DIY Maker Car Stencils

How to make a decorative car stencil.

As fabulous as the rainbow-painted VW beetle project was, we decided painting an entire vehicle was a little excessive, even for us. Plus I was pretty confident that painting a car with regular acrylic paint was a recipe for disaster, so I decided keeping to a small disaster was the way to go.

How to make a decorative car stencil.

And look, not a disaster at all! And this even though I followed the original, uncorrected instructions, which included no preparation of the surface and called for just any old acrylic paint. (There is a later corrected printing which provides more detail on the paint and surface preparation, but I didn’t have it when I completed the project.) Yes, the paint has developed kind of a weird crackly texture, but it’s stayed on for several months now and doesn’t look half-bad.

Car Stencils, based on The Family Creative Workshop, Volume 1: Acrylics, The Beetle Project

How to make a decorative car stencil.

Of course, it doesn’t exactly look professional, so I wouldn’t try this on decent-looking vehicle. (Fortunately, I had access to a beat-up pickup truck—thanks, Leigh!) I also would highly recommend using an indoor/outdoor spray acrylic enamel instead of the random acrylics we used.

Materials

How to make a decorative car stencil.

The good thing about doing a half-assed painting job is that the only tricky part of this project is getting the stencil cut. I cut mine out of vinyl on my Silhouette, but you could use pre-cut vinyl stencils or even hand cut the vinyl with an X-Acto. See the materials list above to download my templates (for personal use only, please).

How to make a decorative car stencil.

Next step is to clean and dry the surface. I just used some 409 cleaner and a lot of paper towels. When the paper towels stopped coming away black, I figured that was clean. Then press the vinyl onto the surface, making sure to smooth out any bubbles.

How to make a decorative car stencil.

If you were doing a spray paint, you’d also want to tape off around the stencil. Since I was using plain old acrylics, I just used foam spouncers to dab the paint on. This helps prevent paint from leaking underneath the stencil. My five-year-old helped me out with the first coat, then I dabbed on another layer to get even coverage.

How to make a decorative car stencil.

Then just carefully peel the stencil pack and reveal the nice, clean, lovely edges.

How to make a decorative car stencil.

Then let dry, and that’s it! (The revised instructions suggest applying a clear acrylic sealer, which is a good idea that I definitely did not do.)

How to make a decorative car stencil.

For my maker stencils, I did a “make” logo, the hammer and wrench, and a drill icon. I actually like that the slightly rough finish goes with the maker theme.

How to make a decorative car stencil.

Painting is intense work!

How to make a decorative car stencil.

And our crafty pickup truck looks awesome!

How to make painted truck stencils.

Check out the vintage inspiration for this project here: The Family Creative Workshop, Volume 1: Acrylics, The Beetle Project (1974)