How to Create Stunning Raised Stencil Designs!

Birdcage over a transfer art piece.

Hey, creative friends! Ready to create something beautiful? Today’s post is all about how to create raised stencil designs.  I’m talking about designs that literally jump off the surface and usually has me jumping up and down with excitement!  And we’re not just doing a plain raised stencil design; We’re doing it over a decor transfer with a beautiful gold paste! Yes, you can do this! So, grab your stencils, maybe a cup of coffee (or a shot of fireball – if it’s Friday), and let’s get this stencil party going.

What is a Raised Stencil Technique?

Let’s start by understanding what raised stenciling is all about. The basic technique of creating a raised stencil design is applying a texture medium or plaster onto a stencil design. Once you remove the stencil, the medium is raised above the painted surface to show a relief, making your artwork or furniture come alive and truly stand out from the crowd. That’s what we want, right? To create something beautiful that’s also unique. And it doesn’t have to be hard. Using the right supplies, and a few simple instructions, the raised stencil effect does just that.

NOTE: If you’re more of a visual learner, scroll down below for a complete Video Tutorial on How to do a Raised Stencil Design.

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    Materials: What to use for Raised Stencils

    Before we begin, let’s gather the essential materials needed for creating raised stencil art. Each item is linked with a source for the art I created. Some links may be affiliate links from which I can earn a small commission with a qualifying purchase. There is no additional cost to you.

    Choosing the Right Stencils and Surface for Raised Stencil Art

    To achieve a stunning raised effect, selecting the right stencil and surface is crucial. It’s best to have a sturdy surface and, depending on the size of your surface, a stencil with a mil weight suitable for the medium you’ll be using. So, you have a few options for surfaces: You may want to stencil on furniture or walls, but for art, you can stencil on canvas. You can stencil on glass. And you can stencil on wood, which is what I’m excited to show you for this project. I like to buy the 4′ by 8′ sheets of plywood at Lowe’s or Home Depot and have them cut into several different sizes. The piece I used was 14″ x 23″ similar in shape to the one below. The Birdcage stencil is 10 mil mylar and is 8.5″ wide by 16″ high. Choose a large stencil if you want that to be your focal point and it’s proportional to the size of your surface. I usually like to go big!

    Like I mentioned earlier, for an even cooler look, I decided to do my raised stencil on top of a decor transfer that was applied to the wood first.

    Preparing the Surface for Raised Stencil Art

    Depending on the medium to be used will determine how I prepare my surface. I used a gold crystal paste as my medium for the birdcage, so I won’t be painting over it; therefore, I started out by painting my surface first. You’ll understand more as we move along. I used Baltic Black by Paint Couture and brushed on two coats letting it dry in between. I knew I wanted to use the Wallflower Transfer as my background and it looks great over black. After my paint dried, I sealed it with a clear topcoat. Sealing your surface helps decor transfers to transfer easier. I don’t always do this, but I would recommend it if you’re not familiar with transfers or how your paint dries. I then sealed over the Transfers with the same topcoat.

    Applying the Decor Transfer for a Raised Stencil Background

    If you haven’t tried decor transfers, you’re missing out on immediate art gratification. Whatever your vibe, I’m sure there’s a transfer you’d love. It’s super easy too; All you do is rub it on! There are a few tips you should know though; like sealing your painted surface first with a clear polycrylic. Not always required, but helpful. I used the Wallflower transfer by Iron Orchid Designs for this particular project. It’s brightly colored and looks great on black. The transfer set consists of 8 sheets that can be pieced together to make one large image; kind of like a puzzle. I decided where I wanted the flowers placed on my board (taking into account where I wanted my raised stencil design), then cut the sheets to fit. I rubbed the flowers on with the plastic rubbing stick included with each transfer. Once I got all the flowers transferred on like I liked them, I applied another coat of polycrylic. All transfers should be sealed, if possible, after being applied to a surface. An exception would be glass.

    Isn’t this transfer beautiful? There’s more where that came from! For another project and more instruction, check out HOW TO APPLY TRANSFERS OVER PAINTED SURFACES.

    Securing the Stencil to Your Surface

    After choosing a stencil to use for your design, move it around your surface to see where it will look the best. I wanted my birdcage placed in an area where the bird would not be obstructed by flowers. To secure the stencil in place, I used a non-permanent spray adhesive to help with any bleed through. This simple addition ensures that the stencil stays firmly in position without any unwanted shifting during the application of texture medium . It’s easy for your medium to slip underneath the stencil, unless it’s flat against your surface. Lightly spray the back side of the stencil with the adhesive and lay it on your surface. Press down around the open areas to make sure all the small details are stuck down. Don’t worry, since the spray is not permanent, you will be able to reposition the stencil if necessary.

    Note: Since I was using different mediums for my design, I cut one of the birds off so I could use it easily. See Step 2 and 3 below.

    Creating a Raised Stencil Design

    Step 1 – Decide on Stencil Medium To Use

    I used two different texture mediums by Paint Couture for my mediums. For the birdhouse, I used gold Crystal paste. For the birds, I used Embossing Medium. You can also use Plaster, Crust, Spackle, Joint Compound, and Gel Medium  just to name a few. I used the Gold Crystal paste right out of the container and I could have used the Embossing medium as is as well, but it’s easier to color the medium first than it is painting your design afterwards.

    Step 2 – Add Pigment to Stencil Medium

    So for the birds, I used DIY Making Powders to color the Embossing Medium. These powders are highly pigmented so it doesn’t take much. The more you add to the medium, the brighter the color becomes. I wanted a blue bird and a red bird for my design. Using a styrofoam plate, I spooned out some embossing medium and mixed in the powders until I got the color I wanted. After you apply the mixture on your stencil, it will dry that color. I love this way of creating beauty for my projects!

    Tip: These Making Powders are also great for coloring mould castings made with Fast Casting Resin. She how HERE.

    Step 3 – Apply the Medium with a Palette or Putty Knife

    This is where your artwork takes shape, literally! I started my raised stencil design with the smallest bird. Remember I said I cut it off? It was just easier to cut it since I also wanted this bird to be unobstructed by flowers. Using a palette knife I spread the blue embossing mixture over the stencil, using a motion similar to icing a cupcake; creating a few peaks.

    Now for the Birdcage! Again, I used the gold Crystal paste and a palette knife, making sure to get complete coverage. I started at the top and worked my way down paying close attention not to get any paste on the bird in the cage.

    Last but not least, the Red Bird! Using the same technique as I used with the blue bird, I applied the red embossing mixture.

    Tip: When using a thin paste, such as the gold crystal paste , it’s best to spread a thin layer, using a firm hand to ensure the paste makes contact with your surface. Then go back and build up your texture by adding more medium on top.

    Step 4 – Remove the Stencil

    Now comes the exciting part! Be warned! You may squeal when seeing your artwork, if you’re anything like me. I always start at the top and slowly remove the stencil coming back towards me. Give yourself room to step back a little when at the bottom. You should be left with a beautiful raised stencil effect! If for some reason a little paste got where you don’t want it, use a toothpick and lift it off.

    Finishing Touches for Your Raised Stencil Art

    Allow the raised images to dry. I usually just let it sit overnight.

    For the final steps, I painted an eye on the red bird and waxed both of them; First with clear wax and then with gold wax. The clear wax is a sealer and adds a little shine to the red and blue colors. The gold wax is a beautiful, some-what transparent gold and adds a beautiful highlight to the birds. The birdcage is good as is! No need to seal; Just add a hook and hang on the wall.

    And that’s it my friend! Not hard at all; just a process. If you like this project I’ve got many more! Subscribe to Weathered Wings and never miss a project.

    Birdcage over a transfer art piece.

    What do you think of this project? I’m also curious if you’ve ever tried a raised stencil design and how it turned out for you? 🙂 I hope it has ignited your passion for experimenting with textures and elevating your artwork to new heights. Now, armed with knowledge, go forth and let your creativity soar. Happy creating!


    textured birdcage stencil over a transfer

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