Stenciling is a fun way to decorate objects, and a great beginner project to try is a stenciled tote bag. You can purchase blank canvas tote bags at craft stores in various sizes.
I chose a Zinnia flower stencil design for my tote bag, and decided to use three different colors to give the stencil some depth. I started with a mustard color for the center, then blended into a teal shade, and ended with a soft brown shade. Yes these colors are a bit different for a Zinnia flower, but I like the way it turned out!
Blank canvas tote bag
Acrylic craft paints
Cardboard or scrap paper
1. Put cardboard or scrap paper inside your tote, so that the paint doesn’t bleed through to the other side.
2. Position your stencil where you want it, and then use painters tape to attach it to the tote. A few pieces of tape should be fine to secure your stencil – I went a bit overkill!
3. Dip your stencil brush lightly into the paint so that just the tips of the bristles get some paint on them.
4. Swirl your brush around on your paper plate a few times. Next, swirl your brush onto a folded paper towel to remove even more of the paint.
When it seems like you wiped off too much paint? That’s when you’re ready to begin stenciling!
And that’s really the most important bit of advice to remember: When stenciling, a little bit of paint goes a long way.
5. Begin stenciling with your first color. I chose a mustard shade for the center of the zinnia. Take your brush (with the barely-loaded paint on it) and begin to swirl it around lightly on top of the stencil.
You can stencil in a circular motion or back and forth, or some combination thereof. The key is to lightly dust the stencil with color. As you approach the area where you want to begin your next color, you can lighten up on the swirling/dusting so that the first color fades a bit.
6. When you begin your second color, do the same thing, beginning very lightly where the first color left off before resuming your “regular” swirling and dusting. Continue in the same manner with the rest of the stencil.
Other techniques for applying color to stencils:
Pouncing: This is the traditional method that most people are taught, and this a very effective way to stencil. But if you have a large area to cover, you’ll be pouncing for days and days! Much better to swirl and dust the color onto your surface.
Rolling: With smaller stencil projects, you can use a roller to apply paint onto your stencil. Rollers work extremelly well when you’re using a stencil that has lots of thin lines and intricate details. Again, it is a faster method than just pouncing your stencil brush up and down.
Here’s what my tote bag looks like!
Stenciled tote bags make great gifts. They can be rolled up and stashed inside a purse or backpack for later use, carrying groceries or other purchases. They are sturdy for carrying books, gym clothes, office files, you name it!
You can find stencils in just about any design you can think of, so you can customize a tote bag easily.
I hope you’ll give stenciling a try!