“What are your favourite stencil brushes?”
How to stencil, my fav supplies, how to store, how to clean, what to make, where to purchase these stencils, and more!
Here we go!
As you may already know, I carry my own stencil line of what I deem Funky Junk’s Old Sign Stencils. They are an incredible heavy weight 10 mil, with designs styled to resemble old time signs from days gone by.
I’m a 20 year sign maker by trade. So when I started creating old signs for my own home, readers desired to make the same designs. Hence… the stencils were born! So now anyone can… in minutes!
You can visit the store direct, or locate a local retailer near you HERE.
As the creator of these stencils, I come across lots of successes and failures on what works and what doesn’t. So here’s what I love to use and why…
* This post contains some Amazon affiliate links, so you can effortlessly find the same gear I love to use!
As with any hobby, you’ll want to stock some basics.
I suggest to gather these things up, and have them all nearby before you start. There is nothing quite like having to run alllllll the way upstairs, while juggling four invaluable stencil brushes threatening to dry up on you…
good lighting – natural light is best
a work table
a big roll of paper to protect surfaces
something to pour paint onto
something to off load paint from the brush
container of water
other specialty paint brushes
a box of plastic sand which bags (for wet paint brushes)
plastic wrap (for wet paint brushes or trays)
high density sponge roller – useful for glass
measuring tape and pencil
scissors – helpful to reduce the footprint of the outer stencil in tight areas
stencil spray adhesive – optional
paint of choice
hanging storage for stencils
shelving for supplies, and paint
Stencil brushes are flat, and round, in order to pounce your images. For this reason, you’ll need to pour your paint onto a wider surface of sorts.
Most anything will do. I like using scrap pieces of wood, but any flat, non porous surface will work, such as plastic lids, plastic plates, or aluminum pie pans. You may even wish to collect a few special dishes from a thrift store for this very reason.
Something to ‘off load the brush’
The sharpest stencil lines are achieved when you use a ‘dry brush’. This means, once your brush is loaded with paint, most of it needs to be removed again until your brush is pretty much dry to the touch.
Above, I had covered the worktable with paper, so I used that to offload the paint.
Other ideas: rag, paper towel, block of wood
Tip: To test if your brush is dry enough, tap the back of your hand. If barely anything is left, your brush is ready to stencil.
A good brush can make a big difference in the outcome of your stencilling.
The best way to test this one out is by trial and error.
I have come across wonderful brushes that have worn out with overuse, right down to brand new brushes constantly losing their bristles, or the brush separating from the handle.
My fav is no longer made, so I test run new ones all the time.
But in a word, I’d go for quality on this one. A quality brush WILL do a better job.
Quality features to consider:
Tips very flat.
Brush slightly flexible – not too stiff.
Various sizes. I like medium and large sizes. The smaller the brush, the more work is required.
Tip: The Martha Stewart brushes are super good quality, but I do find the bristles a little stiff, and short.
I will update this post if and when I land brushes I can’t keep quiet about! But here are some that caught my eye that I’d love to try…
Before you stencil, you may desire to coat your surface first.
Or select different sized brushes to enhance your project.
For this reason, I stock several different kinds.
The most important part is quality. If you get quality stuff, your work just turns out better, and the brush lasts longer.
Here are a few very similar brushes to the ones I always stock:
Masking tape is needed to hold your stencil in place. For that reason, a low grade is all that’s really needed.
But it also comes in handy for other things, such as painting lines. Here’s where you want more of a specialty painter’s grade tape, so the paint won’t bleed underneath.
I stock both cheap and good stuff, then use accordingly.
Tip: The Martha Stewart blue tape is exceptional for no bleed lines!
Nearly any paint can be used for stencilling. But the more opaque, the less paint you will require.
What paint you chose can also depend what surface you are painting on.
My first choice for a stencil base is reclaimed wood. It’s generally free, and can be made into anything I desire. Nothing beats wood!
However, this is where it pays to think outside the box. An old window, furniture, permanent built ins such as stairs all work. ANYTHING can be painted. You just need to find the right kind of paint for your chosen surface.
Paint I use:
Fusion Mineral Paint – click for website
– requires little to no prep work
– built in top coat
– great indoors and out
– matte finish
– very durable
– use it for coating out pieces and stencilling
– exceptional for stencilling raw wood for indoors or out. May need 2 coats if stencilling on a dark surface.
* Fusion is sold via retailers. Check with a local one near you HERE for my stencils, and MANY other great supplies listed in this post.
Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint – click for website
– comes in powder form you mix with water
– can achieve chippy textures
– exceptional for raw wood – it soaks in
– coating out pieces
* MMSMP is sold via retailers. Check with a local one near you HERE for MANY other great supplies listed in this post.
Acrylic craft paint – any good name brand will do
– offers exceptional opaqueness for all tones of stencilling
Fusion Mineral Paint with a high density foam brush
Fusion Mineral Paint
acrylic craft paint
Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint – excellent for raw wood
Fusion Mineral Paint
acrylic craft paint
Honestly? I don’t clean my stencils.
I use to when I first started stencilling. I’d diligently run to the sink, and start rubbing the paint off before the paint dried on permanently.
But I soon found, the stencils were at high risk for damage, and I could never get them completely clean for photography reasons anyway.
So now I let them be. I run my finger against the cut edges to remove any build up, then let them dry.
For photography purposes, I stock 2 of each stencil. I keep one in new condition for before shots, then use the 2nd one for my projects. A great tip for those that resell stencils, or host workshops.
Tip: If you wish to clean them, you’ll have better success if the stencils are soaked in warm water as soon as you are done. Then test out some different cleaners, using the one that works best for the type of paint you use. A simple baby wipe may be all you require.
Spray adhesive – yes or no?
I personally don’t use stencil adhesive any longer.
But I sure did when I first started. And it single handedly saved my work!
When I first started stencilling, I had trouble getting the lines looking super crisp. For this reason, I’d spray a light coat of spray adhesive on the back of the stencil, allow it to tack up a bit, then stencil.
The adhesive makes it so little to no paint bleed occurs. This helps to create nice sharp lines.
But with a little practice over time, you will not require the adhesive. The key is using a super dry brush.
The best part about the adhesive is it did work. But a big con is the texture it leaves on the underside of the stencil. Hello lint catcher…
My suggestion? Practice so you don’t need it. But if you can’t seem to get the swing of it, try it out. It does help.
How to use spray adhesive:
Lightly mist the underside of the stencil.
Allow it to sit for a few minutes to tack up.
Leave the adhesive intact after the fact, but do hang the stencil up to avoid lint accumulation. The adhesive will eventually become dry to the touch.
Stencil storage ideas
Over time, I’ve created various ways to store my own stencils.
I like them hanging in full view, so they inspire me to play, and are within easy grasp.
Here are a few ways I’ve stored stencils myself… and I’m sure I’m not done finding even MORE new ways as my collection grows!
Check out the cool wooden racks I found on Amazon below… swoon!
One of my fav things to do is to come up with creative ways to store my gear. Repurposing junk to store junk is my fav challenge!
Here are a few of my favourite storage methods to date:
How to stencil
Stencilling is actually very easy. But in order to achieve exceptional results, a little practice comes into play.
The most common issue is bleeding underneath the stencil. This is due to too much paint applied.
The key for super sharp lines, is using VERY little paint. Once you load your brush, off load most of the paint before you stencil.
Keep practicing until your images are perfect. It will happen!
Learn How to stencil HERE
Where to buy these stencils
A quick online search will have you finding virtually any kind of stencil imaginable.
My own stencils are designed around vintage antique old market signs. You can purchase them by:
Visiting my online store HERE
or finding a local retailer near you HERE
Stencil project ideas
Due to having my own line of stencils, many of my projects showcase unique ways to use them.
Visit blogger’s creations using the stencils on Pinterest HERE
Whether you are a novice, or professional, one that resells the stencils, or creates merchandise to sell with them, there is now a place for everyone to play!
Join our Facebook group, What I made with Old Sign Stencils, so you can share YOUR creations with us!
Hope to see you there! 🙂
If you wish to stay current with my newest stencil designs or repurposed projects, there are several ways to do so…
Subscribe to daily blog posts HERE
This will send you out a prompt in your inbox the next AM. Most thorough and current of all!
Subscribe to weekly newsletter HERE
This is a beautiful full colour, weekly summary of all past posts, plus new info not on the blog.
Subscribe to Old Signs Newsletter HERE – periodic
Get alerted with new stencil design releases, new projects, and more!
Subscribe to become an Old Sign Stencils Retailer HERE
Sign up to be alerted when we open up applications for retailer-ship. Coming soon!
Follow on Facebook
Follow on Instagram
– – – – –
Whew. That was some post. I think I got it all.
But if you have any questions on stencilling at all, feel free to leave them in comments below. I will answer them, and possibly even add an FAQ to this post if needed.
Thanks for your visit, and happy old sign stencilling! 🙂