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Stenciling Made Easy

Stencil by author Meghan Carter

  • Materials you'll need.
  • Stencil technique tips.
  • Step-by-step stenciling instructions.
  • video
  • article
  • checklist
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    Stencil patterns look beautiful on walls, furniture and cabinets, and are perfect for those who want a hand painted look but don't trust their painting skills. Unlike when you paint freehand, when you stencil, all you have to do is dab paint into an already made pattern. Stenciling is very easy and will yield fabulous results if you find an interesting stencil. You can find intricate and detailed stencils online, or if you're feeling creative, you can learn how to make a stencil.
    In my Stencil video, I show you how to stencil using the dry brush technique, which is the best way to stencil if you want to avoid mistakes.

What You Will Need To Stencil

  • A flat, circular brush or a sponge brush
  • A stencil or stencils
  • Paint
  • Painters tape
  • A dabbing plate

How to Stencil

  1. Find the best placement for your stencil. To make sure it is straight, use a mini level.
  2. Once you like where your stencil is, tape it up with painters tape. Make sure the stencil is perfectly flat against the surface before you tape it up. If the stencil does not lay taught against the surface of your wall, furniture or cabinet, paint will leak underneath the stencil and mess up your design.

  3. After situating your stencil, dip your paintbrush into the paint. Then dab all of the paint off onto your dabbing plate until there is barely any paint left on the paintbrush.
  4. Then lightly dab the paintbrush over the stencil. Don't dab too hard. You might accidentally shift or lift up the stencil. The first dabs will look very light, but don't get frustrated. You want to slowly build up the paint. Adding the paint layer by layer will give your design texture and keep paint from seeping underneath the stencil.
  5. When dabbing the paintbrush over the stencil, you can use different types of dabs, such as circular sweeps. If you want a very textured look, do not apply the paint evenly. It will give your stenciled pattern an antiqued look.
  6. If parts of your stencil pop up, use your finger to hold them down before you start applying paint.
  7. When you are finished painting, slowly remove your stencil. Don't worry if your lines aren't perfectly crisp. The small bleeds give your pattern character. Plus no one will notice them. When people look at a design, they look at the whole design - not small, individual parts.
  8. After taking down the stencil, wash the paint off before using it again.
  9. If you have a different stencil for each color in your design, wait for the paint to completely dry before using the next stencil. That way you won't smear the paint.

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