This is a method of decorating which employs a stencil- a sheet with holes or cutout areas in it. Ink, paint, crayons, or similar materials are brushed into the holes, so that the design of holes is transferred to the paper, cloth, or material to be decorated.

Stencils are used to mark equipment, such as canoe paddles, packs, or food containers, or they may be used to make a to-be-repeated design for invitations, book covers, bandanas, ties, signs, and so forth. The uses are very similar to those for block printing, but the processes of making and using the stencil are different.

Equipment needed: sharp knife or single-edged razor blade in holder; sharp, pointed scissors; palette of glass or waxed paper; stencil brushes; pins; pencil and paper for design; newspapers or magazines; working surface; cleaner for brushes.

Materials needed: stencil paper, or back of mimeograph stencils; water-color, oil, textile, or poster paint or wax


PLATE VII-B crayons; paper, cloth, wood, etc., or pieces of equipment to be decorated.

Techniques In Stenciling. Stencil-Simplest Type

A stencil is a design of holes or cutout areas; the edges of the holes must be very definite, and each hole must be separate from every other hole.


1. The simplest stencil is one variegated "hole," as a tree. Cut the design from paper first; fold a 2" x 2" square in half, with fold on the left. Make an evergreen tree sketch with pencil or paint on one half (Fig. VII-14). Be sure the top and the bottom cuts are on the fold, so that there will be a complete piece of paper surrounding the cutout (x in Fig. VII-14).

2. Cut out the tree, being careful to leave the paper at the x's intact. Unfold the paper, and the design will be the same on both sides of the fold. Transfer to a piece of stencil paper, and cut out.

3. To print: place paper or other material on which the design will be printed on a smooth working space of newspapers and compo board on table. Fasten stencil in place with pins (Fig. VII-15), especially at loose points.

Make a work space for the paint. Use poster or water-color paint for the first try. Have a piece of paper towel for wiping brush (Fig. VII-16). Dampen brush and dip in paint. Wipe off excess paint on towel.

Starting 1/2" from edge of cutout design, brush over edge of stencil toward center of cutout space (Fig. VII-17). This gives a crisp edge and keeps the center light, creating more "form" to the design. Hold the brush at a slight angle (Fig. VIII7). The paint should not he thick, and there should be no piling up of paint along the edge of the stencil. Repeat stroking, if necessary, to make color darker in some spots.

Have A Piece Of Paper Towel For Wiping BrushBrush Over Edge Of StencilHold The Brush At A Slight Angle

Take out pins; take stencil off carefully. It is best to let the paint "set" a few minutes before removing stencil.

Variation: Move the stencil back a little, and make a second tree behind the first (Fig. VII-18). The second tree will be partly hidden; make it lighter in color to give effect of distance. Experiment for interesting effects.

Stencil-With A Series Of Open Areas. Steps

1. Make a design on paper, giving consideration to the space in which it will be used. Make the design of a series of "holes," being sure that no areas or holes are joined to other areas (Fig. VII-19). On the paper, pencil in the "holes" of the design which will be cut out; hold the design up against the light, to get the effect of the stencil.

2. Trace the design on the stencil paper with carbon. Using a very sharp knife or razor blade, cut out each section of the design. Keep knife straight, so the edges are cut square and not slanting.

Making A Design With More Than One Color. Steps

1. A single sheet of stencil paper may be used, if there is space between the different colors (Fig. VII-19).

2. If colors are to be joined together (Fig. VII-20) a stencil for each color must be made. Mark the four corners of the stencil, and mark corresponding spots on the paper or cloth to be sure the stencils "register" so that each part of the stencil falls in the right spot to make the total design.

Projects In Stencilling

see also FIGS-VII- 12 +13

Projects In StencillingSpace Between The Different Colors


Using Textile Paint On Cloth

Textile paint is a special paint that can be applied to cloth. The cloth may be washed, once the paint has dried. Textile paint, in sets of colors, is available at craft supply houses; directions for use are included in the set.


1. Pin cloth on newspapers or magazine, and pin stencil in place. Use same technique as with water color (above), being sure to use small amounts of paint and to clean excess off brush on paper towel before applying to cloth. If the brush has too much paint, the paint will pile up under stencil edges, and will also make the cloth too stiff. Do the painting gradually.

2. Lift stencil off carefully; clean after each use.

3. Let paint dry, and press as directions in set of paints indicate.

4. Clean stencil and brush with cleaner that comes in set or with carbon tetrachloride or similar cleaning fluid.

To stencil on wooden articles: follow same directions for making stencil. Use oil or enamel paint.