Monoprints and stencils

What are stencils and how do you create them?

A stencil is a sheet of moveable adhesive paper into which a design has been cut. It is placed on a sheet of paper and painted over, and because it adheres to the page it stops the paint from leaking out beyond the cut shape. It is a simple but interesting way for children to experiment with shape and colour and to discover ways of combining them in a single design or in a repeat pattern.

Paint can be dabbed on, sponged on, sprayed on or stippled with a stencil brush or old toothbrush, and it could be diluted to achieve a translucent rather than an opaque effect. An ordinary paper stencil can also be used and sprayed with colour. A small range of colours and tones can be used by more experienced children, working from the lightest to the darkest, and the overlapping diluted colours give interesting colour mixtures.

If possible, allow the paint to dry before lifting the stencil, to avoid smudging. Stencils can be lined up or overlapped to create a repeat pattern. Big, bold letters and numbers designed for posters about school events the children are interested in can also be made by stencilling. Some preparatory work could be done on inventive lettering, but legibility should be a priority.