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Special Collections Research Center

WPA Collection: Graphic Arts Processes

 

Stencil


Snow White and Red Rose by Gladys Carambella
              Stencil, 13 3/4" x 9 1/2"


Stencil is one of the very old processes that is again enjoying a revival in the hands of contemporary artists. First evidences of stenciling are to be found among the relics of the twelfth dynasty in Egypt, 2450-2300 B.C. Stencils were used to color the old printed playing cards. The Japanese used stencils to put patterns on textiles. In recent times the French have made very interesting use of it, and in Vienna it has been used most effectively in teaching childern as well as in work by serious artists. A stencil is a thin piece of metal or prepared paper in which designs have been cut. These designs are reproduced by placing the stencil plate over the surface to be decorated and brushing pigments throughout the spaces cut away. Many different stencil plates and more than one color on a stencil plate can be used. Stencils can be used with any of the other graphic processes, intaglio, relief, and planographic. Materials for stenciling are very simple but there is no limit to the intricacies that can be worked out when the subtle and infinite possibilities of this medium are realized.

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