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A couple of years ago, I bought an alphabet stencil in cursive-like font with a specific project in mind: to stencil and paint the Raymond Carver quote, “Woke up this morning with a terrific urge to lie in bed all day and read” directly above my bed. I pretty much wake up with this “terrific urge” everyday and have yet to find a well-paying job that allows me to give in to it. (Suggestions?) Risking rudeness, I have been known to cancel out on people because “I want to stay home and read.” So, there you have it. Additionally, I’m paranoid that if I hang a picture or painting above my bed, it will crash down on me in the middle of the night. 🙂

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Finally, I did it! I bought a lilac colored paint called “Orchid Kiss” at Home Depot and first painted a small nook area-wall with it. I have a print of one of my favorite paintings, “Mada Primavesi” by Klimt, hanging on another wall, and there too is an “Orchid Kiss”-type color. Actually, I wore a shirt I had in the shade I wanted, TO Home Depot because I am a nerd like that. Matching the color strips to the shirt, I was so happy that I didn’t have to go with the Disney one in “Princess Purple.” Could I live with myself? Could a Tribeca apartment withstand that? Haha. (Did you notice both Alicia Keys and Natalie Portman in this same shade at the Oscars?) Here is the how-to:

Supplies

acrylic paint (eggshell finish)
tiny paintbrushes (brush is the width of a toothpick!)
tape
pencil
alphabet stencil with upper- and lower-case letters
white paper

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Directions

I used some tiny paintbrushes that I bought at Michael’s. They are actually kids’ brushes with soft grips, perfect for time-consuming, detailed projects like this one. I also used a small amount of paint from a 1-quart can from Home Depot ($11) that I had leftover from another painting project, but you could buy one of their “sample” containers for only $4. I found the stencil at Pearl Craft Store in New York (behind Pearl Paint, on Lispenard, i.e. the semi-creepy alley).

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Once you have a quote in mind and a stenciling area picked out, it’s time to do some planning. I’m not big on measuring or using computer programs to help me with my DIY/art/craft projects, but rather I like to really use my hands, trace, sketch, cut out, etc., so bear with me!

1. Using the stencil, trace out the quote with pencil on sheets of white paper. Cut out each word and play around with the arrangement on a hard surface. This will also allow you to see where, for example a “g” or “y” will dip way below the line and if there’s an “l” threatening to hit into it from below.

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2. Tape the words onto the wall and, again, play around with the positioning. Stand back and take a look. How much space do you want in between each word? Each letter? Each line? Can you read it from far away? Is it centered above your bed (or wherever it’s going)?

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3. After you tape on the pieces of papers with words on them, it’s time to get stenciling on the wall. The papers are just for guidance–you’re not using them beyond that. I lifted up the first paper, “Woke” and put the stencil of the letter “W” against the wall and penciled/stenciled it right onto the wall. I would flip up the pieces of papers, tape them above out of the way, stencil a few letters and then flip them back just to see if I was stenciling more or less in a straight fashion! If you’re good at eye-balling it, you don’t need the papers. Continue to stencil with the pencil until you’re at the end of your quote.

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4. Now it’s the painstaking painting part. Depending on how detailed or intricate your stencil is, this could take some time. It probably took me 3-4 hours because my cursive stencil is quote intricate. (Your arm and neck will need a bubble bath soak afterwards). If you’re right-handed, start from top to bottom and left to right so that you don’t smudge. (If left-handed, go from right to left).

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5. Let dry a few hours and touch up where necessary. Ta-da! Literary inspiration in the bedroom! Or yet another reason to call in “sick.”

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If you want to see more pictures, check out the Paint and Stencil Project Flickr set.