The photo above shows one of my drawings that I've begin to cut. I tend to cut the interior spaces first before cutting the outline of the shape, which gives the delicate areas a little more support. Using a fresh blade also makes cutting go much more smoothly. I typically layer a number of sheets beneath the original image so I get multiples each time I cut since these are quite time consuming!
Here you see the finished stencils - I just use our scrap paper from the recycle bin. I have noticed that different papers respond differently to moisture. Some separate, which makes it difficult to peel up the stencil after wetting (you'll see an example of this in a later image)...
I'm going to stencil some juice cups with the car stencil above. This stencil was cut using the same method as the oil rig.
I have now applied the stencil and am ready for the top slip coat. Before placing the stencil, I painted an area of the cup with black underglaze (I use amaco velvet underglaze) and then position the dry stencil. To wet the paper, I spray it using a spray bottle with a fine mist. It is important to remove any air bubbles and to check the edges to make sure they have adhered well to the surface. Timing is key here. You don't want to see wet areas on the surface of the cup, but you also don't want the stencil to become dry (otherwise it will begin to release from the piece). I tend to apply my underglaze, put the stencil right on and wet it, pat with a sponge to remove excess water and then immediately apply my overcoat.
Here you see the white slip applied over the stencil. I use a deflocculated slip and apply it with a brush. I remove the stencil as soon as the surface of the slip loses it's sheen - they tend to stick less that way. Some people leave them until the paper begins to dry and pull away from the surface, but I'm not that patient!
And the finished pair of cups! If you look at the cup on the right, you can see where the stencil didn't come off very cleanly. As long as the top coat of white slip is removed, this paper residue should just burn off in the firing...
I'm currently trying to find a material that I could resue rather than these single use paper stencils. It is such a drain on my time to have to cut these for each piece I make, but I really like the way they look. I need something that will stick to the surface but not break down with water. Any ideas??