Part II Create Wall Drama With Stencils

From Cutting Edge Stencils

From Cutting Edge Stencils

In my last post, Create Wall Drama With Stencils, I offered stunningly examples of what you can do just by stenciling you wall.  In this follow up post, I give some general information on how to apply stencils; include a short list of resources; and end with a brief history on stencils.

How To Stencil

It's really quite easy.  Tools are simple and available from art stores, hardware stores and companies that create stencils.  What's important is getting the right tools for the right job.  Special brushes and paint rollers produce different effects.  I once stenciled an ivy border on a bathroom wall.  Using a powder-like paint and flat brush I dabbed the paint on.  The effect resulted in a gorgeous aged ivy lace-like border. 

A Few Resources

Having once selected your colors and applied your base coat, you tape your template to the wall. (Always use a leveler.)  Blue painters tape is best because it won't stick to the wall or pull off the paint when you remove the tape. Then brush or roller paint in the cut out spaces of the template.  Depending upon your design, you remove and line up your template with the first application to continue the pattern. For more detailed information, I refer you to Cutting Edge Stencils, "How To Stencil".  Yes, I know, I keep mentioning them but that's because they don't just sell you templates.  They offer supplies, detailed instructions accompanied with photos, and now even videos.  You can't beat that, short of them coming to your home and doing it for you!

I'd be remiss if I didn't offer other resources as well.  Here's my short list:

  • Modern Masters.  Excellent selection of specialty paints from metallic to metal effects and plasters.  If you're going to do this, spend your money on getting the best.
  • Royal Design Studio Stencils.  They have a very nice selection of stencils from modern to traditional, such as a Pompeii and Trompe L'oeil.  You'll also find supplies, instructions on how to and a wide range of stencils for other applications: fabric, walls and furniture applications.
  • Stencil Ease. I'm listing this company because it offers custom stencils to create wall sayings. You type in your statement; select a font and size; length of the statement and alignment; and whether or not you want it broken up into sections.  Then you preview the statement. Prices are listed based on the film weight of the stencil.  (I've book marked this for one of my studio projects!

A Very Brief History of Stenciling

Cave of the Hands, Patagonia, Province of Santa Cruz, Argentina.

Cave of the Hands, Patagonia, Province of Santa Cruz, Argentina.

If you decide to add stenciling to your home decor, you will be part of a very long and ancient tradition.  Wall stenciling dates back to the prehistoric period, before recorded history, and is found on Paleolithic cave walls in France and Spain. Other examples of early stencils exist in many parts of the world, such as caves in Argentina and Fiji (This dates back from 30,000 to 9,000 B.C.) The purpose for these earlier stencils isn't known; however, later applications strongly suggest its use for artistic and decorative expressions.

With the invention of paper in 200 A.D., the Chinese had developed a better stencil material and began using stencils commercially, particularly in images of Buddha (China Six Dynasty 221AD-618AD). 

Trade routes, during the Middle Ages (around 476 AD to 1453 AD), along the Middle East and Turkey, including the Crusades, spread the stenciling technique to Europe where it is found in forms on church and cathedral walls and in illuminated manuscripts.  Stenciling reached its peak in France between 1700 and 1800, being mass produced on items such as playing cards, fabric, and wall paper.

European immigrants brought the stenciling technique to the New World, developed different styles and techniques and applied stenciling on walls and floors in folk art motifs from Europe.

Theorem painting, bridgeless stencils, was developed in the early 1800’s, and is still used today.  This technique uses a series of overlays, creating a picture in which “stenciled elements lay side-by-side,” resulting in a hand-painted look.

Mass-produced wallpaper, changing styles and tastes usurped the popularity of stenciling until the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  With the advent of the Bicentennial and the release of The Art of Stenciling, by Adele Bishop and Cile Lord a renewed interest in stenciling emerged.

You may be thinking you could have done without the history.  Perhaps.  But it's so wonderful to know how well we are so connected to our history and this beautiful world as we bring it into our homes.

Got a wall stencil project?  Let me know!

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