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Stencil Delights For Your Home

A home decorative art that is fast catching on is stencilling. This is the process of applying paint to the cut-out areas of a material called a stencil to replicate patterns and designs. It is popular because of its own three C's: Cheap, Control (Do-It-Yourself, Creativity). It is Cheap costing as little as US$30 for the stencil design and equipment.

You have Control as it is a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) pasttime. This enjoyable art form generates lots of Creativity. Your stencil design is as good as your imagination and ingenuity. The art is centuries old and is believed to have started in China where decorative stencils were cut out from rice paper. The contemporary term `stencil' is derived from a French word "estenceler" (to sparkle).

The French is said to be the first to add shimmering decorations painted from stencils to their wallpapers, fabrics, books, etc. European migrants later brought decorative stencilling to America and it eventually became a part of American folk art. Stencilling is now an accepted and popular home decoration.

How To Get Started

First, think of a theme to co-ordinate your designs. You can also have stand-alone motifs, borders or repeat patterns. Plan and try out by investing in a roll of paper lined up as your border or pattern. Visualize the design to see if it will sit well in its intended location. This will save you lots of headaches, time and repainting. You can select suitable commercial stencilled designs to match your intended decor. These off-the-shelf stencils are made from frosted plastic and paper in various sizes and designs. Such stencil designs are available at some art and crafts shops.

Create Your Own Stencil

To originate your own designs, you need to buy blank stencil sheets to cut your creations. Trace the design from a book or magazine and transpose it onto the blank stencil. Etch it out carefully freehand with a sharp penknife. Just about anything from any graphic arts, antique or history books can be stencilled and patterned into a border.

Only ensure that your design has layers of shades for contrast and color. An intricate pattern should have at least three or four colors to bring out the texture, and shading for a more three-dimensional look. If the design you want is too elaborate to cut out correctly, Commercial stencil shop can customize it to your specifications for a fee. Professional stencil jobs may take from three days to a week to complete.

Special Stencilling Techniques And Tips


The stippling technique is tapping on the flat face of the brash on the surface and then pouncing the brush up and down over the 5 stencil to give it a nice textured and grainy look. It is suitable for gloss surfaces.


Swirling is achieved when the brush is moved in small circular movements to lend a smooth and almost airbrush effect.


Before you actually stencil on the walls, tape your stencil on a large piece of paper and practise.


When you are stencilling borders or rails along walls, always draw a horizontal line on your stencil sheet. Mark the desired height on the wall and tape a horizontal line using a printer's tape. Now align the stencil correctly by using the taped line.


When using oil paint sticks, treat the stencil as a palette and rub the paint stick a blank area away from the cut-out area Do not use too much paint as it is easy for the brush to slip under the stencil edges and lost the outline of the design.

Adding Colors

When using the fast dry paint sticks, you can add the next color right away. Always use a different brush for each.color. When color shading, start with weaker shades first and then use the darker ones to edge out the outline of the design. 


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