≡ Menu

All Tied Up in Knots – a stencil, a gel plate, and watercolors

What does Alexander the Great, an Oracle, and an unsolvable problem have to do with stencils? It inspired my Gordian Knot stencil collection at StencilGirl Products! A Gordian knot is one without a beginning or end that is impossible to unravel. That is, unless you apply a bit of creative thinking to it.

The story goes that an Oracle decreed that the person who unravelled the Gordian knot would rule Asia. For hundreds of years, people unsuccessfully tried to untie the knot. Then along came Alexander the Great. He tried to untie it and it just got tighter. So, he pulled out his sword and cut the knot, then went on to rule over Asia.

The mythology of the Gordian Knot holds a lot of meaning and symbolism for me. In the video, I go in depth about that as I’m making gel printed papers then adding watercolors to them.

The fastest way to stencil with paint is using a gel plate. Especially if you want a lot of papers. The trick is to put the paint on the gel plate first, then lay the stencil on top. That way you can make print after print.

To add more color to the prints, I use watercolors because they are so forgiving! Staying in the lines is a struggle for me, so anytime I cross that line, it’s easy to wipe up. Naturally, you can use anything to color it in from pencils to markers to crayons to whatever you have on hand.

A stencil can create a wide range of different looks. By coloring the sections around the lines, it creates a stained glass vibe. These gel prints were made using PanPastels on a gel plate.

Another option is coloring the lines themselves. Blending colors softly or creating playful stripes or any other marks in there you want!

The curving lines of the Gordian Knot stencils can also be filled with your writing. Or doodles. Or marks. The options are endless!

The abstract looking prints below were a complete failure and a win a the same time. The technique I was experimenting with did not work as expected. Huge failure. But instead I ended up with an abstract look to the prints. A win!

Inside all the loops of the Gordian Knot prints here, I saw a shape. A wing. What I did with that, I’ll be sharing in an upcoming video, so if you want to be sure you know when that is posted, get signed up for my weekly newsletter. Not only will you be in the know, you’ll get creative encouragement as well as a free weekly download.

Using just part of the Gordian Knots creates an entirely different look. When you’ve got stencils, you’ve got options! This collection, and all of my stencils, are available at StencilGirlProducts.com.

Ready to get more out of your stencils and along the way understand more fully how to use stencils? Then check out my online workshop, Joy of Stenciling Workshop.

Here are the supplies used. Some of these links may be affiliate links which means I may get a small percentage and it doesn’t cost you anything extra! And you get a really good feeling knowing that you are helping keep the free tutorials coming!

Unfortunately, the yellow watercolor I used has been discontinued.

The set of watercolors is where my bright purple came from and I will say that set has some magnificent neons to it!

{ 2 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment

  • Susan Burke May 20, 2023, 9:24 am

    Love this stencil, the history of the knot and how you used it. Would you mind sharing how you did the striped knot on the black background? Black paint first, then stencil, then stripes painted into the non-black areas of the print? Thanks so much for your inspiration!

  • Becky May 22, 2023, 1:45 pm

    The “fail” is my favorite!!