The irregularities and unique shapes of this leafy pattern deliver a natural, free-flowing, random feel. It can be used to balance the boxy geometry of any space.
Decorative painter Lucianna Samu broke up the monotony of this utilitarian wall of doors with an inventive and whimsical stencil job. It sends autumn leaves whirling up the wall, drawing the eye with them.
This woodsy effect uses real leaves, laid over card stock and "pounced" to create a stencil. "You really can't buy the variations you find in Mother Nature," says Samu. "Anything ready-made looks too uniform or contrived."
The otherwise colourful bedroom pictured here was weighed down by the flat expanse of white stretching across the bank of doors. Samu picked up colours from the room in the leaves themselves, keeping the patterns random because of the doors' linear nature.
To finish the job, Samu antiqued the door panels with a pale brown glaze rubbed with cheesecloth. This varnished and sealed the stencil work and softened the white undercoat.
Creating the Stencils:
- Gather a variety of leaves in different shapes and sizes (use leaves that can withstand some handling without crumbling or tearing). Lay the leaves on your stencil card, spacing them out well.
- Use a short bristled "pounce" brush and any Benjamin Moore latex paint (colour does not matter) to pounce (lightly dab) over the edges of the leaves. You want to achieve a detailed negative image of the leaf on the paper. Allow to dry thoroughly.
- Cut out each leaf image carefully using a sharp craft knife. Try to retain the small detail and irregularities around the edges. Cut apart the individual stencils, leaving a sizable margin (5 centimetres or so) around each one.
- If you are using stencil card rather than acetate, oil the finished paper shapes lightly with linseed oil. The oily surface permits you to wipe any excess paint off the stencil after each use.
Stencilling the Leaves on the Doors:
- Prime the surface with Benjamin Moore Fresh Start® Primer.
- Apply a base coat of a pale semi-gloss latex paint. Let it dry 24 hours.
- Tape your stencils to the door (or whatever surface you are stencilling) with low-tack stencil tape. When placing the stencils, avoid making a definite pattern. Think in terms of random drifts of leaves.
- Pounce in the leaf shapes with a short bristled brush, working from the inside of the image out toward the edges. Use the palest colour first, and use an absolute minimum of paint on the brush (dab off extra paint on a paper towel).
- Thin the additional latex colours with water to the consistency of a wash (very dilute coating).
- When the first leaf colour is dry (no more than 15 minutes or so), dab the brush in the other assorted colours, getting two or three colours on the brush at once, and gently dab over the leaves again by hand.
- When the second wash of colour is dry, you may wish to add veins and other details by hand with a small, fine-bristled artist's brush.
- When the work is complete and thoroughly dry (four to six hours), prepare the final antiquing glaze.
- Mix Glaze 409 Alkyd Glazing Liquid with universal tints of raw umber and burnt umber. Tints are available in tubes at any Benjamin Moore retailer.
- Thin the glaze sparingly with mineral spirits and brush over the door surface.
- Pat with well wrung-out cheesecloth to remove brush strokes and even the surface. Allow to dry.
- Drop cloth
- Stencil card or sheet of clear acetate
- Good quality stencil or pounce brush
- Linseed oil to oil finished stencils
- Roller tray
- Paint brushes
- Benjamin Moore Fresh Start Primer
- Base Coat: white dove OC-17 in Collection Interior Acrylic Latex Semi-Gloss
- Stencil: Collection Flat Finish paint in chestertown buff HC-9; bennington gray HC-82; and northampton putty HC-89.
- Glaze 409 Alkyd Glazing Liquid