DIY “Art Square” with Patterned Paper and Stencil

Last month I shared a large framed panel decorated with scrapbook paper and painted stencils. Here’s another similar, smaller project:


This is one of those projects where the final result looks like much more than the steps it took to make it.

To make this, I used:

  •  An Ampersand 12″ x 12″ panel found recently at Michaels. These boards are mostly for painting, but are also the perfect size for scrapbook paper.
  • 12″ x 12″ scrapbook paper from Prima Marketing. This pattern is “Flutter” from the Whisper Collection. It’s copyrighted 2007 so it’s an older paper.
  • Indian Paisley Damask stencil from Royal Design Studio.
  • Burnt orange Lumiere acrylic paint.

The Ampersand panels are very thin, only about 1/8″, and can be framed. You can also use hanging hardware to set up a wall display where you can easily switch your art as you make new projects.


To make this project, first brush Mod Podge on the 12″ x 12″ panel. I use matte Mod Podge. Make sure there’s even coverage, so your paper sticks everywhere to avoid air bubbles.

Then smooth your paper on the panel. Use something with a hard straight edge to smooth the paper and push out air bubbles, like a credit card or a ruler.

Then brush a layer of Mod Podge on the paper. You don’t have to do this but this will make it easier to clean up any accidental smears when you’re stenciling. This is also why I use matte Mod Podge. I don’t want the paper to be shiny.

Next, paint your stencil pattern on the paper.

Don’t do what I did this time and be in a big hurry and load your brush with paint. It may smear under the stencil, then you’ll have some cleaning up to do. Instead just dab your brush in the paint, then dab it on some extra paper to get much of the paint off the brush. You just want a little paint on the brush. If your painted pattern is too light, you can always go over it again a second time to make it darker. This will help you get crisp edges. Why did I think I was super-human, like a cartoon Super Crafty Hero and smearing could not touch me? I learned I’m a sloppy impatient human after all!

Here’s the finished result after some careful clean-up and it’s still not perfect:



I feel like it needs something more. I have rubber stamps with various writing/script and might stamp some script on the right side.

If you have a pattern that’s bigger than the surface you want to paint on, like this Indian damask pattern was for my project, that’s okay, arrange it artistically so you use part of the pattern on your project.


Tip for choosing your paper and stencil

I’ve found that if you’re using a denser overall stencil pattern like this one …


… you can choose busier bolder paper patterns because they’ll only show through the stencil a little bit. The stencil is the big star of the show here.

If you want to use a more open “airier” stencil like the Indian damask I used today, or if you’re stenciling only part of the paper and not covering all the paper, choose paper with less pattern personality. Choose paper with more subdued designs on it. Otherwise the stencil pattern and the paper pattern might compete too much, and your eye won’t know what to focus on. Also you can use a paint for the stencil that is a great deal darker or lighter than the paper color, and that will help make the stencil pattern pop out more.

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