Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Project: Stenciling

Since an early age, I've loved "how to" tutorials and making my own things. As an adult, I'm still into diy, and really enjoy incorporating it into my day to day life.

I had the idea to stenciling something simple like a grocery tote to transform it into something pretty, unique and personalized. After reading Printing By Hand by Lena Corwin, I felt ready to try my first stencil. (This is an excellent book if you are interested in hand printing. She goes through all sorts of techniques and teaches you what print works best with what project- wood, fabric, etc.)

Here are my steps to making your own stencil.

You'll need:
* Preshrunk cotton tote bag
* Fabric Paint
Terraskin (or thick grade mylar)
* Exacto knife
* Self Healing Cutting Board
* Paper towels
* Binder clips
* Spray Adhesive (for the use of fabric)
* Stippling Brush or Sponge brush
* Illustration board or other smooth, sturdy surface.

1. I started with an unbleached cotton tote, prewashed and preshrunk it. (Don't skip this step on any project that will be washed at some point. Always preshrink.) If needed, iron your fabric afterwards.
2. While you're waiting for your tote to wash and dry, create your pattern. I did mine on Adobe Illustrator, printed it off and taped it on top of the
Terraskin and started cutting away the crosses.
3. With your preshrunk tote and stencil ready - you can prepare your workstation. I laid down an old towel to protect my table from spills.
4. Take your illustration board and put it inside your tote. Make sure the board is centered and the fabric is smoothly laid down. Clip the sides with binder clips to keep the fabric in place.
5. Lightly spray the back of your stencil with adhesive. (Do this outside if possible to prevent spaying your furniture, walls or floor.)
6. Position the tacky side of stencil onto your fabric. Make sure it's adhered well so your paint doesn't bleed.
7. Now the fun part! Take your brush, dip it into the paint, blot any excess off on the paper towel. Start filling your stencil.
8. When you're done, carefully pull your stencil off and wash the paint and adhesive immediately with a bit of dishwashing soap. (Clean your brush too.) The back of your stencil may still be a little tacky but don't worry. Proper cleaning and storage will give your stencil a longer life.
9. You're done! Let your tote bag dry and start using it or, gift it as a really cool unique present.

::: Nathalie

NOTE: When I first started this project, I was looking for mylar, but my local art supply store only carried a thin grade. My brother suggested I try Terraskin, which feels like plastic, but is made out of stone and is degradable. It cost $3.50 (for a large sheet) and it's nice to the environment. If it's available, I suggest going with Terraskin. It's also easy to cut with a sharp blade.

You can also pick up your stippling brush and fabric paint at the art supply store. I visited Michael's before hand, but found their prices were ridiculously expensive for only a few ounces of fabric paint. I got a much better deal at the art shop.

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