Making your own stencils.

You may think, why go to the trouble of making your own stencils when you can just buy them.  Apart from saving you money,  they are unique. The designs or artwork you create is your own and personal to you. There are many ways to make stencils. In this blog I will talk about making stencils using a glue gun.

Part 1 – Making stencils with a glue gun.

The glue gun stencils were made with a gelli plate in mind, but can be used for any stencil work. If you are not familiar with a gelli plate, please see my blog – ‘My experiences using a gelli plate’.

Making stencils with a glue gun worked really well using a heat resistant non-stick kitchen mat as a surface to apply the glue.

Hot or cool melt guns?

I prefer a cool melt glue gun as the glue cools almost immediately, in fact, by the time you have done a second stencil, the first one has set and can be peeled from the mat. With a hot melt glue gun, it may be better to use a sheet of glass instead of the mat, the glue would cool quicker.


When I used the finished stencils, I found the thickness of the glue to be a problem in designs which were more detailed, for example, having smaller openings. When I applied the paint to a gelli plate, then put the stencil on, it was difficult to press the paper through these small holes far enough to pick up the paint.

The problem was, that the glue obviously comes out of the gun like piping, making the glue gun stencils thick. To rectify this problem, I needed to practice keeping the glue gun moving faster to distribute thinner ‘pipes’.

Through practice, I have managed to achieve this to a point, though in doing this, there is a tendency for the glue not to keep up, missing bits and leaving gaps in the stencils.

Overcoming the problems

I have now discovered a solution. I press the glue flat before it cools so that the stencils are flat rather the tubular. For this, I quickly place another cooling mat on top of the glue, applying pressure using a piece of wood or glass on top to stop the heat of the glue coming through onto my hands. This also provides a firm flat surface so that the stencils are an overall even thickness.

The glue needs to be as thin as possible though to allow for the spread when its pressed.

Other ideas for making stencils with a glue gun

Making stencils with a glue gun, gave me the idea to combine other materials with the glue. I added strands of fibres, string, ribbon, plastic or cheesecloth before the glue cooled. This added an interesting texture to the prints. Cheesecloth needs to be pulled in holes though, unless it’s being used with sprays.

Below are examples of glue gun stencils, glue with ribbon and glue with string.

Glue gun stencils    

In my next blog, I will be talking about cutting stencils.
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Making stencils with a glue gun

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