What old folk art form once served as an inexpensive alternative to wallpaper and floor coverings? If you said stenciling, you would be correct. People would often cut scenes and objects of everyday life into paper, apply them to their walls or floors, and paint them. Stenciling is still popular today, but is much more convenient thanks to advances in technology.
Unlike the paper stencils of yesterday which were easily torn, today's stencils are made of plastic and stand up to a lot of use. You can buy stencils in almost any design and shape at various craft centers, and if you can't find what you want, you can cut your own with a craft knife.
Along with the materials, the paint for stenciling has been updated. You no longer need to deal with drippy wall paint. Today you can buy small bottles of paint made specifically for stenciling. Thicker in texture, the paint is easier to work with. Add to that stencil brushes, and you can see how much easier stenciling has become. The brushes are circular in shape and work well for filling in tight areas of a pattern and controlling paint along curved edges.
Although today's stenciling supplies make the job much easier than in the past, they are no guarantee for perfection. For the best results, you need to do a dry run. Grab a scrap of wallboard, tape the stencil to it with painter's tape and practice applying the paint, using these steps:
1. Get out a brush for each color you plan to use. This will prevent the mixing of colors.
2. Working with one color at a time, dab some paint onto a brush. Be careful not to get too much paint on the brush or it will run behind the stencil.
3. Apply paint to the surface by lightly tapping the end of the brush onto it.
4. Continue filling in areas of the stencil until color is complete.
5. Clean brush and start applying the next color.
6. Repeat steps 1-5 until the stencil is complete.
7. Clean the stencil while work dries.
Once you get a feel for the paint and brushes, you can apply the stencil to the wall or floor. Before you start, line up the stencil on the surface and mark it lightly with a pencil for placement later. Continue with this procedure until you have made your way around the room. Then tape the stencil to the surface and get busy.
With today's tools, stenciling is much easier to do. As with most activities, practice makes perfect. Keep that in mind and make sure you practice.