Stencils among my favourite things to work with, whether for painting or printmaking, working flat, blended or atmospheric, or creating impasto effects.
Anybody who's taken one of my classes knows that I love – and encourage – making custom stencils, because they are personal and show the hand of the artist.
But that doesn't mean I don't love a good commercial stencil, because I do! If only my wallet were fatter, so would my collection of bought stencils be (maybe you can relate!).
Good commercial stencils have wonderful, sometimes intricate, designs, are sturdy, and can last indefinitely if cared for. They will also be translucent so you position the design exactly where you want it onto a prepared surface for example.
This blog post isn't about those high quality and at least somewhat expensive stencils though!
Instead I'd like to introduce you to the world of dollar store stencils.
Pictured above are collections I have purchased at Dollarama and at Dollar Tree. I didn't buy all of the sets available, but both places offered a few. (Continued below.)
VIDEO: When I get new stencils, I make reference prints using black ink. I like to use my gel plate so I can pull positive and negative prints, but you can also use a sponge, stomp or stencil brush directly onto paper. Finally I like to try a few simple prints just to get acquainted with the stencils.
The Dollar Tree stencils come one per package, are cleanly and fully punched out, their shapes are good and classic, the plastic is smooth, flexible, transparent but thinner than I'd prefer.
Dollarama's come with four designs per package, which are nicely illustrated on the packaging so you can preview your selection, or to help put them back in the correct package after use. They are less well made than Dollar Tree's (I had to finish punching out a number of the shapes myself), but plastic is thicker and somewhat stiffer, a different kind of plastic that feels more durable. They are also opaque, which makes them less easy to position precisely.
Both are roughly 6" x 6" in size, suitable for small gel plates for example, or used as accents in larger work.
Whatever the drawbacks, the price is hard to beat for someone on a very tight budget, or feeding a stencil habit they need to keep the costs down on! You may also just find the designs useful.
Dollar Tree's are $1 for a single stencil (but always with many variations on an image theme!).
Dollarama's are $1.25 for a 4-pack of various patterns.
If you don't find them at your local store, you may have to try another location. What's available at any given location can vary quite a lot in general I find.
Who doesn't love saving a little money on art or craft supplies? Let me know in the comments if you've tried any of these out. Also what's been your favourite cheap & cheerful art or craft supply?
Prices are in Canadian dollars.
Introducing “My Favourite Tool”, a new regular feature (roughly one per month). In Episode 1 I look at the basic, traditional Chinese brushes I've been using a lot of lately.
Do you have a favourite tool, or one you would like to try? Let me know in the comments.
As a visual artist I like nothing more than getting up to my elbows in paint or little plastic toys, or wading in at the deep end in pursuit of an idea. When I am not teaching others in a similar vein, you can find me researching, writing and noodling around in my studio, seeing where my latest lines of inquiry lead me.
All images and content on this website © Kim-Lee Kho 2005–2018 except as indicated. All rights reserved. No reproduction without express, written permission.