I LOVE the look of watercolor paintings — the way the colors blend, the casual feel. I’ve always wanted to take a watercolor class but it hasn’t happened so far. Every now and then I bust out the paints and play around. The hardest part for me is getting the overall shape right. With the help of my Cameo, I can make a stencil to use with the watercolors and pretend like I’m a real artist. This is an easy project and is even something you can do with kids. Be sure to read to the very end to see how you can get the hummingbird cut file free.
Skill level: Beginner
Adhesive vinyl — I use scraps, colors I don’t like or pieces that got dirty somehow. Or try something inexpensive like contact paper.
1. Select your image
When choosing a design for this type of project, look for something with solid pieces. It’s okay to have some internal pieces, but the fewer the better. As always, if you start with something simple you can get more complex later.
2. Create your stencil
To create the stencil, you just need to add your design to the drawing area. If the image you choose has separate pieces, layer them up together to form your design. Then group the pieces and resize. I want to make mine a card on a sheet of letter-sized paper folded in half, so I made sure the design would fit on and 8 1/2 x 5 1/5″ card front. You’ll want to have some margin around your image as well since you are using it as a stencil.
3. Cut your material
I suggest you test a scrap of what you’re using for the stencil to make sure it will lift from the watercolor paper without ripping it. Silhouette’s stencil material is created to adhere temporarily so try that or another respositionable material if you run into problems here.
I prefer cutting vinyl without a mat, so here are some tips–
–A mat is required on the Curio.
–Select “None” for cutting mat type in the Design Page Settings window.
–In that same window, check the box that says “Show Cut Border.” That puts a red line on the drawing area showing your margins, which are different when you cut without the mat.
–Ensure the edge that goes into the machine is straight and is a good 90° angle to the side. Don’t assume that a brand new roll with be. Check it yourself.
–Your vinyl needs to be 12″ or 9″ wide to cut without the mat. If not, the rollers won’t grip and move it correctly. So use the mat if you are using scraps.
–On a Cameo, move the right white roller in to the appropriate notch. *Not doing this is a major reason folks fail at cutting without the mat.* Lock the bar again once you’ve moved the roller.
–On any machine besides a Cameo 3, use Load Media. This pulls the material in a different amount than it would the mat.
–It’s tricky to get both rollers to grip simultaneously. If they don’t, the material loads crooked and eventually falls off the rollers. Once it’s loaded, peek behind the roller bar to check.
For more tips, including a foolproof loading method, check out my class “When Good Cuts Go Bad.” I’ll also be adding tutorials on cutting tips.
4. Weed the stencil
This is actually the only tricky part and it’s not really that hard. You just have to think opposite of what you normally do. Usually you remove what is around the design. This time, you will instead remove the design itself. If you do it carefully, you can actually get 2 projects out of 1 cut. On one, you paint inside the stencil, which creates the shape. On the other, you paint outside the stencil, which creates a completely different look.
If you don’t have another sheet of watercolor paper ready to go, you can put the design on the shiny side of the blue cover to your cutting mat. It won’t stick permanently to that so you can remove it later. Once your stencil piece is off the vinyl backing paper, you can transfer the design piece back to it.
5. Put the stencil on the paper
You’ll want to do a couple of tests here to make sure your transfer paper isn’t TOO sticky. You want it to pick up your stencil, but not rip your watercolor paper as you remove it from the project. Painter’s tape is a great solution here.
After transferring your stencil to the page and removing the transfer tape, press the inner edges of the design to make sure it is sealed well. You don’t want any paint slipping under the edge of the stencil.
6. Paint away
This is the fun part! There are no rules here — just free form it. It will look really neat as it dries.
7. Remove the vinyl
And this is the tough part — being patient enough to let it dry completely. You’ll get a better crisp edge if you can wait before peeling off the vinyl. That’s all there is to it! Here are my finished cards.
This is just another example of how versatile the Silhouette machine is. You can use it to help you create items you can use in other projects.
FREE CUT FILE
If you’d like to get this hummingbird cut file free, just sign up for my newsletter. The file includes 4 birds, 2 flowers and a sketch design. I used the sketch design in combination with watercolors for this design. Learn how I did it here.