Thursday, June 3, 2010

My First (and last?) Stencil Project

When my mom said she had a FREE table for me, I knew I had to have it. I'd figure out what to do with her later... After a few days of thinking, I decided to make her a guided reading table for my classroom. I certainly couldn't put her in there in her current condition, though. She was in great shape, nothing a little wood glue couldn't fix, but she was hideous. 
Blech. See what I mean? You can look away now. I filled in all the scratches/dings with wood putty and sanded her down. I mostly used the power sander, but hand sanded the trimming.  She had a wobbly leg, so I filled the cracks with wood glue and clamped it shut for a solid 24 hrs.
Then began the painting.  First I primed the entire table. I really like the Kilz spray primer. It seems to work best for me and is super easy to use. No brushes required = Easy-peasy clean up.  After she was primed, I painted her legs and trim white using leftover ceiling paint.  Then I painted the top.  I used a nice blue color and I wanted to paint a small design in green- our school colors are green and blue.  Ok, so sanding- check; priming- check; painting- check.

I saw this great design here, and knew it would work with my reading table. I wanted something simple, yet enough to bring in another color. I also liked the way the design would create 4 separate spaces at the table.  I printed out the design, well I actually copied it into paint.net and cropped the picture, so that it was only one print, instead of a repeating pattern, and printed that out.  Then things went horribly wrong.

Attempt #1: I taped the design down to stenciling material and went to work with my brand-spankin new Xact-o knife.  I paid a lot for this knife, so I was kinda excited to use it.  I was on a roll, when, bloop (imagine me saying that in a high pitched voice), the blade fell out. Will and I literally spend hours trying to get it to stay back in. We couldn't screw anything tight enough to keep the blade in! (I am now picturing my sister saying, "That's what she said.")  It was ridiculous. Anyway, I continued on with my busted Xact-o, which was no longer exact, by the way, and just kept poppin' the blade back in every time it fell out. When I finished outlining the design for my first stencil, I felt such a sense of accomplishment . Then I peeled the paper away, the stencil was BARELY even cut out. FAIL.

Attempt #2: Since I had spent so long cutting out the design, I wasn't quite ready to give up. I tried using the fancy knife, but finally gave up hope on that guy. I pulled out our old, crusty, not-as-shiny-as-the-new-one, Xact-o knife and tried using that on the stencil. Nothing. Nada. Zipola. Wouldn't even remotely punch out the way its supposed to.  Is there some secret to cutting out a stencil that I'm not hip to? FAIL.

Attempt #3: I totally gave up on stenciling material and decided to make my own.  I re-printed my design. Because I'm so in love with mod podge, it was the first thing to come to mind. I painted a couple coats on each side of the design to create a kind of hardened surface. I figured I'd just cut that out like the stencil and paint that.  I used special tacky spray to place my "stencil" on the table.  Once I had it positioned where I wanted it, I got to work with the paint.  As you can imagine, FAIL.

Attempt #4: Obviously this wasn't going to work out. I knew it wasn't, YOU knew it wasn't and you weren't even there.  When I peeled off my "stencil", my design was more of a mess than Lindsay Lohan.  This required massive amounts of tedious touch-ups that I just wasn't prepared to do. I am not a "details" person. I notice details, I don't create them. My hand is not steady, my brush doesn't do what I want it to, and my paint never goes where I say to go.
I just took my time, because this was a free table, and I did need it in my classroom now, and she actually ended up coming out quite nicely.  A little rough around the edges, but hey, aren't we all? :)

So give 'em to me gals, what are your stenciling tricks? I want them, I need them, I'm desperate for them, so this doesn't happen again.


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