On a whim, in the mid 1980s, I took a stenciling class offered at a craft store in Hershey, PA, where I had just relocated. I thought it might be an opportunity to meet some new people and fill a few otherwise lonely hours. None of my acquaintances that day became long lasting, but the skill I learned certainly has been. Never in my wildest dreams could I have guessed how useful that class would be.
The Art of Stenciling
According to the website all-about-stencils.com, stenciling can be defined as “the creation of an image through the application of color on a stencil and through the removed sections (islands), leaving a reproduction of the image on the underlying surface.” I learned that this color can come from a variety of mediums, including different types of paint and crayons. The underlying surface can also differ widely: paper, wood, fabric, or walls, to name a few examples. Stencils can be purchased or homemade, but are typically of a sturdy material that holds up well and is water resistant. In my class, we learned not only how to use a pre-cut stencil, but how to make our own, using a sheet of mylar (sort of a heavy plastic) and an X-acto knife.
The Class Was Fun!
After a brief introduction, the instructor supplied the other four class participants and me with a stubby paintbrush (the type typically used for stenciling), a wooden plaque, a stencil of a bird, some paper towels and water for cleaning our brushes in-between colors. Into the indentations of each of our plastic artist’s palettes, she squirted stencil paints of a variety of colors. She showed us how to load our brushes with the right amount of paint, and rub them in a circular motion over our stencils, carefully positioned and taped in place. When I lifted the stencil and saw the result, I was hooked! What a fun, relatively easy way to make art! I left the class with my creations, my complimentary artist’s palette, carefully cleaned stencil, a bunch of newly purchased paints, brushes, several stencils and a book of ideas and instructions.
Knowing How to Stencil Has Been Very Useful
Since that day, I have stenciled many projects and gifts – on wooden objects, fabric, ceramic, and the walls of my children’s nurseries — a Noah’s Ark border in one, and a circus theme in the other. Stenciling is an enjoyable and useful creative outlet for anyone with minimal or even no artistic ability.
Vast resources exist both in print and on the internet for learning how to stencil. Taking a stenciling class is a fun and easy way to learn the basics though, and I have always been glad I had the opportunity.
Some resources for learning more about stenciling:
Stencil 101: Make Your Mark with 25 Reusable Stencils and Step-by-Step Instructions, by Ed Roth
More content by Susan Foster:
How to Make a Homemade Christmas Tree Photo Ornament – a Perfect Gift!
Favorite Recipe: “Canoe Trip Banana-Butterscotch Brownies”