08 November 2011

DIY: stenciling without a stencil (a.k.a. put a bird on it)

Quick, go to Pinterest. Or Etsy, if that’s your bend. How many bird silhouettes do you spot? Yeah. There’s a reason there is an entire parody website devoted to this phenomenon. “In Portland, you can just put a bird on it and call it art.”

And yet. I will admit it. I... kind of like bird silhouettes. YES, STILL. Even though they are EVERYWHERE. And consequently, OVERDONE. It’s totally a trend, but it’s a trend that I like. At least, now.

But really, isn’t fashion and home décor, by definition, trendy? The key to having a budget-friendly, modern home is buying classic “investment” pieces, like a sofa, and keeping it updated by adding inexpensive trend pieces here and there. So no, I won’t buy a sofa with a bird pattern all over it. By next year, I may totally be over the bird silhouette.

This year, though? I made a stool with a bird on it. I spent $2 and less than an hour, which seems about right for a trend piece, yes?

So today I have two pro tips for how you, too, can put a bird on it. Or a chandelier, or an ampersand, or even a “Keep Calm and Something Something” sign. And you can paint it on anything you want – I personally used this old wooden stool my mom built when I was a child (the DIY, it is genetic). The stool had been painted rust red, like, twenty-odd years ago, so first I painted it white with primer and paint I had on hand.

Then I trend-ified it, and I have a few tips for you on how to do that!

The first tip: don’t buy, or even make a stencil. This is a trend you’re going to want to paint over in a few years, right? Or months? So instead:

1. Scour the internet for a design.
(Google Image Search is your friend. And as for the legalese, usually if you’re not selling it, most people are okay with you repurposing their design for your use.)

2. Print it out on plain copy paper, at the size you want to use it.

3. Trace over the design, slowly, with a fine-tip Sharpie. You know, this kind.
The key is to let the ink soak through the paper, transferring the design. You know how you’re always worried about Sharpies bleeding through plain paper onto the surface you’re writing on? Yeah, use that to your advantage.

Here’s what you should have after stenciling-without-a-stencil:

Hard to see – I tried to enhance it – and not a great image, I know. Yesss, this project was pre-blog, so I don't have a better photo. But, point is, it doesn’t have to be perfect, because you’re filling in and painting over those lines, which brings me to…

The second tip: use a Glidden wall paint sample. Why? It's cheaper than most bottles of acrylics at the craft store, and it has a built-in brush! True, the brush is a bit thick, so you might need a craft brush if your design is small or intricate (I did). But if you don’t already have a small paintbrush, this helps you out.

Just fill in your Sharpie lines, annnnd... done!

Total time:
An hour, tops, if the surface is ready to be painted – I had to paint the stool white first, which took an extra day. But the faux-stenciling took just few minutes to find the design, resize, and print, ten minutes or so to trace it, and a half-hour to fill it in with a few coats of paint.

Glidden paint sample: $2
White primer and paint, Sharpie, and craft brush: already owned
Total cost: $2

So, embrace the trend. You too can put a bird on it!


Tina said...

Cute... but I think it would look even cuter if the line the birds are sitting on extended on around the top and down the sides of the stool... jus'sayin' ;-)

Mary Beth said...

I love this. And I'm semi-obsessed with bird silhouettes, particularly owls. Etsy is my best friend :)