Glitter and Silkscreens

Last week I showed you how to stencil on canvas using a custom silkscreen and one of our butterfly silkscreen stencils. If you’ve read the blog post you’ll know that I made two paintings as there was a learning curve for me too. The first print I stenciled (the quote) got a bit messy. I learned from my mistake and used a different technique to apply the paint onto the stencil and got much better results with the other prints. However, I ended up with two near identical black and white butterfly paintings. So I decided that one of my butterflies needed some color, it needed a transformation. And that is exactly what I did. In this week’s blog post I’ll show you how I transformed a plain black and white butterfly into a sparkling bright butterfly that pops. 

before picture  after picture

How to add glitter to your design

So I started out with a stenciled canvas and the plan was to add glitter to the butterfly. I had already done this previously with some custom cards I had made, so I knew the technique I’m about to share with you would work. 

To add glitter to your design, or to make your design completely out of glitter, here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Your reusable silkscreen stencil
  • Water-based glue that’s transparent when it dries
  • Glitter
  • A paint brush
  • A piece of paper (A4 or larger depending on the size of your design)

What I did for the butterfly is simple. I reapplied my stencil on the canvas making sure it aligned with the original butterfly. Then with a brush I applied a layer of clear paint over the top. Because I had the black painting below, it was actually quite easy to see where I missed a spot as the paint below changed colors when it got wet from the glue. I used a brush instead of a squeegee just because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t accidentally pushing the glue under the stencil. But  I had to make sure not to take too long as I didn’t want the glue to dry in the mesh of the stencil. As you can see in the video below, I keep going over some of the first spots I applied the paint to add a little bit extra to avoid it from drying too fast. Once I applied the glue, I took off the stencil and gave it a quick rinse in the sink and then let it sit in the sink upside down. I didn’t wash it out thoroughly as I didn’t have time, I needed to add my glitter before the glue dried! 

I covered the entire design with a ton of glitter, pressed it down ever so slightly with my hands and let it sit. As I waited for the glue to dry I went back to the sink to properly clean my stencil. I had already rinsed it to keep it moist and had left it upside down (sticky side up) to avoid it getting stuck to the sink. A better trick to keep in mind when you know you won’t be able to rinse your stencil immediately after use is to have a shallow tub of water ready to put your stencil in to let it soak until you are ready to clean it properly. 

Going back to the butterfly, I put a notebook on top of the pile of glitter to add some pressure to get as much glitter as possible in contact with the glue. I left it for about 2 hours to dry before I came back to it. I could have waited less probably, but I had some other stuff to do anyway.

Brushing off excess glitter
Now we all know, glitter is messy. So when it’s time to take off the excess glitter, make sure you have something like a clean sheet of paper underneath to tip the loose glitter onto. Paper is great as it makes cleaning up a bit easier and you can put most of the extra glitter back in the container. I first tipped my painting, letting the excess amount of glitter spill off, then I tapped it a few times on the back, and finally I used a small fine brush to brush off any stray glitter.

Sealing your glitter

As I said before, I’ve stenciled with glitter before, and while the glue will hold the glitter in place, I did notice that over time as I was moving the piece around some of it started to come off. So for this project I decided to seal the glitter in place by spraying a thin layer of spray glue over the top. I used a clear mat spray glue from the local craft shop and now the glitter holds up much better. I wouldn’t recommend using this in combination with the stencil though, as you have much less control over how much glue you apply when using a spray glue rather than when applying glue with a brush. With a spray glue you’ll most likely end up using too much and the consistency of the glue is too thin, so it’ll run under your stencil and you’ll end up with a blob instead of the design. Also, when applying spray glue make sure to spray it evenly over the top of your glitter design. If you’ve used colored glitter like I have, then you may find that the force of the spray glue may get the color of your glitter to run, so apply it from a distance in even strokes (20-30 cm away from your canvas/design).

Finally, here are some quick tips I call “the Do’s and Don’ts of stenciling with glitter”.

  • Do use water-based glue that dries transparently. 
  • Don’t use glitter glue - it will clog up your stencil and you won’t be able to rinse it out!
  • Do seal your glitter by spraying it with a clear spray glue outside (this will smell when you apply it, so if you have a safe spot and it’s not windy let it dry outside as well)
  • Don’t seal your glitter if you enjoy finding glitter at random times in random places (like on your face after you’ve touched your artwork)


I hope you enjoyed this week’s post. As always, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter for monthly tips, coupons, and inspiration. If you have any questions let me know in the comment section below.

Happy crafting!


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