Stencil Me This…Customized Picture Frame

Written by Renee Reiter

Well it’s safe to say I had some struggles on this project. I thought it would still be good to write it up since all good lessons come from mistakes. Here’s to hoping we can all learn from mine…

It all started innocent enough… My in-laws asked if I could make a gift for one of my brother-in-laws who was recently promoted to Sergeant within his Police unit. We were all going to be attending the promotion ceremony in about a month and they wanted to gift it to him then. Their only instructions were to please somehow incorporate the quote that he had chosen for his senior yearbook quote in high school into the gift somehow. It’s a really great quote and very fitting for the occasion..You will see it a little later.

I was pretty excited because I love when I get some leeway in where I can let my creativity go. I really didn’t want to do a plaque or anything because I figured his department would be giving him one at the ceremony. So I decided to make a picture frame instead so that later he could place a nice picture from the ceremony in the frame.

I decided it would be easier to look for a frame first and then think of a design to fit the frame I bought. I was so inspired once I came across this beauty…this wood blank was perfect in every way! Space for a quote and space for a picture! I could see the project coming to life in my head.

Since this was a gift for a police officer I thought it might be nice to do something with the Thin Blue Line symbol. So I decided to paint the whole frame black and then do a thin blue line across the top and then do the quote in white in the space off to the left. Don’t you love the planning stage? Everything seems so simple in your head…foreshadowing hehe

Those of you who follow our blog (thanks by the way!) know that I try to make every project that I touch involve vinyl somehow since I own a vinyl decal shop (shameless plug). Well this project was no different. I decided to do both the quote and the blue line out of vinyl. Weeeellllll ask me how that went…haha. Here is where I learned valuable lesson number one. It is possible to design something too small for the cutter to cut and/or too small to really work with. Those of you who own a Silhouette or Circut cutter probably know exactly what I am talking about!

I tried to weed the excess vinyl away from the quote so I could apply it as normal quickly saw that just wasn’t going to happen. So thinking on the fly I decided to try revers weed the vinyl so that I could use it as a stencil. So I carefully, and painstakingly might I add, pulled each tiny letter out to create the stencil. I was frantically trying to save the project at this point because I hadn’t considered that it might not work and by this point I was in a real time crunch.


There is my vinyl applied and ready to be used as a stencil. I quickly rushed off to Michael’s to purchase things for stenciling because I have never stenciled before so I had nothing.

I bought this dabber and satin white paint from the Martha Stewart line. I ended up needing to do two coats to get a nice coverage. It took some patience and dry time in-between coats.


AHHHH! Here is where I officially freaked out! I quickly realized though that this was an issue with how I did the vinyl. Usually when you need to weed vinyl you put boxes around your text so you can remove the excess vinyl leaving behind the words…does that make sense? Anyhow since I originally cut the quote thinking I would weed it as normal I put a rectangle around each sentence to make it easier. Except I didn’t consider that since I wanted to use it as a stencil that there were now very small slits between each line of text caused by the rectangles. Which in turn caused the bleed through you see above. You can also see where I lost some of the “a” in the word “matter” when I removed the middle stencil part of the letter.


After a few mini meltdowns about how it’s not perfect I decided to persevere and keep going. Here is what it looked like once I got all of the stencil removed. That was another painstakingly long process that required much patience. To try and clean up all the white lines that I didn’t want I used a Q-tip, black paint and pure will (lol) to cover the mistakes. I used a white gel pin to fix any of the letters that needed a little clean up.


Then I added the blue line, name and date all in vinyl…not stencil…I was done stenciling! Here is how the final gift came out. In the end he loved it and was very gracious to not point out all the places where you could tell I tried to fix it (because of course the black did not dry the same so you could see where I had touched up with the Q-Tip!) I think the real lesson here is planning is KEY!

We hope that you saw something here today to help you during your own crafting & life adventures. We encourage our readers to share their own projects in the comments as we absolutely LOVE seeing what others were inspired to create. We also kindly ask that comments be polite or constructive.
– Sincerely Renee & Jessica


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