…a Silhouette stencil project
I was a good girl at my local big box home building store last week. I kept my hands in my pockets, eyes straight ahead, and whispered, “Too soon. Too soon. Too soon.” as I walked past the array of artistically shelved bedding plants. Yes, I did manage to resist the lush greenery and beauty promised. Sadly, I had to. Our last snowfall was barely a week ago. Although tempting, anything planted now would surely succumb to frost.
But when I happened upon a bin of coir door mats—plain ones just begging for some Silhouette intervention!—I popped one in the cart. A new welcome mat would freshen up the front porch nicely and help me to “think spring” until it was safe to plant flowers. With a little outdoor craft paint and vinyl stencil, my mat was soon transformed.
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What you need…
- Coir door mat – mine is 30″ x 18″ (Ikea and Home Depot carry them)
- Adhesive vinyl – 2 pieces (12″x19″ and 10½” x 24″), any color that contrasts well with the mat and paint color. I used the equivalent to Oracal 651, but Oracal 631 or thick ConTact paper will work just as well.
- 12″ x 24″ Silhouette cutting mat
- Weeding tool – I use a dental pick
- Transfer Tape – 6″ wide
- Blue painters tape – 1″-2″ wide
- Outdoor craft paint – I used about a half bottle of FolkArt Licorice
- 3/8″ Stencil brush
- Measuring tape
- Silhouette Cutting Machine – My Cameo is powered by Silhouette Studio Designer Edition v. 3.3.638
- Free Silhouette cut file ↓ ↓ ↓
The font is King Basil Lite, to which I added a small offset to thicken it a bit. If you’re wondering where I get all my coolio commercial freebie fonts, check out this post on where to find great free fonts. The corner flourish is a commercial use freebie from pixelscrapper.com. The original looked like this:I used the top two elements for my mat corners. To do that, I traced it, released the compound path (select the design, right-click, then choose ‘Release Compound Path’ from the list), deleted the parts I didn’t want, then regrouped the two remaining parts together (select them, right-click, choose ‘Group’).
The design in the free file is sized to fit a 30″ x 18″ mat. If your mat is a different size, check to make sure the design still fits. To do that, draw a rectangle the size of your mat. Then ungroup the corner designs (select them, right-click, then choose ‘Ungroup’ from the list) and arrange them and Welcome on your rectangle. If it looks good, you’re set to go, carry on. If your mat size is quite different, you may need to change the size of the design. When I resize something like this, I grab a corner of the selection box and drag it in and out until the design looks good. If you change the size of the corners, select them all before dragging a corner so they all end up the same size. Oh, yes, and keep the boxes around the components. You’ll see later how they make it super easy to get the stencil positioned properly.
Cutting the stencil…
Since the Silhouette cuts a maximum width of 12″ and the design width is close to 17″, you can’t cut the whole design in one go. Instead, cut the corners in one pass through the machine, and Welcome in a second pass. Here’s how my 12″ x 24″ mat looked:
Notice that the corner boxes are close but not touching, and they and the Welcome rectangle are completely on the mat.
When working with the longer mat, you need to tell the software that that’s what you’re doing. To do that…
In Silhouette Studio V3: Click on the ‘Open the Design Settings Window’ icon (A); under Page Size change the Height to 24.000 (B); under Cutting Mat, change the Cutting Mat to “Cameo 12 x 24 in”(C).
In both V3 & V4: Cut and weed the designs from adhesive vinyl. Trim the backing to the vinyl. You can use scissors to trim, but a rotary cutter and clear ruler (on a self-healing mat as below) are more accurate and much faster.
Apply transfer tape to one of the corners (you can reuse it on the others later) and to Welcome. Used transfer tape is fine—if you have a piece that long hanging around—otherwise de-sticky the tape a bit by applying it to a pillow or your shirt a few times before using it. The vinyl sticks to the coir well enough to act as a stencil, but it doesn’t offer much resistance when you remove the transfer tape. De-stickying the tape first will make removal much easier.
Technically, transfer tape isn’t necessary on the corners because they’re made of one piece (no small parts that need to be kept in place). Go ahead and wing it without tape, if you’re feeling reckless, like you want to waste vinyl.lucky, but the added stiffness makes the vinyl a whole lot easier to work with, so I went with the transfer tape.
If you look closely at the above photo, you’ll see transfer tape down the middle of the word only. My apologies if you have to squint, cock your head, stand on one foot, and hold your tongue just so to see anything. Note to self: don’t use white vinyl on white backing for demonstrations. #facepalmmoment #toohardtosee You really only need the transfer tape to hold the counters (middle bits from the e, l, and o), so the center strip will do the trick.
Applying the stencil…
Start with the corners (if you’re using them). Remove the backing and plunk a corner stencil right onto the corner of the mat. Thanks to the boxes cut around the flourish, placement is easy peasy—when the stencil edges match the mat edges, the stencil is in the right place. Aren’t you glad of those boxes now?
The coir is a difficult surface for the vinyl to stick to, but pat it down as best you can.
The grey hand is where my hand would be if it weren’t on camera duty. The thumb is up, not touching the transfer tape. At this point, the vinyl isn’t sticking particularly well and you may have thoughts that this is going to be one big fail, but carry on. Go slow. Keep the vinyl edges lined up with the mat edges. It may seem like the vinyl won’t do the job, but it will.
Once the corners are applied and the transfer tape removed…
…position the Welcome stencil. Again, the box around Welcome, makes it super easy to place. All you have to do is measure from the box edge to the mat edge and make sure that the top and bottom measurements are the same and that the right and left side measurements are the same. For my mat that meant the top and bottom measurement was about 4″, and the side measurements about 3″.
When you have Welcome where you want it, place a piece of blue painters tape across the width about 2/3 of the way along so it extends onto the mat, like this:
Make sure the tape is securely stuck to the mat. This is the center hinge method. It’s one of the best tricks to apply adhesive vinyl exactly where you want it. Next, on the large side, peel the stencil off the backing and fold it over the tape, leaving the backing on the mat (the back of my vinyl is grey).
That’s the first half of the Welcome stencil applied. To apply the second half, remove the blue tape and bend the second half back onto the applied section. Remove the backing and roll the vinyl into place on the mat. Gently push it down to get it to stick as well as you can. I know it looks really insecure, but it’ll work…it will.
Once the whole Welcome stencil is on the mat, carefully peel back the transfer tape to remove it, using the same technique you did with the corners: one hand peeling, one hand holding the the stencil down close to the transfer tape, moving along as the tape is removed.
Skoosh a thumbnail blob of paint onto a tray (or plastic sour cream lid). Dip the stencil brush in the paint and then smunch it around away from the paint blob to get the brush good and saturated with paint. You want the paint evenly distributed on the brush…no blobs.
Paint Welcome first. It’s easier to do and you’ll have a good feel for the technique by the time you get to the corners. I painted letter by letter, going from left to right (if you’re left-handed, go the other way). If a letter had a section wider than the brush, I started there, pouncing up and down with the brush until that area was well coated. Then I moved on to the stencil edges,..pounce, pounce, pounce. While painting along the edges, I held down the vinyl close to the edge where I was pouncing, and I replenished the paint on the brush often. This is not a dry brush technique. And don’t be a wimpy pouncer. The stiff bristles of the stencil brush are well-suited to getting down into the coir fibers, but I found I needed a generous medium force to get that to happen. Just make sure to pounce up and down, not at an angle that might poke the bristles under the stencil.
Because the vinyl doesn’t stick as well to the coir as it does in other applications, I was constantly feeling like paint must be getting under the stencil, but it wasn’t. Unlike stenciling on wood or fabric, paint doesn’t run under the stencil or wick through the coir. As long as your brush contacts the coir and stencil straight on, you’ll get a crisp edge.
When the painting is complete, carefully peel off the vinyl and admire your handiwork.
Have fun creating your own welcome mat!
Oh, yes, and Happy Spring! to you.
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