Indian bone inlay furniture is beautiful, but it comes with a hefty price tag. You can get the same stunning look using stencils to create a faux bone inlay effect for a tiny fraction of the cost. In this post, I’ll show you how to make a gorgeous faux bone inlay tray that won’t break the bank!
During the brief time we lived in India, one of the things I fell in love with was the bone inlay furniture they make. Now let me tell you – bone inlay is truly work of art! Do you know how long it takes them to make a piece of furniture? Weeks…and sometimes even months, depending on the piece! They hand carve each piece from discarded cow bones, then they glue those pieces on the furniture and cover the whole thing with resin. Once the resin is dry, they sand/grind it to bring the bones to back to the surface again and then polish it until everything is smooth and beautiful. Here is a short video of this interesting process:
Tedious work, isn’t it? But that is why these beautiful bone inlay pieces come with a hefty price tag – hover on the images below to see the price range of bone inlay furniture 😉
Yes they are gorgeous, but even a small tray is out of our reach, and even if we could afford any of these, you know me – I would never spend that kind of money on a piece of furniture! Well, not unless Greg would finally get around to planting that money tree that I’ve keep telling him to plant…. LOL. But until he gets his butt off of the sofa and plants that tree in our backyard, I just have to fake the bone inlay 😉 [Hey, I’ve been busy trying to make it as a male model, but it’s just not bringing in the money, and I can’t figure out why. -Greg]
So what do you think? Not bad, right? I actually wanted to try this on a bigger piece of furniture, but because these stencils are pretty intricate, I didn’t want to mess up on a large scale or have a nervous break down while trying to finish it, LOL. So as opposed to Greg, I actually do think before going into my “bring it on” mood, hahaha :-D. Anyway – digging through our basement for a suitable piece, I found this little old wooden tray among the other million Put & Take finds I brought home. It was the perfect little thing for this faux bone inlay project.
I wanted to use my homemade chalk paint at first, but then I realized that bone inlay furniture has a really smooth finish, and to get that I needed to sand inside of the tray. That was going to be a tough, tough cookie on those inner corners. Besides, bone inlay furniture doesn’t really look as matte as chalk paint finish. I decided that I should go with good old latex paint. Using a smooth small brush and a sponge, I painted the tray with 3 thin coats of Behr paint matched to Benjamin Moore’s French Beret 1610 color (in eggshell sheen.)
Next, I tried to place the bone inlay stencil I bought from Amazon into the tray, but the tray was a tad small for the whole stencil. Whoops! To solve this “little” problem, either I had to cut the stencil or make my own stencil with either Silhoutte or Cricut, so it would fit perfectly in the tray. I chose the second, and that meant I needed to have the picture of that stencil pattern I bought.
For those who are wondering why I didn’t simply cut the stencil instead of taking the long way, it is because having a digital file of a stencil pattern is always a better. In case the stencil I bought broke at any point, I wouldn’t have to buy another one – I could just recreate it using my Silhouette or Cricut. Also, using a sticky vinyl stencil is much easier than using a normal stencil, since there will be no “smudging” risk.. now let’s back to the project, shall we? 😉
To create that picture, first I cut some black vinyl. Then I taped the vinyl at the back of the stencil so it wouldn’t move. Next I scanned the whole thing (stencil facing down). As the black vinyl showed through the holes of the original stencil, scanning it gave me the digital picture of the pattern. If you don’t have a scanner, you can do the same thing by simply taking a picture of it right from the top, but this time your stencil needs to face up. Also just make sure the whole thing stays flat, so the pattern isn’t distorted in the picture.
Now that I had the picture of the stencil pattern, I could modify the size of it easily.
I opened the scanned picture in a photo editing software and resized it to fit it in my tray. While I was at it, I also did some rearrangement on the pattern, so I would have my final stencil in the way I wanted. But keep in mind, if you only want to resize the stencil pattern, you can directly upload it to Cricut Design Space and do it there – so no need for photo editing software. 😉
Once I was done with the editing, I uploaded the picture to Cricut Design Space. As the original stencil didn’t have the “dot-dash-dot” pattern, I also created that using the simple rectangles and circles. Then using my Cricut, I cut all of the stencil pieces on black repositionable vinyl.
After weeding the stencils, I placed them on my tray and started stenciling. I first stenciled the sides of the tray and then moved onto the inner part.
For the first coat I used a slightly loaded sponge brush, and for the second coat I used a paint brush. Using a sponge brush for the first coat helped me achieving clean and crisp lines overall.
A small hint for this kind of stenciling (intricate pattern on a sticky thin vinyl): peel your stencil off right after you finished the last coat of paint. Don’t wait for the paint to dry, because once it’s dry, the paint may want to peel off together with your vinyl, and that can become a nightmare. Experience talking here, LOL. 😀 But luckily it happened on a trial piece, not on this tray. So that was a learned lesson for me before making the real thing 😉
Once I finished stenciling, I cleaned up any mistakes using a small razor and a detail brush. Then, I sealed it with wipe-on-poly and that was it!
Now it is time for the beauty shots 🙂
I am really proud of this little tray, because it was my first time trying this kind of intricate stencil, and I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. But it turned out pretty neat. 🙂
I am so in love with this little tray, now I am thinking a bigger project with the same stencil: a tall faux-bone inlay mirror for our bedroom. Of course, that’s not going to happen right away, because first I need to get my babes make the mirror for me. So we’ll see how that’ll go… hahahaha 😀 [Wait, what?? -Greg]
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