Vital Information (08-18-10)

In Arts & Crafts, How to..., Rich, Stencils, Vital Information on August 26, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , ,

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How To Make Your Own Stencil

Before I became a fan of street artists such as Banksy and Blek La Rat and their use of stencils, I was a child using them for my own art projects.  Of course the ones I used were the generic ones you buy at CVS but I still loved them.  In their use, I saw a chance to create something that resembled art, even if I lacked any sort of skill in free hand drawing.  Obviously these stencils didn’t exude personal touch, but the lines were straight and the image itself easily discernible, marking a considerable improvement over the Thundercats doodles I would conjure up in class.

Stenciling in this matter, is pretty much the artistic equivalent of bumper bowling.

On the website I run with two friends,, we report on street art culture regularly.  It has become one of the things our brand is associated with.   As a result, we decided making our own stencils for (ahem…) legal use, would be a good way to promote our site.

I was lucky enough to be the one to take on this task, and the images you see above are the results of my first (though definitely not my last) attempt at creating my own acetate stencil.

My results were, not surprisingly, simplistic.  I hope to become more intricate in the future but I am at the beginning of the learning process and this stencil leaves no questions about that (though inexperience considered, I am very happy with how it turned out).

The purpose of this post is to offer instructions on creating your own acetate stencil.  As I learn more about the process, I will continue to report on what I find.  If you take a stab at it yourself, make sure to post it in the Express Yourself section of, or photo reply here so we can hopefully teach each other a thing or two!

Materials Needed: (1) A Sheet of Acetate (probably more than one being that you might not get it right on the first attempt) (2) A black and white printout of the image that you plan on using for the stencil (3) Scotch Tape (4) An X-Acto Knife (5) A Cutting Sheet, (6) Spray Adhesive and (7) Spray Paint.


  1. Use the Scotch Tape to secure the image printout to the sheet of acetate.  The acetate will eventually become your stencil.  Be sure to have the image side of the printout facing the acetate.
  2. Use the X-Acto Knife to cut the acetate so that the image that was on the paper printout is now replicated on the acetate.  Do so on the cutting sheet to ensure you have a secure back behind the cutting to help with accuracy.  This will also prevent you from marking up your table with the X-Acto knife.
  3. Remove the sheet of paper from the acetate (which is now your completed stencil).
  4. You’re now ready to test it out! Use spray adhesive to tape the stencil to something you wish to recreate the image on.  In my case I used an old wood board that, in a former life,  was my beer pong table and an old bed sheet that had been more recently used as a drop cloth when painting my office.
  5. Using a piece of paper or cardboard, mask the edges of the stencil.  This will help avoid outlines around the edges.
  6. Apply the spray paint over the image.  Make sure you keep the can 6-12 inches away from the stencil when spraying and do not overly apply.  If you use too much paint it will likely bleed, this will cause your image to distort.
  7. Peel the acetate stencil away.

As you can see, I didn’t follow my own rules on a few of my attempts at applying the stencil, but by the end I got it down pat.  I will be making more four5six stencils as well as some for my band Dussel Has Friends soon.  Hopefully when I report on these future works I’ll have new tips, and you’ll be able to see my progress.

Here is the youtube video which I had originally used as a reference:


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