Close Window

Tool Tips: Stencils

Click here for larger image

In this newsletter, we are going to explore some tips and tricks in using another popular paper-crafting tool -- stencils. Stencils have been around for years and can be used for any paper-crafting project or even home decor projects. They come in many different sizes and styles. While they are simply designs cut out of sturdy materials such as plastic or heavy-weight cardstock, they can be intimidating to use for some reason. After learning a few tips and reading about different mediums that can be used with the stencils, you will be ready give them a try with confidence.

Using stencils in paper crafting is something that I had always been interested in trying, but I was never sure how to use them in the proper way to make sure I ended up with the results I desired. I finally decided to just dive in and give them a whirl. They are actually quite simple to use, and the results are beautiful.

There are many different types of stencils on the market today. You can find them in the paper-crafting, home decor, baking and office-supply sections of craft and office-supply stores. Most stencils are made of a heavy-weight, stiff plastic, but some are made of heavy cardstock or flexible, lighter-weight plastic. A few stencils have a light tack on the back of them already. This is great for putting the stencil on your project and keeping it in place while you add different mediums over the design. The large majority of stencils do not have any adhesive on the back. I recommend using a bit of painter's tape -- the blue tape from the hardware store -- to keep a stencil in place on your project. Just put a small strip of the tape on the edges or corners of the stencil so it will stay put while you work on your project. After you have applied paint or other medium, carefully lift up the stencil and then wipe it clean with a baby wipe or wet, soft cloth. The nice thing about most of them being plastic is that they clean up easily.

Now that you have a stencil or two and a way to keep it in place when you are working on your project, grab a few different mediums to use with your stencil. Some of the ones I like to use are:
  • Ink pads (pigment, dye, embossing, watermark, etc.)
  • Paint
  • Spray ink or mist
  • Embossing paste
  • Glue and glitter
  • Markers
  • Pens
Click here for larger image
Click here for larger image
Most of these are supplies you may already own.

Using the stencils is fairly simple. With ink pads, you can either daub the ink pad directly over the stencil, or you can use a dauber or sponge of some type to transfer the ink from the pad to the stencil. You apply paint with a brush. Spray ink can get messy, but it adds a great mottled look in comparison to the smooth look of an ink pad or paint.

Embossing paste may be applied with a small spatula or even a used gift card. Place a little bit of the paste on the stencil and then drag the flat edge of the spatula or gift card across the stencil. This will press the paste into the design and remove the excess as you pull it across the project. When you remove the stencil, you will be left with a raised design on your project.

Try adding a bit of sparkle to a card using this technique: Brush basic glue across a stencil design; remove the stencil while the glue is still wet and sprinkle on a generous amount of glitter. Shake off the excess, and you will have a shiny, fun centerpiece.

Finally, simply using markers or pens in the openings in a stencil can add that extra pop to any craft project you are working on.

Of course, there are many other ways and mediums that can be used with stencils on paper-crafting projects. Try one of the ones mentioned in this newsletter or experiment with different items you have in your craft room.