Are you on the hunt for a new hobby that will produce tangible results and is easy enough for your kids to try? Why not make your own stencils? Stencils are a fantastic tool for making everything from greetings cards to gift wrap and can be made from a wide range of craft materials and household objects. Stenciled patterns boast sharp lines and an artsy esthetic that is tricky to achieve or repeat with freehand drawing or painting.
If you've never tried stenciling before or are looking for a simple way to delight your kids, why not produce beautiful artwork using only paints and an old piece of lace fabric? Lace is essentially a pre-made stencil and quite easy to use. Simply lay the fabric down on a piece of paper, hold it in place with your hands or some strong tape, and dab on the paint of your choice. Once you've filled the paper or wood with the pattern, it can serve as a backdrop for a larger project, or you can cut out shapes or letters that are pre-decorated.
This is probably the easiest method for creating stencils, as well as being one of the safest for kids. Start by folding a piece of paper in half and drawing half of a symmetrical image on one side, ensuring that it touches the crease of the page. Cut along the outline with scissors. Unfold it and use your stencil to create your very own gift wrap, greetings cards, or wall art. This usually works best with paper that is quite stiff.
If drawing is not your thing or you're low on inspiration, print off some stencil patterns using the magic that is the internet? There are tons of images online that translate into gorgeous stencils. If you're a novice, it is best to stick to images with bold, black lines that can be easily cut out. Remember to choose pieces with an interesting outline — it doesn't matter what the inside lines look like, unless you're planning to get very intricate.
If you're starting to get serious about stenciling, a craft knife and a cutting mat will make the process much easier and more efficient. Cutting stencils out using scissors can be tricky and may produce imprecise results, particularly if you're not using the folded paper method. A craft knife simply requires a firm grip and a steady hand to cut intricate patterns into paper, cardboard, and thin plastic. Pro tip: if your designs feature lots of lines, use a ruler to help keep everything straight and sharp.
If you're a fan of stenciled writing, an alphabet stencil will become one of your go-to crafting tools. To ensure that it can be used over and over again, make your stencil using a material such as plastic or strong cardboard. If you're looking to experiment with fonts, it is also a good idea to use a printed template from the web.
Why stencil small and dainty images when you can stencil an entire wall? This is a great technique to use if you're thinking of creating a striking accent wall you can call your own. By laying painter's tape in squares or rectangles across the wall, you can produce a stencil emulating the style of the great artist Mondrian, or achieve a plaid or checkered look. Get creative with color and don't be afraid to experiment!
It is all too easy to overlook what sort of paint or applicator you are going to use in your stencil, but different choices produce very different results. Sponges are popular among artists who a clean and even look, while stencil brushes or even standard paintbrushes are great for creating texture. In terms of the paint itself, acrylic and oil paints tend to be the most dense and long-lasting, while thinner paints can be used for a sheer effect.
Have you got an old t-shirt hanging around and are itching for a fun, practical craft? Try stenciling a personalized image or slogan across the front. If you feel passionate about a certain cause, you could stencil a message that speaks to you. Alternatively, opt for abstract patterns. Embrace your inner fashion designer!
Screenprinting is a very popular technique used by artists and one of the most effective for achieving professional-level results. It requires more equipment and workspace than other types of stenciling and is best suited to people who have been practicing stenciling for a while. You might want to give some of the suggestions above a try before attempting screenprinting, or take a class on how to get started.
Again, this option is not recommended for novices and is best suited to those who are serious about taking up stenciling as a long-term hobby. There are lots of hi-tech vinyl cutting machines on the market nowadays, all of which are sure to produce robust stencils in every design you can imagine, to be used again and again in your artwork.