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I love stencils and masks! So much fun to play and experiment with and they are so versatile! You can make your own, or buy more permanent ones, and there’s definitely something for every style.

I’ve had people say to me that they don’t like messy, or getting messy, so stencils are just not their thing. Wrong, I say! You don’t like the whole messy, art journally, painting covered, inky fingers stuff? Let me show how to cleanly use a stencil! πŸ™‚

First, let’s talk basics…

1. I will not cover everything about stencils. First, I am no pro and don’t know it all, and second, there’s unlimited uses for stencils so there’s no way I can even touch the surface.

2. The things I will show you are totally buildable. For example, you like 2 or three different techniques? Then use them all – at the same time! But they’re also buildable in that you can start with the basic technique and build your own spin on it.

3. Stencils are not always stencils, sometimes they’re masks. Not a big deal, most people know what you’re talking about but just so you know the difference and can trot out your knowledge at the next dinner party you go to, here it is:

  • A stencil has open space – think those block letter stencils from grade school.
  • A mask covers something up – think the block letter itself.
  • So, you could use the mask to cover some paper, colour around it, and then reveal an uncoloured image:
  • And then the stencil to trace a border around it to further define the edges:

4. One big complaint I hear it that the image someone wants turns out messy. Here’s the easy reason why it’s messy – your medium was too runny. Dry medium (eg. ink, chalk) gives a more detailed image than wet medium (eg. mist, paint). The wetter your medium, the less precise your image as leakage under the stencil will occur. Both are great results depending on the look you want.

So, let’s start our stencil techniques with the neat and tidy stuff – dry mediums. I don’t have chalk, so we won’t be using that but if you have it I’d love to see what you do with your stencils!

If I want a crisp image, I always use Distress Inks. For one, I love them – great colours and very blendable. For two, I have them all and they’re always right next to me – easy access makes for well used tools!

As I said earlier, you can also use chalk for great results, and wet mediums, if you use them dry. Does that sound completely contradictory? It makes sense, but I’ll cover “dry” paint, when we get to paint! Today, it’s all about ink, detailed images, and clean hands!

Just lay your stencil on your tag (or layout, or card, or whatever) and use an ink blending tool to rub on the ink. You can do this on clean background or one that you’ve already painted, inked, prepped, etc.

If you only want certain areas, use sticky notes or computer paper to mask off the areas you want left as is – remember, a mask covers things so it can protect the areas you don’t want inked!

You could also just swipe the ink pad over the stencil, but this may make less than perfect images since direct ink to paper is wetter, and it’s messier since more ink is left on the stencil. I prefer to use the Ink Blending Tool and keep my fingers out of it!

Once you’re finished inking, lift off your masks and stencil and reveal the magic!

Awesome, huh? The reveal is my favourite part! πŸ™‚

Now, complete your tag (or layout, or card, or whatever) and pat your self on the back for a job well done and clean fingers!

I added some shimmer to this one, and a little wooden bluebird πŸ™‚

Try it out, then leave me a link where I can see your projects – you know I love that part too!

Check back later tonight for ICAD #4!