During my art school days, some of my specialities were silk screening and textile design.
So it’s no surprise that it breaks my heart whenever I’m standing at a shop, about to spend $40 on A SINGLE printed t-shirt for my kid, who will grow out of it next season.
Today was one of those moments. So I grabbed two plain, long-sleeved t-shirts instead and I told my protesting 4.5yo, “When we get home, we’re going to do some art!”
We made our own t-shirt prints! Stencil style. It took us 30 minutes from start to finish.
First we brainstormed a few ideas for the print. Callum wanted a lightning bolt and I began to doodle. After a few sketches, he decided he liked the one with the cloud and raindrops. It was GLOOMY!
We transferred our design onto a bit of glossy cardboard.
You’re supposed to use a special plastic coated stencil sheet – so that the paint doesn’t bleed under and ruin the stencil. But since I didn’t have access to proper silk screening materials or plastic stencil sheets, I just used whatever I had.
Using a cardboard stencil, just means that I won’t be able to use the stencil too many times, as the water from the paint will be absorbed by the cardboard and make it buckle.
One of my readers mentioned that I could recycle and use old xrays (thanks Emma!). That would work really well.
Then I cut out the stencil with a pen knife.
I slipped a bit of stiff cardboard into the t-shirt, behind the printing area.
Then I aligned the stencil onto the t-shirt and stuck it down with some sticky tape. Usually you should do a test print on some scrap paper or material, but, well – I’m annoyingly self-confident.
This is water-based, permanent fabric paint. It fixes permanently onto fabric when it is heat set (with an iron). It’s really good stuff! I’m sure you can pick it up from any art shop. I bought it for $11 from my university bookshop 10 years ago.
The paint’s consistency is supposed to be thick. But because it was so old, it was TOO thick, so I thinned it with some water and removed some lumps.
I used a thick round brush, and applied a little bit of paint at a time, with a dabbing motion. Be careful not to allow the paint to clump and collect at the edges of the stencil.
Finished painting inside the stencil.
Carefully lift off stencil! Let it dry for a few hours.
To set the paint, I placed a plain white piece of paper over the print, and used an iron on a medium heat setting over the top. The heat will set the paint, so it won’t dissolve in the wash or flake off.