The process of applying a painted pattern through a pre-cut stencil onto fabric or another surface.

Domestically, stencils that have been cut from waxed card or metal are carefully positioned, then either sprayed or brushed over with stencil paint; then the stencil is lifted and moved along to the next position. The paint is applied quite loosely with a fat short brush so that the pattern is soft, with the edges clearly defined and the colour fading away towards the centre.

A series of stencils of different stencil templates can be laid over in stages to create a more or highly complex pattern. This idea works as well over a whole room as on a single feature wall. A subtle damask effect can be achieved with a series of stencils and tone on tone colouring, or something much more exotic from an extravagant design in multicolours.

At any level of complexity some light hand painting of small details afterwards brings stencilled designs to life, particularly if you wish to personalise a bought stencil. Perhaps to lightly add some stamens, or leaf lines, or a shadow line where appropriate.

Over painting the background and stencilled design with a subtle colour wash or considered dabbing creates a softened and aged look. Then to make the stencil look as though it has begun to worn away, a little sanding or heavier overpainting with the background colour, or both, will do the trick.

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