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Africa Chic! How to Craft Rustic Stenciled Frames

How to stencil rustic frames with African stencil patterns from Royal Design Studio

Are you snowed in, tired of winter and looking for a fun new way to use stencils and clean some scraps out of the basement at the same time?

Me too. I was especially excited to be assigned this African-inspired upcycled, rustic stenciled frames project. I have traveled to East Africa on photographic safaris with my sister and mother, and I have explored Morocco on two painting adventures with Melanie Royals. Needless to say Africa is near and dear to my heart. Paint + Pattern is also celebrating the launch of the Raven & Lily line of stencils. 20% of the net sales on this stencil collection will be donated to Raven + Lily’s charity of choice: the Tirzah International initiatives in Africa.

How to stencil rustic frames with African stencil patterns from Royal Design Studio

Many of the supplies you will need can be found in your garage, attic or craft room. Get creative with hardware too! My goal was to not go to the hardware store due to snowy weather, and I was very happy with my scavenged solutions.

Rustic Stenciled Frames Supplies

Using scrap wood to create rustic stenciled frames on Paint + Pattern

Assembling the Frames

Gather your wood and play with laying out some different sizes and shapes for your frames. Consider the size of your photos and the layout you want to do with your stencil patterns. Once you cut your wood to size it is easy to assemble the frames. For my frames, I used $1 rulers to hold the separate wood pieces together.

Apply wood blue to the back of the rulers (or other pieces of wood), position, and screw or nail them into place to stabilize them further.

How to use African stencil patterns to create rustic stenciled frames from Paint + Pattern

Rustic Stenciled Frames Techniques

I used a variety of simple stencil techniques for this project after painting the assembled wood frames.

  1. One frame was painted on all sides with full strength Old White Chalk Paint. For the other two frames, I diluted Graphite Chalk Paint with about 40% water and brushed it on as more of a “color wash” on the wood.
  2. Instead of stencil a color through the pattern, I used an easy paint removal technique also commonly know as sandpaper! With the stencil in place use fine sandpaper to simply remove the Graphite wash in the shape of the patten by sanding back through to the wood.
  3. Lift the stencil to see how it looks, and sand more if desired. The effect is very rustic and imperfect, which is perfect for this look!
  4. A really fun addition to the rustic look is to use a sharp tool to carve parts of the pattern into the wood. You can use a small screwdriver, awl, or ice pick for this step.

For the Old White frame I simply stenciled the Elsebet Trellis Furniture Stencil using Paris Gray Chalk Paint. (not shown)

How to assemble rustic stenciled frames via Paint + Pattern

Finishing the Frames

  1. Sand all the frames on both the front and back until you are happy with the amount of distressing. Wipe off dust with a clean rag.
  2. Use cheesecloth or a paper towel to apply a thin layer of Annie Sloan Soft Wax overall. Wipe off excess wax as you go with a clean cloth. After the wax has dried, buff it with a soft cloth.
  3. Mark the position on the frames that you will place your photos. To raise the photos off the background and give the frames a more dimensional effect, place small thin pieces of wood onto the area that the photo will cover and use small nails to tack into place. For my frames, I used small paint stir sticks.
  4. Assemble your photos placing a piece of cardboard on the bottom and glass on the top with the photo in the middle. Place the sandwiched photos on your frame and mark two drill holes at the top and bottom about 3/16″ away from the edge of the glass. Carefully drill in the screw and washer that will hold your photos in place.

Rustic Stenciled Frames project and stencil how to on Paint + Pattern

I hope this has given you some new ideas and tricks for using stencils with items you may have lying around to create your own Rustic Stenciled Frames!

Rustic Stenciled Frames project and stencil how to on Paint + Pattern

For more upcycle inspiration using stencils, check out this Upcycled Jewelry Display Cabinet post. Please share and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Royal Design Studio Wall Stencils and Paint Supplies for DIY Projects

15 comments

  1. Love all your stencils…but most of all love the help and info that is available !
    I do have a suggestion. Instead of sanding out the stencil…roll on a resist medium over your stencil and it creates a barrier when you put on your wash. That medium can be mod podge or wood glue or any glue that dries clear just add a little water to make it flow and roll it over your stencil let dry. Do your wash quickly you don’t want to wash off your resist pattern
    I am impatient …LOL
    Thank you so much for all your great info

  2. Hi Barbara!
    Thanks for reading and your creative suggestion! I was stuck on a snow day with only supplies on hand. One reason I loved sanding was that it was very fast and left no sheen. Wanted a rustic look. Plus, finding new ways to use a stencil is a blast! We would love to see what YOU are up to, so send us photos!

  3. Can someone help me, please! I am thinking to purchase a large stencil to do my living room walls, I am not sur ehow to do the corners of the walls without bending a stencil? Thanks in advance.

    • Hello Irina, the stencils are cut from a very durable, flexible mylar. Corners can be challenging, but you can feel comfortable pushing the stencil into the corner without damaging it. One thing to keep in mind is that you can only stencil one wall at a time. So, tape the stencil securely onto the wall you are starting on and push it into the corner while you let the other side hang free. When you move to the next wall, reverse that. I find it helpful to apply a strip of tape on the wall at the corner that I am NOT currently stenciling on. This will keep paint from getting on the wall where you don’t want it. Also, if you are stenciling your walls with a roller, it’s really best to switch to a stencil brush for the corners. Hope that helps!!

  4. Hi Debbie,
    I think the mix of grayed-down colors and the patterns you chose are subtly beautiful. It blends just lovely with your decor. I’m curious- did you paint the brick surrounding your fireplace and if so can you share how you did it?

    • Hi Melissa!
      Thanks for the feedback. This was really fun to do. My fireplace was a medium-tan brick years ago. I used a lime wash to give an old look with out a heavy coat of paint. It needs to be spiffed up again, and now that I am a huge fan of Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan I will likely water down some Old White about 40% and use that instead. Lime is great but seriously smelly. I will test first due to the lime already on the fireplace but don’t expect an issue.

  5. I love the combo of colors and patterns you used, and also the idea of using the wood in this way to create paintable panels! I just went to Home Depot last night for 2×4’s because there are only 1×4’s in our garage. Those poor lonely 1x4s. This would be a great project for them. I’m seeing leaving them long and installing a trio of frames on one long stenciled panel, then leaning it against a wall. There’s a perfect spot in our sunroom. This was REALLY inspiring!!

  6. Hi Debbie,
    I am inspired by your work and appreciate your instructions. Can you tell me about the oblong piece to the left of your fireplace grate. It looks like a log with 6 areas carved to hold something (dough). It’s amazing! Thanks

  7. Hi Stace, thank you for your sweet comments. The wooden piece to the left is for dough. I don’t know much about it but I do love it. Perfect for a dining table and more!

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