Stencil Craft Ideas-Take the Home and Garden from Drab to Fab


Looking for some really cool stencil craft ideas to embellish the ordinary “stuff” in your backyard oasis? Things like birdhouses, planter boxes and flower pots can look even better when decorated with this classic technique.

Stenciling is not an antiquated artform – it just looks a little different now from what you may have seen 20 years ago. Some people buy ready-made stencils from craft suppliers and some people manage to create their own using a cricut or other tool that can cut precise shapes. Either way, you will get the same result.

Also, just about any budding crafter can learn to stencil! It’s almost idiot-proof….the greatest emphasis will be on two things – design placement, and careful execution so you don’t smear it. I’ll talk about how you can make both work and then what you can work on.

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stencil craft ideas

What Can You Stencil?

Glad you asked…So many things!

However, not all three dimensional objects may be equally easy to work on. Objects that are linear (box shaped) will be easier, and if you’ve never done stencil art before, I suggest you start with something square or rectangular.

Objects with a curvature to them, like, say, a flower pot, can be trickier. Let’s say hypothetically , you want to decorate the rim of the pot with a repeating pattern. You’ll want to map out the design to be sure it will wrap around without part of it getting cut off or having too much space on one side.

stenciled lampshade


Here is an example of a contoured object I stenciled successfully – a lampshade. A beach scene with two different designs on each side. Notice that I used the same color scheme for both. 

For the classical “conical” shape,like those above it’s easier to do the “scatter” approach with stencils. Wrap-around designs can be tricky to keep in place or to get an accurate outcome- unless the shade you plan to use is the “drum” style with straight sides that don’t slant.

Here is another one as well…I also used a stamp to add a few embellishments as well to the final design.

stenciling a lampshade

To do this, follow these guidelines…

  • If you plan to use spray paint, put something like a trash bag in the open space of the shade to protect it from diffusive paint.
  • Put newspaper on your work surface to protect it
  • It’s best to use a lampshade that is pure white. This may be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many out there that are “off white” or “ivory” and the resulting colors just won’t look as accurate.

Designing Flower and Clay Pots

The application of stencils is great way to wake up a blase looking plant pot!  Try to choose a color that complements the base color of the pot when you choose colors for your design. If you’re stuck on this one, go with white or black as you can’t go wrong there. 

==>>Or you can check out this article by a guest poster for some helpful ideas.

I love these pots I found recently…Notice how one of the pots in the front has the leaf pattern intentionally scattered, which is a good way to create a sense of movement. 


Stenciling for Wood Crafts

Nonporous surfaces tend to be the easiest, but semi-porous surfaces like wood work great too. Heavier fabrics (e.g., burlap, denim, canvas) are good. Anything you do on wood, though, will have real staying power.

A tissue box is a great object to practice stencil on, because it’s linear and the design will come out well.  Other good objects are benches, signs and bird boxes. I had a wooden tissue box that I’d already a shade of pale green but I wanted to embellish it a little more.

stenciled kleenex box

I used a different flower design for each side, and the combination of fine and broad(chisel) tip markers to outline and then fill in the design.

Tools to Use

Ready-made stencils look something like this…Usually made from soft plastic or vinyl. Lots of designs to choose from, as well. There’s different themes available too, from gardens and floral to animals and seascapes.

Or if you’re so inclined, you could create your own,  which I’ve done a few times.You could search around and find free templates to download, and if you have a sturdy enough substrate handy and a cutting tool (e.g cricut) but not everyone has access to,but just a thought.

examples of stencils

You can use paints or markers to fill in your designs. Or sometimes both together. I do – including the kind you have to shake up with the ball inside – especially for small details. I would encourage you to do so as well – it’s easier than regular paints, plus they may not smudge as much!

A pen or marker with a finer tip will make it easier to trace the inside of the design, however it may leave hard lines behind – you can avoid this if you also use broad-tip markers to fill or block in the colors.

Spray paint can work well too – depending on how much space you’re covering. If it’s a wraparound stencil it can be a huge time saver, but if you’re applying a small, individual design I’d rather use a brush or sponge applicator. 

Tips for Success

As I said previously, a lot of getting it right with stencil art is down to precision. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you work:

  • Remember to remove your stencil carefully as this will minimize any potential paint “fuzzies” or goofs left behind; especially with fabric surfaces.
  • Use some painter’s tape to hold the stencil in place.
  • Work out design placement beforehand if you are going to use a wrap-around template so you don’t end up running out of space on one side or worse yet, cutting off part of the design.

Ready to Get Started?

Great! You can purchase some that are ready-made like those in the “Tools” section, or you may be able to download printable templates for free if you do a little digging around. (You may want to print them out on something sturdy like cardstock for better results.

The sky is definitely the limit, happy stenciling!

Post Updated: June 8th, 2019, May 25th 2023

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