5 Types of Craft Stencils and Ideas for Using Them

Last Updated: September 28, 2021

Craft stencils are a great way to add decoration and originality to your paper crafts! In this blog post, we will be going over different types of craft stencils and a few stencil art ideas. How do you use craft stencils? What paper do you use for stenciling? How can I turn a picture into a stencil? If you want to know the answers to these questions, then keep on reading!

Stencil art idea on a journal page

Wonderful Wreath Stencil & Embossing Paste & Ink Spray Bundle

What Is A Stencil and How Does It Work?

Crafting is a great way to relax and have fun. There are many craft supplies that you can use to create your own unique projects. One supply that will make designing easier is stencils! Craft stencils are utilized in a wide range of paper crafts such as handmade cards, scrapbook pages, art journals, mixed media artwork, and more. 

Simply put, a stencil is a crafty tool that helps you apply a particular design or pattern to a surface with the help of pigment or ink. It has islands, spaces that allow the color to seep through to the surface underneath the stencil, and bridges, which are areas that connect the stencil together. From alphabet letters and words to florals and shapes, you’ll quickly find various stencil art designs available in the market today.

Leaf burst stencil from Altenew

Leaf Burst Stencil & Ink Spray Bundle

In paper crafting, stenciling involves using ink or pigment over the stencil and onto a surface, therefore reproducing or transferring the design on it. Because of their versatility, stencil techniques have gained popularity among crafters, DIY enthusiasts, and mixed media artists. Not only are they relatively inexpensive compared to other arts and crafts supplies, but they are also quite handy and easy to use as well. A quick search on the web will show you endless creative possibilities when it comes to stencil art ideas.

How Do You Use Stencils?

Stenciling is a fun and easy way to add a personal touch to your home decor, DIY projects, and other handmade crafts. But what are stencils exactly? And how do they work? Here are 5 easy steps on how to use craft stencils on your paper crafts:

Stencil technique on a scrapbook page

Layered Medallion A & B Stencil Bundle

  1. Make sure to adhere the stencil properly onto the surface using painter’s, washi, or any repositionable adhesive. 
  2. Use the correct type of stencil paper as well. Make sure it is high quality and heavy-duty, especially when you’re using water-based pigments. 
  3. Start adding your chosen ink (ink spray, watercolor, dye ink, pigment ink, etc.) using a stencil brush, an ink blending tool, or a finger sponge dauber. Always start from the corner and work your way in toward the middle.
  4. Let the first color dry completely before you add another color. This way, the two colors won’t mix, and the design will pop off the page.
  5. Always clean your craft stencils and other stencil tools after use. Use baby wipes, a clean wet cloth, or a stamp shammy. Cleaning your stenciling tools afterward will help avoid smudging or color transfer.

BONUS TIP! Use a light hand, especially when ink blending. You want the color blending to be seamless and smooth; if you are too heavy-handed when ink blending, you might see some rough edges here and there.

5 Types of Craft Stencils In Paper Crafting

If you’re looking for a great way to add some creativity and fun to your home decor and other DIY projects, look no further! Different types of stencils can help you do that and more! You can use these handy tools on your handmade cards, scrapbook pages, DIY notebooks, walls, furniture, or even fabric! If you're looking for something new to try out in your craft room, here are 5 different types of stencils that you can buy online and how to use them.

Altenew Craft Stencils

Altenew Craft Stencils

1. Background Stencils - These are pretty popular among paper crafters because of their versatility. Background stencil art designs come in a wide variety of designs, with flowers, leaves, and geometric patterns being the most popular. This stencil usually comes in a 6” x 6” or 5” x 7” pattern that can cover the front of an A2-sized card. These work well as scrapbook stencils because it allows scrappers to instantly add a background or a decorative element on their pages. Background stencils are a staple in every paper crafter’s tool kit.

2. Coloring Stencils - If you’re a seasoned paper crafter, you might be wondering what in the world are coloring stencils?! Introduced in 2020, coloring stencils have turned into one of the trendiest crafting tools ever! Basically, it’s a stencil that allows you to easily add color to your stamped images without the painstaking process of coloring! How does that work? Each coloring craft stencil coordinates with a stamp set, so all you need to do is place the coloring stencil on top of the coordinating image and add color through ink blending!

Handmade cards with stencil art

Mandala Builder Stencil Set (3 in 1)

3. Builder Stencils - Like background stencils, these are ideal as scrapbook stencils because of their ease of use. You can’t really see the beauty of builder stencils until you start using them. As the name suggests, it “builds” a stunning pattern or design with an incredible 3D result. If you’re looking for cool stencil art designs that will stand out, then builder stencils are for you!

4. Layering Stencils - This type of stencil usually comes in a set of two, with each stencil having two different designs that can be used together to create a unique design. The best part is you have the option to utilize just one stencil layer or both. This will give you a different result every time. Layering stencils is actually an excellent stencil technique that will help you stretch the use of your stencils. 

5. Mask Stencils - While relatively new to the paper crafting world, these were total game-changers. The masking technique isn’t unique to card makers and scrapbookers. It’s a beautiful way to add depth and dimension to stamped images. Mask stencils are stencils that coordinate with stamps and dies, making masking a hassle-free process. Gone are the days when crafters had to create their own “masks” using scrap paper or sticky notes. How does it work? Mask stencils can be used to mask their corresponding stamp image and stamp another image behind it, also known as the “masking effect.” Since this is a stencil, you can use the “negative” part for other stencil techniques such as ink blending, watercoloring, and embossing.

Stencil art on a handmade card

Layered Dahlia A & B Stencil Bundle

Stenciling Tips and Techniques

Stencils can provide great creative freedom while allowing people who may not otherwise know how to draw or add designs to their projects. These cost-effective crafty tools are easy to use and great for various paper crafting projects. Crafters love exploring stencil art ideas because they help personalize their projects by adding stunning designs or patterns without spending too much time or money.     

If you are interested in trying this fun tool, we’ve got some stenciling tips and techniques for you:

  1. Add texture to your projects with embossing paste. Stencil and embossing paste is like apple and cinnamon - they go well together. In the video below, Nathalie used embossing paste to create a colorful and textural background and add dimension to the embossed leaves

  2. One stencil used in three different ways. The ingenuity of most stencil art designs is that you can use the whole pattern or just a part of it to whip up various unique results. Check out this blog post to see how Tania did it.

    Handmade cards made with layering stencils
    Polka Dot Buds Layering Stencil Set (2 in 1)

  3. Ink blending with stencils. Large-sized stencils are perfect as scrapbook stencils, but they can also be used on handmade cards and other DIY crafts to create stunning backgrounds. This blog post shows how Lilith added a wow factor to her scrapbook page using the Floral Drape Stencil.
  4. Add a subtle background to your journal with a simple stencil. You might think that using a stencil in a travel journal is a no-no because the pages are thinner than cardstock. However, Lilith’s blog post here will prove to you that the blended ink doesn't bleed through like other pigments would. And the result is truly incredible!
  5. Maximize the use of layering stencils. Most layering stencil sets can be used on their own to create a simple background or combined to create a multi-colored pattern. That’s precisely what Aga did in this blog post. She made gorgeous layering images on her handmade cards in just a few steps and with minimal effort.

What Paper Do You Use for Stencils?

The paper that you use for stencil techniques should be a thick and sturdy material. It is best to use high-quality stencil paper for stenciling or heavy-duty, smooth cardstock (somewhere between 80lb to 110lb). The smooth surface means it won’t have any bumps or ridges, which can cause uneven ink blending and other imperfections.

DIY journal page with stencil art

Confetti Stencil

How Do I Turn a Picture Into a Stencil?

Making your own stencils is a great way to get creative. Stencil techniques can be used in arts and crafts projects with children, custom stenciled T-shirts, or even stenciled furniture pieces. There are many different materials that you can use for stencil creation including cardboard, recycled cardstock paper, plastic folder, and contact paper.

To turn a picture or design that you like into a stencil, you can start by printing out the image on regular copy paper. Next, place a piece of contact paper on top of it. Then start tracing the image using an X-acto knife of a craft knife. Finally, peel off the image that you’ve traced from the contact paper and start using it to create your own stencil art designs.

CAS handmade card created with craft stencil

Hand-Drawn Tile Stencil

We hope you found the stenciling tips and techniques here useful for your next handmade project. With these craft stencils, it's easy to create beautiful designs with various materials, including ink sprays, watercolors, or embossing paste - whatever suits your project best! 

Ready to use stencils in your next crafty project? Discover our wide range of stencil designs here.

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