Pounce pattern

Pierre Finkelstein pattern

A “pounce pattern” is a method for transferring a design to a surface.  It is the oldest way to reproduce a design, known to date.  Before there was such a thing as carbon paper or a stencil, the only way to transfer a drawing or cartoon was with a pounce pattern.  In the old days, a piece of cloth, a skin, or paper were used to create the pounce.

All the best fresco painters in the 17th century used this method of transfer. Michelangelo, used this technique on the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

A series of pin-pricks follow the line of the pattern with the spacing of approximately 1/6 of an inch, depending on the complexity of the design.  The more detailed design, the closer the holes.   Today, there are few modern tools to make the dots.  A stencil wheel will increase production on straight or long lines.  Sign painters use an electric pounce that shoots electricity through a rod that burns the holes.

Pierre Finkelstein pounce pattern

Pierre Finkelstein pounce pattern

Pierre Finkelstein pounce pattern

Once the design was “stabbed” to include all design elements, the paper is placed in the correct position on the surface. Pierre Finkelstein pounce pattern

Using a pounce bag or block that is filled with crushed charcoal; the pattern is pounced over every part of the design.  The pounce and rub motion will most effectively transfer the design.   If the process is done successfully, tiny dots will remain, thus offering enough information to paint the pattern. Pierre Finkelstein pounce pattern

Pierre Finkelstein pounce pattern

Even with today’s stencil designs, a pounce is a great way to transfer a large-scale design or a multi-repeat.  Pouncing allows you to easily wipe off the design and re-position it.  Plus, once you have the pounce pattern, you can use it over and over, where stencils become worn over time.

These 3 images, along with the one at the top, are from the Vatican.  The 3 mono-chrome designs are from the Raphael room and the polychrome is from the library.  It’s pretty amazing how the pattern is still there, but doesn’t take away from the overall design.  I get very excited when I see the pounce pattern in a centuries-old designs.  As a decorative painter, these clues are fascinating!

Pierre Finkelstein pounce pattern

Pierre Finkelstein pounce pattern




  1. Awesome- I love what you have done… beautiful. The loops look good as your fill and the diefrfent threads are very effective. Great thinking outside the square.

  2. always enjoy seeing your posts on Instagram, and I’m so glad I stumbled onto your website this morning – what a fount of great information! AND absolutely stunning work! so, so cool!!

  3. I find myself this evening sitting in one of my favorite Starbucks here in North Scottsdale, AZ. I always come to the same one to do my job bids and e-mails. Go figure, I find myself blown away to find a copy of the Wall Street Journal, Feb 26th 2012. I’m lost in amazement of the gifted, creative, talented mind of Pierre Finkelstein, on all of his “you tube” pages. I recalled one of my old friends who travels all over. Who works for the Frank Lloyd Wright Center here in Phoenix Arizona. He had given this old article to me just awhile back. To my amazement the article was the artist that I was watching currently on you tube! Pierre Finkelstein, just as I felt like I hit a block wall with my painting… I’m not comparing at all. That would be bringing a knife to a grenade fight with my much smaller painting business. But wanted to say your paintings are OUT OF THIS WORLD!!! WOW!! When I get the chance to roll through Tucson again I must check out your work in person! Thank you for raising the bar with passion, love & a heart to create something way out of the box, & helping all the artists around the world dream of something bigger then they ever thought to create! Blessings Ty

    • Pierre Finkelstein says

      WOW! Ty, thank you for the nice comments. I am not sure I am worthy of such praises but I am happy to know that I have inspired you. It’s nice to know that people are getting something from what I am sharing. It is my hope to continue to inspire and teach. If you do end up checking out the mural in Tuscon at Good Oak Bar, make sure to tell my friend Derek (the owner) you heard of the place through myself and the blog- you might get a free beer out of it. Be good, and keep painting! Sometimes the most amazing work comes after a painters block. – Pierre

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