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Stencils and masks - how to work with them?

If you fall into the group of crafters enchanted by inks, acrylic paints and Color Wash paint in spray, then you will not do without stencils. I am a lover of inks and stamps and I am really „stoked“ on making my own backgrounds...

I think that creating own backgrounds is an advanced level of scrapbooking. It is very simple as well. Just let your fancy roam and create unique projects.

Stencils, sometimes called masks, have various sizes, material and producers. The most famous are those by designers of Tim Holtz and Dyan Reveley from Ranger company, next perfect stencils by The Crafters Workshop or adhesive stencils by Viva.

You can create your custom stencils using mask sheets. Either cut them out by means of Shapecutter or use Big Shot machine.

1.Stencils and inks

Great combination! Wet the sponge in the ink pad. Place the stencil on the part of the project to be decorated, hold it gently to prevent it from moving. Pass the sponge over the stencil and soak it in the pad again. I recommend you to put paper under the places where the stencil ends to avoid application of ink outside the stencil. After that the decorated place can be embellished with stamps.

For work with stencils water-based inks, like Distress ink pads, are the best. Other types of inks are more difficult to spread.


2.Stencils and Acrylic Paint-Dabbers

Acrylic paint-dabber is another sidekick of the stencils. The paint has a dabber – sponge, so you can directly apply the paint without needing a brush or a spatula. The process is almost the same like with the inks. Place the stencil on the part of the project to be decorated and pass the sponge over the stencil. You can apply it by dabbing as well but you risk formation of small air bubbles. However, sometimes it is not amiss to have bubbles – you get interesting structure of the motif. Again, place paper under the stencil to prevent mishaps.

For work with stencils, we recommend to use various acrylic paints, like Acrylic Paint-Dabber, next 3D Embossing Cream by Viva, crackling or other 3D paints.


3.Stencils and Color Wash

You get gorgeous designs when using stencils along with paints in spray like Color Wash. When working with Color Wash you must be quick as the paint can get under the stencil and destroy its motif. Place the stencil on the project to be decorated. Put paper under the entire stencil to prevent application of paint outside the stencil. Spray it over and get the stencil away immediately. The wet stencil can be impressed on another part of the project and you get the negative of the motif. The motif of the stencil should be dried with paper napkin. Color Wash has very deep colours which can be watered down in spray and you reach lighter shades.

We recommend paints in spray - Color Wash, Perfect Pearl Mist or Dylusions Ink Spray for work with stencils.


4.Stencils and Gesso

Gesso is thick coat medium of various colours. It creates an interesting structure on the surface of the project when used together with a stencil. Just apply it through the stencil by means of your finger or a spatula. Again, work quickly to prevent the medium from getting under the stencil. Be careful when removing it and do not smudge the motif. Let it dry finally. Next, embellish Gesso with inks and make the motif more authentic.


5.Stencils and Pigment and Embossing Powders

You get interesting effects and glossy design using pigment and embossing powders.

• Pigment Powders

First, apply Perfect Medium through the stencil, press it through thoroughly. Remove the stencil, take a fine brush and apply powder on the medium. The powder sticks only on spots where the medium is applied. Be careful when working with adhesive stencils. The adhesive from the stencil can stick to the paper and the powder will hold even on undesired spots. Finally, spray it slightly with water (you learn more in the article of „Pigment and Embossing Powders in Scrapbooking“.)

• Embossing Powders

You start with application of clear embossing ink through the stencil again. Do not worry to press down strongly – it is necessary to spread the ink across the entire motif. Remove the stencil and pour embossing powder on the motif. Put the left powder back to the bottle. Finally, fix it with Heat Gun. Even in this case I do not recommend to use adhesive stencils. The powder sticks to the spots where the stencil adheres. (You learn more in the article of „Pigment and Embossing Powders in Scrapbooking“.)

Follow-up care of stencils

• I recommend to rinse stencils and masks under running water as soon as you finish your work. If you work with oil-based inks (Archival) you need to apply special Cleaner to remove ink from the stencil.
• Some stencils have very fine patterns which can be easily destroyed when you pass sponge over them. Be careful when working with them.
• Stencils are for use when making following projects – scrapbook pages, cards, tie-on labels, boxes, diaries, etc. They are perfect for creation of ArtJournals as well!


I am convinced even eager Polymer Clay crafters will take a fancy to stencils. They create wonderful figures on the surface of the jewellery.

In the new issue of the magazine „Korálki téma Jarní les“ you find combined instructions for creation of jewellery and a gift box by means of stencils, inks and stamps. That will be an interesting inspiration for you!


Watch following video instructions and learn how to work with stencils and various media:

We wish you pleasant and original creation!

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