Playing with Stencils: Exploring Repetition, Pattern, and Personal Designs by Amy Rice features variety in design of others while teaching readers how to go about creating their own personal touches in various projects. Along with plenty of information there are a number of photographs depicting the various ideas covered in the book.


Broken into three main sections along with several resource sections the book opens with the basics after a brief introduction. Section One titled “Getting Started: Designing, Enlarging, Transferring, Cutting, and Burning” begins on page 10. The section opens with an explanation of what a stencil is as well as what it isn’t before moving on to how to manipulate a stencil by various means. Along with the detailed instructions and photographs there is a small section titled “tips” that contains helpful hints.


Section 2 titled “Projects to Play With: Inspiring Stencil Ideas” features 20 projects. This section is the heart of the book and references the stencil templates located later in the book as well as other possibilities. The first project is for “Scherenschnitte-Inspired Floor Tiles” on pages 25-27. A brief introduction to the history behind the project followed by a list of materials and possible variations begins the project. On the facing page is a photograph of a completed floor tile project at close range showing more than eight tile squares with design. The following two pages of this project feature the detailed instruction as well as several photographs from start to finish.


This same format is followed through the remaining 19 projects. They include “Stencils Love Decoupage: Old Wood and Antique Letters” (pages 32-35) on an old wooden trunk with wheels, “A Simple Stencil for a Prettier Cake” (pages 36-39), “Paper Dolls Please” (page 48-51), “Reverse Stencil Planters” (pages 68-71), and “Custom Wallpaper” (pages 100-103) among others. Unlike many crafting or project books, this book does not feature a degree of difficulty scale making it impossible to judge whether the projects would be difficult for those new to stenciling or beneath very experienced stencilists.


Section 3 titled “Gallery: Influential Contemporary Artists Who Us Stencils” begins on page 104. This section features ten artists working in the medium in various ways. Artists such as the duo working as “Broken Crow” as well as solitary artists such as Matt Dixon, Megan Hunter, Liz Miller, Susan Rodriquez, and the author herself among others are featured. Not only are the works depicted here beautiful to look at, but they serve as inspiration to others.


Starting on page 126 there are the templates. There are 13 actual designs located here. The page titled “Templates” that heads off the section is blank.


That is followed by a one page “Artist Directory” that provides online contact info for the ten artists in the gallery. Also included in these remaining few pages is a one page “Resources” list providing six websites for various materials and a brief author bio. Also present is a one page ad featuring other stenciling and stamping books available from the publisher.


Featuring projects that go from floor to table to drapes to food and everything in between Playing with Stencils: Exploring Repetition, Pattern, and Personal Designs by Amy Rice features a lot of colorful and varied projects. While skill level is not addressed in this 145 page book it is clear that like any other art form patience and practice will be needed to perfect the image you are trying to create. This is a good resource to help you get started while also providing plenty of inspiration.


Playing with Stencils: Exploring Repetition, Pattern, and Personal Designs

Amy Rice

Quarry Books (Quayside Publishing Group)

May 2013

ISBN# 978-1-59253-829-4



144 Pages


Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano Texas Public Library System.


Kevin R. Tipple ©2014

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