The Decorative Art of Stenciling

Like trompe l’oeil, stenciling dates to ancient times and, in fact, many trompe l’oeil projects incorporate stenciling. Artfully executed, stenciling can create stunning decorative effects that lend drama, beauty and character to a space, and it was installed in many turn-of-the-century American buildings. Architectural borders, botanical garlands, ethnic designs and elaborate medallions are just a few of the common applications.

Stenciling is used to create repeating designs that sometimes add symbolic meaning, as well as sophistication to an interior. Stencil designs are most often cut from stencil paper or Mylar, either by hand or by a computer-guided machine. Historically, stencils were hand-cut from leather, paper or metal. Stenciling is accomplished by holding the stencils in place and brushing, sponging or ragging the paint or glaze into the cut-out designs. For many historic stencil applications, the final appearance is achieved through the use of two or more stencils as well as hand-painted accents.

St. James Catholic Church

St. James Catholic Church

Louisville, KY

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