Working with Stencils- Some Basic Techniques

Hi Everyone, Saadia here

Little Birdie Crafts has recently launched beautiful new stencil designs and great art and mixed media journals. I thought I should share with you some of the very basic stenciling techniques, these will be useful to those who are new to stencils. I used only one design of stencil in almost all of the techniques.

Stencils and stenciling:

The stencil is usually a thin sheet of material, such as paper, plastic, wood or metal, with numbers, alphabets or a design cut in it.


Stenciling produces an image or pattern by applying pigment to a surface over an intermediate object (stencil) with designed gaps in it, which creates the pattern or image by only allowing the pigment to reach some parts of the surface.

The substrate or surface can be anything such as paper, wood, metal, glass, walls, finger nails and even food stuff like cakes and coffee.

The benefit of a stencil is that it can be reused again and again to produce the same letters or design.

Important tip:

Make sure to clean /wash the stencils, brushes, palette knives with water immediately after use. Don’t let the texture products dry over the stencils.

Lets start:

The very basic and easy technique is to spray Color Splash or Alcohol Splash spray through the stencil on to a paper. Just place stencil over the paper, make sure it is in contact with the paper and spray a thin mist from a distance. You can combine different colors to get a blended look. (Picture 1 –  2 colors of Color Splash sprays) (Picture 2-Alcohol Splash spray)

Important Tip: Wash or clean the stencil after use otherwise the color over the stencil will reactivate next time when you use the stencil and contaminate the new color

You can apply paints through stencils: You can use sponge daubers, blending brush,  stiff brush, blending foam, makeup sponge even baby-wipe or fingers for paint application. Try to use very little paint because too much paint can seep under the stencil and ruin the design.  I applied chalk paints through the stencil. I used an  inexpensive makeup sponge.

You can use ink pads and the above mentioned blending tools for ink application through the stencil.

Important Tip: Clean the stencil after using non permanent inks otherwise they will reactivate the next time you use the stencil and dirty your paper.

You can heat emboss a stencil design. In the next picture, I used an embossing pen and drew the design through the stencil and then lifted the stencil and poured white embossing powder over the design and heat embossed it with heating tool. This is a very simple stencil design but heat embossed flourish or floral design looks very beautiful on a card. In the next image, I applied an embossing ink onto the stencil design and used Gold embossing powder.  Little Birdie Crafts has recently launched Gold, Silver and Clear embossing powders; which look very beautiful on cards and mixed media projects.

Emboss resist technique– It is a bit similar to the heat embossed technique but here I sprayed inks on the paper after heat embossing with clear embossing powder. The embossed areas resist the ink sprays and you can get very cool color difference. You can even heat emboss over a colored area and then spray  (or use ink pad) with contrasting color and that baseline color will resist the second color.

Gel/gesso resist Technique- Apply Little Birdie Crafts soft or heavy body Gloss Gel Medium/gesso through stencil using a sponge or stiff brush or palette knife. Let it dry and then these areas will resist the ink sprays.

Using Stencils as stamps- ( reverse stenciling)- Spray fine mist of  Color Splash spray over the stencil and immediately press the stencil onto a paper. It will give a cool reverse effect. Picture 11

Stamp through a stencil- For this technique I used a large design and stamped a clear stamp through the stencil. I used Archival inks but any inkpad can be used.

Texture building– You can apply Mixed Media paste, Heavy body gel medium, Gesso, Glitter glue, Grainy texture paste through the stencil using a palette knife or silicon brush or even a used credit card. place the stencil over the paper. Make sure the stencil is in contact with the paper and apply as thick or thin as you want. Then lift the stencil immediately after application of the texture products.

Important Tip: Wash the stencil with water immediately after using the above mentioned texture products otherwise they will dry over the stencil and ruin the design.

For the next image, I applied Mixed media paste , removed the stencil and then immediately sprinkled Fairy sparkle glitter over  the paste.  I applied Grainy texture paste through the same stencil design.

Doodling through a stencil, you can use any pen and draw through the design. Especially useful for fine detailed mandala or floral designs. Here I drew the design and then made simple doodles in the circles

There are many other stencilling techniques but we will stop here. We will discuss few more techniques in another blog post.

Sharing with you, my art journal spread. I used different stencil designs for the background and then applied paint through Little Birdie crafts new floral stencil.

  • Brief process of a simple greeting card : I heat embossed through a script stencil, then colored the card with color splash sprays. Then applied color through a flower stencil by Little Birdie Crafts. I applied the same color through the stencil on to a separate sheet of cardstock and cut the flower petals and leaves and glued on to my card to give the flower dimension. Did some background stamping and added a sentiment. Glued the card onto a white card base.


I hope you liked this post and my card.

Thank you for visiting.  Don’t forget to take part in this month’s creative challenge

Take care .

Saadia Nawaz.


Materials used:

Irregular Dots Stencil

Grainy Texture Paste

Color splash spray- Lime Splash

Color splash spray Lemon zing

Soft Gel Medium Gloss

Chalk Paint Sailing Sky

Chalk paint Muted Teal

Wild wasabi

Script stencil




  1. Very useful post Saadia.. lovely techniques.. all of them so well explained.. beautiful creations with the stencils

  2. Wow this post is so inspiring saadia,thank you for this well explained useful post with cool techniques with stencil I enjoyed a lot read your post,will try some of them for sure

  3. Wow, this is an insanely beautiful journal page Saadia! Loved all your tips & techniques, a very useful post indeed!

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