A variety of materials can he used for stencilling, from special stencilling paints and sticks to acrylics and latex. Each has its own properties and will create different effects.
Acrylic stencil paint: acrylic stencil paint is quick-drying, reducing the possibility of the paint running and seeping behind the stencil. Acrylic stencil paints are available in a wide range of colours, and can be mixed for more subtle shades.
Acrylic varnish: this is useful for sealing finished projects.
Emulsion (latex) paint: ordinary household vinyl emulsion can also be used for stencilling. It is best to avoid the cheaper varieties, as these contain a lot of water and will seep through the stencil.
Fabric paint: this is used in the same way as acrylic stencil paint, and comes in an equally wide range of colours. Set with an iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it will withstand washing and everyday use. As with ordinary stencil paint, do not overload the brush with colour, as it will seep into the fabric. Always back the fabric you are stencilling with scrap paper or newspaper to prevent the paint from marking the work surface.
Gold leaf and gold size: these can be used to great effect. The actual design is stencilled with gold size. The size is then left to become tacky, and the gold leaf is rubbed over the design.
Metallic creams: these are available in many different metallic finishes, from gold to copper, bronze and silver. Apply as highlights on a painted base, or use for the entire design. Creams can be applied with cloths or your fingertip.
Oil-based stencil sticks and creams: the sticks can be used in the same way as a wax crayon, while the creams can be applied with a brush or your fingertip. With either one, there is no danger of overloading the colour, and they won’t run. The disadvantage is their long drying time (overnight in some cases); also, the colours can become muddy when mixed. Sticks and creams are also available for fabrics.
Stencilling does not require a great deal of special equipment; many of the items used are commonly found in most households. A few tools, however, will make the job easier.
Brushes: it is worth investing in a set of good stencil brushes. The ends of the brushes should be flat and the bristles firm, to let you control the application of paint. A medium-size brush (4 cm/11/2 in diameter) is a useful, all-purpose size, but you may want to buy one size smaller and one size larger as well. You will need a selection of household paintbrushes for applying large areas of background colour, and small artist’s paintbrushes for adding fine details.
Craft knife: use for cutting out stencils from cardboard.
Cutting mat: this provides a firm surface to cut into and will help prevent the craft knife from slipping.
Masking tape: as the stencil may need to be repositioned, it is advisable to hold it in place with masking tape, which can be removed fairly easily from most surfaces.
Paint-mixing container: this may be necessary for mixing paints and washes.
Pencils: keep a selection of soft and hard artist’s pencils to transfer the stencil design on to cardboard. Use an ordinary pencil to mark on your object the positions of the stencils before applying.
Stencil card (cardboard): the materialised to make the stencil is a matter of preference. Speciality stencil card is available waxed from specialist art stores, which means that it will last longer, but ordinary cardboard or heavy paper can also be used. It is worth purchasing a sheet of clear acetate if you wish to keep your stencil design, to re-use time and again.
Tape measure and rulers: some patterns may require accuracy. Measuring and planning the positions of your stencils before you begin will aid the result.
Tracing paper: use to trace and transfer your stencil design on to stencil card
Stencilling is not difficult to master, and you can create some wonderful 3-dimensional designs but it is worth practising first to get used to handling
1. To transfer a template on to a piece of stencil card (cardboard), place some tracing paper over the design, and draw over it with a hard pencil.
2. Turn over the tracing paper and, on the back of the design; rub over the lines you have drawn with a soft pencil. Turn the tracing paper back to the right side and place on top of a sheet of stencil card. Draw over the original lines with a hard pencil.
1. Block stencilling: Use for filling in large areas in a single, solid colour. As in all stencilling, remember not to apply the paint too heavily – less is more. Always blot the paint on to a piece of cardboard before you begin.
2. Block stencilling with second colours tippled: When applying two colours, always apply the lighter shade first, then the darker. Do not cover the entire surface with the first colour; leave a gap for the second shade, then blend later. Use a separate, clean brush for each colour.
3. Dry-brushing, rotating from edge: Using big circular strokes, work from the outside of the whole stencil, moving inward. This should leave you with more paint on the outside, as there will be lesson your brush as you move inward.
4. Two-colour blocking: When you apply the first colour, do not fully block out the petals; instead, outline them with the first colour and leave the centres bare. Use the second colour to fill. Take care not to apply your paint too heavily.
5 Stippling: This method uses more paint and less pressure than rotating or flicking. Taking a reasonable amount of paint on the bristles of your brush, simply place it down lightly. This gives a rougher look. Do not go over it too many times, as this spoils the effect.
6 Dry-brush stippling: This is similar to stippling, except that it is essential to dab most of the paint off the bristles before you start. This gives a softer effect.
7. Rotating and shading: Using a very dry brush with a tiny amount of paint, place your brush on one side of the stencil and rotate the brush in circles. Repeat, using a slightly darker colour on the edges for soft shading.
8. Flicking: For the flicking effect on the leaves, use slightly more paint on the brush. Working from the centre, flick the paint outward once or twice. Be careful not to overdo.
9. Flicking upwards: Using a reasonable amount of paint (not too wet or too dry) on your brush, flick upwards only. This creates a line at the top of the petals and leaves.
10. Dry-brushing and rotating: Apply a tiny amount of paint by rotating the bristles from the centre and from the outside tips, to give more paint in these areas. Work along the line, using less pressure than on the centre and the tips. This gives a soft shade in between.
11. Brushing up and down: Using slightly more paint on your brush than you would for rotating, brush up and down only, taking care to keep your lines vertical