Okay, so here’s something cool to try if you’re bored. And/or if you want to give yourself a really bad hand cramp whilst simultaneously gracing the side of your index finger with a bright, deep, red welt that lasts for weeks.
Well now, consider yourself warned. This is fun. This is, in fact, so much fun that you will inevitably get so very lost in the ‘art of stenciling’ that you will drive that pen-knife through that white board – and then all the way through your cutting mat like a hyperactive little woodpecker on crack. You’ll chip away at that stencil till your fingers cry out in inexplicable but joyous pain. And once your stiff little fingers have started to bleed or you notice a proud, throbbing blister forming on the knuckle of your index finger – that’s when you let out a sigh of relief, pat yourself on the back, pull out your spray paint and celebrate by
getting hilariously high on the paint fumes creating a wonderful work of art.
What you’ll need:
These should all be available at your local craft/stationery and art supply stores.
- A cutting mat
- A really sharp pen-knife (If you think you can use a normal box cutter instead, go ahead El Cheapo. I dare you.)
- Extra blades for your pen-knife (because believe me, if you press hard enough, your blades can and will break)
- A picture/stencil printed on 160gm white board (I tried cutting stencils in acetate and didn’t like it)
- Spray Paint
- An image manipulation program like Photoshop or GIMP
- Spray Glue – preferably not the super-sticky, permanent type
Here are some GIMP tutorials that should help you get started (sorry, I don’t have any Photoshop tuts to share):
How to make a graffiti stencil - this is a really useful tutorial for learning how to create bridges
OK, so now that you’ve learnt how to cut out backgrounds, play with the hue, saturation, thresholds – and most importantly – learnt how to create bridges in your stencil (oh, trust me, this gave me headaches), you’re ready to print out your image. There are loads of free images at your disposal. Just google them.
Try working with ready-made (and free) stencil print-outs available online so that you get a feel for creating bridges. Once you’ve mastered these, try taking on something a little more detailed.
The hot air balloon stencil came out really cool. I used a wicked blue spray paint (that smells of vanilla) and sprayed the stencil onto a piece of textured fabric. The fabric was then stretched over a round embroidery hoop and gifted to my bestie, Sam, as a Christmas gift. Now she has my humble wall art hanging in her delightful craft room. Sweeeet.
When you think you’re ready to take on a portrait or photo, go do eeet! My first few attempts were not amazing but were good enough to offer further encouragement, so I forged on and kept at it.
I used a cheaper spray paint in the early stages. (You can tell, huh?). On the left is my niece, Yaeesha and on the right is my hubby, Rafiq aka Web AddiCT
Once I got the hang of the whole stencilling thing, I moved on to more expensive spray paint and slightly more intricate photos.
The good stuff – recommended by some of the best graffiti artists out there. This spray paint smells of vanilla too. How awesome is that?!
And here’s the final product – Yaeesha’s stencil, completed. Finally! It was worth the effort though.
And here’s one I made for my baby sister, Nikki Pikki. (Her name is actually Aneeqah). I sprayed it on a canvass and gave it to her as a gift. She loved it – it’s hanging in her lounge right now, actually.
And that, folks, sums up my little adventure with stencilling. Yeah, it’s a little tedious in the beginning but once you get the hang of your image manipulation program (and learn to loosen your grip on the blade a little), it does get a lot easier. I even started to enjoy the process. Hope you do too! Now, go stencil away!