Crafting on the Road: Learning how to make traditional Lao Buddhist temple stencils

Crafting in Laos

In the past few years I’ve been in and out of many, many temples and can’t help but be mesmerized by the stunning artwork covering the inner and outer walls of each and every one. Every temple, even ones that are only one block away from each other, have a different look to them and I’ve taken to photographing the beautiful art at each one I visit. I hope to use my large collection of temple art pictures as inspiration for something one day.

stencil makingI had always wondered how the artwork was made and how long it took, so I was ecstatic to discover Yensabai Book & Art  in Luang Prabang, Laos that offers traditional stencil making classes. For 120,000 Kip (15 USD) we were taught how to properly cut the stencils out of handmade paper with straight and curved chisels on a plank of wood. Over a span of two hours Dave and I hammered away while occasionally sipping on Lao green tea (for me) and Lao coffee (for Dave). It was a very cathartic experience and we not only walked away with a better understanding of how much work goes into decorating a Buddhist Temple, but also two pieces of awesome art.

stencil tools and materials

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cutting my stencil

our finished stencils

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6 thoughts on “Crafting on the Road: Learning how to make traditional Lao Buddhist temple stencils

  1. I wonder if I could hire you to make me a few stencils? I love your work and this art form. I am not on facebook, however. Could you email me?

  2. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing. I am on my way to Laos for a vacation in two weeks. I enjoy paper crafts and am eager to try. Do you know of any paper-making classes?

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