2 examples show how the same stencil is used to create both
a relief carving and an inlay.
(click on the image to view a larger example)
There are a number of ways to transfer an image onto the
subject of your choice. If you are a good free hand artist,
you could draw directly onto your subject. You can first
coat the surface with Whiteout or white enamel spray paint,
to provide a better surface to draw on. Most artists prefer
the stencil approach since it is a lot faster than free hand.
Stencils can be free hand drawn, printed from a computer,
traced from a photo, or produced on a copy machine. You can
also cut out a picture from a magazine or use a rubber stamp.
These are the least expensive methods and work well if there
are no fine line details. Once you have the image on the
stencil, it is a good idea to use a spray fixative or clear
coat over the image to prevent smudging it with your fingers.
Since the glue stick is water-soluble it makes removal easy
when you are finished engraving. This is a definite advantage
when working with delicate items such as eggshells.
Another way of getting an image onto a surface is called
solvent transfer. With this method you use a laser printer
or copy machine to create an image on a piece of paper. You
then take the paper and lay it with the toner side facing
the working surface. Once the paper is taped into position,
wet the backside of the paper with a Q-tip dipped in acetone.
The acetone dissolves the toner and transfers it to the work
surface. This method will not work on certain surfaces. Nonporous
surfaces require a very controlled application of acetone,
otherwise the image will blur. Heat is another way of transferring
the toner to the surface you are working on. A cloths iron
works well for this.
Ultra speed products can provide you with 2 types of water
slide decal paper that you can print or copy onto. They are
very thin and work well when you have a lot of fine details.
One type puts the image on the topcoat, the other puts the
image on the glue itself and you apply the lacquer topcoat
yourself. This puts the image closest to the work surface
and is best for extra fine detail engraving.
Cutting a line through the stencil requires a little more
pressure than without it, so you will need to practice first.
Use a rubber stamp, carbon paper tracing or the solvent transfer
method to apply the design directly onto the work surface.
In this way, you wont have to worry about applying the correct
amount of pressure to cut through the stencil. Carbon paper
leaves a dark blue line, which works well for light colored
objects. With dark colored objects a white carbon paper is
required. Craft and fabric outlets sell a white transfer
paper. Once the design is put on your subject, use a clear
coat, or fixative, to prevent the design from rubbing off.
Ultra-Speed Products Inc. has an excellent waterproof stencil,
which is made from a thin Mylar sheet, with a peel off backing,
it is called repro paper. Also, it is transparent and can
be used to trace on. This stencil works especially well if
you are going to use water or have fine details. This material
tends to form bubbles when it is applied. Piercing them with
a sharp object can eliminate the problem. You can run this
stencil through a copy machine or laser printer. Once the
stencil is applied, simply trace the lines, cutting through
the stencil into your subject material. It will take some
practice to develop the proper cutting force to use. It does
take more effort to engrave the surface when you are cutting
through the stencil. This stencil material is available for
$1.15 per sheet.