All You Need To Know About Stencils

All You Need To Know About Stencils

17/09/2021 Off By killiadmin

Stencils have long been used in crafting and for many of us they have become a staple in the crafting stash. They are easy to use and there is so much you can do with them. Before we dive into how to use these super crafty tools, let’s take a little look at how they come about and what they are.

Brief History of Stencils.

For many years, stencils have been used to print onto cloth, woodcuts, and even used to mass-produce prints (Wikipedia). They were used to save time as the images would be the same without having to hand paint or write by hand. According to Stencils for Walls, the word “stencil” means “outline of an image”. Stencilling is a method wherein a design is repeated through a cut-out shape. The history of stencils dates back as early as 30,000 BC to 9,000 BC where stencilling examples were found in Paleolithic cave paintings. From cutting shapes and holes out of bamboo and banana leaves to decorating Egyptian tombs, stencilling has evolved so much. The old stencilling technique led to the inception of stencils art and today you can find several ways to practice this art.



What are Stencils?

A stencil is a device that helps you apply a particular design onto a surface. The design can be in any form – letters, words, and patterns being the most popular. Stencils tend to work best onto a flat surface, and depending on the ink or paint you use, and can be used on metal, cardboard, or any other material.

There are two parts to a stencil: the spaces that allow the colour to seep through to the material below are known as ‘islands’, and the areas that connect the stencil together are referred to as ‘bridges’.

For Home.

As well as paper crafting, stencils patterns can be used to decorate your home in many ways. Stencils set are perfect for adding a pop of colour and interest to walls, floors, furniture, and even fabrics.

Simply take your chosen stencil kit and temporarily adhere it to the surface. A simple masking tape or repositionable adhesive spray will do. Depending on the surface, you may apply paint or ink through the surface using a brush or sponge. Remove the stencil to reveal your chosen design. You can use any colour you wish to fit the decor of the room.

Many of Altenew’s stencil designs would work perfectly for this. If you want to start out small, try adding a design to a plant pot or small decor piece. To see how easy this is to do you can check out Sveta’s blog post here to see how she used the Floral Drape Stencil to create a super cute plant pot.



To apply stencils on your wall, follow these simple steps:

  • Clean your walls before using a stencil on them. Cannot stress how important this is. Preparing the surface before stencilling is akin to washing your face before applying makeup. You don’t want any loose paint, dust, or dirt on the wall. Using a cleaning solution on the wall is also highly recommended.
  • Once clean, carefully adhere the stencil to the spot where you want your design. Use a temporary adhesive such as painter’s tape or spray adhesive for this. These will ensure that your stencil won’t come off while you’re applying paint but are also easy to remove once your work is done.
  • Next, apply paint using a stencil brush or foam roller. For wood, wall, or furniture, you’d want to use acrylic paint or latex paint. There are a few affordable craft acrylics paint available online or in craft stores.
  • The most important thing to remember when applying stencils art on your wall is to offload! This means removing the excess paint on your stencil brush by wiping it onto a rag or a paper towel. Also known as dry brushing, this technique will ensure that the first layer won’t be too thick or clumpy and you can apply several layers afterwards.
  • Always use a clean towel to get rid of the excess paint from your chosen stencil. It’s also important to clean the stencil before applying the next layer.
  • Let the first layer of paint dry and then apply a second layer.
  • To avoid bleeding, avoid doing a side-to-side motion when painting. Always start from the edges and work your way towards the centre of the stencil. Use a tapping or stippling motion instead.


Working on a wall or any other hard surface is comparatively easier than working on fabric. This is definitely not ideal for stencil beginners. Working with fabric is problematic because the colours may seep through it and get mixed, ruining your stencils pattern. The smart way to use art stencils on fabric is to place a piece of cardboard beneath the fabric. This way, you don’t need to stress about the design getting ruined.

Clean the fabric before you tape your stencil on it, and apply multiple light coats instead of a few thick coats. Your fabric is less likely to get patchy with light coats. Make sure that you allow each coat to dry for at least 48 hours. This will ensure that the paint has completely dried off and the fabric is ready for another coat.



Canvas is a modern surface for stencilling. This is ideal if you have some old canvas lying around the house. Repurposing canvas by adding stencil designs to it is a fun and inexpensive crafting project that you can do alone or with family and friends. The process of stencilling on canvas is somewhat similar to how you do it on walls, with a couple of new steps.

  • Clean the surface. Mild soap and water will do, but you can use a cleaning solution for a more thorough cleaning.
  • When using an old canvas, you’re going to need to paint over the old image on the canvas. Using black acrylic or latex paint with a foam roller should do the trick. You may also use other dark colours, just make sure that it can completely cover up the image on the canvas. Let it dry.
  • Adhere the stencil onto the canvas using painter’s tape or spray adhesive.
    Apply the first coat or layer of acrylic paint, making sure that you start from the edges and move towards the centre.
  • Let the first coat dry.
  • Apply the second coat.
  • Allow it to dry and then remove the stencil.
A canvas allows you to play with multiple stencils in a single frame. For instance, along with customized stencils, you can also use stencil letters to write a message, a name, a word, or a quote, and make your artwork more personalized.


Raw Materials and Manufacturing Process of Stencils.

Thanks to technology, stencil makers have come up with various techniques on how to make stencils. The raw materials used for making them depend on the manufacturing technique.

Ideally, the procedure of stencil making has three varieties:


Raw materials: Nickel, standard and fine grain stainless steel

This process is recommended only when you already have laser-cut apertures on your desktop. There are specific norms for apertures in the etch process. If you are unable to follow them, you are likely to ruin your scope of stencil making. The ideal size of the etched aperture is about 1 and a half multiplied by the thickness of the material.

This aperture size can be easily derived using a laser-cut stencil.

E-form: In the history of stencils, at some point, e-form or electroformed stencils were an ideal choice. However, with laser cutting coming into the picture, the preference order has changed. Moreover, these stencils are more expensive and take more time to yield output.
Laser cutting:

A modern stencils maker prefers this technique to produce unique designs and good quality stencils.

With the laser-cutting technique, you can produce more stencils within the given time frame. At times, they can be produced and shipped within 24 hours. Laser-cut stencils offer users a tighter grip and an accurate and clean end result. Artists, therefore, prefer these stencils sets over other alternatives. These are easy to use and clean as well.


The Best Tips and Hacks in Using Stencils:

Discussed here are a few tips and hacks that can help you achieve the best results on your handmade creations, even if you’re still a stencil beginner.

Tip #1:

This is a precautionary measure to save your art from getting ruined. Develop a habit of cleaning the surface before you start stencilling. Dirt, dust, loose paint, etc. can ruin your project so make sure you clean the surface thoroughly before starting.


Tip #2:

Before you choose the stencil design that you want, make sure you get the correct stencil size. There is a wide variety of stencils online that you can purchase. However, it is crucial to always take note of the dimensions of your surface – whether it’s paper, a wall, or fabric – and then pick a stencil that fits. You don’t want to purchase a stencil that is larger than your surface. This will just ruin the design that you were going for. Using a smaller stencil should be fine but it will take you longer to finish your stencils art.


Tip #3:

Imagine you are adding paint on your stencil and with a slight movement of your hand towards the right, your stencil shifts in that direction and ruins your painting. To avoid such instances, it is important to properly adhere your stencil to the surface using masking tape, painter’s tape or any strong but temporary adhesive to secure it.


Tip #4

There is no rule of thumb when it comes to the type of paint for stencilling. The most commonly used for walls, wood, furniture, or canvas is acrylic or latex paint. If you’re stencilling on paper or a thinner material such as cardboard or box, an ink spray, a mixed media ink, or an embossing paste would do. For fabric, you can use a chalk pencil or a pound pad.


Tip #5

You will need a good quality stencil brush or foam roller. A large brush for a tiny design is not recommended. So make sure your brush size fits your project.


Tip #6

Applying paint directly from the bottle or can be difficult. To avoid unwanted spills, you can remove a significant amount of colour on a paper plate or a plastic palette. This will save your artwork from random colour spills or splatters.


Perks Of Using Stencils:

Stencils make art easier and faster. Even for beginners, using stencils for crafts can produce amazing results in no time. Whether you are pursuing it as a hobby, a stress-reliever, or something to help you personalize gifts and create home decor, stencilling is one of the most enjoyable things to do in your free time.

Here are a few more perks of using stencils:

  • Improved hand and eye coordination.
  • Higher patience and self-control.
  • Increased self-esteem.
  • Increased creativity.
  • Relaxing and de-stressing.

The old stencilling technique led to the inception of stencils art and today you can find several ways to practice this art.