Thursday, September 15, 2011

Liberal T-Shirts and stenciling DIY

This week my university's chapter of FMLA stenciled t-shirts! I went simple and just did our name, but other people used stencils that said stuff like, "Riot Don't Diet" and feminist phrases in latin. Thus I have added another liberal t-shirt to my collection (gay marriage, Obama, immigration reform, FMF, USAS, democratic socialism... etc.).

Stenciling is pretty easy and for whatever kind of group you have is a great/cheap way to make t-shirts! Here's a DIY:

1. Create a stencil. This can be fairly simple or a complicated and frustrating process, depending on how involved you want to get. Letters are annoying but fairly easy, and you can google how to make standard-sized letters and figure out the little crevices in letters like, "e" or "o." For stencil material, you can use cardstock, or if you want something more long-term, go to a craft store and ask for some heavier-duty transparent paper. Mark your design in pencil, then cut it out with an exacto-knife. What you cut out will be what you are painting.
This is a stencil I made and used recently. Note how I did the "e," "d," "o," and "a" letters. This is important.

2. Obtain paint and a t-shirt. I usually use spray paint, but regular paint works fine too, and is easier to control/can be done inside. Decide what works best for your situation. FMLA used paint and we made t-shirts inside during our meeting, my Democratic Socialists club used spray paint and we just went out onto the sidewalk outside my building. You decide.

3. Put a piece of cardboard inside your t-shirt. This is so that the paint doesn't bleed through to the opposite side. It also helps keep your shirt smooth. Important! You don't want it all wrinkly when you're painting.

4. Place the stencil in the desired position on your t-shirt. Depending on your stencil, you might want to put tape in little teeny crevices so that nothing flies up while you are painting and you can keep your design crisp. Begin painting!

5. For spray paint: there is a happy medium about spraying. If you go too close to the shirt, the paint will get behind the stencil and make it look sloppy. (Or cool, depending on the look you're going for.) If you go too far away, it won't be crisp enough and the paint will disperse in the air and just be really light and you know... go everywhere. I usually have some scrap cardboard on hand to block off the rest of the t-shirt in case the spray goes outside of the stencil (it will, especially if it's windy). In the below picture... we blocked off the bottom "TDS" and replaced that with my stencil for "temple democratic socialists" because we were making t-shirts for the e-board and wanted to make sure when people saw us, they didn't just see an acronym. When we make t-shirts with the rest of our organization, they will have the option to use the original stencil as is.
6. Carefully peel off the stencil and set aside with the paint side up so it doesn't stick to anything. That would be a pain in the butt.

7. Now you have your very own t-shirt for your organization!! Woo-hoo! This is quick and cheap, and works pretty well if you're making t-shirts for a specific event in a jiffy. We've made them for certain protests in the past and I still wear them... the spray paint works fine in a washing machine too. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

(Just as a note, the light residue all around the edges of the shirt is because we didn't block off the t-shirt when using the spray paint and it was windy. I don't mind but that's just a note. Usually I'm more careful, and those t-shirts always look more "professional," but also radical and badass.)

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