Stencils and Stencil Brush Care
Your stencils and stencil brushes represent an investment on your part. Both should provide you years of use with a little care.
There are many good reasons to clean your stencils.
- First, stencils are cut from translucent mylar, allowing you to see other portions of the design that are already in place, which aids in proper registration.
- Second, with multi-overlay stencils, accurate registration is key. When excess paint is allowed to build up in and around the edges of the design, proper alignment will be compromised.
- Third, excessive buildup of paint will create a lot of drag on your brush, especially if you use the circular, dry brush technique that is shown throughout the website and on our videos.
If you are stenciling with craft acrylics, add Folk Art Extender to your acrylic paint, as recommended in our instructions and videos, and your stencil and brush cleaning will be made much easier. If you clean your stencils right away, you should be able to simply use warm water and a kitchen Scotchbrite® sponge. Adding dish soap or a cleaner (see below) will aid in the process. Medium grit foam sanding blocks are also ideal for cleaning stencils, particularly when using textural materials and embossing techniques. My new favorite stencil cleaning tool, though, is a nylon scrub brush with a handle.
If you have excessive buildup of paint you can spray your stencils with Motsenbacher's Lift-Off #5, Krud Kitter, Simple Green or Murphy's Oil Soap. For REALLY tough jobs, spray the stencils, wrap them in a plastic garbage bag and allow them to soak for 20 minutes or more.
To clean, lay stencils flat in a large sink or tub and carefully clean by scrubbing gently. Clean both sides. Take care not to bend back pointy edges or to tear delicate bridges. If any tearing does occur, you can repair with clear scotch tape, placed on both sides of the mylar. Cut through excess tape that intrudes into the design area with an Exacto or craft knife.
If you are doing a large project, you may want to stop and clean your stencil periodically during the course of the job, to keep the alignment easy and correct.
Cleaning your brushes well after each project will give you good results on the next project! You don't want to have leftover paint crumbs ruining your lovely print!
I like to have a small container to place a brush soaking liquid, such as AC's Stencil Cleaner, Simple Green, or diluted Murphy's Oil Soap. Use just enough to cover the bristles. Place your brushes in it to soak as you finish using them. Clean ASAP!
Use a plastic Stencil Brush Scrubber
to effectively remove all traces of paint from between bristles. Use it also to remove all traces of the paint ring that is sometimes left on the outside of the bristles about halfway up the brush. Clean with lukewarm running water until the water runs clear. Note: Some staining of the bristles may occur with certain colors of paint. Blot excess water with a terry or paper towel, lie flat, and allow to air dry.
Your brushes must be completely dry before using again. In a pinch you can blow-dry them with a hair dryer.
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