Stencil Patterns – What is it?

If you’re thinking of doing something unique to your walls and furniture, then consider adding some stencil patterns. For those of you that aren’t sure what stencilling is, then the simple explanation is that a stencil is usually a pattern cut out from paper, metal or plastic, where paint is then added over its surface, to create a pattern onto the desired surface.

This pattern can then be repeated to make beautiful designs. The art of stencilling dates back to the cave painting era. Here people would use their hands, covered in “paint”, to imprint patterns onto cave walls. Nowadays, the technique is widely used in road signs, interior design and even cobbled streets.

Stencil Patterns – What Stencil?

In theory you can paint patterns onto anything, with many people deciding to give their walls and furniture a unique design. If you have decided that this is the right thing for you, then the first thing you need to get is a stencil. You can buy a premade stencil at any arts & crafts store. The most common stencils are either of paper or plastic, but other materials exist.

If you cannot find the right design, then consider creating your own stencil. You can buy blank stencil sheets and then using scissors or a scalpel, cut out your desired pattern. This technique is great because you’ll end up with a totally personal unique design, not found anywhere else.

Stencil Patterns Tiger

Stencil Patterns – What Paint & Technique?

It is common and often more convenient to use standard emulsion paint to create your designs, but some people also opt for acrylic paint or spray paint to do their stencilling. If using spray paint, then for safety you will need a breathing mask before commencing.

If you plan to use emulsion or acrylic paint, then you will either need a sponge or a stencil brush. You can buy a stencil brush from any arts & crafts shop. These brushes have short stiff bristles and are especially designed for creating stencil patterns.

Once you have everything you need, follow our Expat College steps to create the perfect designs on any surface:

  1. Using a pencil, mark the surface where you would like your stencil to be. If you intend to repeat the stencil pattern, mark out these lines too.
    Make sure your markings are light, so that you can remove them afterwards. Once done, place the stencil into position using masking tape.
  2. If you’re using spray paint, then simply start spraying onto the pattern to create your design. Otherwise for emulsion and acrylic paint, pour some onto a tray and then dab a sponge or stencil brush into the paint. Make sure you wipe away any excess paint. Adding too much paint to a stencil may cause the paint to run. The best way to do this is to stipple the paint onto paper until the paint is transferred evenly.
  3. Starting from the stencil edges, softly dab the paint onto the surface, working your way inwards until the pattern is fully covered. Continue adding more layers of paint until you reach the desired colour depth. Consider adding different shades or colours to different parts of the stencil to create interesting combinations.
  4. Once complete, carefully remove the stencil off the surface. If continuing the pattern, reposition the stencil onto the new surface and repeat the process. Important: Make sure you have wiped all traces of paint from the stencils back before continuing.

Stencil Patterns – Things to note:

  • If any paint has gone under the stencil whilst in the process of dabbing the pattern onto the surface. Then don’t panic – simply take some absorbent paper and white spirit, and carefully wipe it away.

Stencilling patterns is a fantastic way of creating individual wall designs and sprucing up old and dated furniture. We’d love to hear from anyone who has used this technique and what its outcome was. Was it a success or a complete disaster? Let us know in the comments below.

If you’re looking for more arts & crafts ideas, then head to our How-to guides section, where you’ll find numerous online tutorials on endless topics from Expat College.

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