Artistcellar Blog

Imagine. Create. Enjoy.

I have a confession to make. Halloween is NOT my favorite holiday, but I think I'm falling in love with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). I LOVE the makeup and costumes and sugar skulls and skeletons. I think my last trip to Arizona turned me into a DODeadHead. Walking around old town Scottsdale I found this:

I love the symbolism of it... the skeletons (representing death) at the marriage altar. Hmm. I had to have it. Then I found this one in the old Mexican Import store.

It is very very colorful! It's about 6" high, and is painted with marigolds, which is a symbol of death. Love those pearly whites!

In Tombstone, Arizona, we were exploring some shops and I fell in love with this mask:

It's actually wearable, in case I want to scare some small children. But then I thought... it doesn't look THAT hard to make! I didn't have any blank masks laying around but...

I did have some porcelain dolls sitting around here, waiting to be altered and Badabing! I'm hooked. I started out with this one:

She has no eyes, which makes her extra creepy. I still want to put some flourishes around her chin and cheeks. Celia said she'd make some colorful clothes for her and I have to come up with something to put over the hole in her head. I used gesso for the white, and Pitt pens for the black and red. SO easy to do!

Doesn't everyone have a bin of lost baby doll souls laying around?

I've already prepped the face of one; she is next. I kind of like the fact that she has glass eyes still, but to me they look dead and lifeless. Which is perfect, no? The one in the back will be next. I've filled her head hole with styrofoam and air dry clay. I will sand it smooth and paint her entire head white. Poor thing also has glass eyes, but no arms or legs. Still, I have plans for her. I recently picked up the one in front at an auction, last day, 50% off. I wonder what the previous owner would think. I suppose me altering her is better than her being thrown in the dumpster, right? I'm giving her a second chance at life (ah, death?)

Celia is planning on helping me with one too. We got this Character Doll at Tuesday Morning pretty cheap. It's some kind of Fairy Tale doll, similar to Monster High, but I think she has a good face to Dead Up.

Oh, so many ideas, so little time!

What kind of Day of the Dead or Halloween art do you like to do? This time of year, our Danse Macabre stencils become very popular! If you don't have time to scope out resale stores and estate sales for unloved Porcelain dolls, you can just whip out a stencil and celebrate in your art journal. I think my favorite one is DANCERS shown at the top of this post. It screams CELEBRATE and makes me happy. My other favorite one (who am I kidding? I love them all!) is ONLINE shown below. Sometimes after working all day, I totally feel like this!

And we have a TREAT for you. Until the clock strikes Midnight on October 31st, this set of stencils will be 20% off if you use the coupon code ACSpooky15 when checking out. (It will ask you for the code right before you pay.) It's good on one stencil, or the whole series. And leave a comment for me with a link to your Day of the Dead art or Halloween art. I would love to see what others are making!

Have fun!

Today's guest blogger is artist Martice Smith II. Martice is an illustrator, designer and instructor who likes to mix traditional with digital media, vibrant colors, textures, and urban culture. You can see more of her work on her blog



Stencil Metallic Tote Bag by Martice Smith II

Gather your materials:

12" x 12" Stencils used:

Sturdy fabric (canvas works great; see photo 1 for sizes needed): 1 to 1 1/2 yards depending on what size you want

Acrylic, neon, and metallic paints

Large paintbrushes

Bucket of water

Sewing Machine

Metallic thread (same color as metallic paint)

Low-tack tape, optional

Fabric Glue

Heavy Duty clips


Hello! Martice here, sharing a fun tutorial on how to design and make your very own designer tote bag with a couple of Artistcellar’s most popular 12” x 12” stencils.

Now, I have to ask you: are you an artist who hauls art supplies and artwork around in those hideously designed plastic grocery bags? (Yes, I’m guilty, too!) Well today, you and I are gonna put a STOP to those shenanigans and flaunt our creations with style. Your beautifully designed tote bag will, not only be a great conversation starter, it will also inspire you to speak about your art with confidence ...what’s better than that?!

Let’s get started!

STEP 1: Paint the fabric

I'm painting fabric that I picked up at a local thrift store. I've been holding onto it for almost a year and I finally came up with an idea of what to make out of it.

Since I'm always in need of storage, (especially during travel workshops and outdoor painting adventures) I knew that I had to create something to accommodate those needs. It sure beats carrying around a grocery bag! Notice that my fabric is, overall, a dark color with patterns. (Most of the original pattern will be painted over.) I started with an off-white as my base color because I want the next layers of colors to look as bright as possible.

Try dry brushing your next layer of color.

Apply your next color(s) with a dry brush. Notice that some of the color in previous layer shows through. This adds visual texture and dimension!

Allow each layer to thoroughly dry before adding the next color.

STEP 2: Stencil it!

Lay down the Sri Yantra (Sacred Geometry series) stencil and use a stencil brush to apply gold metallic paint (Champagne Gold). Repeat this in several areas.

Cover parts of the stencil with tape to create your own design.


Lay down Reims (Cathedral Series) stencil and choose different parts from this stencil to add to your fabric.




STEP 3: Design bag patterns, Cut out fabric

Find a simple bag design that you like or design one of your preference. Study the overall shape and note where the seams are. (I'll be making mine from a simple design based on a bag I purchased.)

Some elements, like seam binding and a pen loop, will be added.

Cut one piece of fabric on the fold (18" long and 9.5" wide).

(Optional: if you want the inside of your bag decorated, go ahead and decorate the wrong sides of the fabric pieces now. It will be difficult to do so after sewing it.)

Cut two pieces of fabric for the sides (7" x 5").

Cut two pieces of fabric for the handles (9" x 1/2").

Cut two pieces of fabric for the seam binding (18" x 1.5").

You still with me? Great! Let’s get stitchin’...

STEP 4: Sew bag together

Fold top edge down 1/4". Stitch.

Fold edge down 7/8". Stitch along the first stitched line.


1. Fold top edge down 1/4". Stitch.

Fold edge down 7/8". Stitch along the first stitched line.

Fold in half, right sides together. Crease.

Mark a dot at 2 1/4" up, from the bottom.

Starting at the dot, make a diagonal crease from the dot to the bottom left and bottom right corners. (This should now look like a triangle.)

2. Pin sides to bag, wrong sides together. Baste stitch to hold in place.

Be careful going around the curves at the bottom. They are a bit tricky to manipulate!

3. Stitch sides and bag together, 1/4" from the raw edge.

STEP 5: Seam Binding

I like creating my own seam binding because it matches my bag perfectly and it's a way to use up fabric scraps.

Fold in 1/4" on each side of the fabric strip.

Stitch 1/4" from the fold.


Attach the seam binding to the bag with industrial fabric glue. (Remember to take care of those curves at the bottom of the bag!)

Crease the seam binding, in half, over the edges (see photo).


STEP 6: Attach Handles

Mark 2" in from the edge of the bag on both sides. Center the handle on this mark, on the inside of the bag.

Glue handle in place. (Use a heavy duty clip to hold handle in place while glue sets.)

(Optional: create a pen holder loop by sewing a scrap piece of fabric (the same way you did the seam binding) to the edge of the bag. Seam binding will also cover the edge. See photo, above.)

Topstitch handle (on right side of fabric).

Erase pencil markings.

STEP 7: Embellish tote bag!

Decorate your bag any way you want. Add more stenciling, doodles, paint, add creative lettering... whatever you wish!

I wanted a bright, neon color to offset the pastel tones so I decided to use irRESISTible Neon Pico Embellisher in Electric Purple. (This has a glossy finish with subtle, raised texture.)

Check out the inside and side views! (Don’t let the small size deceive you - there’s plenty of room in here!)

Triangle shapes were added in random areas on the bag.

(Optional: You can spray a clear varnish on your bag to protect it from dirt. A clear varnish is great because it repels moisture and allows you to clean up with a damp cloth.)

Thank you for visiting us today! I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial.

Happy creating!

Today's guest blogger is mixed media artist and art journaler Indigene Theresa Gaskin. She is going to share a mixed media project with us today, a very special one that helped her send her daughter to China!

When I was asked by Lisa to be a guest blogger, I was so excited because I love all of Artistcellar’s products!  When the beautiful 12”x12” stencils arrived I oohed and ahhhed over them.

It was such great timing, since I was in the middle of creating 100 mixed media pieces for a fund-raiser for my daughter’s trip abroad to China. I want a lot of my mixed media pieces to be inspirational so when I saw the Sea Foam stencil from Artistcellar's Water Series, I knew exactly what I wanted to create…

I used an 8”x8” wood panel and painted it a bright red. I also added spritzes of red Dylusions Ink Spray to enrich the color.

After allowing it to dry, I put the stencil over the wood panel

and painted it a turquoise green, once again adding Dylusions Ink Spray in blue and turquoise to make the color pop.

I have a lot of quotes to choose from, because whenever I see a quote that fits my life or experiences, I type it up and put in my “Quote File." Once a page is filled I print several copies of a page to keep handy for when I want to use them. I print them out in different fonts, page colors, etc. 

I decided to use the quote, “Love is an energy which exists of itself. It is its own value” by Thornton Wilder.  Once I decided on my quote, I tore it from the page and adhered it with Golden gel medium in the circles on the wood panel. I also smeared some of the ink on the quote, giving it a little bit of stress, or drama as I like to call it!

Since I’m a mixed media artist, I have loads of trinkets to choose from. For this inspirational piece I chose various buttons. I also used Mica to cover the quote and give it a sense of being seen through window or under a piece of glass. Mica comes in a variety of sizes and it can be peeled to the density level you’d like. 

You can also cut it with scissors to any size or shape you’d like as well.

Once I cut the Mica out (in circles) I applied more gel medium on top the quote and then put the Mica on top of it. I attached the buttons in a random fashion, using gel medium to adhere them to the wood panel. Once the gel medium dried (overnight) I put a coat of varnish over the entire piece, giving it a nice glossy look. Once that was dry, the piece was ready for hanging or putting on a miniature easel, whichever suits your fancy. Here is the finished piece. 

I loved using Artistcellar's Sea Foam stencil in the 12”x12” size because it covered my wood panel and I didn’t need to worry about trying to move it around and match the edges to fit my working art area.

To see more art for my fundraiser “China For Kayla” visit: Please visit my facebook page at: where I post new art and goings-on in my art world!



Indigene Theresa Gaskin is a mixed media artist, whose work has been featured in various galleries in the United States and Abroad. She’s an avid Art Journalist as well!



As many of you know, Lynn K is an Artistcellar Signature Series Designer of one of my favorite sets of stencils, the Marked Series.

Well, yesterday, September 9th was her birthday and she has a birthday wish to ask. No, she doesn't want cupcakes or presents or even coffee. She is asking for one simple thing, to help someone else rescue dogs and cats. Many of you also know artist Bernie Berlin of A Place to Bark. Well, Lynn's wish is to raise some funds for Bernie so she can continue with her selfless efforts to rescue animals. Lynn has personal reasons. Her little Pooch Carter was a rescue dog from A Place to Bark!

Lynn wrote a post about her story on her blog SMUDGED DESIGN STUDIO.

I know a lot of you are animal lovers and believe in rescuing dogs and giving them another chance at life. Bernie is the most selfless person I know who will do everything in her power to give animals a better life. But she can't do it by herself. She needs help with dog food, warm shelters, people help, and everything else that goes into a rescue that we never hear about. Let's keep Bernie's rescue running!

You can follow the links from Lynn's Blog Post or you can donate directly to A Place to Bark.  Artistcellar just donated, will you do the same? Any amount helps.

Happy Birthday Lynn! XOXO

Today I want to introduce you to our guest blogger Susan Purney Mark. Susan is a quilter, stitcher and artist who also owns Fabric Imagery in beautiful Victoria, BC, Canada. She loves playing with color, pattern, and texture on fabrics and does this with various surface design techniques such as screen printing, stenciling, stamping, painting and dyeing. I was honored when she agreed to be a guest blogger, I couldn't wait to see what she did with Artistcellar stencils! 

When Lisa asked me to write a guest blog for her and sent me a package of Artist Cellar stencils, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Last fall my husband and I traveled to Ephesus in Turkey and spent a wonderful day exploring all the ruins and soaking in the culture and history. It has become a magical place for me, full of mystery and wonder. The sort of place where you want the walls to talk and tell you of the 2,000 years of history that they have seen.

I took dozens and dozens of photos, knowing that there would be inspiration for years to come to create art quilts inspired by the sights that day. I’ve been working with improvisational piecing in my work with random strips of fabric, sewn and cut, then sewn and cut again, letting the design evolve and change as I work with layout and composition. I love this way of working, I find it both exciting and challenging as I try to let the work tell me what it should become within a loose framework of my ideas. My fabrics are hand dyed, screen printed and sometimes coloured during the sewing and piecing phase.

I made a small sample to test some ideas of what might evolve, this piece was whole cloth, screen printed and free motion stitched. In a small corner of the work, I used Shiva sticks and part of the Paris stencil (Cathedral series) and gently worked in colour to give the illusion of what the ruin might have contained. Though perhaps it’s a flying leap from an Ephesian ruin to a Paris Cathedral image… but that’s art!

I think it turned out very well. I’m going to add some more colour in the stone work and then mount this piece on canvas board.

When I teach, some of my workshops require students to have a print table to pin the fabric on and make it stationary. I’ve produced a short video that may like to see about an easy way to make your own print table: I think you’ll find a print table to be an indispensable item in your studio.

Next, I decided to roller print with textile paint through the surf stencil and Paris stencil and have prepared a sheet of Plexiglas and covered it with a piece of Glad Press and Seal, that way when I’m finished I can remove the Press and Seal and throw it away without having to wash the Plexiglas. There are two colours of paint and I’ve rolled through it a couple of times to get it soaked into the sponge roller.

Generally when I work, I will attempt to give suggestions of images rather than the full stencil, so the pieces I created for this post will be cut up and inserted in some part of the larger quilt. I like to think there’s a bit of mystery for the viewer to spend a little time looking at the surface of the quilt and finding parts that engage their interest. So when the quilt is done, you may not recognize the Paris Window in an ancient ruin!

Here’s the fabric I’ve assembled in preparation to work on this quilt next month.


If you’d like to see more of my work then come by and visit at

Lisa here :-)

I don't sit down to carve my own stamps very often, but when I do, I end up carving a BUNCH of them at a time. You know, when you get in the zone and start something and can't stop!

When I was at an art retreat in North Carolina this summer, we had a morning session of carving stamps. Lori Wostl, former design team member, brought a bunch of different carving materials for us to try. For the record, the Speedycarve by Speedball is still my favorite. It's tough enough to stand up to details without being crumbly or too soft.

Lori also brought a book, "Carve, Stamp, Play" by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. Oh my. What an awesome book full of all sorts of inspiration and lessons on how to make certain designs. Julie is quite the stamp carver and inspired me to try to make quarter and half stamps to pattern with. How about this one? This is my favorite!

Basically you carve a 1/4 design on a square and repeat the pattern to get a full design. To make the pattern match, you have to be very careful to make it symmetrical along that perpendicular edge so the designs will match. NEXT time I'll do a better job, but I really like the slightly crooked whimsical look of this one.

The next one I tried was a half-block design. Basically carve half a design, then mirror stamp to get a whole design. Again, it's a bit important to make sure your two sides are pretty symmetrical so they line up when you flip the stamp to press the mirror image. Make sense?

The next one I tried was a triangle design. You can pattern these in different ways to get different looks. Again, pretty important to get it somewhat symmetrical from side to side. Mine was a bit off, as you can see on the second picture. If I matched the center, the tips of my shape didn't match. Ooops. 

I also loved carving some simple shapes to make borders, how easy was this one?

Or this triangle one. (Excuse the smudges, I dropped the stamp on the paper!) This one is actually harder than it looks. Keeping those points pointy was not easy!

I carved some leaf shapes, a small ferny leaf, and a half a sun. I had all these teeny tiny pieces of rubber left and I couldn't throw them away so I made a little heart and a little triangle.

Celia even got into it. She just starts carving and comes up with this little corner rose. I don't think she even drew it out first!

This is how they turned out:

A corner rose, a magic star wand and... can you guess what the center image is? It started out as a rain cloud. Someone suggested she put some swirlies inside of it to break up the solid black area. Now she says it looks like a brain. So this stamp has become...

wait for it...


Hehe. See what I did there?

Well, I have to say that we had A LOT of fun carving stamps. If you want to try carving some, we have all the tools you need - Speedball Pink Rubber carving block in two sizes, and the Speedball carving tool with 5 blades. If you carve a few of your own, we'd love to see it and perhaps feature them on our Facebook page. Contact me at Lisa @

Till next time, keep playing!

A few nights ago I was reading the May/June issue of Somerset Studio Magazine and first I saw Diana Trout's article. Then Lynne Perella's, then Renee Stein's, and of course featured artist Jessie Chorley with her little hand stitched journals. The whole issue was chock full of fabulous projects (I won't even start on the wax/encaustic projects!) Well, I have a ton of "open" projects and the last thing I needed was to start another big project that I probably won't finish. Enter the ATC! (Yup, arting just ONE ATC at a time!)

After reading these articles, my hands started to Itch to Stitch something. Not a lot, just a small project. So I grabbed my little IKEA bag with my fabric scraps I used at a class I took with Jane Lafazio, ripped some ATC size fabric and went to work. The fabric I used for the top was some I hand dyed and then painted over using Lynn K's Marked Series stencils, both the X's and O's. The X's were painted with a metallic silver paint, the O's with an iridescent paint. I also used the Quasicrystals Infra for those small gold dots. I do have a piece of batting in between, cut a little smaller than the ATC.

I wanted the X's to stand out. They represent Kisses, right? So I outlined them with a simple running stitch in a red embroidery thread. I picked a few dots and put yellow French Knots over them. And to hold the layers together I decided on a... heck, I don't know what the stitch is called, but instead of a running stitch, I decided on a ladder type stitch all around the edge. It gave it a bolder outline. The edges are natural and frayed, the stitches are imperfect and crooked, - just like me!

The backing fabric is a piece I did in Jane Lafazio's class, where she had us journal on the fabric, then rip it into the pieces we wanted to use. I think I talked about the fabric being the very first one I dyed, back when I did a lot of that stuff. (I have bins full to prove it!)

So the project took about an hour to finish (since I knew where all my supplies were and didn't have to go hunting!) and it satisfied my urge to stitch something. Until the next magazine, or FB post, or book comes out! (So much inspiration, so little time...)

I hope you like my little project and try something like this when you feel the urge to make something but don't have a lot of time. ATC's are perfectly sized canvases for little "Art Snacks." Leave a comment, leave some love!

I wanted to share another cool technique you can use with the Fineline Masking Fluid Pen. (Find it in the TOOLS section.) This technique comes from Linda Edkins Wyatt, you may know her as a previous Artistcellar Design Team member. She loves us, what can I say? No complaints!

This technique is a Faux Batik Effect using the Masking pen. You can color the paper first, make sure it's thoroughly dry, add some masking fluid doodles and words, paint over it again, and when you remove the mask, it gives a great batik effect.

Linda also talks about different papers, and which ones work best with the masking fluid. We discussed this a bit, and I found that a thick watercolor paper also works great. I use the Canson 140 lb. watercolor paper, or I rip pages out of the Strathmore Watercolor Journal. I think we have both found that "soft" porous papers absorb the liquid mask too much and the paper tends to rub off with the mask. I also had an issue when I masked off words of an antique book page. The dried out old paper just absorbed the masking fluid and it wouldn't rub off! Oops.

I also agreed with Linda that watercolor paints (regular pan paint, or thinned tube paint) work best. Twinkling H20 paint works great too. A thin fluid acrylic would also work pretty well. Thicker acrylics tend to form a skin which grab onto the mask, so when you remove the mask the paint comes off too. I have found liquid dyes to absorb too much into the paper and under the mask. Any other "dry" color should work if carefully applied (not rubbed in hard enough to remove the mask!) Try pan pastels, or soft chalk pastels, ink pads, etc. Careful application is key.

Linda wrote a blog post all about her experiments and has a lot of yummy pictures showing her work. Check out Linda Edkins Wyatt Blog Post HERE.

Do you have another technique you like to use with the Masking Fluid Pen? Let me know in the comments for a possible blog feature!

First, I would like to apologize for running out of the masking fluid pen last week! It was a featured product in our last newsletter and we sold out in 3 days. Apparently I'm not the only one who loves the stuff! But the good news is that I just got a shipment in and updated inventory so we have plenty in stock again. Go forth and mask :-)

So what does it mean to "Be Fearless"? I had a little lesson in this while making this picture. I offered to make someone her favorite phrase with the masking fluid. First I started out practicing lettering, you know, pretty swirly script. My daughter: "Mom, that does NOT look like fearless lettering." She was right. I needed something bold, so I went with architectural type lettering (from the old days!) I wrote out the phrase with the masking pen, traced over the letters to make the lines thicker and let it dry. I threw the paper in my spray paint box and very carefully chose some dylusions sprays and very carefully spritzed certain areas. And very carefully made a muddy mess. Then I carefully threw it in the trash bin. Take 2.

The second one I did was on smooth bristol paper and I used Dye-na-flow dripped and swished with a soft paint brush. It looked pretty cool at first, very colorful and drippy, but when I went to rub the mask off, I discovered the paper had absorbed the dye under the mask and well... Number two went into the trash bin. Lesson: Dye-na-flow + Bristol + Mask = Mess. Take 3.

I was getting nervous I wasn't going to get anything good. (But I wanted awesome.) I prepared two watercolor sheets with the phrase, just in case one sucked. Something came over me and I just started grabbing stuff and being fearless. Not thinking about the result, not being careful or controlling, and not expecting anything in particular. With the above picture I grabbed my Autumn Brilliance Twinkling H20's, wetted them and just started smooshing paint all over, not thinking about results, just being in the moment. I puddled and dripped and smooshed.

I kinda love what happened.

The second sheet I had prepared was even more fearless because I already had one I liked, there was NO pressure to make it good. I used regular watercolor in a tube, so it was extra intense. I dipped and used broad bold strokes to paint over the masking.

This turned out kinda awesome too. I think I'll let my friend choose which one she likes best and that's the one she'll get. I'll frame the other for myself, as a reminder to Be Fearless when creating art.

Now let's see what YOU do with the masking fluid pen. Send me the link in the comments section.


One of the new products that Artistcellar added to the shelves is the Fineline Masking Fluid Pen. Even though it's a bottle, it's called a pen because it has a very fine (20 gauge) wire tip, so it's pretty easy to "write" with it. And to prevent it from clogging, it has a pretty cool cap, with a needle that fits in the hollow wire tip, screw it on, and you're good. (Make sure you have your reading glasses handy though! LOL)


I saw a similar project like this on Pinterest and thought I'd try making one. I did this in my Strathmore Visual Journal. This is the completed page.

First thing you do is just write what you want to say on the blank page. I didn't gesso it or prepare it any way, just the naked paper.

It takes a little practice to squeeze and write at the same time. Have a scrap paper or tissue ready for any blobs that may appear at the tip. But... if you do make a mistake (or a mess) just wait a minute for it to dry, and rub off with your finger, and have another go at it! Easy Peasy. After I was satisfied with my writing, I let it sit and cry for about an hour. Then I got out the Distress Stains and Twinkling H2O's. You can also use Dylusions Sprays or Dye-Na-Flow. Get your soft watercolor brush nice and juicy and just start painting over everything. For this one, I used Distress Stains with a few splooshes of Twinkling H2O's to give it some sparkle. After the paint was dry, I splattered some black india ink over the whole thing.

I would suggest letting it air dry for a few hours at least. I did try using a heat gun, but it started shooting sparks and blew up. But then I wasn't sure if the heat gun would have softened the masking fluid or made it harder to remove. Once your page is thoroughly dry, take your finger and rub off the masking fluid to reveal the nice bright lettering. It's like magic :-)

Here are a few others I did. This one I used Dylusions Sprays in my spray box.

It was nice and wet and the ink pooled around the masking fluid and ran through the letters.

The next one I did was using only Twinkling H2O's. When it was really wet, I let it drip a bit to the bottom. It's nice and shimmery in real life, hard to capture on camera.

Since I made three of these, I'm going to give one away to someone who comments on this post. The one in my journal you can't have, but I will give one lucky winner the choice of the Twinks one or the BeYOUtiful one. I'll use a random number generator and pick one winner out of all the comments. Because this is a new blog, your chances might be pretty good! So tell me what you think about this project and what word or saying you would want to use in a page. I'll pick next week... let's say Wednesday.