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Portfolio before and after at 72 dpi

Big initial MI’ve been wanting to experiment some more with stencils on leather, so I decided to give this plain black leather portfolio a drastic makeover. I’ll give you a tour of the finished “product” in pictures and briefly describe the process. Then at the end I’ll give you a couple of tips on the techniques I used.

Portfolio at 72 dpi

The front is stenciled (using Mary Beth Shaw’s 9×12 “Web” stencil) and cosmetic wedges to dab on the  the paint. I also used an alphabet stencil down the right side. In the area along the top, I used a regular fan brush to apply the paint, then a semi-dry fan brush to create the feathered effect. I also used this effect all along the edges. (I have to confess I was making up most of this as I went along….)

Portfolio patterns closeup-072 at 72 dpi

The colors I used were Lumiere’s Metallic Bronze, Halo Pink Gold, Pearlescent Violet, Metallic Olive Green and Metallic Rust.

Portfolio patterns closeup-066 at 72 dpi

Here’s a closeup showing the feathered area that I painted using a semi-dry fan brush.

Portfolio open at 72 dpi

The back is brushed and sponged with a trimmed-down George Foreman sponge (more on that below).

Portfolio inside page at 72 dpi

The inside is also Foreman-sponged, but with much more Metallic Olive Green (on the left) and Pearlescent Violet (on the right).

TIPS ON STENCILING: It ain’t a perfect science. Even if you hold the stencil tight against the leather of whatever you are painting, you have to expect that there will be a little leakage of the paint underneath the edges. This is because leather and manmade leather don’t ABSORB paint the way fabric or paper do. Instead the paint ADHERES like glue. So be willing to do touchups with a tiny brush when you remove your stencil.

Portfolio patterns closeup-067 at 72 dpi

Remember, too, that your stenciled image won’t be flawless, as you can see in the enlargement of the stenciled lettering above. Best to choose stencils that won’t look bad if they are not perfectly filled in.

George foreman sponge - Copy @ 72 dpi TIPS ON FOREMAN-SPONGING: This technique uses synthetic sponges made for cleaning George Foreman Grills. These have an irregular pattern of little points, like a sea sponge, but since they are synthetic, those points never go soft from the wetness of the paint so they never lose their “pointiness.” They also make really nice tiny dots. (I use scissors to trim off the ridges so I can sponge a wide area without getting a ridge pattern.)

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I worked on this portfolio for three, maybe four evenings, while watching the first season of “The Closer” on DVD from the library. The first stencil I used was steampunk-themed with lots of gears and tiny details. It came out terrible! I painted over it with black and started over the next night with a much less precise stencil. The moral of this story is — let your imagination take the lead and don’t worry about making mistakes. You can always paint over them!

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