Clean, Care and Use of Stencils GuideMariah Rushing
We use Yupo for a number of reasons…
First is the fact that it has a bit of stretch which you don’t get with mylar and in our experience cuts so much nicer than mylar. Secondly, Yupo is smooth but designed to have a little bit of tooth, and why it performs nicely on and off the gel plate. This is also the reason it has such a nice connection with the gel plate and why it is necessary to be careful with the more intricate designs. Mylar is more brittle and very slick which wasn’t ideal for what we wanted as mixed media artists.
When the stencil is new, never been used or if you keep them clean from media, observe the top side cut areas are smooth and the back side will have a slightly curved up edge around those cutout areas. The back side is the side to put down on your plate (no paint) or surface to get optimum adhesion.
Depending on the intricacy of the designs (i.e. thin connecting lines) take extreme care in pulling off the stencil from the plate. Pull with the direction of the design rather than across or against the direction of the connections. Putting stress on these areas where the connecting lines are most fragile will cause the stencils to tear or break. BE AWARE AND TAKE CARE!
New stencils are very sticky on the gel plate so extra care is required and certainly even more so when using designs like Aqueous Effervescence, Butterflies, Walters Web, and others like them. Connection points that have small or thin lines are always in need of extra care on and off the plate.
How to Clean
When washing having a bath ready for the stencils is an easy way to keep them clean or you can always let the paint build up, but keep in mind small areas will start to close up. Along those same lines when cleaning the stencil place it on a solid surface and wipe in gently or use a SOFT bristle brush (nail or toothbrush) to coax the paint off. Take extra care with the more delicate designs, Yupo is very strong but once cut the designs create points of weakness that can tear if not handled delicately. Soaking may be necessary for built-up paint and only use dish soap or other less harsh detergents. DO NOT USE SOLVENT, ACETONE, or Chlorine these types of cleaners could break down the Yupo! Remember Yupo is a polypropylene product that is a petroleum-derived material that is durable, NOT indestructible.
Clean or allow to dry completely before placing into a folder, files (or other…). Separate each with deli or wax paper so they are not in direct contact with another stencil ESPECIALLY if they have paint on them. They will stick together and can easily tear when later pulled apart. If they become stuck together place them in a warm bath with a mild detergent allow soaking then genteelly work to separate. Pulling with intricate bits, gently and coming at it from all sides. To get the best results with this process go slowly and take your time.
There are times when P has torn or popped a connection sometimes she doesn’t even bother with fixing it, but we have found using super glue will reattach some of those areas. Simply put a very small/tiny amount of superglue on the tip of a toothpick (or pointy tool) and apply it to the torn area. Any excess will need to be wiped away quickly. For larger areas or if you want to Frank’n stencil your bits washi-tape works really well and also creates connection lines which are pretty cool.
Here are a few of our favorite cleaning products and a link to our Gel Printing Basics for even more information about getting started with gel plate printing.
Dawn Powerwash Spray Starter Kit
Murphy’s Oil (Great for soaking and cleaning your brayer)
Scotch 3m Super Glue
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