DIY Wood Sconce With Embossed Stenciled Design

6 Materials
2 Hours
See how to make a unique wood wall sconce, with a raised design and painted with chalk paints for an old-looking finish. This sconce is installed in our apartment in India. Yeah, I said India! I took the sconce overseas in a suitcase!
First, that long wood piece you see there on the wall between the windows is what I made for this project - a unique wood wall sconce. This is part of the living room in our "second home" apartment in Chennai, India. We live near Chicago but my husband's family is in India.
I was inspired by this sconce from Shades of Light. But the cost of this sconce far exceeded my budget. That's okay. Because I know how to make a raised design, and I'll show you how to do it too ... keep reading ...
I bought a 4-foot long plank of aspen wood from Menards. I chose aspen due to low grain and absence of knots. It's a nice smooth wood.
To make a raised pattern, simply lay a stencil on the wood and with a straight-edge spatula or small trowel, draw a texture paste or joint compound over the stencil. I used joint compound. Spread it on like you're frosting a cake. Be careful to not ooze the textured stuff under the stencil. As long as the stencil stays flat against the surface, you should be okay. Lift the stencil off, then let the texture dry. Try to spread it smooth, but if there are ridges or peaks, don't worry. You can sand them down when the texture dries.
I sanded the joint compound to smooth out the ridges and really rough spots you see here. Also, you can lay the stencil over the dried texture, and add some more texture if you have really yucky spots that you want to smooth out. I had to do that to fix some of the spots in the top picture above. Because I wanted this to look like old carved wood, I did not sand it perfectly smooth. The final result still had some imperfections.
Next, I painted with layers of chalk paints for an old-looking, matte finish. I left imperfections in the paint so this would look like an old relic unearthed in a warehouse. India is full of vast warehouses where you can go treasure-hunting for old carved wood pieces. I painted the new wood to look old. For the joint compound and painting, I used a stencil that I designed from an old Indian wood printing block. I designed the stencil in Photoshop and cut it on mylar with my Cricut Explorer. You don't have to make your own stencil though - you can use a store-bought stencil for this project.
Here's the sconce in our apartment in India, along with a little table project I made. Why does the sconce have little arrow-shaped pieces on it? Well, I had to fit it in a suitcase to take it to India. My biggest suitcase is 31". The wood was 48" long. I could have made a 31" long sconce, but I didn't like it that short. So, I cut the wood at 31" and made the raised and painted pattern across both pieces. Once we arrived in India, I attached the two pieces together with pieces of metal and screws. Yeah, I could have tried to hide the seam but making the sconce look seamless would have taken a lot of work that I could do but honestly didn't want to do! I decided instead to highlight the seam and make it look like a design feature.
Here's the sconce installed! The electrical part is a $20 sconce I found at Home Depot. Our electrician in India cut a hole in the wood, screwed the wood to the wall in two spots, and installed the sconce over the wood. The sconce originally came with a frosted shade but for $7 more I bought a clear glass seeded shade which looks old.
For more details, visit my blog for a full tutorial.
Suggested materials:
  • Stencil
  • DecoArt Chalky Paint
  • Wood
See all materials
Deb @
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  2 questions
  • Ris11497492 Ris11497492 on Sep 12, 2016
    Hi. The sconce piece is beautiful. When you use chalk paint on the plaster do you still need to wax it? Thanks, R

  • Ashley Ashley on Sep 17, 2017
    Where did you get the stencil?

Join the conversation
5 of 56 comments
  • Sharon Porter Sharon Porter on Jan 23, 2018
    Love this! My imagination is running wild with ideas. Do you have other projects? I love Indian and Middle Eastern decor.

    • See 1 previous
    • Sharon Porter Sharon Porter on Jan 23, 2018
      Thank you so much for your response. I am going to share this. It is so unique. I look forward to following you and will recommend you to my friends.

  • Lisas Rexstar Lisas Rexstar on Aug 27, 2018

    You smart cookie, you! Now I have a new skill to learn! I'll let you know if I ever make something worth showing. I'm off to Home Depot, now. Bye!