DIY Stencils

This is a project I’ve been excited to share.  It is a trick I picked up in architecture school and I’ve found it helpful for all sorts of painting projects.  On Patrick’s side of the family, all the adults buy little presents for the youngest kids.  There are 8 kids so even something inexpensive can add up when you multiply it by 8.  Here’s what I came up with:

photo 5

I found these little bags at Hobby Lobby for $5.00 each and was inspired.  I was even able to buy them at 30% off.  Yay!  Even though I love how these bags turned out and think they make great little gifts for almost any age, the real point of this post is to show you how to make stencils that can be used for almost anything.

photo 1 (2)

The supplies you’ll need are:  something to paint on (the bag in this case), contact paper, paint, X-acto knife, cutting mat, and a printout of the image you want to create your stencil.  Print out your image on plain old printer paper.  Keep in mind that your image needs to be basically black and white.  But, unlike a traditional stencil, you don’t need to worry about it being an image that is “connected.”  It can have holes in it.

Once you have your supplies gathered up, cut a piece of contact paper about the same size as your image.  Then take the back off your contact paper and place it sticky side down over your image.  You will have to peel the paper off of your contact paper later.  This shouldn’t be a problem.  But, if you have especially sticky contact paper, you can place it on your clothes or your floor before putting it over your image to take some of the “stick” off.  Next, cut through the contact paper and printer paper over the lines of your image.  Be careful and precise.  I’ve had quite a bit of experience with my X-acto knife (thank you architecture school).  So, I’m comfortable free-handing it.  But, practice or use a straight edge if you need to.  Also, make sure you are using it good sharp knife, it makes it so much easier!

photo 2 (2)

Once you have cut out around your image, punch out the positive (part you want to paint) of your image and keep the negative (or background).  Make sure to keep the “holes” (like the center of the ‘O’ and ‘A’ in my example).  You’ll need these!  Next, peel the paper off the back of your contact paper.  Again, be patient and careful.  The contact paper is pretty sturdy.  But, if you have a delicate design you can tear it if you aren’t careful.

photo 1     photo 2

You should now have a clear-ish stencil of your image.  Place it down on whatever surface you are going to paint.  I know these pictures are a little hard to see (that’s the problem with a non-professional photographer trying to take pictures of something clear).  Anyway, don’t forget to use the “holes” pieces and place them where they go.  This is the real beauty about this technique.  Because the contact paper is sticky and will stay in place, you don’t have to have little connection pieces like in a traditional stencil.  Now you’re ready for the fun part: painting!

photo 3photo 4

I switched which bag I was taking pictures of (Eli’s instead of Logan’s) but, I used the same technique.  For these bags I did an ombre thing but you could paint whatever color(s) you want.  After you are done painting, just carefully peel the contact paper off.  Let the paint finish drying and stand back and admire your work.

Total Project Cost:  $3.50/bag + $15 in fabric paint – I already had a roll of contact paper, knife, and cutting mat

Total Project Time:  A few hours (did I mention I made 8 of these things?! ).  If I were only making one, it would have taken less than an hour.

I hope you enjoyed this post (and that it made sense).  It’s a cool technique that I have used for several types of projects.  It’s only limited by the size of your printer, the size of the contact paper, and your patience.

P.S.  If you happen to be the parent of one of the kids set to receive these bags, let’s just pretend you didn’t read this come Christmas!  =)

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