DIY Sari-Inspired Stenciled Art

When I see Royal Design Studio’s Indian stencils, I see a sari! The patterns of India’s saris are so gorgeous, I could drape all the walls and windows in my house with them, and live inside a silken sari tent. But I don’t do such craziness because I live with a guy, and he wouldn’t be happy living in a tent made of women’s clothing. He’s already told me that his male business associates who stay in our guest room sometimes might feel funny sleeping under a sari bedspread.

So instead, I indulged in lust for sari patterns by painting sari-inspired art with Indian stencils:

Stenciled Sari Pattern Wall Panel

I used the doors removed from the closet I recently turned into an exotic sitting nook! So this art panel is big — 7 feet tall and 3 feet wide. But you can do this on canvas, directly on a wall, on furniture. I think this would be fantastic painted on screens to divide a room or make a big decorative accent in a room!

To get all details on how to paint this, visit to see my tutorial post. There I show how to lay out the stencils to get the backgrounds and patterns lined up just right.

Paint looks like sari silk

To get this look, I recommend using Royal Design Studio Stencil Cremes. They have a shimmer that’s just like silk! To create a silken look, as you can see in the photo above, I created vertical “strie” lines by drawing the paint brush down in long continuous vertical strokes. Yeah my arm got tired, and five-foot tall me had to stand on a step stool, but don’t lift that brush off the panel! Keep making long unbroken vertical strokes the entire length of each background color. This way, the stencil creme looks like the threads of silk. So cool! I didn’t expect that when I started painting, but was thrilled when I saw it happening.

And would you believe, there are only three colors of paint used here? It’s true! I used Peacock Fancy, Patina Green and Smoked Oyster stencil cremes. Often the patterns of saris are woven with only a few colors. You just switch the colors of backgrounds and foregrounds/patterns to make it look like there are more colors. Here is my “formula” for choosing stencils and paints to make a sari panel:

Formula for Creating a Painted Sari Look

Choose the darkest of your three paint colors for “Color #1.” This will be the background color at the bottom of the panel, and will visually “ground” your sari panel. Then choose a medium and a light color for Colors #2 and #3. Make sure you have strong contrast between the colors so your stenciled patterns will show up well. I think it looks more like a sari if one of the paint colors is a metallic like a gold or a silver.

Painted Stenciled Sari Panel

India-inspired patterns

Can I take a moment to rave about the Annapakshi Damask Stencil? It’s the pattern at the top of the sari panel:

Annapakshi South Indian Motif Damask Stencil

I especially love the Annapakshi motif because it’s a South Indian motif often used on Kanchipuram (or Kanjivaram, spelled different ways) silk saris that are hand-woven in a village by the same name in South India. These saris can be woven with real gold and are very fine. They’re often worn by brides and for very special occasions. Here’s an example:

Kanchipuram Sari

Hmmm, can you see my color palette was probably influenced here?

The Annapakshi, as explained by Sarangi, a Kanjivaram sari shop in Chennai that often uses this motif in its designs, is a mythical swan bird. You can find it carved into the columns of ancient temples in India. Today it’s often used in brass lamps that are lighted for important events. It’s auspicious to light a lamp with an Annapakshi which symbolizes purity:

Annapakshi Brass Lamp

And the motif is often woven into South Indian saris like this one from Sarangi:

Sarangi Sari with Annapakshi Bird Motif

They do look sort of like peacocks, but they are not peacocks. They are said to be white birds like swans, and they can separate milk from water when they drink, so that they drink only the purity of white milk.

I will definitely be on the hunt for brass Annapakshi lanterns on a future India trip. In the meantime, I was happy to paint with the Annapakshi stencil!


Did you like this post? Don't miss out on more:

What topics interest you?

4 Replies to “DIY Sari-Inspired Stenciled Art”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *