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Reviewed by Sarah McCubbin
Thinking back to childhood, my early exposure to stencils was a basic set of alphabet characters which my siblings and I enjoyed using to make cards and signs. They were simple, but even that limited artistic expression allowed us to make unique creations. When I was older, I tried a few stencils created by various companies in card making and scrapbooking, but I had never really considered stenciling as an art form. So, I was curious to learn more when I had a chance to read Stencil Craft by Margaret Peot.
While this is not a large volume, I found it to give a complete overview of this craft. It has chapters on basic stenciling, using them in home décor and fashion, and on paper. For those who are already familiar with stenciling, her chapter on stencils for art offered more complex uses and collages. The book progresses from simple information to gradually cover more intricate uses for stencils, even how to design and make your own. The first thing that jumped out at me was the abundance of full color illustrations. Stenciling can have a somewhat abstract appearance, so having clear, vibrant photos to show the full process was extremely helpful. Whether she was demonstrating how to make a tablecloth or a custom stencil, instructions and photos were given for each step. In all, there were 14 step-by-step sets of directions!
The uses for stencils are almost endless. The overview presented in this book will provide inspiration for anyone with a crafty bent. Whether one chooses to use commercial or homemade stencils, or found objects, nearly any smooth surface can be turned into a canvas. However, it was especially helpful that the author lends her expertise to direct you toward projects, paints and fabrics that will yield the highest degree of success for a beginner. I personally liked her use of plain linens, aprons and pillow cases decorated with stenciled images. Some of her projects were easy enough for children and many of her ideas would make wonderful gifts. I recommend this book to anyone interested in stenciling or looking for a new way to customize their existing art. Whether you are a beginner or experienced, this book offers many wonderful ideas, sure to inspire.
Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.
Review and giveaway copies were provided by North Light Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.