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Carve Out Elegance With Stenciling

This image made from video broadcast by Iran's IRIB televsion, in Tehran, Wednesday, June 17, 2009, shows Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, daughter of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, center, speaking among supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, pro-reform presidential candidate. Mousavi and his supporters accuse the government of rigging the June 12 election to declare hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the overwhelming winner.
AP Photo/IRIB
Early settlers to the Americas were often known for their fine and elegant stenciling detail that adorned their craftsmanship. Stenciling is still around, yet much of its elegance has been lost.

Stencil Technique:

Hold brush as you would a pencil and tap paint through the stencil opening. Practice on a sheet of paper before turning to the project so as not to have to paint over mistakes.

Making the Stencil:

You can buy already-made laser-cut stencils at home-decorating emporiums. But it's also just as easy to make your own stencil.

Method:

Find a design that you like from a clip art book, available at bookstores.

Increase the size of the design on a copier machine or scan it on to your computer.

To prevent enclosed areas of negative space from being completely cut off, you'll need to draw "bridges" (little strips that connect) into your design before you start to cut.

Tape down a slightly larger piece of heavyweight clear acetate over the copy of your print-out and cut away the design with an X-acto knife on a self-healing mat.

Applying the Paint:

Most often, stenciling is done on walls. But you can apply the stencil to a painted wood tray that has been painted with semi-gloss latex paint.

Lightly spray the bottom side of the stencil with stencil spray, a low tack adhesive.

Smooth stencil onto your work surface

Using a dry flat-headed stipple brush, apply paint in a tapping motion. You do not want any brush strokes.

Paints for this project are a combination of:

Liquitex acrylic paints
Unbleached Titanium
Chromium Oxide Green
Iridescent Bright Gold

Method:

Mix only some of the paint together with a tongue depressor and use some of the paint straight from the tube.

Repeat action with varying colors

Stenciling paint will dry in just a few minutes

Remove stencil, reposition and repeat stenciling

For more from Martha Stewart, go to her Web site.