She's a walking, glowing advertisement for her own product – a remarkable invention that can make even the clumsiest craft-avoider successful at decorating walls and floors, or embellishing clothing and table linens to striking effect. Linda Cibula, the energetic owner of Stencib, is tall and stylish, wearing skinny teal jeans that are made uniquely hers with stenciled vines in shades of lavender running up the left leg. It's the sort of touch, she says, that makes it hard to get through airports without repeatedly being stopped by people who love the look and want to know where she got it -- and she loves to tell them. Cibula is about to celebrate her store's grand opening, set for September 28 at 7503 Madison, and she's excited about showing off the place, which is stencil heaven, showing some off each design and the myriad ways they can be used.
The storefront itself opened Sept. 19, having transplanted from an initial location on North Avenue in Oak Park. Cibula expects to host stencil classes and events for bridal and baby showers, school and community groups, corporate outings and more. She already has a regular client in "Opportunity Knocks", a local day program for disabled adults, who responded enthusiastically to designing with Stencib.
What makes her product unique – and the reason it is patent pending – is its ease of use. To show how simple and surprisingly unmessy the process is, Cibula masking-tapes a pair of ordinary black yoga pants to a tabletop in the store. Unrolling a portion of Stencib paper with a geometric pattern, she presses it flat down one pant leg; it is self-adhesive and doesn't move, though it she can easily readjust it. Next, she pours narrow stripes of blue, green, orange and yellow ("Wall paint works fine!" says Cibula) into a paint tray, runs a small paintroller through it, and rolls the paint across the stencil. About 60 seconds of blow-dryer heat, and the design is set. Not five minutes have passed, and the result looks like stained glass. Glass, too, can be easily decorated with Stencib self-stick stencils ("I use Rustoleum engine-block paint!") as well as wooden floors, tiles and metal; a large photo displayed in the shop shows a plain white automobile featuring elegant black stencils. Cibula doesn't even don an apron to demonstrate; instead, she stencils the pants, plus a section of wall, clad in a pale pink leather jacket, white sweater, the aforementioned teal skinnies, and jeweled sandals showing off a bright pink pedicure. Not a bit of paint got on any of it.
A dizzying variety of stencil designs and ideas for their use can be seen on the company's website, www.stencib.com. And for those extra-creative folks with ideas not yet envisioned in the existing array, Stencib offers what Cibula calls the "Plain Jane" paper: a full-length roll of sticky-back Stencib, ready for you to add and cut out your own designs. The glue that makes self-adhesive Stencib paper easy to use and re-use is a trademark secret, with a stickiness stronger than Post-Its yet non-damaging to surfaces; Cibula says it took nine years to develop.
Cibula credits her dad ("a saint!") with motivating her to start her new career – by telling her to stop talking about it and just do it. Cibula spent 37 years as a commodities broker, but describes the new venture as "a dream come true – business and art together! I've always decorated homes and wanted to make things nobody else has." Her family participates in her new venture with enthusiasm; she employs her brother and son, and many family members model in Stencib's videos. Cibula, the seventh of a family of 14 children, is a native of Oak Park who attended St. Giles, Trinity and Triton College. In such a large family, she says, basic needs were met, but extras required a certain creativity. So she taught herself to sew, and developed a lifelong love of hands-on, handmade things. One of her sisters, Cibula admits, calls her "Martha Stewart on crack!"