Sunday, 16 December 2007

Stenciling 101

EDIT: I have noticed a lot of people coming to this page from google, perhaps hoping for genuine advice on stencilling. If this is you, do not read any further!

I have an olive-green ex-German army shirt. It only cost a fiver and has natty schwarz-rot-geil! epaulettes, but it could do with jazzing up. What easier way, I thought, than adding a Rammstein logo onto one of the breast pockets? That's assuming Das Management, Pilgrim GmbH, don't sue the (army) shirt off my back for copyright infringement (ps logo on the right used without permission, but if Emu sends me a solicitor's letter I am totally and utterly prepared to back down immediately and take myself off-line indefinitely).

So I bought some black fabric paint, gave my shirt a good wash, and set about creating a stencil (in fact, the one above).

First thought; print it out on paper and cut out the spaces between the lines with a craft knife.
But the 80g paper in our printer proved too absorbent for the fabric paint, and a splodgy mess looked the likely result.

Okay, so try gluing the printed paper to cardboard and then cutting out the areas between the lines.
But cutting through the thickness of the cardboard was quite hard work and resulted in untidy edges.
I gave up long before tackling all those lines.

Therefore, how about painting the design on free-hand? Well, it looks a simple design, but you've got to get the measurements right to preserve the cross symmetry, and I wasn't sure my (shaky) hand/eye co-ordination was up to it. So, here's an idea that has been used by people transferring designs onto parchment and cloth since the time of the Book of Kells;
prick through the design, printed on paper, at key points;
paint over the design onto the shirt, letting the dye go through the pin-holes; then with a paint-brush just join the dots by hand.

Well, it nearly worked. The weft of the cloth dragged the paint on the brush, and the cotton absorbed it unevenly. But - and I think that this is at least partial justification for a couple of hours craft-work - if you see the result from a distance of over ten metres, in poor light, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference from official Rammstein merchandise. If you weren't wearing your glasses.

And the moral of the story is, save your self a lot of effort and just buy a patch from the Rammstein on-line store.

At least then you can sleep at night without being fearful of Rammstein's lawyers shutting down your shirt.

I wonder though if potato-prints would work?

p.s. Great respect goes out to the graffiti artist Banksy. I can't even do a simple R+ logo stencil in the comfort of my own living room, and you've brought stencil art and satire to the streets of the world whilst forever looking over your shoulder for the rozzers. Du bist der Hammer!
Link to Banksy's website.

1 comment:

  1. The way I havde sone some stencils is to just get some inexpensive plastic file folders. You know the type that holds some papers and is open on two sides. Just the very basic one. They are very good because you can print out your stencil, put it in the folder and then use a sharp knife to cut along the lines. If you press hard enough you will cut trough both the top plastic, the paper and the bottom plastic so you know have two stencils. Or you could just cut up the folder and tape your paper to the back side of one of the sheets.


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