A Simple Tool For Printmaking (Hint: You Probably Already Have One)

How to use a glue gun as a printmaking tool
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Printmaking is a fascinating way to make marks in your art, whether it’s mixed media, abstract, or beyond. Traci Bautista, author of Printmaking Unleashed, knows it inside and out, as she fearlessly explores ways to use unexpected objects to create new designs. Scroll down to learn how to create your own stencils by using a hot glue gun in this excerpt from her book, including tips on how to use a hot glue gun, and take advantage of Traci Bautista’s Printmaking Unleashed Kit, featuring three books and a bundle of printmaking art supplies.

Happy mark making,

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Printmaking techniques
Artwork by Traci Bautista

Printmaking Tool: Hot Glue Gun (from Printmaking Unleashed by Traci Bautista)

Create one-of-a-kind stencils and masks by doodling with a hot glue gun. Hot glue creates a durable plastic stencil that dries quickly and is great for masking off areas in a painting and incorporating a unique mark as a stamp. Once you’ve created one stencil, experiment with creating a variety of shapes and sizes.

How to use a glue gun as a printmaking tool

1. Draw Stencils With Heat Gun

Turn on the glue gun and let it heat up. Place a Teflon sheet on the table to use as a base for the hot glue. This will prevent it from sticking to the surface and protect the table.

Place the tip of the heat gun lightly to the surface and press the trigger while drawing interesting designs onto the Teflon sheet. Let the glue dry. Make sure that the stencils are connected in one piece. If the glue does not fully connect, the stencil will be too delicate and fall apart. If this happens, place the stencil back onto the Teflon sheet and add more hot glue.

2. Burnish for Flat Stencils

To create a flat surface on both sides of the stencil, place another Teflon sheet or piece of parchment paper over the top of the glue while it’s still hot and burnish over the top with a small piece of Plexiglas (5″×7″) or a printmaking barren. When completely cool, use your fingers to slowly peel the stencils from the Teflon.

3. Spray With Acrylics

Place your stencil onto a surface and spray over the top with acrylic, fabric, watercolor or dye ink sprays. The colors will blend when wet, so start with just two colors and let the painting dry before adding a third color. This will help avoid creating brown or “muddy” colors.

Hot Glue Stencil Tips and Ideas

  • When creating word stencils, make sure that the letters connect to form one piece. It will be much easier to paint.
  • Always remember to turn off the hot glue gun and work safely. Do not touch the hot tip of glue gun with your fingers.
  • Once the stencil is completely covered with paint, it can be used as an embellishment. Add a string to create an ornament or use as a decoration in a handmade card.
  • Scan or take photos of the stencils and painted backgrounds to use as digital elements or collage sheets.

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