Figure 1 is the simplest
kind of stencil you can have. It consists of a series of
cut-out triangular spaces, placed between parallel
lines, and the white pattern is merely the spaces left.
Figure 2 shows the same
arrangement, only here its triangular spaces are made up
of small parts, the ties again joining the design. The
lines at top and bottom are run in by hand to give a
Figure 3 is another example
of a simple stencil. Some people are apt to think, in
looking at such a pattern, that the white portion is the
one stenciled; however, it is the dark portion that is
Figure 4 is an ornamental
rendering of a butterfly. It will be noticed that the
wings have light markings. These markings are put on
with a second stencil. The first stencil only had the
four wings, body, and antennae cut out. The second
stencil had the markings on wings and the ornamental
portions cut to enable a second color to be introduced.
If all the patterns are cut out of one plate, only one
color can be used; but if one portion of the design is
cut out of one plate, and another out of a second plate,
each plate can be stenciled in a different color.
Figure 5 shows this more
clearly, for it requires the plate A cut out with the
flowers and some of the leaves and stems, and plate B
with the remaining portions. Here, although only two
plates are employed, three distinct colors can
be used, as the leaves that are cut out of plate A can
be a different color to those on plate B. The reason
why two plates are required in this and other designs
is, that in stenciling say the flowers, it is impossible
to prevent the color spreading beyond the space to be
stenciled; and if other portions are cut out too near
the flowers, and these portions are required to be in a
different color to the flowers, you would find if you
used a second color that there would be a danger of the
two tints mixing and destroying each other's purity.
But this does not prevent two colors being used on the
same plate, if the portions to be stenciled in different
colors are sufficiently separated. For elaborate
patterns, three and even four stencil plates can be
used; but for ordinary work, three plates are ample.
Care must be exercised in making the various parts of
the design fit together in the completed stencil; and to
this end it is better to transfer the whole design to
all the plates, marking in the portion to be cut in some
distinguishing color, and when the first plate is cut,
stencil that portion on the others before cutting them,
so as to avoid cutting the some portion twice over. The
white lines on leaves and flowers in Figure 5, are not
supposed to be stenciled, but are done to show that a
variety of colors should be used, lighter or darker,
according to the part to be stenciled. The veins or
leaves might be touched-in by hand, for stenciled
patterns finished by hand can be made very elaborate.
Figure 6 is an example of
how simple, yet effective, a stencil can be made. Two
plates might be used: one for the tall grass, and the
other for round dots and short grass. Such a stencil
would do for the skirting of a room.
Figure 7 is an example of a
running border, requiring two or three plates to
complete it. It might be used around the door-frames,
and along the top of a dado.
Figure 8 would do admirably
for the top of a room, or frieze, and is a particularly
graceful pattern, with real Greek feeling in it.
Figure 9 is a specimen of a
simpler stencil border, and is made up of geometrical
flower patterns, repeating at every fifth flower.
We shall now offer a few
general remarks. In running patterns it is necessary to
cut a small portion of the repeat, so that when you use
it on the walls you have no trouble in placing it the
proper distance from each impression. In Figure 7, for
instance, you need not cut more than one portion of the
design—that is, the flower on one plate, and leaves on
another plate; but by cutting a portion of the second
flower, as you shift your stencil you can always get the
flowers the same distance apart by putting the cutout
portion of second flower over the flower previously
In the leaf-stencil, you
would not see where to put it unless you cut out the
center of flowers on this plate, and that would guide
you in placing the leaf-stencil. The more plates in a
stencil, the more particular you must be to have some
key to guide you in placing the various plates in the
right places, so that they fit accurately together and
are the same distance apart. It is as well to cut two
or three sections of a repeating stencil, as it avoids
the continual shifting, and you get over the ground so
much more rapidly.
You will find at first that
the color has a tendency to work under the stencils;
but by keeping your brush tolerably dry, and not too
full of color, you will with a little practice soon
prevent this. Wipe the back of your stencils
In running lines at the edge
of stencils, it is as well to mark the line, first of
all, with string rubbed with charcoal. When you have
rubbed the string, get a friend to hold it down on the
wall at one end, and by pulling it in the center, and
allowing it to snap back, an impression will be left of
the string. You want a straight-edge, beveled on one
side, and you must use the beveled side against the
wall. Have a nice stiff flat hog-brush, with the hair
cut down, and the edges trimmed off so that the brush is
rounded. Fill it with color, and run it along the
straight-edge by its flat side, putting as much pressure
as is required to make the line its necessary thickness.
If the line is to be very wide, use large brushes.
Lining is merely a knack, and a little practice will
overcome any difficulties you may encounter.
Stenciling need not be made
merely mechanical, as some persons make it. On the
contrary, a great many colors may be used, and not just
two or three tints; but this requires taste, an eye for
color, and more or less technical dexterity: all of
which, however, will come by practice. For instance,
suppose you were stenciling the flowers in Figure 7 in
white. You need not get all the flowers pure white. By
making some a little yellower, some a little grayer, and
slight variations of this kind, the general effect is
greatly improved, for the eye soon wearies of monotony.
For greens, the same thing should be observed. Vary
your greens as you go on with the stenciling, sometimes
making them lighter, sometimes grayer, and so on. To
effect this, have say two or three batches of different
tints on your palette, and dip your brush into one and
then into the other, and so blend two or three tints
together. In filling your brush, spread the color on
the palette, and knock the brush a few times on the
palette. If your brush be too full, the color will be
sure to run under the stencil.
In rooms where you have a
high dado, you can have this part of the wall rich and
deep in color, providing you have the upper portion of
the wall very light. The light is reflected from the
ceiling and frieze of a room, and not from the lower
portion of the walls.