I completed this table in one afternoon. Here’s how….
I’m a woman who wants what I want, when I want it….but I hate to pay through the nose for it. I’ve wanted to create the look of bone/mother-of-pearl inlaid furniture for years, but my experiments with paper mosaic and decoupage never worked (and the real thing can be crazy expensive). So when I finally hit on the idea to create a stencil that could achieve the look, I began planning for my first project – a dining table.
I found this table top on the side of the road last summer (I’m a dedicated roadside picker….I love an upcycle!):
Next up, base paint. I LOVE boldy colored inlay pieces like these from Graham & Greene in the UK….
….but I ended up going the classic black & white route for this first piece (however, an aqua-based headboard is next on my to-do!).
THIS IS KEY: I painted it using AquaBond paint in ‘Basic Black’. It’s expensive, but is designed specifically for use on furniture since it can be applied over existing paint, or onto laminate (which my table top is). It can take a beating, and is less ‘slippery’ than latex.
I applied 2 coats (allowing 24 hours of cure time in between and again before stenciling), and then I was ready to go!
Each Indian Inlay Stencil Kit comes with 5 stencils: 3 borders, 1 large interior panel, and 1 small detail floral for filling-in. (I used more than one kit here just to show you the repetition.)
Here’s the system that I worked out, and I think you’ll find this method applicable to any type of surface:
- Start around the edges. Lay out the border first, and then build the design by working inward. I found that this eliminated the need to do any heavy measuring/planning ahead (which I hate), and that the borders really help tell you what’s next. I stacked all three borders, but you could break them up.
- When placing the interior panel, starting at an edge within the new border, count out how many spaces you’ll need to tile the stencil over before hitting another border. If the number is odd (like the width of my table), then center the stencil and work out to either side. If the number is even (the length…), begin at an edge. This ensures a balanced pattern.
- Lightly pre-spray the back of the stencils with Elmer’s Spray Adhesive (I got mine at Michael’s) – it’s low-tac, and totally helps the bleed situation (which is inevitable with more intricate stencils — don’t let it stress you). I reapplied the adhesive multiple times as I worked.
- I used three 2oz bottles of Folk Art Acrylic Paint in ‘Tapioca’. Pure white seemed too harsh, and the creamier tone of the ‘Tapioca’ was more of a ‘bone’ hue.
- Use a sponge roller. I tried it with brushes and stippling, but the reason I completed this project in 4 hours is thanks to the roller. Plus, you want the look to be opaque, not feathery or sheer.
- Be sure to keep a rag/paper towel pad nearby to roll off excess paint before you go over the stencil. Also, do some practice runs before you begin in order to work out the proper paint load/pressure to apply.
- Once the design is completed, use a small brush and your base paint to touch up any obvious bleeds (and erase repeats in the bars that connect the borders around any corners) This last bit took me about 30 minutes.
*** The key to the touch-up is to stand back from the piece by at least 3 feet every 10 minutes or so. I was really struck by how often a portion I’d be obsessing over when it was in my face completely disappeared within the craziness of the pattern once I stood back. The moral of the story is, don’t go nuts – just get the obvious stuff.
And here she is!
I sealed her with a ‘satin’ finish poly, and I’m THRILLED that she’s joined my family! I love that this piece has consistenly wowed every single friend who comes over – they automatically assume it’s the real deal. I’ve watched person after person do a double take when I tell them it’s a stencil – and it thrills me everytime! It’s like I finally solved a nagging riddle – like finally scratching a decades old itch. So satifying.
As DIY projects go, not bad for an afternoon’s work! Those of you who’ve purchased the kit (THANK YOU!!!), please send me pictures of your projects – I’m dying to see what you’re up to!
(**Update: LOVE the gray chests over at Stella+Olive! They’re the lead image – thrilled to see my stencil being put to excellent use!)