I learned my lesson from my Thanksgiving craft post, and I'm writing about our Valentine's Day plans extra early this year so y'all can craft along.
Let's start with the nitty gritty.
Decide on Your Stencil:
Since we're making valentines, I knew I wanted to use hearts and cupids and flowers and other cheesey lovey stuff. I did a quick Google search and found lots of silhouettes for all of these and I got the idea for even more. Like the love birds. I really love those love birds. I knew I'd be able to draw some of them free hand but for the ones that were more complicated (specifically the rose and the cupid) I blew up the image to the size I wanted and printed them off. The more simple the shape, the better. This is not a time to try loopy crazy designs with zigs and zags all over the place.
Once you know what you want draw what you can on index cards or quartered computer paper. For the more tricky ones, place your card or paper over the print out and put it against a window. The light coming in will make it easy to trace the image. Color everything in black (or whatever color your marker is). All white spaces should be connected. In a better world the love birds would have 2 legs and cupid would have differentiated arms but both of these had white spaces that were surrounded by black on all sides, so I had to simplify. And then there are some, like the heart with wings and the lips, that just didn't work at all. Oh well.
Reenforce Your Stencil:
If you're just doing this at home with one child, or only want to do one or two you can skip this step. However if these stencils are going to be used over and over again it's best to take a few seconds to reenforce them. I don't have a laminator so I simply covered both sides of the paper in clear packing tape and trimmed it down to size.
Using an exacto knife or sharp scissors, carefully cut out everything that's black (this is another good reason for coloring in your stencil. It can get confusing when you don't know which side of the line to cut out). I did these with sharp craft scissors because I was impatient and wanted to get them done and I think they turned out just fine.
Decide What Book You Want to Destroy!:
Our friends group has a biannual book sale for which they receive book donations all year long. The books are kept in our programming room and while lots of them are great books that some lucky person will walk away with during the sale, a lot of them are junk. I'm talking trade paperbacks that are falling apart at the seams. I asked the friends to donate 1 or 2 books for this project and with their blessing searched through stacks upon stacks of books. I tried to find books without any quivering or thrusting (most of the junk books are bodice ripping romances) and ended up appropriating an old copy of Red Badge of Courage.
There's something thrilling and dangerous about ripping up a book even when it's seen better days and you're planning on making it into something even better. So I did all the ripping beforehand; no sense in tempting anyone who might not be able to control their impulses later.
Make Your Valentines:
Place a stencil over a book page and color it in. You can do solid colors or mix it up. Just make sure you hold the stencil in the same spot the entire time you're coloring. Or get an adult to help hold it down. Adults are great at holding things.