"Some times, some days, I know exactly what I'm doing, exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. More often though, I live my life by the seat of my pants! Not that I take a lot of risks...just that I often have no clue what I'm doing or what will be next. I paint. Of this, I am certain."

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For Artists

Sponge Stencilled Wrapping Paper & Gift Box

One of the quickest methods to decorate your own gift wrap, whether it is paper, bags or boxes, is by sponge stencilling.

    You will need:
  • Plain paper, bags or boxes
  • A piece of high-density sponge
    (I like to use makeup wedges. They're cheap, clean up easily and are a good size)
  • Americana acrylic paints - olive green, deep periwinkle and shimmering silver are the colours I used for the dragonflies.
  • A small artist's brush, such as a #1 liner, for detail work
  • A piece of posterboard to cut your stencil from - I often use an index card, an old file folder or the back of an old Christmas card. Shiniest side up!
  • Scissors
  • Water in a small container to rinse your brush in
  • Something to put your paint out on, such as a clean meat tray, an old saucer, a ceramic tile or disposable palette paper.

The dragonfly pattern is here for you to use. Just cut it out and trace it onto the heavier paper stock. Now remember, when you're cutting a design to use as a stencil, you don't want to go in from the edge. Poke a hole into the dragonfly and cut it out from the middle. For the small polka dot, I just punched a hole with a paper punch on the same piece of stock.

Cut an appropriate length of paper for wrapping, or unfold the gift box so it lays flat.

Paint...squirt out about a nickel-sized puddle of each colour of paint onto your palette (meat tray, saucer or tile).

With the square end of your sponge wedge, dab into the green. Be sure to pat off the excess paint on the side of your palette or on paper towelling or the paint could bleed under your stencil. A little paint goes a long way!

Holding your stencil in place with one hand, dab in the open pattern space with a sponge. Pick up a little of another colour of paint and keep dabbing and blending as you go.

Lift (don't slide!) the stencil and move on to the next blank space, randomly covering the surface of your paper. These, being dragonflies, should be turned as you go along so they appear to be flying every which way!

There is no need to wash the sponge as you change colours or to have a sponge per colour. Just dab off excess paint colour and pick up some more. It's the blending of the colours that helps create such a unique effect.

You will have some dragonflies that are greener, bluer or more silver and that's okay!

The first ones you painted are most likely dry, but it's important not to lean your arm or hand into wet paint. Not because it will hurt you (it won't), but because you could smudge up your work and stain your clothes!

So that these dragonflies show movement, I used my small brush and added double comma strokes just outside the edge of each wing. Yes, (( )). I also added curly-cues from the tail. This shows even more fluttery movement.

Thin your paint with a little water if it's not flowing smoothly from your brush. Add the dots using the same stencil method.

You now have a gorgeous hand-painted piece of wrapping paper! Try it on a box or bag!

Click here to download a printer-friendly PDF file of these instructions. Stencil included!

All content © Lori-Anne Crittenden 2003-2006 unless otherwise specified.