Designing a Stencil-

Designing a Stencil-

The process of designing a stencil is very creative and organic for me. I thought you might enjoy knowing how I come up with the designs in my stencil line. So join me in the garden and see where my  Crickets and Leaves Stencil began. This view of long, overlapping folding iris and gladiolas leaves planted the initial seed for the design. I want to create a stencil with leaves in an arrangement that worked the lights and dark in a different way.

Step 1- I want this stencil to look fluid, hand drawn or made with a brush.
The best way for me to get this feel is to start by brushing some leave shapes on paper. I bring some of the leaves to the table and paint some sheets of leaves to get the feel.

Step 2- Some cricket shapes sneak onto the page as I am brushing leaves...and I like the combination. They will stay, 2-3 different ones will end up on the final                                               stencil design.

Step 3- I begin to draw lines that will become the cut-out shapes in the stencil design. I am experimenting with the percentages of positive and negative space that will make the design. 

Step 4- I trace over my first pass at the design and work up the placement on the sheet for the shapes I will have laser cut. I fill in the parts that will be cut away (the printing areas) to add more interest and variation to the final design. I played with 5-6 different crickets and settled on 3 I like with the leaves. You can see, I cut them out and move them around until there is a pleasing arrangement.

Step 4: Adding the crickets and defining more variation in the darks and lights for a more dynamic design.
Step 5-  (Below) Once the overall design feels complete,  I clean-up the spacing and corners with white-out and a small brush. This is when I revisit the connections between the areas that will be cut away. I am thinking about how it will be to print and looking for edges that might be vulnerable to wear and tear.

Step 6- AH! the magic of computers and wonderful people with the skills to create on them! After Laura,  takes my design into the computer and creates a vector file,  I get out my red pen (photo below) and get very picky about any subtle changes that need to happen to keep the design true to my vision and viable as a stencil. Once those changes are made,  the image is uploaded to the laser company for manufacture. So the stroll in my garden that inspired the original idea .....has been transformed into something you can enjoy your studio too! I am playing with the Crickets and Leaves Stencil on different weights of fabric this week.  Sound like fun?

DESIGN IDEAS with the Crickets and Leaves Stencil-


  • Work with metallic colors on dark canvas
  • Print the leaves up then down and stagger for an overall print. 
  • use the leaves as a  backdrop: print in a pale color, then print a second layer in a bolder color.
  • Add hand stitching lines to accent after printing the stencil.                        
                                                                                                                                              Enjoy Your Studio time,  Diane

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