Used by sign painters and other artisans, a pounce pattern is a simple format for laying out artwork. It can be used for many different projects, such as marking the positions of hand painted letters and logos, vinyl lettering, plastic or wood letters, or carved or wood-burned designs.
A pounce pattern is simply a traced version of a letter or logo that needs to be applied to a background. The pattern is traced on paper with a "pounce wheel" which makes tiny perforations in the outline of the design. A wheel with 15 teeth per inch is sufficient for most projects. When tracing the pattern, place the paper on cardboard, cork, foam core, or any other flexible material that you don't mind making holes in.
Once the pounce pattern is complete, lay it face up against the background and dust with powder or chalk, either by hand or with a pounce bag. Do not overdo the powder. You only need a light dusting. Too much powder will make a mess, may create an uneven outline, and may mix with paint causing clumps. Remember, if you are using a light background, you must use dark powder, and vice versa.
As the pounce pattern is dusted, the powder seeps through the tiny holes. This creates a light outline that marks the exact placement of letters or logos, allowing them to be applied flawlessly. The outline can be removed easily after the application, by wiping away the powder.
If painting, it is a good idea to make the pounce pattern just a bit larger than the actual letter or design, so you can paint inside the chalk lines. Otherwise, the residue may mix with the paint or create rough, uneven edges. Making the pattern about 1/16 of an inch (or about 1 1/2 millimeters) larger than the design should be sufficient.
Pounce patterns are the handiest method for artwork or signs that require repetitive letters or designs. One pattern will make many copies of the necessary symbols. While this method is seen as "old school" by some of today's artisans, it is still used frequently by many, especially for jobs that require on-site applications. A pounce pattern is also a favorite tool of individuals who do not have high tech equipment or do not have much experience with lettering and similar applications, because it is simple and inexpensive to prepare.