Sunday, March 09, 2008

What I learned about stenciling

Before I go into detail about the stencils, I thought I'd lighten things up with an update on the radiator covers - I found a faux hammered spray paint that oddly enough, I like. So this is it. I typically find this kind of thing tasteless but it actually looks good so I am keeping it that way.
Now for an account of the stencilling.

I don't think I need to explain to most of you about why I stenciled. It is a typical and inexpensive means for decorating bungalow interiors and though I didn't choose a "historic" design, I felt the one I did choose went with the room design and had a nice Arts & Crafts spirit. If I am going to go through the pain and suffering to finish the stenciling job, I wanted to share some of my angst so that others can benefit from it.

The first thing I learned with this project is that I am not built for stenciling. There is a level of dexterity and patience that I am just lacking. That said, there are definitely some techniques that I have learned. When I started, the stencil was nice and flat and clean and the resulting stencil was something like this: By the time I had completed 12 or so stencils, it looked more like this:

Now don't tell me you can't see the difference (and no, the blurriness of the photo is not what I am talking about). By the time I got to the latter stencils, things were getting a little "hairy". The stencil became gummed up with paint and the brushes a little worn.
I taped the brushes as recommended and I was dabbing off a lot of the paint. But I was using acrylic paint and it was causing problems. I should have been forewarned as the folks at Trimbelle River Studios said: "Continue to pull the paint from the stencil plate into the cut opening. This will help prevent build-up on the stencil". Easier said than done. Also, this is a fine technique if you want the stencils to have a more ethereal look and I wanted the color to be a bit richer.
So what did I do?
I gave my stencil a bath. I also got more brushes. And this actually worked for about 2 more stencils and the thing became gummed up again. What I am going to do is order another stencil to finish the job. I am over half-way done but I think it is worth it. I looked back and the first 10-12 stencils are fine. I think I am also going to spring for the stencil adhesive that the stencil-maker recommends. I will go back and re-do a few of the stencils I think are messed up and hopefully it will all look more homogeneous.
As usual, the photos don't really look "right" but they give you an idea of the result. The pattern was easy to stretch around the corners so the design looks pretty good too. I wish the design were slightly smaller for the scale of the room but that would have meant more stencils so I guess I shouldn't mention it.
I ended up using three colors: green and blue are the most prominent, and then I gilded the center of each forget me not with gold paint - which looks real good because it gives variation/depth to the overall design. I am happier than I thought I would be with the whole stenciling thing and I am glad I tried it out but once I finish, I don't think I'll be trying this again.


Our Little Bungalow said...

Once again, more patience than me! But it looks awesome!

Fred said...

Your stenciling looks great. And, I must say that I too like the radiator covers. They actually look a bit like an oil-rubbed bronze color (a color that I love). I think they work pretty well in the area you show them too.

Stephanie said...

It looks really great! I've been wanting to stencil our dining room for ages, but keep worrying that I don't have the patience or dexterity. I'm inspired now though! :-)

Andy said...

I think the design looks great, honestly...yes, I can see the difference in the two pics, and I'd be just as frustrated too. So I feel your pain.

But, I didn't know anything about these stencils before reading your entries, so you've introduced me to them, and if that's the legacy, then, hey, that's not so bad, is it? Don't know if I'll ever use them or have a real use for them, but at least it's an idea. :)

Green Fairy said...

I've been nervous to try stencils myself, because I have no talent for that sort of thing. But yours look great (and I love your ceiling fan).