Have you been wanting to try stenciling and just didn’t know where to start? This post on stenciling is full of steps and tips that will help you get started. My first stencil job was when I stenciled a floral design on an entryway table. I never would have guessed this table would have lead to me stenciling everything in sight and opening up my own stencil shop.
I’m not an expert by any means, but every time I stencil I give tutorials to the imaginary audience in my head, working up the courage to share what I’ve learned with you; so I’ve decided to finally write some steps and tips on stenciling that have worked well for me.
- Choose the brush or method of your choice. I started out stenciling with a small acrylic brush. It was the smallest brush I had on hand at the time. After stenciling a few times, I decided to buy an actual stencil brush. I’ve used both flat and round brushes, as well as pouncers, and prefer a 1/2″ flat stencil brush. I buy mine from Hobby Lobby in a pack of stencil brushes, and they work great! I end up using all of them, but I prefer the 1/2″ flat stencil brush.
2. Pick your stenciling canvas. There are many surfaces on which to stencil: wood, fabric, metal, walls, etc. This is an old cutting board that I bought at Goodwill and sanded down to make into a lovely sign.
3. Paint-When it comes to paint I choose water based, so latex, acrylic, or chalky paint for easy clean up.
4. Stencil-There are tons of stencils out there to buy or you can even make your own. You can check out my list of online stencil shops where you can buy stencils. I also have FREE JPEG Files that are perfect for making stencils, if you prefer to DIY.
5. Tape down your stencil if you want. I taped my stencils down the first few projects I did, but have found it works just as well to hold them with one hand and stencil with the other. If the stencil happens to move, just line it back up and continue the project. I would definitely use tape if I were stenciling a whole wall.
6. Make sure your paint brush is dry! This is important, especially if you just washed it out and are switching to a different color and want to continue stenciling. If I am stenciling several different projects and want to keep using the same brush, but change colors, I wash it out and then dry it off in an old towel really well. Then I pounce it on a dry surface that I don’t mind getting paint or water on, to make sure all the paint and water is out of the brush.
7. Paint is like salt, a little goes a long way. Load your stencil brush, pouncer or sponge and then get as much off of it as possible, while still keeping a small amount on. You can keep a paper towel nearby to pounce out excess paint. The amount of paint in your brush is key to having a successful stencil job. You never want too much paint in your brush when you go to your canvas. In this case, less is more.
8. The first time my brush hits the canvas I’m working on, I try to hit the bigger/wider areas of a stencil, so I have more room for error with that first dab of paint.
9. When stenciling there are different methods, but I prefer to hold my brush like I would my writing pen, and pounce the brush in a straight up and down motion.
10. I also like using this simple stenciling secret on some of my projects.
11. When all areas of the stencil are covered in paint, you can wait until the paint is dry to peel the stencil off or if you’re impatient like me, gently lift it off, so as not to smear your beautiful work. Stenciled work usually dries super quick because you’re using such a small amount of paint.
12. I usually go over my stencil work with sandpaper, and choose the grit depending on the results I want to get. I choose an incredibly high grit like 1000 or 1500 (can be bought at Auto Zone) if I want to just smooth it, but if I want to distress the stenciled surface I’ll choose a lower grit like 220 or 120.
13. You can choose to put a protective coat (wax, polycrylic, polyurethane) over your beautiful handiwork.
14. Cleaning up stencils is easy, with warm water. I like to make a little bath in my sink with warm water, and soak the stencil, and peel and scratch the paint off. I usually wait to clean my stencils off after I’ve used them a few times. You don’t want to wait too long before cleaning them, otherwise your stencil becomes obstructed with paint, and your stencil area will start to look thin and not so great. If this happens, just clean your stencil before using it anymore.
15. If you’re timid about stenciling, practice on a piece of paper to get the hang of it, and then move onto your intended surface.
If you have never stenciled before, but really want to, go for it!! You’re going to do great!! I hope these steps and tips help in your creative endeavors!!
If you’re interested in seeing some of my stenciling projects you can check them out here.
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