores or online, I'm pretty sure Walmart carries it as well.)
  • Scissors or a craft knife/Xacto
  • Self-healing mat or a surface you don't mind gouging (if you are using the craft knife) 
  • Sharpie or pen

Ooh...Supplies!  Fun foam, scissors or a craft knife and cutting mat, sharpie or pen

The first thing you do (if you so desire) is draw your pattern:
You can get all fancy and use a ruler or circle templates or whatever...or you can just wing it.  I'm a fan of winging it...

Next take your knife and cut out your design:
I would tell you to be careful with the knife because it's sharp, but you should know that and, besides, I'd feel like a hypocrite..."Cut away from yourself!"  You're not the boss of me logical thinking!  *she says as she cuts herself for the fifth time*

Don't throw away the pieces you cut out; they make great stamps!
This is me giving you permission to become a hoarder...
You can glue your foam stamps to things like cardboard or clear packaging (which is awesome because you can see exactly where you're putting your stamp) but you don't have long as you don't mind getting your hands dirty...
You can see that I don't cut on my lines...mostly because I'm too impatient...I draw them in (quickly) to get an idea of placement and then I go back in with the knife and fix what wasn't working for me.  But that's just do it how you like to do it!

You can use your stencil with sprays and paints, just like any other stencil:
Perhaps that was kind of a given...

With sprays:
With sprays, if you reverse the stencil, you can get a really good stamped image from your left-over ink...that's right, two toys in one!  I find that the spray ink stays put a little better on the fun foam than it does on store bought plastic you get a cleaner image when you do the stencil flip technique thingie...

With paint:
I use a make up wedge and pounce in the gets the paint into the pointy bits pretty well.  You can also use a brush and go in to each space, but it's kind of a pain if there are a bunch of small places.

If you're not a fan of the craft knife, you can also just use scissors and cut out a design...I know you've done this a million times in your life:
The best part of this is you have a stencil AND a you can stamp with both of hooray for multi-taskers!

Here's what we have so far:
You can see the spray in purple from the picture above.  Then the blue acrylic can see your shapes aren't super exact with the acrylic pouncing (or else I'm just out of practice).  Also, if you use a make up wedge to pounce your paint in, don't forget that it has paint on it and will make a cool mark...that's what the marks lined up at the bottom of the picture are.  And you can also see, sprayed in pink, the heart stencil  (on the left) and mask (on the right).  A stencil lets you put color on the inside of the design (so the design is colored), a mask lets you put color everywhere except the inside (so that all around the design is colored and the design stays white).

And remember to try stamping with your left-overs:
For the stamps, you can use an ink pad.  I got a light imprint, even with black ink...I'm not 100% sure if that's because I need to re-ink my pad or because the fun foam just doesn't take the ink well...

Or use paint with a brayer (or just dump out a paint puddle and do it that way):
I should have used a different color so that you could see it a little better in the picture, but you can (possibly) see that I  got better prints with the paint than I did the ink pad...

And if you do use your brayer to 'ink' the stamp:
Don't forget that you will get some really neat images from your brayer!  The stamp takes off the paint only where it makes contact with the you are left with another cool pattern on your brayer that you can use!

You can use all the 'left-overs' (the ink or paint left on your stencil/mask/stamp/brayer) and start another page...some people keep an extra journal just for that purpose.  It actually is pretty helpful if you are low on time to have that left-over catcher...because you will have a background ready to go next time you want to create and don't have the time to do the whole shebang.  Plus, you are not wasting any of your *PRECIOUS* supplies!  So, it's a time and money saver...Multi-tasking at it's best...

A word of's kind of addictive to do start cutting your own stencils...this isn't even the tip of the iceberg...

Just a few other thoughts:  

Thin lines are totally doable, if a little tedious.  I used a regular size Sharpie and cut on either side of the mark it made (instead of on the line), and that's about as thin as I could cut it with the craft knife without the foam tearing or me going crazy...ok, crazier...  Also, if you are cutting thin lines, don't pop out your left-over pieces till you are done; it helps the foam be more stable (learned that one the hard way...) and easier to cut. 
This stuff cuts pretty easily, but if you find a place that's still attached, cut it with your knife or scissors...don't be tempted to pull it...because it will tear and you will make the sad face... (learned that the hard way too...)  You can make curves for sure, but go a little slowly for the same will tear/you will sad face...

If you make something and don't like it, think about keeping it anyway.  I cut a feather that I didn't like but was pretty small, so I kept it and just went back to it later and made another design a little bigger around the original feather (so that the original just got cut away completely) and it ended up being pretty awesome.   And if you keep cutting bigger and bigger and just end up with a big empty square, look at it like you have a frame stencil!  You can also cut up ugly stencils and make good 'background noise' stamps.

Keep in mind that if you don't leave a border with the foam around your stenciled image (like the flower in the picture above), you will have a wobbly stencil...BUT it may be worth the wobbly to have an image that seamlessly flows into the background...  Full disclosure...I find it irritating because I have to keep adjusting the stencil to get the stem space on that flower.  I will be cutting another flower like the one above but with a foam border...that way I can have the best of both worlds...

If you don't have fun foam, you can always just use paper or cardboard or a million other things...the ideas are pretty much the same.  The fun foam is nice because it's a little more sturdy than paper, so your stencils will last longer.  BUT if you use paper, you can fold it up and do paper 'snowflake' type designs (I know you did that as a kid too!)...the fun foam will fold, but because it's thickier, you can't (or it would be extremely hard to) get those intricate designs...I found you could fold the foam twice (one horizontal, one vertical) and still cut it, but again, it's not easy to get detailed designs that way...BUT you could always cut the paper and use it as a template on your fun foam and get the detailed design that way...

So, ta-da!  Tutorial over...  I hope I had some helpful info and wasn't just being Captain Obvious...  I bet there are a million other ideas out there involving fun foam stencils or cutting your own stencils...or other uses for fun if you have anything to add, I'd love to hear your ideas!


  1. Great one Sweet! I mount my homemade foam stamps onto cheap Jenga game pieces I bought at the Dollar Store ($4.00).If I need a larger block I Gorilla glue them together. Another cheap material for making stencils is plastic folder's.I get mine at the Dollar Tree,they come 4 in a pack.

    1. Great idea on the folders Carol!

  2. You have such a fun way with words Sweets :) I have made these, the stamps at least, but I missed out on the stencil part because I didn't think ahead enough lol You did an excellent job on your tutorial here, and I'm taking away some cool new ideas for my own art, so thank you very much <3

  3. Love your foamy stamps!!!! fun!

  4. Great tute, Sweets! Tute...Sweets!!!! (total accident!) Anyhooooo...Love this. Great job. You have more patience than I do, my dear.
    Thought on paper stencils... Try giving them a couple of coats of gel medium to make them last a bit longer.

    1. Raine, that was BRILLIANT and now I have that song and image stuck in my head. Off to see if I own Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Hugs!

  5. Sweets honey, thanks for the tute... (still giggling at Raine's comment)! Sometimes people need a Cap't Obvious to bring them out of a rut. I have carved from erasers, but never from fun foam. Now I have a use for all that fun foam I bought and never used!

    I love how detailed the tute was, explaining uses for the positive and negative. But, you did forget to mention two things... 1) you can use these as designs with your Gelli-Plate and 2) the "mask" portion is awesome when stuck to a sticky lint roller (you know, the kind you remove dog hair from your clothes) found mine at the $1 store. Hugs to you, my friend! Pamikins =)

  6. The lint roller idea works best with paint or a VERY juicy stamp pad. And it works great with the gelli plate.

  7. Fantastic! thanks for sharing!

  8. Also, those with cutting machines can cut the foam with the machine.


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