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January 26, 2017

Atomic Starburst Stencils In Mom’s 1950s Time Capsule Condo…A Tutorial – Thursday Retro Rewind

Post Thirty-two in the ‘Time Capsule Condo’ series and we are having some fun decorating with starburst stencils! This was a super fun and easy project to do – it just takes some time and patience to make the stencils, but once you get going you will be so happy with the results! 

By Sara In AZ

Since Atomic Star Stencils seem to be all the rage these days I thought I would add a few around Mom’s condo! I carefully documented all my steps in case anyone else wanted to make star stencils for themselves. Really it was pretty easy….even for me!

I first saw the Atomic Star stencils used in a bathroom re-do on Retro Renovation. I always had it in my head that I wanted to someday use the stencil idea too, since it turned out so cool….and Mom’s condo was the perfect place!

Glamorlux Nancy made it easy to access a cool star pattern in her photobucket account, as she posted a link to a pattern she made in the Retro Renovation comments section about a bathroom that had also used starburst stencils. This is the exact Starburst Pattern I used to construct my stencil. You could also make your own star pattern if you wanted something a bit different.

I copied her star pattern into my photo editing software and enlarged the star to the size I wanted it to be. I decided to go with a 3 star stencil – a larger star to one side and 2 smaller ones beside it. You will have to print out each star (however many you want in your stencil) on a piece of paper then cut it out to start the base of your stencil.

Here you can see I have my 3 starbursts cut out and taped on a piece of cardboard. Be sure to position the stars carefully, as this is the template for cutting out your stencil. You will need to tape your stars down to something that will not move in order to cut your starburst stencil properly.


You will need to buy these plastic sheet stencil blanks to cut your own starburst stencils. I bought mine from JoAnn, but I’m sure most other craft stores sell something similar. Just make sure to get a large enough size blank to accommodate the size of stars you want to stencil.


I bought the larger size stencil blank, 10” x 18”, which also came with a smaller 8” x 10” blank too . I decided to use the 10” x 18” size, as I wanted a larger size stencil.


Here I have overlaid the stencil blank on top of the stars taped to the cardboard. I have also taped the plastic blank to the cardboard to ensure it does not move around as I try to cut the stars out of the stencil blank.


Now, to cut the stencil. I was terrified of this at  first, but honestly it was not that big of a deal. It makes it MUCH easier that we are only dealing with straight lines here…I cannot imagine cutting out some elaborate curving design….eeks!!! You can use just a regular razor blade to cut out your stencil  if you want to, but I decided to use my X-ACTO knife because I could hold it like a pen and have more control over the cuts.

I started cutting out the largest star first.


You can see I am moving right along with my cuts! If you are worried about the line not staying straight you could always cut alongside of a ruler too, I just found it easier to freehand  the cuts.


And now the largest star is completely cut out! Two more stars to go!!!


Yay!!! All of the stars are now completely cut out and my stencil is ready to use! I actually made 2 stencils, with one being the reverse of the other….so there would be a large star either on the right or the left.  I realize that I could have just flipped the one stencil over to achieve the same effect, but I wanted one side of the stencil to always remain clean.


And here is what the stencil looks like when it is all cut out!


As for the stencil paint, I decided to go with a crème paint. I thought that would be easier to deal with and there would be less bleed through under the stencil since it is a more dry type of paint. I also bought some little sponge dabbers to dab the paint on with.


And here we are, all ready to stencil! This is the back side of a cabinet that is in Mom’s kitchen. The cabinet was originally all blond, but had been painted somewhere along the way. Since this is a cabinet that hangs over her breakfast bar area the half of the cabinet that faces the kitchen is still the original blond, but the back that faces into the living room is painted. I wanted to do something to spruce this area up a bit and I thought the starburst stencil was the perfect idea!


When hanging your stencil make sure that it is aligned exactly how you want it be, you don’t want crooked or tilting stars or anything like that!

Now we are all set to start painting out the stars! I found that with using the crème paint you do not need a lot on your dabber, I just dabbed my applicator a bit in the paint then took off the excess on a paper towel. When applying the paint to the stencil I dabbed a semi circular motion and worked my way around the stencil. You will get the feel for it as you go. And if you want your paint to be heavier you can always add more before you take the stencil down.

***One word of caution when using crème paint….do not touch it or run your fingers over it until it has had time to dry – at least 24 hours. If you do touch it before it has had time to dry you will have a streaky stencil and that will be no fun after all of your hard work.


Here all of the stars are finally painted in! Yay!!!


And here is the result! I am loving it!


Here is where my reverse stencil comes into play. You can see that I have a left and a right. This is just something I wanted to do and is not really necessary, I just always wanted to have one completely clean side on my stencils.


Here I am filling in the other stars with paint.


And ta-da, now Mom’s place is all Atomic Star-Bursty Retro!


I snuck into her bedroom too (can’t you just picture me lurking down the hallway with my stencils and paints) as I thought a few starbursts on the painted closet doors might liven the drab doors up a bit!


I decided to use the silver paint in here.


YAY! It’s Starburst action all around the condo! I really love the way the closet doors turned out too.


Here is a close-up.


And here is the final shot of the breakfast bar cabinet, I thought Mom’s repro Nelson Ball Clock would look right at home between all those Starbursts.


Come back next Thursday when we install the perfect vintage light in Mom’s carport!

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7 Responses to Atomic Starburst Stencils In Mom’s 1950s Time Capsule Condo…A Tutorial – Thursday Retro Rewind

  1. Susan Reply

    January 26, 2017 at 9:45 am

    OMG Sara! You are so creative. I love this!! You are the Mid-Century Guru.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      January 27, 2017 at 9:44 pm

      Awwwww, thanks Susan, you are much too kind! Let me know if you do this around your home!

  2. Laura L Trevino Reply

    January 29, 2017 at 11:44 am

    This is incredible. I’m going to try it.


    February 4, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Oh my gosh, that looks fantastic! What a great idea. The stencils pull the whole design together perfectly. I just love how this turned out!

  4. Sara In AZ Reply

    February 4, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Thanks so much Sevina, I really love how it turned out too!

  5. ElleElle Reply

    February 10, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    This is wonderful and a great idea. My problem is that I would probably over-stencil because I would want them EVERYWHERE.

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