A post or so ago, I spoke about using stencils to create decorative interest in your home. Now I want to let you in another simple decorating tip that is quite easy to do yet can be stunning. Instead of stenciling flat patterns on your walls, you can stencil something that will have both depth and texture! This technique used in the wrong way can be really tacky, so just don't go overboard with heavy colors or too much altogether. Think simple and subtle, an artful touch over a sink, a border around a doorway.....
One can purchase stencils on the market designed specifically for this technique, though I have a sneeking suspicion that it will work with most types of plastic stencils, especially the thicker ones available in craft stores (but not the really really thin ones). And in fact this technique can be quicker than stenciling with paint because the join compound (shpachtel in Israel) is applied to the stencil with the sweep of a putty knife (also called a shpachtel!) and that's it!
I have used this technique in two places in my home. As seen above in a Moroccan style niche behind the dining room table, and in arches above 9 windows in my living room, dining room and kitchen. I agonized for months about how to fill the arches over the windows, I was thinking of mosaic, or maybe decorative paintings of the Twelve Tribes, or even depictions of the Seven Species. All of these ideas would have taken possibly months, so I hadn't quite figured it out. One day it came to me to do stenciling with joint compound, (it helped that I'd already purchased the stencils!) and in the course of making dinner I climbed up on a ladder and stenciled all 9 arched niches. I loved it when I did it and two years later I still love it! Lesson learned: very often the simplest solution is the most beautiful!
Joint compound can be colored, as I did in the Moroccan niche, but it makes the whole process much messier. For your first project I honestly recommend using the plain white joint compound, it washes off the stencil easily, and if you make a mistake you can also wipe if off the wall with no marks or color left behind. The interesting thing about these dimensional stencils is that from afar it is very difficult to tell that they are anything but flat, but the dimension gives them a special look that one can not achieve with regular painted stencils.
- joint compound (used for filling holes and repairing imperfections in walls)
- a wide putty knife (or regular sized if designs are small)
- a stencil cut from thick plastic
- Practice this technique a few times on a hard surface before beginning to work on your walls.
- Hold stencil in place with your hand or use spray stencil adhesive
- Load putty knife with joint compound and sweep putty knife across stencil in one swift motion, filling the area of the stencil with joint compound.
- Carefully lift stencil to view the results. If you used too much joint compound and the results are messy, quickly wipe off and start again! Once you get the hang of this it's simple, so don't give up!