Saturday, December 11, 2010

Stenciling 101

Now that I've revealed the new wall o' fun in our bedroom, I wanted to share how it all went down. In all honesty, I probably went about stenciling in the most difficult way possible, but it was effective so I want to pass on what I learned.

Have you ever had an idea in your head, but couldn't exactly envision the final product? That's how I felt about this project. I scoured the internet until I found my desired look:


This was the validation I needed to move forth. I had the vision, I had the inspiration, and I had the wall space. All I was missing was the "how to." Though I usually search the internet for tips to complete projects, I dove into stenciling head first. No floaty, no life jacket, no David Hasselhoff. I was on my own to sink or swim.

I knew the basics. I needed paint (check) and I needed a stencil. I lacked the latter so I headed to the dollar store, spent 53 cents on oak tag and gathered the rest of my already owned supplies.

To create the stencil, I practiced on sheets of paper until I achieved my desired shape. I took a break when I unintentionally started channeling my inner Georgia O'Keefe.

Next, I cut the shape out and traced it onto my oak tag and taped the edges to keep my stencil strong.

I was now ready to begin the process of preparing the space. I used a level to measure lines on the wall to make sure everything would be evenly spaced and straight.

 Next, I tried a few different techniques to transfer the stencil onto the wall:

              1. Spray paint over stencil (runny and stinky nightmare)
              2. Paint over stencil with a brush (too messy and did not result with crisp lines)
              3. Trace the stencil with pencil then hand paint (bingo!)

I imagine using a small roller would make the job much easier, but Little Ms. Butterfingers couldn't figure out how to hold the stencil and roller at the same time. Instead, I chose to take the hard road and lightly traced the shape on the wall over and over (and over) again.

Once I had everything traced, I went in with a small art brush and hand painted every.single.line. I have a steady hand from years of painting and art school so I found this to move pretty quickly. It took  three coats to get the coverage I was after and about six hours over the course of a few days to complete. The result was completely worth it:

And there you have it, my stencil tutorial and my less than one dollar bedroom transformation. It was pretty fun, but if you know an easier way, I would love to hear it!


  1. "Little Ms. Butterfingers couldn't figure out how to hold the stencil and roller at the same time."

    Use blue painters tape. For roller stenciling, use the small dense foam roller. Cutting Edge Stencils has a great how to on this. A poster board stencil probably wouldn't hold up to roller stenciling anyway, as the paper starts to warp once it gets wet from the paint. But if you have some stencil plastic or Mylar, it's a great way to go.

    The wall looks great!

  2. I love this! Thanks for the tutorial! Gathering ideas for when I build this spring! Lots of inspiration on your blog! Now following via flob site! Hope you can follow back!



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