My winter snowflake is here as an idea for a quick little project that you can make as a gift or just a fun winter craft. It’s great for all levels of experience with painting and stenciling. I have included some extra touches you can do or not do. Don’t feel limited by materials, paints embellishments or even the snowflake! There are so many ways to make this idea into something of your own. Or, by all means, make it just like mine! I have included a complete list at the end of this post which includes everything you need to make this and they are all linked to resources. These are affiliate links which means when you purchase items through my links I receive a small commission at no cost to you. I thank you sincerely for shopping through my links so I can continue to do keep this site running.
What you put your snowflake on can be just about anything that takes paint. I prefer wood because it is so easy to paint on. Most craft stores have some kind of unfinished wood plaque that would be perfect, but don’t be afraid to try other things like wooden bowls, boxes or blocks. You can try blank canvas, but be sure you use those that are fairly smooth. The coarse texture on some may not stencil well.
After you have chosen what to paint be sure it is clean and smooth. This might take some sanding or even filling with a little putty (I had to do that on an old wooden salad bowl that had a ding in it). Make sure your final sanding is with a fairly fine grit sandpaper for smooth painting.
Your base coat is going to be white. If you are making lots of these I would suggest spray painting them in several light coats to make things easier. Or just use regular craft paint such as Americana, Ceramacoat, Folk Art, etc. If you do several thin coats of whatever paint you use you will end up with smooth surface, which is what you ultimately need for the stencil to work best. Be sure each coat is completely dry before applying the next one. If the paint is still very cold it is not ready! Here is my smooth surface secret: Between each coat of paint, “sand” the paint with a scrap of brown paper bag. Feel the paint before and after this sanding and you’ll see why it helps.
While your paint coats are drying is a good time to make your snowflakes. If you have stencils you want to use, great. But my favorite is making my own snowflakes. You can use paper and your favorite way to make them, or follow my instructions using cupcake papers. I like using these because the papers are slightly coated, so they don’t fall apart when they get a little wet. Also they make a nice sized round snowflake and as long as I don’t need a bigger one, I can make them in a few different sizes.
First you want to iron your cupcake papers flat. Use a hot non-steam setting. Then iron as you fold to make the folds crisp. The more perfectly even your folds are, the more uniform your snowflake will be. So all you are going to do is fold the paper four times as pictured.
At this point it’s best to just make a bunch of snowflakes to practice and try different patterns. I like to have lots of snowflakes and sizes to choose from. If you want to look for snowflake patterns there are so many out there, and I’m pretty sure you can find some you like. Or just try your own. After you make a few you will get the feel for what you need to do to get them to look how you want. But I do suggest you draw it on the folded piece first just to get you going in the right direction at first. Use the smallest scissors you have. I used some fingernail scissors to get little tiny cuts. You might find as you cut that some curves or points need to go a different way, so just go with it! The more cuts you make, the more lacy it will be. After they are cut hit them again with the iron making sure all the points are flat and none are folded under.
Decide which snowflakes you want to use and where you will put them. The next step is to get some glue on the stencil. I used a glue stick because it was really easy and I had one already. You could use a spray adhesive, but if it’s a really powerful adhesive make sure it dries just a bit before sticking it to the board.
The idea is to get the snowflake to stay down enough to paint over it, but you also want it to be easy to peel off afterwards. Whatever glue you use be sure you cover the snowflake well, especially the edges and points. If using a glue stick you will need to be gentle when applying it so you don’t rip your snowflake.
Ok, get ready to sponge! Take the time to get all of your paints ready for the painting part so you can do the sponging without having to stop and get things.
You will need:
- damp sponges – natural sea sponges are the best because they hold paint well and you can get a variety of patterns on just one sponge. You can also use cleaning type sponges, but I would cut one into a few different sizes to get different surfaces for different colors.
- paint – you will need white for the spatters, but the rest is up to your imagination. I would go with three or four colors. One should be a little dark, one or two lighter versions of that one, and then one that might be a bit of a contrast.
- small bowl of water
- fluffy or frayed paintbrush for softening harsh edges. You can use a piece of barely damp sponge for this also.
- palette – Usually I use cleaned styrofoam meat trays, but you can also use a piece of parchment or waxed paper taped to your work surface.
- paper towel – it’s always nice to have some ready.
Squeeze a little of each color onto your palette. Leave room in between each color so you have room to dab your sponge around it.
Get your sponge wet and squeeze out as much water as you can before starting. Dab your sponge in the darkest color. Dab it around on your palette to work it into your sponge so you don’t have big blobs. If you want to practice a little now is a good time to try it on a piece of paper just to get the hang of how much paint to have on your sponge.
You want to keep everything from being to “wet” or it will get under your stencil. Be sure you dab lightly and straight up and down for the same reason. Then go for it. Dab it in spots on your board and don’t worry if it looks to dark. You will put more paint over it to soften and lighten it. You can use a blending brush or a fluffy or old frayed paint brush to soften edges if you like. Then move to a different sponge or a different side of your sponge using a different color. Dab layers of each color going lighter with each layer. You can wait between colors for the paint to dry for a more crisp look, or go over each layer while it is still damp to soften or blend the colors together. This is why it’s good to practice a bit first so you can see what you like best. End with just enough white to look like snow and you are done with the sponging!
Now is the fun part….revealing your snowflake! But I wan to say first, don’t be discouraged if some paint bled under your stencil! We can fix that. Just use a little paint brush and paint over the messy spots. Remember the snowflake is going to be covered in glitter so some imperfections won’t matter.
Even if it looks like this you can still fix it. That’s whats great about this project. A great way to learn about stenciling!
The last thing before the glitter is the little embellishments, like spatter, dots, tiny snowflakes and edging or shading. You can omit this or do more…..it’s yours to embellish!
I hand painted little double-X snowflake here and there in white. White dots with the end of a paintbrush are really easy. A tiny bit of outlining on the snowflake with one of your colors gives it a nice look. Don’t go all the way around, just little bits here and there. If you are a little more advanced you can shade one side of each area around the snowflake for some depth.
Then I also did a little bit of spatter in white for more snow effect. Spattering is fun, and even if you don’t want to put it on this project it’s fun to know how to do. I would also practice this on a piece of paper first just so you get the feel of it.
You can use an old toothbrush and a knife if you don’t have any specific spatter tools. Work a little white paint into a damp toothbrush, then drag a knife (I happen to have a palette knife) across the toothbrush causing the paint to spatter outward. Be sure your project is on newspaper for this part or you could have paint everywhere!
This is the part that makes your snowflake sparkle and shine. You could use any glitter your heart desires. I used a clear crystal glitter, but you could go with silver, gold, white or even a color if you want. The variations of ways to do this are unlimited.
You can use glue and glitter separately or use glitter glue to make it easier. If you use glitter glue, just paint it right onto your snowflakes. Otherwise you want to paint an adhesive onto your snowflake first. You could use Elmers, Mod Podge or any glue that flows and dries clear. Using a paint brush just paint all parts of the snowflake. This should be donefairly quickly without worrying about being meticulous. You don’t want the glue to dry before you get the glitter on. Then sprinkle the glitter over the glue and wait a few minutes for it to dry. Dump the excess glitter onto a piece of paper (so you don’t waste it, and can funnel it back into it’s container). If you missed some spots just wait until it dries completely an redo the spots you missed. This doesn’t have to be perfectly filled in, it’s just to give it some sparkle.
I finished the whole top before I painted the sides, because I wanted it to look sort of framed in a contrasting color. If you do it this way, just be careful not to get it on the top. If your piece is completely dry you could use some painters tape on the top to make it easier.
The final step is to varnish. This can be your preference. I used a spray varnish, but you could definitely use a paint type. Go lightly over the glitter for the first coat if you do.
And there you have it! Gifts or just a fun thing to do for yourself on a snowy day.
Complete List of Ingredients
- unfinished wood plaque
- sea sponges
- craft paint – white plus 3 or 4 other colors
- small bowl of water
- blending brush (optional)
- palette – or styrofoam meat trays or parchment or waxed paper
- paper towels
- cupcake papers
- glue stick or glue for stencil
- craft glue if using loose glitter
- small scissors
- craft paint brushes
- splatter brush – or old toothbrush/knife (optional)
- glitter or glitter glue
- craft varnish