I spent a morning at the TechShop http://www.techshop.ws with my husband playing around on the laser cutter figuring out different things we could do. 4 hours worth of different projects with different materials.
I have done work as a sign painter and also painted graphics and murals so the idea of using the laser cutter to make my own stencils was interesting.
Since it was a learning day, and one thing we have learned is that 4 hours goes by really quickly, and we never get to all the things we would like to try, I just took a file from the epilog site http://www.epiloglaser.com/sc_stencils.htm. Epilog is the maker of the laser cutter at the TechShop. I use Corel Draw and it is easy and quicker to load files on to a thumbdrive and take it with me to the TechShop.
The site reccommended a certain kind of paper stock. I just used card stock. I thought the settings were kind of low - very low power and I thought the frequency should have been higher. If I had the leisure of time or had a specific project in mind for the stencil I would have run it a second time, increasing both power and frequency.
once set the laser did its thing
Despite that first piece that came out easily, much of it proved to be a pain. I used a large quilting pin, my fingernails, and whole lot of muttering. I gave it a test run just for fun.
I would change the settings and use different material - my card stock was too porous, sucking up paint and making it hard to keep the design in place.
I can see endless possibilities for stencils in the future.