Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la la la la! 'Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la la la la!
Okay, okay, so it's not yet Halloween in your neck of the woods, but it's already Christmas in stencil-designing land! Heck, what am I saying?! It's actually Valentine's Day here . . . I'm now conceptualizing not just new stencils for that holiday, but a brand new sub-series - something that will take us beyond Prettier PlaquesTM by 2018. But, whoa, before I let that cat completely out of the bag, let's talk about a more immediate change to my stencil operation, as well as this month's Christmas-themed release.
As for that immediate change, it's REALLY great news. My partners at Stencil Ease created a whole new site, called Confection Couture just for their cookie stencils (also called Confection Couture) and my line - and it's truly a huge improvement over the old one. It's cuter; it's mobile-friendly; products are catalogued a host of different ways, making it much easier to find what you're looking for; and my "Julia Usher"-branded stencils and Stencil of the Month Club have their own categories at the very top, on the main navigation line:
What's more, the US shipping rates automatically calculated by the site are much more accurate, and thus lower, than in the past. As of today, all business will be conducted from the new Confection Couture site, and all of the links in this post and in subsequent ones will direct to it. We've got the same dedicated and able team at Stencil Ease doing all the work of fulfilling orders behind the scenes - just a new site and name for it. Also, very important: both the service phone number and email have changed to 888-879-7319 and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively. If you misplace this information, you can always find it in the "Contact Us" section at the bottom of the new site. I hope you enjoy exploring the new site. If you have any questions or feedback about it, please contact email@example.com.
Now, without further ado, onto this month's release! It's never too early to start thinking about your Christmas cookies, so I've got three new five-piece stencil sets to help you with those designs! They range in style from elegant organics, like "Season's Greetings" aka "Winter Botanica" (and the bulk of last month's release), to more whimsical folk art-inspired sets (i.e., "Let It Snow", aka "Winter Wonderland", and "Deck the Halls", aka "Vintage Ornaments").
In case you were wondering, "Deck the Halls" is this month's Stencil of the Month*. If you don't know what this means, please check out the asterisked footnote at the very bottom of this post. In the meantime, suffice it to say that, if you join my Stencil of the Month Club, you'll get huge savings not only on my Stencil of the Month, but on everything on the new Confection Couture site.
As for "Noel" in the graphic above, it was one of the very first sets I released back in November 2016 when my stencils first launched, and it remains a bestseller to this day, so I thought it deserved a little repeat airtime. Here it is in full color:
This particular set is one of those that takes on a completely different feeling just by swapping in different colors. For the retro 50s vibe above, I used four very bright colors: AmeriMist Electric Green for parts of the ornaments; Chefmaster Hawaiian Blue for other parts of the ornaments and their "strings"; AmeriMist Electric Purple (which looks sort of pink), again for sections of the ornaments; and, lastly, Chefmaster Leaf Green for the pine boughs. In this case, any blending of purple and green becomes brown, and, because I wasn't going for muted colors, I airbrushed extremely close (an inch or less) to the stencil to minimize overspray into adjacent sections of the ornaments. I still got a little, but it was pretty well contained!
Here's a quickie video showing the order in which I layered these different colors:
Now, if retro 50s isn't your thing, this stencil set also wears traditional red and green quite well. This color scheme has the added advantage of being much faster to do, as it involves just three stenciled colors (Chefmaster Super Red and Leaf Green, and AmeriMist Electric Green for the shading around the message), and only one color, instead of three, applied to the ornaments. AmeriMist Electric Green was also randomly airbrushed onto the cookie, without using any stencils, to create pops of color in the centers of the ornaments and along the cookie edge.
Here's a closer view . . .
While I didn't prep a "Let it Snow" cookie for you, its graphics have a similar whimsical look and feel to those of "Deck the Halls", so I'm envisioning it working well in either of the two palettes used above.
Now, onto this month's third release . . . "Season's Greetings". It's got lots of very close, and sometimes overlapping, elements, but no worries!
It's another of my organic designs that looks more natural with some color blending. So if your airbrush strays over lines into adjacent areas, chances are good that your result will be even better than if your airbrush had stayed put! I used a whopping six colors on this cookie: AmeriMist Electric and Leaf Green in the leaves; Leaf Green also in the pine boughs; Chefmaster Harvest Brown for the pine cones, message, frame, and shading on the leaves and berries; Chefmaster Super Red for the poinsettia and berries; AmerMist Deep Pink for the lighter parts of the poinsettia; and AmeriMist Lemon Yellow for the center of the poinsettia. Phew?! Did I miss anything?! Of course, to speed up the process, just reduce the number of colors. Here, you could easily get by with basic red, green, and brown.
Before we depart, just one other reminder . . . In addition to "Noel", I now have a large "book" of previously released Christmas and New Year's stencils, and they're easy-as-pie to find on the new Confection Couture site. A few are pictured below, but you can find more under the Christmas and New Year's categories under "Holidays" on the site's main navigation line. Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!
* As a reminder, my Stencil of the Month is part of my Stencil of the Month Club (naturally! ), which works like so . . . Once you subscribe, each month you'll automatically receive a surprise five-piece stencil set (the Stencil of the Month) valued at $18.99 for just $14.99 plus shipping and handling. Members also get an exclusive members-only 15% discount on all stencils and accessories on the Stencil Ease site. After you sign up, Stencil Ease (aka Confection Couture) will send you a personalized letter from me that explains when you can expect your stencils each month, how to redeem your 15% members-only discount, and a few other things. If you have any questions about these logistics, please check out the Stencil of the Month Club webpage, or send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Note: The Stencil of the Month is also available to non-Club members, but only at full retail price.)