Stenciling a decorative pattern on walls is often considered a thrifty decorating option used by early American colonists seeking a way to add color and pattern to their humble farm-homes. Although this is true, stenciled walls were also found in eighteenth and nineteenth century homes as a way to pattern after popular European decorating styles.
Today's stenciling is generally used as a border or frieze decoration. A "frieze" refers to the part of the wall below the ceiling where designs are added to outline a rooms architectural lines. A frieze is a good way to border a window or accent a wall clock as well. To create your own stenciled look you can purchase numerous pre-made laser cut stencils or make your own free-hand or as a coordinating compliment to patterned fabric already existing in your room.
STENCIL TOOLS NEEDED
Pen and Pencil
Very Sharp Utility Knife
Ruler or Tape Measure
Paper Towel for Blotting
MODERN HANDMADE STENCILS
Although Japan paints are faster drying and offer a traditional method of stenciling, making stencils for use with acrylic paints and stencil brushes are easier to work with and provide a softer more stippled pattern in the finished embellishment. This method is also more forgiving when mistakes are made.
You may need to use a copy machine to enlarge or reduce your pattern to a comfortable scale for your use.
Trace your design onto acetate. Make one tracing or overlay per pattern color you will be using. If you are working with a repeating design you may want to make a larger pattern that includes the repetition several times to spread up your process. Cut the acetate leaving a 1" margin on each side.
Next, cut out the stencil shapes that will be painted with the first color. Use a very sharp crafting or utility knife. It will cut cleaner if you cut toward you and swivel the acetate as needed for curves. On the second stencil sheet, cut out all the pieces for the second color and so forth.
Commercially made stencils always include a small hole to help you center each stencil piece and line in up with the next overlay. You can also create these guide holes in your own handmade stencils.
USING YOUR STENCILS
You will want to use a tape measure to create small pencil lines and even a level can be handy in lightly marking guide lines on your wall to help center your stencil.
To help hold your stencil in place while you apply the paint, you will want to use a spray adhesive found in crafting and art supply stores. You will only need to let it dry a few seconds before the acetate will become tacky and provide a good bond. This adhesive is safe for use on painted walls and will not remove the paint.
After your stencils are in place you may want to add some painters tape for additional hold but it is not necessary. Refrain from using other tapes because it may cause your base coat of paint to peel.
Dab a small amount of paint on a paper plate or palate. Apply some paint to your stencil brush and blot the brush onto a newspaper or paper towel until you have a very dry brush. Pounce your brush onto the stencil working from the edges in until the stencil is covered. Small rhythmic pounces with an up and down motion are better than a broad sweep. If you are using a fairly large stencil your paint will be about dry by the time you are finished and you can carefully remove the first stencil and apply the second stencil for the second color. Continue this process until all colors have been applied.
Once you have mastered basic stenciling techniques do not stop with the frieze or borders. A warm traditionally country look can be obtained by stenciling many other home fixtures and furnishings. Try stenciling the backs of a wooden chair, kitchen drawer panels or top of a bar stool to coordinate with your kitchen decor. Stencil a floor cloth, embellish a blanket chest, footstool or simple picture frame. Everyday items like flower pots, wastepaper baskets or book ends can turn boring utility necessities into works of art!
About The Author: Author Rachel Webb designs large write-on/Wipe-off fridge calendars that are affordable and decorative. Check them out www.Note-Albes.com