Free Stenciling Instruction - Stenciling Instructions

If you are interested in designing and making your own stencils, two major steps are involved: cutting the stencil and stenciling the design onto a surface.

When you cut a stencil, it usually works best to use commercial stencil paper. However, you can also experiment with acetate, architect's linen, or tagboard.

To begin cutting your design, tape your pattern to the stencil paper and cut around the design with a craft knife or single-edged razor blade. (be sure to allow for stencil "bridges," which are the 1/8 inch wide sections between the cutout shapes that hold the design together and give the stencil extra strength.) It is important to keep your cutting tool sharp.

Using cardboard or graphite paper, trace the pattern onto stencil paper. Cut out the design using a sharp craft knife. To prevent tears and fraying, begin cutting in the center and work toward the edges, rotating the stencil paper as needed.

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Tape the stencil to an unfinished wooden container such as a shaker box. Only raw wood is suitable for this project. Hold the stencil in place and apply polish with a stencil brush.

Holding the knife perpendicular to the stencil paper, make one stroke for each stencil cut, moving the knife toward you.

To stencil your design, use blunt-end, stiff-bristle stencil brushes in a range of sizes. If you want to experiment with other stencil applicators, try sponges, paint rollers, or water color brushes.

Because acrylic paints dry quickly and are waterproof, they are a popular stencil medium. However, you also can use fabric dyes, pens, oil paints, or spray paints.

To begin stenciling, dip your brush into paint and remove excess paint by tapping the brush up and down on newspaper. (Be sure your brush remains fairly dry.) Hold the brush perpendicular to the stencil and use an up-and-down motion to apply paint. Keep the stencil as close to the surface as possible to ensure a crisp, clear design. Use your free hand to press down the edges of the stencil.

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Gently remove the stencil and let the wax dry thoroughly. Mix two parts liquid dye to one part cold water and wipe the dye onto the wood with a paper towel. Remove any beads of dye on the waxed area with a clean paper towel and let dry.

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Pour a thin coat of turpentine over the waxed area and let it soak into the shoe polish for several minutes. Scrub the stenciled areas with a small brush until the polish is removed. Apply a coat of non-water base polyurethane, shellac, or varnish.

Lift the stencil carefully after you have finished painting; let dry.