Avoiding time at the site transferring my design was one of my goals. Drawing is part of the process that is often most constrained for me and I like it to be very exact -side effects of an engineering degree- but I also need the luxury to get it right – doing a lot of drawing at the site would have forced me to rush thru it and that would lead to trouble later on when it came time to paint.
The cow patterns that I was using for this piece were derived from woodblocks that I had worked on in 2013. They in turn were derived from drawings and paintings of rare-breed cattle that I have been doing over the past number of years. I was very happy with the woodblocks themselves – but never happy with the quality of the print I was able to produce from them – the flat graphic nature of the woodblocks were ideal subjects for this project and I was glad I got to use them in some context.
In my studio I assembled the enlarged designs on sheets of kraft paper that I had reinforced with a couple of coats of acrylic gesso. I glued the design to the kraft sheets with some hide skin glue that I have, then prepared to cut with some Exacto blades.
The first hurdle I hit was that no matter how sharp the blade there were always corners or angles that would tear as I cut the design. I though I would have to take out my ruler and set square and go back to the grid method. Luckily I came up with a simple solution – I used clear packing table to tape over every edge that I needed to cut. This served to reenforce the cut edge – and made cutting much easier, faster, and eliminated the tear problem.
Another thing to bear in mind when making a big stencil is that you can’t really cut it out exactly to match the image you are aiming to produce. If you have a shape that is not attached to anything cutting it out completely will cut it right out of the stencil and you’ll have a hard time placing it when you come to do the transfer – so you need to leave supports in. In the picture below you can see these supports as horizontal and vertical rectangles that keep the stencil placed in its frame and hold it together. You can see a couple of pieces of masking tape too where I forgot this and had to add reenforcement back in.
Here’s the a couple of shots of the first stencil under construction in my studio.