Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How to make your walls Pop by stenciling a Shadow Effect

Leila holding her new "Art Deco Fan Flowers" stencil

In this tutorial, our friend Leila will help us demonstrate how to stencil your wall with the "drop shadow" technique using Olive Leaf Stencils "Art Deco Fan Flowers" stencil.  This project is a little more work than a single layer stencil application, but the result is, as you will see, quite stunning.  It will add a wonderful depth to your walls, while creating the illusion of a larger, less confined space.  We hope you enjoy!

*All available at HOME DEPOT (except the stencil)

- 2 small paint trays
Project supplies
- 2 Mini Dense Foam Rollers (4-inch)
- Low-Tack Spray Adhesive (we used 3M)
- blue painter's tape
- paint can opener
- stir sticks
- Q-tips and water (for leaks)
- paper towels
- *Paint for the bottom layer (Shadow)
- *Paint for the top layer
- Drop cloth for the floor
- Pencil and Eraser
- Repeating Pattern Stencil (we suggest using two stencils for the two-color project)

* For the first layer (shadow) wall color, we used BEHR "Coal Mine"(a dark blue/purple/grey).
*For the metallic top layer, we used Martha Stewart Precious Metals metallic paint in "Brown Zircon" (a warm golden).
The background wall color is BEHR "Infamous" (a couple of shades lighter than the "shadow" layer in the blue/purple/grey family).

Leila taping the base board
Preparing your walls for Stenciling

Place blue painter's tape along the edges of your moldings.  This will save you a lot of wasted time worrying about dripping or smearing paint as you work.  The tape is inexpensive and easy to use.  It is easiest to apply if you tear off lengths of tape approximatey 3 feet long, apply, then simply overlap the following pieces until the molding's edge is covered.

Fully prepped wall

We recommend choosing a base color for the wall that is lighter than the "drop shadow" layer will be. This lends to the effect of a floating pattern.

Here you can see our wall is taped, painted, and ready for the stenciling process to begin.

Don't forget to put your drop cloth on the floor!

stenciling supplies
Setting up for Stenciling

We placed a handy little table nearby to reduce the work effort.

You will need your small paint tray with your "drop shadow" color - for the bottom layer, a stack of paper towels, a cup of water and cotton swabs for minor touch-ups, and your mini paint roller.

Marking the registration holes
Applying the Stencil

When using spray adhesive, it is always preferable to spray it outdoors (if you can't, you should place a LARGE drop cloth on the floor when you spray your stencil - otherwise you could end up with a sticky film on the floor).

Spray a light coating of the spray adhesive onto whichever side of your stencil you have chosen to be the backside (in many cases, the stencil will look identical on either side).  Allow the spray adhesive to dry for about 60 seconds before applying the stencil to the wall (this will help it get nice and tacky).

Place the stencil on the wall.  It is a good idea to start in an upper corner and work your way down and across.  Take care to place the stencil level with the ceiling.

For stencils with registration marks:  using a pencil, carefully mark the registration holes on the stencil.  These are small holes in each corner of the stencil which are not part of the design, but used to align the stencil hereafter.

Removing excess paint
Applying Paint

Pour a small amount of the "drop shadow" color into the small paint tray and gather paint onto your roller.

*Avoid getting too much paint on the roller, as this will cause leakage beneath the stencil!

To achieve the proper amount of paint,  run the roller across the paper towels a few times to remove excess.

Gently roll the paint onto the applied stencil.  Take care not to press too firmly, as this can also  cause leakage beneath the stencil.  Try to roll with a light and even pressure for the best results.  If you are concerned about rolling over the edge/border of the stencil, you can (in addition to the spray adhesive) make a painter's tape border around your stencil to ensure you stay inside the lines.

When you're finished painting, you can carefully peel the stencil off the wall.  You can do this while the stencil is still wet.  The design should dry quickly because the layer of paint is not too thick.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Fourth Application
Now it's time to repeat the process.  We suggest stenciling as close to the ceiling as you can get.  Most walls will fit two full-size stencils vertically (they're all about 4 feet long) with some space left at the bottom.  To get a nice clean edge at the bottom, we suggest waiting to paint the bottom row until you are finished stenciling the rest of the wall.  The bottom row technique is shown later in STEP SIX.

If your stencil has lost some tack, simply spray another light coat of adhesive on the back before continuing. As the adhesive builds up, you will need to spray it less often.

Carefully place the stencil on the wall, alongside the design you just painted.  Use the pencil marks you made on the first application to line up your stencil. Don't forget to make new pencil marks with each application!  It is important to be precise in this step.  If the alignment is off on the second application, it will cause each subsequent allignment to become more crooked, so start off on the right foot and align carefully.

Occasionally, when you remove the stencil, you may find small areas where the paint has bled.  This is very easy to fix if you act while the paint is still wet!  Moisten a Q-tip with water, and carefully use it to wipe away any unwanted spots.

reapplying the stencil
minor touch-ups

loaded stencil
You may find that after several applications, your stencil will become heavily loaded with paint. This is nothing to be overly concerned about, but it may result in fragments of drying paint getting into your roller, or the stencil becoming a bit unruly.
There are three solutions for this: The first is just to simply carry on - it really won't hurt anything.  The second is to order multiple stencils, so that you can simply start using a fresh one whenever you wish.  This is also the best option for speed, since more
stencils mean that more painters can work simultaneously.  When two or more painters are able to stencil at the same time, this process can really be accomplished with surprising speed.  The third option is to wash your stencil.  You can do this with warm soapy water.  If there are tough spots, an old toothbrush will help scrub off the paint.

Nearly done with the first layer

As you can see here, Leila is nearly finished with the "drop-shadow" layer of the stenciling process.  Note the areas along the wall's edge, and along the crown and base moldings, where the design has not been stenciled.  These are the areas we will paint with the TRIMMED stencil. We plan to leave the crown molding the way it is.  It is up to you if you want to fill in the missing segments.  We feel the design should be flush with the corners and the base-board, but we like the look of the crown molding area as it is.

And here it is!  The "drop shadow" layer is finished!  It looks great just the way it is, and you could call it finished...  However, for this post, we are planning on turning this wall into a very bold statement!

Completed "drop shadow".  Great job, Leila!

Now we are ready for...

The Overlay

Top-coat set-up
Wait for the wall to be completely dry before going further. This is a good time to prep the work table for the second phase. Remove the old roller trays and tools, and set back up with the top-coat materials as shown.  When the wall is dry, ERASE all of your pencil registration marks!  This is VERY IMPORTANT because you don't want to get these confused with the new marks you are going to make for the next layer!

Now you can apply spray adhesive to your new stencil.  *If you only have one stencil, make sure all of the previous paint color has been washed off.


Next, apply the stencil to the wall.  Place the stencil carefully so that its position is just a bit above and to the left (or right - your choice) of the first stencil you painted during the first phase.  The greater the distance from the underlying design, the further away the "shadow" will appear to be.  We chose a distance of about half an inch up, and half an inch to the left of the underlying pattern.

First and second coat

Once the stencil is in place, mark the registration holes as before with a pencil, and paint the stencil.  For our top-coat we chose a metallic gold paint.  The metallic paint was less opaque than the underlying paint, as you can see here.  The upper portion has had two coats, and the lower portion only one coat.  You may choose to do only one coat, but we chose to put two coats for more opacity.

First gold layer

Once you have achieved the desired coverage, remove the stencil from the wall.  When the stencil comes off you will see that it looks something like this (left photo).  If you have done two coats of paint, you will have to wait a bit longer for it to dry before reapplying your stencil.

Carry on as before
Continue repeating the process, as with the first layer, being careful to align the registration marks and doing minor touch-ups as you go.


Trim carefully
When you have completed all the areas that you can paint with the whole stencil, it is time to carefully trim the stencil (as you may have done before with the stencil used for the "shadow" color) to allow you to paint the bottom row flush with the base board.

Align your stencil with the registration marks on the bottom row. You can either use a marker to draw the line where it meets the base board, and then cut it, or you can simply cut it against the wall (shown left).

When applying paint, be careful near the bottom not to press too hard.  You don't want the paint to seep under the stencil.  This is why we tape the moldings!  

Remove the painter's tape
Once the painting is finished, it's time to peel off the painter's tape.  DO NOT WAIT for the paint to dry. If you do, the tape could take a lot of your hard work with it! Peel it free as soon as the painting is finished.  This is one of the most fun moments in the whole undertaking - seeing your beautiful wall all clean and finished!

And voila! Stand back and enjoy your new masterpiece!  Notice in the photo below how the metallic paint tends to catch the light and create the illusion of a "hot spot".  This works very well with the drop shadow effect, because the shadow seems to diminish in the "hot spot" and helps to reenforce the illusion that the design is floating away from the wall and casting a shadow.

Ready for decorating!  Thanks, Leila!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Olive's Lotus Flower Stencil on a Wood Panel - Tutorial (by Stephanie)

Supplies Needed:
- Painter's Tape
- Foam Roller
- Stencil Brushes 1/2"
- Palette
- Paint (Crimson Red and Martha Stewart's Antiqued Gold)
- Dabbing Sponge
- Wood Panel
- Wood Primer
- Sand Paper

After stenciling Olive's Lotus Flower on one of my walls, I had some ideas about doing one on a wood panel and trying to give my blank, cream colored bathroom a pop of oriental influence to liven up my time spent in the powder room.

I got the wood panel at Home Depot.  I went with a square shape - a little larger than my lotus stencil, which is 21 inches across, so that the whole design would fit on the panel.  Before painting my wood, I primed it with wood primer, let it dry, and sanded it down to make sure it was nice and smooth and flat.

Then I put two coats of my crimson paint on top of the primer.  I used a foam roller to do this, which worked great.  But a nice large interior paint brush would work as well.

Getting the right placement
Stenciling Supplies
I let the paint dry for a day and then, using my dabbing sponge, I dabbed on Martha Stewart's Antiqued Gold all over my wooden canvas.  I wanted and antique-ish oriental look, so I used more here and less there all over to get an uneven finish, while at the same time keeping the
coverage fairly uniform overall.  After the gold paint dried, I sanded the whole panel again to give it a weathered look.

Then, placing my stencil where I wanted it on the panel, I used painter's tape to hold the stencil in place.  Using my 1/2-inch stencil brush, I dabbed on more of the Antiqued Gold to fill the design.  I made sure to pat excess paint onto folded paper towels in between applications.  Less is more in the scenario and I didn't have any bleeding (paint leaking under the stencil) when I used this "dry brush" method.  Then I used the crimson paint to do the center of the flower.

Make sure to dab excess paint off your brush
Getting the crimson brush ready
for painting the center
Painter's Tape holds the stencil in place without
striping paint from the background

I used the crimson for the center of the flower

I took my stencil off when I completed the design and washed all my tools.  The next day, I sanded the whole piece a light sanding to make sure the lotus design looked weathered like the background.

After a light sanding
Voila!  A gorgeous piece of artwork - made by me!

This was a fun little project that I worked on at a leisurely pace for about four days.  I was a different experience than stenciling on a wall, but just as fun!  Now my bathroom has a beautiful piece of artwork in it that I created!  Not to mention, it's affordable and totally unique.  Stenciling on a wood panel or canvas is a great way to experiment with painting techniques and colors.  There are really endless possibilities for this lotus flower!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Two-Piece Stencil Tutorial (Octopus)

Some of Olive's larger stencils (like the Squid, Octopus and large trees) come in two or three pieces.  This may be intimidating to some people, especially beginner stencilers.  But I (Olive) will show you that it is really very simple.  I recently stenciled two octopuses and some crustacea in a client's home.  It was for her little boy's bedroom and bathroom - perfect for fun sea creatures!

1. Once you have your supplies laid out (paint, stencil brush/roller, paper towels for blotting, q-tips, water, drop cloth, etc.), you can use a pencil to mark on the wall where you want the image.  It may be hard to see in the photo because the plastic is clear, but you should be able to make out the left side of the Octopus.

I usually use Elmer's Spray Adhesive for stencils because it ensures a cleaner line, especially for the more delicate designs like the Octopus.  *Remember - it is better to spray outdoors and wait 60 seconds before sticking it on the wall.

2. Begin applying paint.  Remember to blot it off on a paper towel several times before going to the wall.  For this stencil, I used a sponge stencil brush.  You can also use a roller, but you have less control over paint coverage, and may get leaking more easily.  But if you're in a time crunch, a roller will be faster.

Dab at the wall lightly until you have covered the whole stencil.  Check to make sure you have even coverage before removing the stencil from the wall. Wait 10 minutes or so for the paint to dry before lining up the second piece, so that you don't smudge your work.  You can fix any mistakes or bleeding while you wait.

3.  Line up the second piece.  There will be a slight overlap so that you
can see exactly where to place it.  The photo at right shows the slight overlap at the top and where I have begun painting towards the bottom.

When you are finished painting, remove the stencil.  Fix any spots from bleeding with a Q-tip and water as soon as possible.  It is much easier to fix mistakes while the paint is still wet.

If there is a line down the middle of the stencil from where the pieces overlapped, you can dab over and around it with your brush to even out the color.

Et Voila!  You're done!


Buttercup the dog seemed to like the Octopus...  And the bathroom looked very cute with lobsters and crabs scuttling all over!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gradient Stenciling Tutorial

Doing gradient shading on a stencil is really easy once you learn how simple it is. Gradient shading gives the effect of light to dark or vice versa.  It looks especially nice on the large flower stencils.

*If you have never stenciled before, I suggest practicing your technique on a piece of cardboard so that you can go to the wall with total confidence (the stencils are reusable, so don't worry about getting paint on it).

Here are the steps:

1. Get all of your materials together:

    a) Protective cover for your table (newspaper works)
    b) Elmer's spray adhesive (or painter's tape).  I prefer spray adhesive because it
        helps to make sure you don't get paint leaking behind the stencil
    c) Paint - you can use craft paint (the red bottle) or interior wall paint (Home
        Depot sells these great little bottles for $2 - $3 as samples)
    d) A sponge or bristle stencil brush (I like the sponge because it's very easy to
        use and it covers space quickly).  You can buy these at craft stores like
    e) Paint tray - anything flat will do (paper plate, plastic takeout top, etc.)
    f) A stack of paper towels to blot your brush on
    g) A cup of water and some Q-tips for corrections (if needed)

Stenciling Supplies

2. Pour your colors onto the paint tray.  For this example, I will be stenciling Peony no. 2 (medium size).  For gradient shading, you really only need two to three colors (dark, medium, light, or just dark and light).

3. Adhere your stencil to the wall.  I have used spray adhesive, but you can also use painter's tape.

The stencil has been adhered to the wall with spray adhesive


4.  For this stencil, I am going from darker in the center to lighter around the edges.  I have put my sponge brush in the red with a little bit of the peach.  Make sure to blot your sponge/brush well on the paper towels before taking it to the wall.  If there is too much paint, it could seep behind the stencil.

5.  Take your brush to the wall and dab lightly in the center of the stencil.  Don't press too hard, or again, this could cause leaking.  *IMPORTANT:  It is vital that you use a dabbing motion as opposed to a sweeping motion (like you would if you were using a regular paintbrush).  A sweeping motion could cause paint to build up in the cutout shapes and leak behind.  That's why stencil brushes are made with a flat top - perfect for dabbing perpendicular to the wall.

6. Continue to apply the paint, going evenly outward, adding more of the medium color with each application (peach in my case).

At this point I am only using the peach color
7.  Once you have gotten to the point where you are using only the medium color, you can begin to add the white (or the lightest color).

8. Continue applying paint, adding or subtracting white so that it blends nicely.  *NOTE: You should try to finish stenciling in one shot because it's easier to blend the paint while it's still wet.

The stencil is almost finished
9.  Once you have finished, you can go back and do extra blending if need be.

Finishing touches

10.  When you are satisfied with your paint job, slowly peel the stencil from the wall.

11.  If you see any spots where the paint bled behind the cutouts, fix it ASAP (it's easier to clean up if it's still a bit wet).  Just dip a Q-tip in the cup of water and carefully rub it across the unwanted paint.

12.  Once you have finished with cleanup (if it was necessary), stand back and look at the beautiful job you did!

All done!