Make your own greeting cards using watercolors and stencils

I've been busy prepping for a brown bag lunch craft workshop at URBN in Philadelphia tomorrow. I'm so excited and honored that they have asked me to host! For our group project (20 or so people) we are making greeting cards with watercolors and stencils.

I am glad I took some time to practice this week because I learned very quickly that I had purchased the wrong stencil paper to use on rough watercolor paper. The winning product is Frisket Film with EXTRA tack (as opposed to their other version with "low" tack). Extra tack film sticks firmly but not permanently, allowing for color control without the risk of tearing your paper. The low tack version is good for smooth papers but the colors bleed under the stencil on rough papers.

To save time, instead of cutting my own stencils with a hobby knife, I used Martha Stewart brand paper punches. I purchased these online at I chose the "Woodland Branch" edge punch and the "Arctic Snowflake" punch for my stencils in this workshop. Below are the steps I used to create my cards.


Stencils cut from Frisket Film, extra tack
Watercolor paints
Masking tape
Blank watercolor paper cards
Cup of water
Paper towels

Example: Decorative Borders

Use masking tape to make a rectangular frame around the front of your card. This will make for a nice straight border around your final image. After you have created your stencil, peel away the backing from the film. Center the film, sticky side down, on the front of your card. Apply pressure with your fingers to further adhere the film to your paper. Using your paint-filled brush, start by sweeping a light wash of color across your card. While the paper is still wet, play with adding larger drops of darker color on top of your card. Once you are satisfied with your card, let the paint dry before removing the tape and the stencil.

Example: Snowflakes

Make a 2 x 2 grid with the positive (snowflake shape) and negative (square with snowflake shape cut out) stencils. When peeling away the backing of the positive stencil, don’t be afraid to pull the film a little. It does not tear easily. Once the stencils are adhered, sweep your paint-filled paintbrush horizontally across the top and then bottom of the snowflake grid. Wait for the paint to dry before removing the film.

Watercolor Tips for Beginners

1. Stick to 2-3 colors. Using more is tempting but when too many colors run together, your painting can start to look muddy.

2. Paint light to dark. You can always add color and shading but you cannot take it away.

3. Prep your paint before you start. Dip your paintbrush in your water cup and, without drying it, dab the brush onto your paint to loosen it. To mix colors, use your brush to soak up the color and carry it over to your mixing tray (like a mini mop).

4. If you are working in a detail area, avoid unexpected globs of paint by dabbing excess paint from your brush on your paper towel.


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