After I had posted my DIY project of the stenciled Paris hamper last week,
I received many emails regarding my own methods of stenciling. When I write my posts, a lot of times I assume that the folks who are reading them have a good grasp of some DIY how-to details, so I just mention them but skip the gritty details. But, I am discovering that oftentimes they do not quite understand… MY BAD. So, I am happy to share some tips and tricks for a great stenciling project outcome. These are not official or the rules of stenciling, but they are just my own observations and tried-and-true methods following years and years of practice. So here are the tips for my Secrets of Successful Stenciling:
1. You need a good stencil. You can cut them yourself or purchase them online or at your local crafts store. Recently, I have purchased quite a few of these Paris-inspired stencils that I just love.
2. Your stenciling surface must be clean, smooth with no bumps or holes. It can be painted or stained, but not with a high gloss paint and no shiny finish coat such as wax or polyurethane. My piece is an old cupboard I had painted in a matte Benjamin Moore color called Saffron. Painted it with two coats and allowed to dry.
3. Place the stencil face up on the surface, measuring if you need to do determine the exact placement, then tape it down.
4. You need a stencil stippling brush (or whatever you call this kind of brush that is thick and has a blunt surface.) They are available in different sizes, but I typically use a fairly small brush, I find that it helps to control the stenciling process.
5. Use a matte paint (chalk paint is perfect for this). I have found that this produces the cleanest and sharpest lines on the stenciled surface and it doesn’t “bleed” under the stencil. “Bleeding” is when excess paint sneaks under the stencil and ends up looking like blotches along the edges of the design. Once the bleed happens, you need to stop immediately and remove the stencil and clean the underside of all errant paint blobs with a damp cloth, then allow to dry before you proceed.
6. Put a very small amount of paint into a bowl or non-porous surface. If I am using a small can or jar of paint, I often will shake the paint can, then remove the lid and use the paint on the lid. It is more than enough and provides a flat firm surface to dip your brush.
8. “Pounce” the surface of your stencil, covering all of the cut outs. Pouncing is when you hold the brush straight up and vertical to your surface and repeatedly dab it with the tip that has the paint on it.
Because you only have a small amount of paint on the brush, this means that the process is tedious and repetitive. As the brush runs dry, you re-dip into the paint, remove most of the paint onto the newspaper, then continue pouncing until the entire stencil surface is covered. If you start to get bored and want to just add more paint on your brush to get the process moving more quickly, DON’T. Just wrap up your brush, cover the paint and walk away and return after you have a cup of tea or watch some HGTV. You can’t hurry this process by globbing paint on the brush…that’s how you end up making a mess.
9. Once you’ve covered all of the design with the paint, lift one corner of your stencil to make sure you are happy with the overall effect.
If not, then tape it back down and re-pounce over the areas you wish to darken. If so, then carefully lift off the stencil and allow to dry. If you do have any “bleeds”, take a damp Q-tip and clean it up before it dries. If you are adding more designs to your piece, make sure one section is completely dry before starting a new one, or the design will smudge.
10. Once your stencil is finished, you can distress it by lightly sanding it. Otherwise just add a coat of wax or your favorite finish. As you can see by the photos, as you continue to use the stencils, the paint will build up on the surface and clog the smaller cuts. I clean mine with a damp paper towel. Don’t rub hard and don’t bend or crease the stencil! Once that happens, its time for a new stencil. So there you go! A hopefully helpful DIY tutorial on the secrets of successful stenciling. Hope you have a successful Monday, everyone! Susan