Graduation time of year means lots of happy graduates and just as many graduation open houses to attend. This year, I decided to make my own stenciled graduation cards with a graduation cap that matches the graduate’s own graduation cap color.
With these instructions and my free pattern, you can make your own stenciled graduation cards for all the grads you know this year!
Materials and Supplies for Stenciled Graduation Cards
(This post contains affiliate links to one or more of the items I used in this project – which means, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission. There is no added cost to you!)
- Transparency Film – I keep a box of transparency film on hand for making stencils
- Heavy paper or card stock
- Acrylic craft paints – Your choice of colors
- Stencil brushes – I have a few brands of stencil brushes that I like to use. The one pictured above is by Plaid/Stencil Decor. You will need two 1/2″ to 5/8″ brushes (one for each color) Stencil Brushes
- Stencil design – You cut this yourself using a craft machine. The design files are in my free Resource Library
- Low-tack or removable tape
- Plastic or foam plate (or coated paper plate)
- Paper towel
About the Stencil
You can use the .SVG files in my Resource Library or design your own. My design is in two parts: the graduation cap and the text. This is so you can use your own stencil font if you prefer or if you want to use different text. To use my files, download from my Resource Library, unzip to extract the two files, then upload/import the .SVG files into your design software for your craft machine. You can resize the designs. If you want different text or a different font, only upload/import the cap file then use your own stencil font to create the text.
Some design software will try to cut the tassel in a different position than intended. Use whatever feature in your design software instructs the machine to cut as shown vs. cutting for optimal usage of material.
Cut the Stencil
I don’t usually give instructions for cutting because each brand of craft machine is a little different but I wanted to point out some things.
- It’s okay to cut the cap and the text from a single sheet of transparency film. There is plenty of space on the sheet for both.
- Affix the transparency film to a low-tack or light-grip cutting mat. Transparency film may tear when you try to remove it from higher grip mats.
- Set your machine to cut transparency film (you might find this in a “plastics” category of materials).
Prepare to Stencil the Graduation Card
Fold your paper into thirds. I chose to fold into thirds because this fits cash or checks better.
My design will fit paper that has been folded in half, then half again. It can also be resized to fit other paper or blank cards you may already have.
Time to Start Stenciling!
Affix the cap portion of the design to the paper.
Use a low tack tape so you do not tear the paper when you remove the stencil. I often use blue painters tape that I press against my clothes a few times to reduce its tack (because it picks up clothing fibers). Alternately, you can buy tape that is specific to using on paper that is removable. When I was doing a LOT of stenciling on paper, I used Scotch Removable Tape.
If you have read any of my previous stenciling posts, you know I teach the pouncing method of stenciling. This is the method used by most professional stencilers and is the traditional method of stenciling (you can read about my stenciling credentials on the About Tracy Lynn page of my site).
Stenciling is a “dry brush” technique. This means that you do not pre-wet your brush and your brush, when loaded with paint, is nearly dry. This is how you can achieve very crisp lines and no bleed-under.
Get a tiny bit of paint (about the size of two grains of rice) onto the blunt surface of the brush. Swirl it around on your plate to distribute the paint across all the ends of the bristles. Then, tap it onto the paper towel to remove excess paint. Start “pouncing” onto the paper.
The next few pictures are the progression of stenciling the graduation cap followed by a short video showing me stenciling the text using the pouncing technique (Note: there is no sound with the video).
After you finish stenciling the cap, stencil the text. If the cap is a dark color, you can stencil the text in two colors. For example, if the cap is black, stencil the text in white, then shift the stencil diagonally about 1/16th of an inch and stencil in a second color.
Stenciled Graduation Cards are Complete!
When you have completed the stenciling, remove your stencil and the card is finished. Another benefit to a dry brush technique is that the paint is dry when you are finished and you won’t warp the paper from moisture.
The nice thing about cutting this stencil from transparency film is that you can quickly make multiple cards. Transparency film is pretty inexpensive. You can choose to throw it away when you have completed your cards for the year (instead of cleaning and storing it) and cut a new one next year.