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Who says stencils have to be only for painting? You could use them with 3D mediums too. For one, paper is a great way to express yourself because it creates wonderful textures. It’s also easy to combine other artistic techniques with quilling, so you can use stencil-painted borders or even decorate the surface with buttons, sequins, and more.

Stencils can be used in many ways for quilling projects. The best way is to transfer the design onto a rough sheet. You can also place a sheet of tracing paper over it and use pins to cover the outline, which serves as pointers to curl the strips accordingly. Some other tips include using stencils to add base layer paint, and much more!

What is quilling?

Paper quilling is a type of art that makes use of paper strips to create bold and beautiful illustrations. So you take the strips and twist and turn them into various shapes. Then you bring them together and glue them onto a surface to create a story, a subject, an object whatever you like!

So you can use colorful paper strips. You can also experiment with various subjects. For example, you could make an animal or even hand-lettered quotes – and stencils can help you work faster and better.

Here are some tips for you to use stencils for paper quilling. We’ve also put together some extra esthetic tricks, so try those out too!

1 Trace the outer shape of the stencil first

The most basic step is to precisely outline the shape of the stencil. Take a rough scrap or piece of cardboard to get the design in hard copy in front of you.

Simply place the stencil and hold it down firmly to avoid it from budging. Since your main project is going to be quilling, the base you use doesn’t have to be the final surface.

2 Protect the base using tracing paper or wax paper

Quilling can get messy. So after tracing, your next step should be to put wax paper or tracing paper over it. Use some pins or paper tape to attach the edges of this sheet to the base beneath.

You’ll be able to see through the tracing paper easily. Next, grab a pencil (using a pen might tear the page). Keep the pressure light as you highlight the design once again on the tracing paper. You can skip this step if you feel that the design on the base is visible enough.

Grab some pins and put them around the outline of the design. Use them as guiding points for curling the paper strips.

3 Use simple stencils to make your quilled strips (optional)

The trick to amazing quilling is to keep the shapes simple. The best designs are a series of plain circles, rectangles, squares, and other such shapes. This technique is best for highly detailed quilling projects.

These templates serve as basic shapes for creating quills. You can then join each of them together using paper glue or super glue.

4 Use the stencil to paint your design onto the surface

You can do selective quilling too. By that, we mean that you can paint the stenciled design over the final surface before attaching the quilled paper strips onto it.

So you would need to copy the design onto the wooden plaque, cardboard, or whatever you choose for your permanent surface. Then, paint the letters first and proceed to cover them with quilled paper strips. That way, you’ll have a bit of the paint showing from underneath which will add more depth and interest to your quilling project.

5 Choose the height and width of the paper according to the cut of the stencil

The size of the paper strips depends on how big or small the holes in your stencil are. So if you have a stencil with very small patterns or writing, you would need to make sure that your quilling strips are extremely narrow.

But what if you have a big stencil? In that case, you can keep a variety of wide and narrow strips. You can use the wider ones for the outer edges of the stencil design, whereas the narrower ones can be used to fill in the hollow spaces within. Again, it’s totally up to you, detailed designs always have thin strips.

6 Use tweezers for handling the shape

Stencils will often make use of narrow paper strips. Handling such width is very difficult with the fingertips. So you should get tweezers to hold on to each strip better and curl it. You can also use the backside of a smooth and well-rounded pencil to create flawless twirls.

7 Create quilled borders

How about adding more interest to your quilling project? You can use long stencils to create borders to add around your final quilling project piece. Again, you can even paint these if you don’t want to add quilled strips. You’ll end up with a fascinating mixed media art project!

8 Use a stencil brush to add more texture

You can also use a stencil brush over the quilled paper strips that you’ve stuck to the wall. Rub dry acrylic paint onto the bristles and brush it over the quilling strips that you’ve stuck in place. However, you would need to be careful because going too fast or applying too much pressure can damage the quilling strips.


All in all, paper quilling and stencils go great together for creating unique projects. You can copy the outline onto tracing paper or a rough sheet. After that, you place pins on various points and use them to curl your paper strips.

Remember that the size of your strips depends on the depth and width of the stencil. You can always have more texture and variety by using paints as well. If you’re looking for stencils for quilling, you’ve come to the right place. Feel free to pick one from our huge collection at Stencil Monkey.

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Are you a fan of keeping an art journal? It’s an expressive way to gather all your thoughts in the form of visual tits and bits. And thanks to stencils, you can create amazing designs and patterns within minutes.

If you haven’t tried art journaling before, remember that there are no rules. All you need to do is be yourself. Use the colors you want and make your life easier by getting custom stencils that suit your unique style.

In art journaling, stencils can be used to create patterned cutouts. They can also be used along with baby wipes to make texture by erasing paint. Some other mixed media project ideas include combining the stencil prints with pressed flowers, and much more!

If you don’t already have an art journal, we recommend you get one with heavy mixed media pages. Combining various methods and materials amplifies the effects created by stencils.

1 Create rustic and smudged effects with dry paint

A stencil brush creates beautiful and ‘fluffy’ effects. To get beautiful textures on the page, we recommend you use dry paint. The best way to go about this is to use acrylic paints, since they are thick and adhere well.

  • Take a bit of acrylic paint out onto the stencil brush.
  • Don’t use water, make sure the paint is thick. If it’s too dry, you can add just a drop of water to help it stick to the bristles (and onto the page as well).
  • Grab the stencil and put it over your art journal page. You can prepare a colored background in advance too – using waterproof ink. But that’s optional, as you could even use solid colored construction paper for the backdrop or simply leave the page blank.
  • Move the brush around in swift circles. Don’t repeat too much over one area. Go over the pattern elements you want to see on the page.
  • Remove the stencil once you’re done. You’ll notice a ‘fluffy’ and ‘smudged’ texture on the page. It creates a stunning and timeless vintage-themed charm

If you use watercolors or any other thin painting medium, it won’t stick well to the brush. It will also leak and spread on the page, distorting the shapes.

2 Combine natural textures with your stencils

Natural textures are always a win. Especially if you’re a nature lover, you shouldn’t miss the combination of pressed flowers and leaves along with your stenciled designs. This is another technique to achieve a classic backdrop.

  • Grab a long patterned stencil to create borders along the sides of your art journal pages. You could use thick paint for a heavier look or even waterproof ink to apply paint through the stencils.
  • Take tiny pressed flowers and leaves and stick them on the corners as well. If not over the stenciled design, you can try sticking them to other areas of the page too.

You could try another variation as well. Instead of sticking the petals and leaves themselves, you can use them as natural stencils. So, for example, you could grab a tiny leaf and put some paint on your stencil brush. Next, press the leaf against the page and move your brush over it.

3 Cut out scraps of different shapes

Now let’s explore something more modern and fun. Playful designs almost always have patterns and colorful.

You can use your stencil to cut out interesting shapes for the backgrounds in your art journal. Patterned backgrounds can sometimes take a lot of time and effort. So if you love to have well-designed pages, here’s what you can do instead:

  • Pick some sheets of wrapping paper. Even old ones lying around in your house would work. If that isn’t available, you can try construction paper or old newspapers instead. This is the perfect chance for you to get active with recycling ideas!
  • Grab a stencil and a pair of tiny scissors or a paper cutter. Fix the template onto the sheet and think of the shapes like tiny cookie cutters. Carefully let your scissors or cutter dive into the sheet and cut out the stencil design.

This idea can work in two ways. You can use the sheet with the cut-out as a background layer for your art journal page. In another case.

4 Create negative space

We all use paint to fill in patterns and shapes using stencils, right? But what if you turn around the entire situation? Here’s how to try out the negative space technique in your art journal:

  • Cover the entire page using waterproof ink or watercolor.
  • Next, put the stencil over the page and rub baby wipes over the template.
  • Remove the stencil and you’d have created a beautiful pattern!

This technique works like a charm with stencils that have tiny repetitive patterns. It suits other types of designs too, but it’s quite effective on intricate patterns because otherwise, it’s difficult to get it accurate.

5 Use buttons and other embellishments

Take the accessories game to the next level by pasting embellishments onto your art journal page. Combine your stencil design with buttons or even pieces of paper to bring more texture to the page of your journal.

Here’s our pro-tip! You can grab the buttons, sequins, and other stuff and use them as stencils and props. So all you have to do is put them against the page or paste them next to your stencil-painted designs. Use a cotton ball to rub the paint against the stencil and the buttons/props. You can also place the embellishment inside the stencil and then paint over it. You’ll end up getting the texture of the element along with the design!


There are no rules to art journaling. However, for mixed media projects, it’s best to get a journal with heavy paper and strong binding. But stencils can make your journey easy for sure. So remember to have fun and don’t forget to explore our vast stencil collection. We’re sure you’ll have plenty of choices for your art journal!