Reverse Staining Wood | Engagement Map

Did you know you can use the Silhouette Cameo to create a stencil to stop stain from applying to wood?!  Neither did I, until this idea popped into my head, and it worked!  Read below for a tutorial.



My brother and his fiance recently got engaged…on a remote hiking trail in the middle of the Smokey Mountains.  Of course, the location was stunning.


For Christmas, I had the idea that I wanted to make some version of those popular coordinates maps.  You know, where you pin point a spot and then find the latitude/longitude of that exact spot.  Wellllll that’s a little difficult when you’re looking for a spot that’s not even really on Google Maps.  Literally no trail.

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After a LOT of extensive research and Brian’s help, we found the spot (above) and then could extrapolate the coordinates.  Whew.  Then, I needed to actually make the cut file.  This was a whole different issue.  My brother sent me a general map of their trail and the high res PDF maps from the National Park Service, but they had a ton of info on them and were so granular.  I ended up piecing two together and then taking off a lot of detail in Illustrator.  Then, to make the cut file I traced it in Illustrator over and over and over again until I finally found the balance of detail I thought the Cameo could handle and the detail I needed for it to actually still be a map.  This was an insane process I would really only recommend as a strange form of torture, but I finally got it.

  • Top left: General map of their trail
  • Top right: Detailed PDF map from the National Park Service
  • Bottom: My final cut lines in Illustrator


You may or may not notice…all of those black lines are actually comprised of DOTS.  They’re freaking dotted lines, which I managed to make sort of bolder in Illustrator, but they are still dots.  So, the whole map took four hours to cut.  I kid you not, I am dead serious.  We watched two Christmas movies.  With the machine whining away right next to the TV.  Poor planning, I tell you!

Well, how did I actually do the cut and stain process?  I’ll break it down for you, and here’s what you need:


  • Cut out your stencil using the Oramask 813 stencil vinyl.  This is great to use because it is thicker than regular vinyl, and holds up much better to the stain.  It’s also pretty easy to cut, provided you aren’t trying to cut lots and lots of dotted lines. 😉  I think I used the preset for metallic vinyl and upped it from there.  In my case, the blade got a little full of little pieces of the circles it was cutting.  It was fine, just annoying.  Here you can see how my stencil looked after cutting (yes, the 4 hour cut) and before weeding, and then after weeding (only took about 2 hours).


  • Once you’re done weeding, remove the backing from the stencil and apply it to your wood.  Make sure you press and seal it down really well.


  • Take your Mod Podge and paint it all over your stencil, just where it’s cut away, in a very thin coat.  This is important, otherwise the stencil won’t peel off well.  Let fully dry.  Repeat for three coats.  Then, remove the stencil after the third coat is dry.  You may have to pick at the stencil carefully to remove it, depending on how intricate your design is.  I found this part kind of addicting and therapeutic…sort of like peeling away skin after a sunburn.  Hahaha just me?!




  • You should now be left with a raised, clear version of your design.  Admire it from near and far.
  • Moment of truth!  Now carefully coat your piece with wood stain.  I found that using a rag and sort of dabbing/swiping it across worked best.  Depending on your wood, it may absorb quite a bit of stain, so you’ll probably need to do multiple coats.  I ended up evening this out and filling in the lighter spots you can see here in the bottom right.


  • Once you’re satisfied, let it dry, preferably at least overnight so that it is no longer tacky.  At this point, you can coat it with a clear layer of sealant if you’d like, though I did not do this since I liked the more natural look.
  • Now cut out your lat/long coordinates with both the Oramask and the Oracle 651.  You’re going to repeat the process of the Mod Podge layers with your numbers now, to make a smooth surface for the white vinyl to stick.  Otherwise, it will be bumpy over your map.  Let dry as your did before.  Then apply your vinyl right on top.
  • Repeat this process if you want to add a little heart of the spot you’re marking, like I did.


That’s it!  You’re done!  Now admire your handiwork.





Have you tried anything like this before?  I wasn’t able to find much online about this technique prior to actually trying it.  I’d love to hear what you’ve made if you’ve done this or something similar!


2 thoughts on “Reverse Staining Wood | Engagement Map

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