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by John Marshall


The goal in using a traditional stencil is to be able to create a repeating pattern in such a manner so as not to be able to tell where the join occurs. Normally this entails a little overlapping of the paste, which is designed into the stencil before carving. This overlap builds in a slight fudge-factor to allow for calculated adjustments in position as you work.


▶︎Soak your stencil for thirty to sixty minutes before beginning to paste.


▶︎Remove the stencil from the water and allow the majority of excess water to drip off. Then blot the stencil between several sheets of newspaper.


▶︎At this point your fabric should already be adhered to a paste board or pinned to a tabletop as shown in the photos to the right.


▶︎Carefully align the top edge of your stencil with top edge of the cloth.


▶︎With paste and spreader close at hand, glop the paste to one side of the stencil (to the left if right handed) and use the spreader to ply the paste to the opposite edge. Repeat as necessary until an even layer has been pushed through the stencil.


▶︎Mist the surface of paste-covered stencil lightly with a sprayer and pull the stencil from cloth.


▶︎Reposition the stencil while matching the repeat with a slight overlap. Repeat as often as needed.


To keep the border up off the pasted area, a common practice is to push straight pins through the top border every few inches and about 1/4"in from the top edge. These act as stilts, or crutches, helping to keep the border from coming in contact with the paste.


▶︎Once you are finished pasting, return the stencil to the water and soak for about one hour to dissolve away the remaining paste.


▶︎Once all traces of paste have been eliminated, remove the stencil from the bath allowing as much water as possible to drip off the stencil before placing it between sheets of newsprint to blot. Transfer the stencil to fresh sheets of newsprint and weight until dry.

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