Plaster Stenciling Tutorial

by Victoria Larsen

Plaster violin and columnsRaised plaster stenciling has been around for a very long time, but somewhere along the line, we forgot just how stunning it can be with the right designs and application. Even our blessed White House in Washington was once stenciled ornately with raised plaster designs.

Why did the art seem to disappear? No one knows, but it’s back with a fever!

Stenciling with plaster is EASY!

VaseFrom walls to furniture to turning a plain vase into a treasure, the application is just like frosting a cake and if you can do that, you can plaster ANYTHING!

A simple bucket of Joint or Wall Compound from your local home improvement store, a flat trowel, and a thick stencil are all you really need to create GREAT projects and awesome results on your walls and more!

Joint compound comes pre-mixed for SUPER cheap and is the texture of cake frosting and so easy to work with! Like I said, if you can frost a cake, YOU can do it!

Applying Plaster

Step #1.

Tape the stencil to the wall and apply compound with a trowel, scraping off the excess.

Lifting Stencil

Step #2.

Gently lift stencil away from the wall to reveal raised design beneath.
Allow to dry.

If you can do that (sure you can!) then you can create incredible architectural designs, ornate moldings and much more on your walls in no time!

I’d never tried stenciling with joint compound (plaster) before but I knew it was something I’d love if I did. Since most stencils are quite thin I knew at once that the mylar would have to be thicker in order to achieve a noticeable raise on the wall. So off I set on a search for just the right thickness. Once I found it, there was no stopping me!

All of the stencils I found online were single overlay designs and I figured there had to be much more to this idea. Developing overlays was just the answer. Soon I was creating double raised life-sized columns, moldings, Victorian Ceiling Tiles, Square Ornate ceiling tiles and wall panels. That simple stuff just didn’t do plaster justice! The more ornate I drew the designs, the more I was impressed by their exquisite results.


The biggest surprise from developing this new line of stencils and taking plaster stenciling to the next step was that I’ve found that men just love it! The gentlemen who installed new windows in our home begged me for designs, the appraiser looking at the house fell in love with the columns, my own husband shows off my plaster life size tree downstairs to anyone who will allow him to drag them downstairs, and many of my plaster stenciling customers are fellas who have just become addicted to them! Wives email me and say this is the first time their husbands don’t mind them decorating.

Did you boo-boo? Wipe it off and start over! Raised plaster stenciling is the MOST forgiving art I’ve ever mastered. Get a leaf a bit smudged? Take a Q-tip to it and clean up the edge. Sitting back and wishing you’d put the design on the other wall? Easy! Just scrape if back off into the bucket, wipe down the wall with a wet sponge and put it on the opposite wall! Why is it as easy as that? Because it doesn’t dry right away. In fact, as impatient as we crafter types are, that’s the part we HATE! Waiting for each overlay to dry (about 45 minutes in most climates) before we can do the next or add a repeat. Ah well, it’s well worth the wait!

Now add some color!

Scrubbing color over design
  • A bit of diluted Acrylic paint scrubbed on with an old towel or sponge gets right in to those itty bitty indentations and brings out the detail.
  • Swish a stencil brush over the top of stencil creams and remove excess. Then simply do light strokes over the top of the raised design to create delicate coloring.
  • Color can also be added directly to the joint compound with pure pigments from the craft store or stucco powdered color (a variety of colors are available).
Victoria LarsenStencil designer Victoria Larsen has created a new line of stencils specifically for raised plaster. To learn more, visit her Web site at