Stenciled Bison Curtains for Abe’s National Parks Room

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I’m just going to go ahead and say right now that this project took 100 years (or at least a weekend or so) longer than it should have because it was incredibly tedious and I had a hard time making myself do the second curtain panel after I finished the first. Thank God Abe’s room only has one window!

But! Now they’re all finished, and I love them. So it was all worth it. All the tedium! So hard for me.

I’ll also go ahead and tell you right away that the paint bled through the curtains onto my dining room table, and I didn’t notice until I painted the whole curtain, and now there are brown spots all over my table. Oops. Not really sure what I’m going to do about that. But if YOU stencil curtains, you should put something under them and not do it directly on your dining room table. I mean, duh.

And now that I’ve gotten all the bad stuff out of the way, here’s how I stenciled Abe’s curtains!

When I got the idea to stencil bisons on curtains (I also considered bears. But, you know….bears are scary!), I remembered the lightning bolt curtains Amber at Wills Casa made for her little boy’s nursery, and I went right over to see what kind of curtains she’d used and how she’d done it, because I knew that was the basic feel I was going for (I mean, except bison instead of lightning. Lightning is cool, but you don’t actually want lightning when you’re hanging out in a national park, generally).

It turns out that Amber actually stamped her curtains instead of stenciling (which I would have preferred, but I couldn’t find a bison stamp big enough, and cutting my own was beyond my comfort level). Also, she includes handy tips about putting something down first to protect the surface you’re working on. Amber is smart. And that’s why her dining room table is still the color it’s supposed to be (and her floor. She made her curtains on the floor).

Anyway, though, the relevant information is that the curtains she used were the Lenda curtains from Ikea, which are a super bargain at $20/pair. They’re a nice, thick cotton and don’t feel or look cheap at all (but they’re not thick enough that acrylic paint won’t bleed through).

I ordered this bison stencil from Stencil Letter on Etsy, in the 5 inch size; it was right at $15 with shipping.

Then I went to Michael’s and agonized over paint colors and stenciling accessories for awhile. I considered both black and dark grey, but I finally ended up with brown paint, because, well…I guess because bisons are brown. I bought three 2 ounce containers of Folk Art 2-Ounce “Real Brown” multi-surface paint. I also agonized over how much paint to buy, so I was very pleased to find that three little bottles was exactly the right amount. I had some left over, but two would not have been enough.

Without overmuch agonizing, I picked out this Plaid Stencil Brush. I went with a brush over a roller because I wanted kind of a vintage-y look with some incomplete coverage going on. Kind of a stamped look, if you will, even though I couldn’t find a stamp.


Then there was a bit more agonizing over the spacing. I ended up doing about six inches between bison (both horizontally and vertically) and staggering the rows. And I faced them all the same direction (yes; I had to decide that, too. There are So.Many.Decisions involved in curtain stenciling).

But after the decisions were made, the actual stenciling process was pretty straightforward. I taped the stencil down with masking tape, put some paint on a yogurt lid, and pressed down with the tip of the brush:


I made light marks with a pencil to mark where the next bison should go.

For awhile I thought I had gotten too big of a brush, as some stray bristles kept threatening to go off the edge of the stencil and ruin everything…but then, when I was almost finished, I came up with this neat trick to keep them all in line:


Rubber band! Things were better after that.

Another accidental and too late discovery: at one point my brush was still wet from the last time I washed it (I took a lot of breaks to preserve my sanity), and the resulting diluted paint had a really nice watercolory effect. And then I wished I’d done all of them like that, but it was too late. NEXT time I make bison curtains!

I tried to kind of vary which parts of the bison I left the paint light on, so it would look authentically rustic and vintage:


When I was FINALLY all finished, we hung them up in Abe’s room (we used a fairly simple black curtain rod that we have around from who knows when or where)….and discovered they were too long. I had hoped they would just stylishly brush the floor, but there was definite puddling. So I took them back down and hemmed them with my old standby: iron on hem tape.

And then back up the curtains went! I’m so excited about Abe’s room. Because I’m a lot like a two year old in many ways. Like my love of bison.

The photography process was remarkably successful and straightforward compared to any other time I’ve taken pictures of curtains, so that was nice. Cloudy, close to dusk. I guess is the trick. So I took some with the light in the room on, which made the walls show up better, but cast a yellowish tint on everything. And then some with only natural light from the window. I’ll put both sets here, and you can look at whichever ones you like best.

Here are the natural light ones:




And here they are with the room lights on:



And here’s a lovely really long image that you probably want to pin ;):

Tutorial to make these stenciled bison curtains from inexpensive Ikea Lenda curtain panels. Great for a kid's room--we made them for our toddler's National Parks themed room.

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Stenciled Bison Curtains for Abe’s National Parks Room — 26 Comments

  1. First of all, I LOVE THIS PROJECT. The bison curtains are really rad and perfect for any room but esp. Abe’s room. I kind of want them. But second: There’s no way I’d have the patience. I’m going crazy just thinking about it. 😉 So you rock.

  2. I love them! They’re just right for the room. (I don’t want them, since I’m not a curtain person, but when Abe is through with them I wouldn’t mind making a dress out of them.) But you’ve put a crimp in my vague decades old plan to stencil some fabric for myself to make clothes out of. Sewing is enough time-consuming back-breaking work already!

  3. I seriously love these! A bison is the perfect choice! It actually came out very stamp looking. I’m stenciling the pantry right now and you’re right it’s no joke. Such an undertaking of a project!! I mean probably worth it but still.

  4. Thanks for sharing this great idea! Sometimes other people have to motivate me to try something different and you have done just that! I can envision other stencils on curtains too! The kitchen, lol! Thanks again for sharing!

    • (sorry for the late response…this got misdirected to my spam folder, and I just found it!)….I believe the paint I used said it could go through the washer, but I plan to hand wash them and hang them to dry to be safe….haven’t done it yet, so I’ll report back if there are any issues with the paint coming off or fading, but I’m guessing it should hold up fine to hand washing.

  5. Somewhere I. The world your High school English teacher is probably so proud of your writers voice and the way you connect with your readers. I know she’s like to give you a high five. And the curtains are so cute! 😜

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