Aim your glue gun to create this crafty awesomeness

Aim your glue gun to create this crafty awesomeness
Aim your glue gun to create this crafty awesomeness

Do you love the masks and stencils that are on the market these days? Buying one or two is certainly reasonable for almost any budget. However, like most art supplies (and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups), it is hard to stop at just one. If you do want to buy some, you might find Artist Cellar and Stencil Girl Products irresistible.

If, however, you would rather spend your money on other things, say, for example, on items like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups your mortgage, then I have a few solutions for you. Over the next several posts, I will share ways you can make your own masks and stencils. In addition to saving money, this can be a fun and artistic process in itself.

In the last post, I shared the idea of using actual objects on a page to serve as a mask. Today, I will use my homicidal trusty hot glue gun to teach you how to create a mask that you can use again and again.

How to make a mask with a hot glue gun

Since I have been working on several projects with giraffes lately, I decided the giraffe pattern would make a great mask. If you are not fond of giraffes, that’s ok*, you can use whatever image you like, but keep in mind that you will want all the negative areas of the mask–that is, all the areas that will not get colored–to be connected. For example, a traditional emoticon smiley face would be difficult to make, unless you filled in everything but the smile line and two eye dots.

How to make a mask

Step 1 First, copy a copyright-free pattern from the web and paste it into a publishing program, such as Adobe InDesign. Adjust the size to your liking and print it onto lightweight inkjet paper.

How to make a mask

Step 2 Using your hot glue gun,** create a frame around the edges of the graphic you printed. Make this frame about 1/4″ wide by outlining the edge of the graphic three to four times.

How to make a mask with a hot glue gun

Step 3 Starting at one of the frame’s edges, “color” in your graphic with the hot glue by filling in all the areas that will become the mask. Make sure that all parts of your mask connect to at least one side of the frame.

How to make a mask with hot glue gun

Step 4 Let the glue cool and harden

Step 5 Soak the paper in a tray of cool water for a few minutes until the paper softens and loosens. Gently pull the paper away from the glue. The remaining rubbery material is your mask. Isn’t that the bees knees?

Making a mask with a hot glue gun

Step 6. Using a heat gun, gently and BRIEFLY whisk the hot air over the mask to remove any stray glue fibers.

Step 7 After your mask dries. Place the flat side of the mask down on a piece of paper. Gently spray ink or paint over the mask. Carefully remove the mask from the paper. After the paper dries you can use it alone or as the beginning of a mixed media project.

Paper Calliope Giraffe Print

Make stencils with a hot glue gun too!

In addition to masks, you can also makes stencils with this method. What’s more, you don’t have to limit yourself to masks made from printed images. You can also draw your own design on paper with pencil and then trace it with the glue gun to create the mask. Or, if you are feeling particularly adventuresome, you can draw a freehand design with your glue gun. Whatever method you choose, it is sure to result in some awesomely creative art supplies.


*What’s wrong with you??? Who doesn’t like giraffes?

**I always use a low temp glue gun because it is inevitable that I burn myself. Every. Single. Time. At least, when I use the low temp gun, the burns are not as bad. Maybe you are not as klutzy as me and so this does not apply to you. Strike that. I know for a fact that you are not as klutzy as me. However, it still might be a good idea to use a low temp glue gun– especially if there are any small children who could possibly hear you swear like a sailor because accidents do happen and those glue guns hurt like a motherfluffer.


6 Responses »

  1. This is a great idea and I can see lots if other applications for things that I would have never thought of using hot glue to make. You could make textured letters for titles in the kids school poster board projects. My head is now spinning with glue gun ideas. You are so darn creative. Not just with ideas, but with information about how to actually complete the project. (Why would it not have occurred to me to soak the glue and paper in water to remove the paper, or blasting the thing with a heat gun to remove those pesky glue strings.). Those glue strings are the worst, as they make your project look so messy and unprofessional. Keep these posts coming.

    • Thank you Cheryl. I can’t take credit for the glue string idea. I read that tip somewhere a long time ago and it stuck with me (no pun intended). I had heard about other people using glue guns for masks, but I haven’t actually seen how they do it. I should probably do so and learn a thing or two myself. lol.

  2. This is soooooo COOL! What with all the noise about Gelli Plates and stencils this is very timely. Oh the many illicit things one could do with the hot glue gun and a pattern. Spray the fool out of them with glittered spritzes, splash blobs of watercolor paint all over them with paper beneath, for the larger pieces – spray card stock with some water and use a brayer to make reverse impressions on the card stock. Smaller hot glue designs can be run through a die cutting machine to emboss the paper. Oh my head is spinning with your absolutely fantastic creation!

    Hugs to you – Leslie

  3. Wow Leslie, I didn’t think of all those! You are brimming with creativity. I have to try the die cutting idea. I wonder if it would be too soft? The finished product is rather rubbery. I’m glad to see you are back. I noticed you were missing from your blog and was kind of worried about you. See why it’s good that I incorporate anxiety into my blog? I even start worrying about other bloggers. 🙂 Haha.

  4. What a fun technique Betsy! I too use the low temp glue gun and still burn myself constantly. At times I feel like Kevin Spacey in Seven (no finger prints). Mod Podge makes rubber finger caps that help (if I could ever remember to wear them). Can’t wait it give this a try!

    • Amy, seriously, rubber finger caps? Is it for the sole purpose of glue guns? Somehow I think I would make a bigger mess with them. If I remember correctly, Seven had Brad Pitt in it and scared the Bee Gees out of me. I have to watch it again–but maybe not when I’m working with hot glue. 😀

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