I love my extensive collection of stencils but they’re just tools. I don’t fuss, wiping them with a baby wipe each time I use them, etc as some artists do. I use them, let the paint dry on them, and put them back into their ring binders. When I’m on a creative roll I couldn’t care less about cleaning up as I go.
Of course, there’s a but. Over time my favourite stencils get layers of paint built up on them, so they don’t achieve fine detail any more. They need to be cleaned. Ugh.
The easiest method I’ve found is one the lovely artist Pam Carriker recommends here. I buy the Eco band of dishwasher gel and soak then for 24 hours, then use a Scotchbrite to rub the paint off. You do have to be careful not to pull up any edges and damage the stencil. Some brands of stencil clean up easier than others; Tim Holtz stencils are *the* best, you can basically rinse the paint off under the tap without any scrubbing. Others are hard to clean or remain very stained. Either way, once they’ve been cleaned it’s a huge improvement.
So, I’m on my annual stencil-cleaning binge. Wish me luck… I’ve included before and after photos so you can see the difference it makes.