Stenciling Your Walls

Designing Stencils

Drawing without ties
Figure 1. Drawing without ties.

When making a design for a stencil, the first drawing should be made quite regardless of ties (Fig. 1). The tie is the small strip of paper that holds the background together, or, in other words, the small strip of paper that separates the different parts of the cutout design (Fig. 2).

After the first drawing is made, it should be gone over a second time, and the places where natural ties may be made should be marked. The design should then have all the parts that are intended to be cut out carefully filled with color or pencil. This will show if any wings of paper are left untied (Fig. 3).

Drawing with ties
Figure 2. Drawing with ties.

A wing is a portion of the design that is attached at only one end, the other being loose and, therefore, easily moved in stenciling. If any wings are discovered, the design should be altered and the wing extended so as to connect with the opposite side of the cut-out space (Fig. 3), and thus prevent it from curling up and spoiling the stencil.

Tieing is of great importance in a stencil design, and should be carefully considered. Ties should be made only when necessary to keep the pails of the stencil plate firmly in place. Poor or ungraceful ties may appear unavoidable, but by carefully studying the design, the detail can be slightly changed and a poor tie made into a good tie (Fig. 4) which will appear as necessary to the design as to the stencil plate.

Drawing with natural and unnatural ties
Figure 3. Ties

It is not necessary for ties to always have parallel lines. The Japanese stencil cutters are very clever in using ties made of horse hair, human hair and fine silk threads. They fold or past two sheets of thin, tough paper together at one edge: then they cut the stencil through both the papers at the same time, using the knife in a vertical position. The top sheet is then folded back, and the under sheet is covered with a slow drying varnish and the hari or silk is laid across the stencil set at right angles to each other sufficiently close together to keep each part of the stencil in its proper position. The sheets are then closed together and put under a weight to dry.

Drawing with good and poor ties.
Figure 4. Drawing with good
and poor ties.

The ties formed in this way are very strong and invisible in the finished work, as the brush naturally pushes them slightly to one side and the paint runs under them.

The beauty of stenciled work depends upon the beauty and simplicity of the design, a fine color harmony and the ability to apply the color in a flat tone.

Designs that are to be repeated many times should be very conventional. A continuous design, such as a border or surface pattern, may be stenciled by using one unit if a small portion of the next unit is cut out to show where the following figure is to be placed. (Fig. 5.)

Stencil repeat
Figure 5.

Background stencils are those which have the background cut out and the design or pattern forms the stencil plate. Such designs are stenciled in one color and the design appears in the nature color of the material.

Stencil paper is a prepared oiled paper from which stencils are cut. It is sold by the yard at art stores, paint stores, and the department stores.

Any tough paper may be used if saturated in linseed oil and allowed to dry. This toughens the paper, makes it easier to cut, and adds the water-proof quality that is necessary.

Another method is to coat the stencil paper with shellac varnish, which dries in a few minutes. After the stencil is cut a second coat of shellac may be applied for waterproofing and stiffening.

A stencil should always be laid flat when not in use.

--From The Home published in 1923 as a supplement by Womens Weekly.

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