For my most recent home project, I was inspired by Saris to create a metallic DIY stenciled door.
Saris are silken jewels, quite literally as some of them are woven with threads of real gold. Their patterns and colors are simply dazzling. And to think that the finest of saris with the most intricate patterns might have been handwoven on looms or block printed by the hands of master craftsmen is just mind blowing. The creators of these textiles go to great lengths, quite literally, as they make wedding saris that can be up to nine yards long. To decorate all that fabric, they masterfully combine motifs both tiny and large in a single sari and then blend allover patterns with border designs. Doesn’t that sound like playing with stencils? I was curious to see how a sari-inspired stencil project might turn out and decided to explore through a DIY project on an old wooden panel. I used a variety of patterns from the India Stencils Collection from Royal Design Studio. The outcome was an amazingly gorgeous panel that I plan on using as a door!
The combination of patterns used in this project is similar to what you might see on this silk sari from Parisera, a jewelry and clothes shop in Chennai, India. I used an allover trellis pattern at the bottom of the panel, a border in the middle and a damask pattern on the top for my project.
To help you choose stencils to get the beautiful sari look, here are a few sari pattern options to get you started:
There are so many sari designs and pattern options out there that only imagination could limit your creativity, if at all. However, here’s the secret to choosing the right stencil patterns for your sari inspired projects: as long as you pick a damask pattern an allover pattern and a border design, you can’t go wrong. And when choosing these stencil designs, try to mix up floral and geometric patterns. Shapes like the popular chevron are actually iconic India patterns and can make for great allover patterns.
As for choosing the colors, you will find that although only 3-4 colors are used in one sari it often looks like there are many more. This is actually achieved by alternating the colors of the background and patterns. My DIY stenciled door panel, for example, used only three colors. The bottom half has the blue paint as the background with green and oyster used in the patterns. The colors are reversed on the upper half of the panel so that green and oyster become the background and blue is used for the pattern. This also enables enough contrast between the colors for your patterns to pop out.
Well, now that you have your sari inspiration in place, let’s get started. Here’s what you will need for this stencil project:
- A mix of Indian stencils from Royal Design Studio: Annapakshi Indian Damask Wall Stencil, Indian Trellis and Lotus Flower Stencil Set, Raj Trellis Indian Wall Stencil, Taj Tile Motif Indian Furniture Stencil and Sari Border Series Indian Furniture Stencil
- Royal Design Studio Stencil Cremes: Peacock Fancy, Patina Green, Smoked Oyster
- Stencil brushes
- Stencil Roller and Tray Set
- Large wood panel or canvas: My panel is an old closet door, 79″ tall x 30″ wide, but you can certainly do this in a smaller size, just choose smaller stencil sizes.
- Behr paints: Realm (blue) and Collectible (natural)
- Painter’s tape
- Yardstick and pen or chalk
First, map out a plan where each stencil will go. This helps you figure out what size to paint the background colors. After measuring and taping the areas for the background colors, paint your first coat of paint color. I rolled on Behr latex paint to cover the brown wood. I used latex paint for the first coat of color because I didn’t want to use the stencil cremes just to build up solid color on a huge panel. You can also use chalk paint for this purpose. For this first coat, I used a teal blue on the bottom which was close in color to the Peacock Fancy color stencil creme. I used a natural color on the top, knowing that I wanted that area to be lighter with the Patina Green stencil creme.
Then, I painted over the latex paint with the stencil cremes. What’s really cool about the stencil cremes is they have a shimmery iridescence just like sari silk! So I covered the whole panel with stencil creme colors. With the big 3″ wide stencil brush, I brushed in long vertical strokes to mimic the lines of the iridescent threads you see running through silk dupioni. You can see the background went from flat and lifeless to glowing with color.
After painting the background colors, it’s time to paint the stencil patterns. While stenciling, you could work from the “bottom up” to “build” the sari look. This is how the sari would be woven on a loom!
Also, stencil several light layers of paint to build up to a solid stenciled pattern. That is how to get nice crisp edges without having paint bleed under the stencil.
Switch up your paint colors for more variety. As you can see here, I painted the trellis pattern in Smoked Oyster on top of the Peacock Fancy blue color. Then for the border, I reversed these colors and used the Smoked Oyster as the background, and the Peacock Fancy for the stencil pattern.
When stenciling on a wall, it’s usually recommended that you start your stencil pattern in the middle of the wall. For “painting a sari,” I placed the first Annapakshi Damask stencil at the top of the border as this is how it might be on a sari loom. As you can see in the project photos, if you are painting a stencil that overlaps with another pattern – as the Annapakshi pattern overlapped with the border – just put tape on your stencil to create an edge.