Cutting Edge – Olive Leaf Stencils

“Oak Tree” by Olive Leaf Stencils

After spending weeks picking off fingernail-sized morsels of 1960’s pussy willow wallpaper from the wall of my first house, less than enthusiastic feelings about wallpaper still linger.  Yet, I love the punch a patterned wall or two can make in a space.   Painting with stencils can deliver the same wow factor as wallpaper, and so much more.   Stencils offer many advantages; they aren’t as permanent as wallpaper, or as expensive.  Completely customizable, the stencil pattern can be painted any color desired on any chosen base color. Depending on the design, stencil patterns can be configured to the user’s content…and then endlessly re-used.  Delivering maximum design flexibility on a one-of a kind surface created by you, you can’t go wrong.

Stencils have been a part of our culture (the human culture, that is) for eons.  Prehistoric cave paintings show human hands used as stencils as pigment was blown around them to reveal the form of the hand when removed. Europeans brought the art of stenciling to the American Colonists, who feverishly took to adorning their walls, floors, textiles and household articles such as trunks and wooden trays.  The height of the American stencil craze peaked in the Federal Period (1780-1820) and motifs tended to be large and stylized to imitate costly wallpaper of the time. Stencils were crudely made of oiled paper or leather and popular paint colors to 1850 were strong and earthy: lamp black, yellow ochre, red ochre and Prussian blue.  Today, not only do we have an endless array of colors, metallics, and paint sheens available, but also precise machine-cut stencils.

I found a gem of a stencil company.  Based in Austin, Texas, Olive Leaf Stencils was founded in 2010 by Olive, a New York native.  From original hand-drawn artwork, inspiration is rooted in the forests, birds and beaches of the northeast U.S. and Olive’s international travels.  With a mission “to inspire everyone to make an ordinary room in their home feel like an enchanted forest”, Olive Leaf Stencils delivers.  Clean and contemporary, patterns range from organic to geometric, from singular vignettes to full-wall designs.  Many designs resonate a playful quirkiness, such as the captivating Jellyfish pattern.

Made of precision-cut 11 millimeter thick clear plastic, their stencils are durable, easy to use and don’t require special painting experience. but instructions are included with all orders. Most projects can be completed in an afternoon. Olive Leaf Stencils will work on any wall texture or paint sheen, but a low-luster metallic pattern over a matte paint base is a favorite. Check out Olive Leaf Stencils’ cutting edge designs below, and a how-to tutorial at the end.

Sources: Olive Leaf Stencils, history of stenciling





“Ginkgo Branch”

“Ikat Wall Pattern”

“Art Nouveau Tree Pattern with Birds”

“Silver Branches”

“MOD Pattern”

“Magnolia Tree Branch with Birds”

“Geometric Pattern 1”

“Linden Tree”

“Black Locust Flower Border”

“10 Songbirds”


Olive Leaf Stencils Tutorial: Stenciling Birches in a Yoga Studio (entire wall pattern).  Tutorial is in (3) parts.


  1. Karen, that stencil in the metallic is gorgeous! Like a modern take on chinoiserie.

  2. Amanda Heintz says:

    These are fantastic.

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