by Emma Thomas-McGinnis, artist & quilter

Paintstick Stencilling

You may have seen several paintstick quilts on my blog…I’ve only just started playing with this media, but I think it’s really fun and I’d like to share how I’ve done it.

I’m talking about Shiva Paintsticks. They are oil paints in stick form and all the rage with art quilters these days. You can find them online or at many quilt stores now.

The first project I tried used an applique pattern, the thistle by Piece O’ Cake Designs. So if you’re not into drawing your own design, find a simple applique pattern you like. Choose a pattern with simple lines and two to several colors, but not too many. Trace the design unto freezer paper. Your shapes may touch and don’t need “bridges” as in traditional stencils.

Then with an X-acto knife carefully cut on the lines of your design. Be careful to make smooth, single cuts and save all the shapes. If your design is complex, be sure to label the pieces with letters or numbers and make yourself a rough key to keep track!!

Next fuse the entire stencil to your fabric and put all pieces back into place with the quick sweep of your hot, dry iron. Then Decide in which order you will work your colors. You can do more than one at a time only if they do not touch each other or you would like them to blend. Start with the lighter colors or work from top to bottom. Remove the freezer paper from the areas you will paint first and set them aside in a safe place.

Now you should know a little bit about paintsticks. They are basically oil paint, so they dry out, but only the top layer forms a skin over itself. With an X-acto knife you can peel off the skin and use the wet paint underneath. You only need to peel off a small area, so these sticks should last a long time! For this technique, you should use a short bristled stencil brush. Have several for switching colors without hassle. (see brush in the last photo)

Begin stencilling your design by rubbing your brush into the paint and then unto your fabric. Hold your brush upright against the surface of the fabric. Start lightly and work in circles or sweeps from the paper unto the fabric, just like a stencil technique. Blend from light to dark or from one color to the next within each area as desired.

Allow the first area to dry for a few minutes. Then go back to your ironing board and cover the painted portions with their freezer paper pieces. Peel off the next color to work and repeat the stencilling process.

Once all your pieces have been stencilled, peel off all the freezer paper and admire!!
Allow the piece to dry for 24 hours. Then iron with a hot iron to set the paint. (Follow manufacturer’s directions.)

This is only one technique for using paintsticks. There are many more. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and try your hand at a new technique!

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