3 new things I have been trying (and 1 I am giving up)

It’s been a while since my last post, even though I had planned to write a post a week. Let’s be honest here, I can be a bit disorganized at times, or rather, most of the time. Anyone else out there struggling with schedules and routines? I certainly do. I get easily distracted, which often is a bad thing, but it can lead to new discoveries too. It inspires me to try new things, like stenciling for example. 

A year ago I had never tried to stencil anything - besides perhaps during some early childhood school crafts projects. Anyone remember these? plastic letters stencil

I had never tried my hand at screen printing or silk screening, let alone creating silk screen stencils myself. I’ve always loved doing crafts, but I never thought I could create something that looked professionally made. Once I discovered silk screens that all changed.

Now, I’ve been stenciling on an array of different types of surfaces, from fabric to glass, to plastic and I could go on. But to keep this post from getting too long, here are the latest 3 things I’ve been trying:

  • Cards (the thicker paper ones),
  • Cars (yes, actual moving vehicles - they were parked at the time of stenciling, though),
  • Cake (the one I was most thrilled about!)

So, let's start with cards. These are so fun to do and super easy too. So much so, that my 10 year old daughter may have become addicted to making them. She loves getting creative with them and taught me a new technique using crayons, which she otherwise never uses anymore, to create an ombre background (Ombre is the French word for "color that is shaded or graduated in tone"). Here’s an example of the technique she came up with: 

Cute bunny stenciled on card

For the card in the picture, we used a store bought blank card, painter’s tape, school crayons, paper towels, one of our All Purpose Silkscreen Stencils, and water-based acrylic paint. Squeegee is optional.

We used painter’s tape to cover the edges of the card, which we wanted to stay white, creating a border. Before applying the tape to your card, fuzz it first by sticking it to a towel or other high fiber fabric a few times. We did this by sticking it to our arms a few times first, which I would not recommend. The purpose of this is to make the tape a bit less sticky, so it won’t tear the paper later on when you take it off. Same goes for stenciling straight onto paper. I would recommend fuzzing the stencil before applying it to reduce the stickiness ever so slightly and avoid tearing the paper when taking it off - always use an All Surface type of stencil for paper!

Make sure to position the card the way you want it with the bottom towards you and tape off the border. Using normal school crayons we choose 3 colors from dark to light to later fade into one another. Start by coloring the bottom third of your card with the darkest color crayon, lay it on thick. Then proceed with the medium color in the middle and finally, the lightest color for the top third. Go overboard with the coloring to really cover the paper, especially if you have somewhat textured paper cards. Now, scrunch up a piece of paper towel (kitchen towel) and rub it over the darkest layer first, taking off the excess crayon. You want the surface to be as smooth as possible. Start with the bottom and work your way up. When you move onto the next color make sure to use a clean part of your paper towel to avoid getting the darker color onto it. Always use a clean part of the paper towel to fade one color into the next, working your way up from the darker color into the lighter color.

Once you’ve smoothed out your crayoned surface, double-check it by looking at it from an angle AND running your finger over the surface to check it is completely smooth. Sometimes little lumps of crayon will get left behind and this will prevent your stencil from fully adhering to the surface and create bleeding (where the paint goes underneath the stencil creating blotches you don’t want).

Once you’re sure the surface is smooth, it’s time to stencil. We used this super cute hand-drawn bunny design. I like to cut the corner off a stencil if there’s space for it instead of writing on the back with a permanent marker. It seems to make it easier to peel the stencil off the clear foil backing (the carrier sheet) and there’s only one way to line it back up. Plus I don’t always have a permanent marker handy. 

Peel the stencil off its carrier sheet and center it onto your card. Because of the layer of crayon you don’t have to fuzz the stencil before applying. Next, we applied a small amount of water-based acrylic white paint and spread it out over the stencil, fully covering the design. We used our fingers for this, but you can use a squeegee if you’re not a fan of finger painting. Take off any access paint and remove the stencil (careful not to stretch it). Voila! 

Make sure to clean the stencil straight away or, if you can’t for whatever reason, leave it to soak in a shallow tub of water, until you’re ready to clean it. Whatever you do, don’t let the paint dry in the mesh part of the stencil.

Finally, we carefully took the painter’s tape off and our card was done.

Stenciling on cars. 

Front of van with stenciled logoCraft logo stenciled onto vanLady and skull stenciled image

Yes, cars can be stenciled on, using the same brand of water-based acrylic paint as used on the cards, believe it or not. Now, I have to confess, the logo on the van was stenciled on about a year ago, so not that recently. But it’s still holding up great, despite being parked outside, without shelter, all year long and having gone through a bunch of (manual) car washes. Surprisingly, the acrylic paint is holding up nicely, yet still easily scraped off using your fingernails if you want to get rid of it. We’ve done a few images on our van that we’ve decided to remove over time and it’s left no mark at all. 

It makes sense though, as it’s metal and our All Surface type of stencils work on pretty much any smooth surface, metal included. Simply follow the instructions that we send with our stencils (no fuzzing needed for this surface BTW) and you can stencil anything onto your car from your logo or just a cool design. Just don’t do it to someone else’s car, unless you have their permission (or it’s April Fool’s?).

Cake!

Who doesn’t love cake?! Now, first off, full disclosure - our stencils have not been tested to be FDA approved for food items. Whether you want to use them on cakes or cookies is up to you and at your own risk. But we did it and survived :P

For our daughter’s 10th birthday she wanted a complete Harry Potter themed birthday party. And since she belongs to the Hufflepuff house, what else could go on her birthday cake but the Hufflepuff Crest? So I bought the image online off an Etsy shop and created a stencil out of it. I also made this delicious gluten-free cake, as one of her friends has Celiac, and used fondant for the first time in my life, because I figured I could stencil onto that using homemade gluten-free icing with black food coloring in it. The icing turned out more grey/silver rather than black, but hey, I’m no professional baker. I wasn’t quite sure it was going to work, but I couldn’t have been more happy with the result!

 

Hufflepuff crested cake
 Add a bit more icing and some stars to make it more magical and voila!

 

Finally, you may now be wondering, “Well, which of these three things won’t she be doing again?”, as the title of this post suggested. And the answer to that is, I’ll be doing all of them again! The one thing I have tried and won’t be doing again is using water-based metallic acrylic paints. Why? Because I’ve tried them in the past, using silver and gold metallic paints (both water-based acrylics) and they work great the first time around, but they seem to have tiny metallic particles in them (hence the name), which clog up the mesh in the silkscreen stencils. They’re simply a nightmare to clean out of your silkscreens and I haven’t been able to rinse them out of my stencils fully, despite my best efforts. So I steer clear of anything metallic if I intend to reuse the stencil, even if it states that it’s water-based paint or ink. 


Now, over to you. Which one of the three things I tried did you find the most interesting? Which one/ones would you like to try?

Let me know in the comment section below.

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