Would you believe there is a kind of exam for stencillers? There is ....it is set and judged by members of the International Decorative Artisans' League (IDAL). They are the body that I traveled to Memphis, USA to teach stencilling classes and give a speech to last month. I also went to hang out with friends and have a generally groovy time. The exam is called CSA 'Certified Stencilling Artisan'. It gets shortened to 'Certification'.
I passed the test and can now be internationally recognised as a competent stenciller.
My colleagues reckoned I should have been certified for even considering taking part in it. "What if you fail? You would look like a pretty rubbish expert stenciller if you can not pass an exam on your specialist subject." I have never been at ease with exams. I had considered the possibility that I might fail and had written a draft of my speech that started with a self deprecating sentence apologising to the IDAL membership for my fall from grace. Thankfully I didn't need that draft.
The act of stencilling is fairly easy, but the focus of CSA is the thought, planning and the process of the decoration. I used the paneled drawing room at home in Stocksfield for my project and recreated it in postage size pieces. The examinees have to copy and hand cut a stencil from a provided drawing. Then they stencil a project onto wood and fabric. The cut stencils, wood and fabric are sent anonymously for scrutiny along with photographs of the room. The stencil project on the walls has to follow guidelines set down by judges and photographs are submitted showing different elements of the project such as corners.
I lost points on crappy presentation of my wood project. I sent a chunk of decorated flooring and the judges felt that I could have sanded the rough edges before winging it across the Atlantic ... they were right.
My fabric project ticked all the right boxes though.
Fellow stencillers Janie Glick (left) and Cathy Rinn (3rd from left) also passed their CSA. We are pictured here with our certificates and with Mary Boquard, IDAL's certification chairman. All ladies were fabulous company. I had spent time with Janie at IDAL's convention in Charleston last year and this year I spent the day at Graceland in Memphis with Mary and Kathy... Seen here with Elvis.
We learned that Elvis had stencilled his army kitbag and saw it amongst the exhibits. Yaaay ...Elvis was a stenciller! I think he might have failed certification though. You need to be a member of IDAL before you can be certified and details can be found on their site. Now I'm away to stencil my straight-jacket.