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I was talking to a friend who does graffiti stencil art AND hes trying different things with t-shirts. I was hella excited, since I've been trying to get my shirt company crap together.

Anyway, he said that he got some overhead sheets (like the kind you use for overheads, obviously; they're plastic). He prints onto them, cuts them out, and glues the sheets directly to the image using a water-based glue. Then he just spray paints them onto the shirt and washes them right away (taking off the overhead sheet beforehand).

I saw the results -- not too bad. Its not the first time I've seen that same process. Probably time consuming with the tracing, but it beats paying 200 - 1000 dollars, especially when broke.

I'm wondering if its possible to do that same method -- gluing the overhead stencil directly to shirt -- but instead of spray painting, use a roller and practice coating it evenly with textile ink. I'm on my way to the store to try it out (all I have is like 40 bucks to work with; I don't even know where to go for textile ink...micheals?).

My buddy also said there's a technique where you can paint directly to a overhead (possibly something else) and use a chemical to eat out the dark to make an automatic stencil. I don't know anything about this, if it even exists. If anybody knows anything about this process or anything similar low cost and/or ANYTHING low-cost, I'd greatly appreciate any sort of response. Thanks.
 

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I use sign vinyl cut on a cutter, it's a kind of plastic with a sticky back. I stick the stencil directly to the t-shirt and either airbrush or you can use a sponge/roller. The good thing is because it is sticky the edges are extremely neat, the bad thing is you can only use the stencil once, but the cutter can cut the the simple ones in 10 seconds. and the vinyl is very cheap. Good for one off t-shirts.

I have some screen printing mesh that i'm going to see if i can stick the stencil to that and airbrush through it so i can use it a few times.

I use a badger airbrush with textile ink (setacolour + permaset)
 

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Hi Lee. You could also have a go at trying freezer paper. Available at hobbycraft stores. It has a sticky back that melts a bit like transfer paper.

I have used it to print on tapestry fabric and it peeled off cleanly afterwards. Don't know how it would work on tee fabrics, but may be worth trying out on an old shirt.
 

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I'm wondering if its possible to do that same method -- gluing the overhead stencil directly to shirt -- but instead of spray painting, use a roller and practice coating it evenly with textile ink.
The easiest way is to lay a blank screen over the top of the stencil, and screenprint as per normal with a squeegee. The stencil acts as a resist, just like emulsion on a screen normally would.

I've done one off prints with paper this way (well, you can often get a few out before the paper falls apart), but if you use something more resilient there's no reason you can't print a short run.

A screen and a squeegee won't cost much and you can use the same one for everything - just make sure you keep it clean (don't want ink drying in the mesh). It'll give you a more consistent result than a roller, and still under a hundred bucks ('bout fifty I guess?).
 

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I'm also just getting started in the shirt making scene and right now I'm getting my start doing stencil work because I both like the style and, as you mentioned, it's cheap!

While I don't do it this way myself, you can totally do screen printing mediums like plastisol on a stencil. What I've seen most people do is roller it on like you were saying and then blast it with a heat gun to set it up. As for myself, I do bleach discharges using full strength bleach in a cheap hobbyist type canned air airbrush.

Let me try to sum up how I do it:

1. I prep my graphics in photoshop and print them out. If you've never done stencil work before, google around and you can find tutorials for doing so. Islands are a pain to deal with so I try to avoid them.

2. I cut my stencils. You can do this by hand with an xacto but I really like using a stencil burner which you can pick up at most craft stores like Michael's. I recommend getting a cheap model for around $15 dollars that is marketed strictly as a stencil burner rather than a combo unit that can also be used for stuff like wood burning because the more expensive combo guys operate at a higher temperature which makes it really easy to screw up. I cut my stencils out of dura-lar sheets (an acetate alternative) which is pretty much the same thing as overhead sheets but I get mine from an art supply store for less than $2 for a 2'x3' sheet. It comes in different weights so make sure to get one about the same thickness as the aforementioned transparency film. For the actual act of cutting I tape the printed design to the back of a sheet of glass and then tape my dura-lar to the front and cut out my voids. I use my xacto to pop out my cut bits and then to clean up any spider webs to get clean lines.

3. Affix your stencil. For this I use repositionable spray adhesive which you can also get at craft stores. You can find it in a stencil aisle or barring that get it sold as repositionable quilt basting spray at a sewing shop. Spray the back of the design and affix it to the garment being sure it isn't going to move. The residue will rinse clean when you wash it afterwards.

4. Spray away! As I mentioned before, I use bleach. I found the general methodology on another forum but they're currently down because of some hacker drama. Google bleach stencil though and you can find it on other sites if you want to. While you can technically use a little dollar mister bottle, I like using an airbrush because you get a more consistent and tighter spray pattern. You're looking to give a VERY light mist. Spritz, spritz, blot with a paper towel. Give it a look over and shoot it again if necessary. With enough control it is possible to do double layer work with two different bleach strengths.

5. Wash it and you're ready to go! I spray my saleable designs on American Apparel 100% cotton classic tees but I've also done an old navy sweatshirt and various other solid tees that I've had around the house for personal use. I have shirts that I've worn pretty much weekly for six months (Gotta wear your work so that you can hand out cards when people compliment you!) without any issues with the fabric wearing out due to the discharge.

While there are certainly limitations to the technique, it's cheap and not too hard to get into. I'm looking to eventually move into discharge and water based screen printing but I'll probably always do some stencil work.

Here's a few quick pics! These are all double layer stencils where I first did the detail work and then put down a mask layer for my overspray.



 

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sounds like a good idea using a stencil with the screen. i actually have a box of thin mylar[glued back] with a backing and this seems like it would be perfect for this.
 

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I have used waterbased setacolour and permaset because i water it down slightly for spraying. If applying with a roller i would use it straight out the pot.
 

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Hello:
I am just starting up a business form home. i am hiring and air brush artist to create designs for me which i am embellishng with rhinestones.
i also want to get involved with stencils as i love the look. i have been thinking of using bleach on colored shirts to get a funky/trendy look.
what simple method if any can i use with bleach. can i put on a rubber glove and spaltter with my finger to get the droplet look. do i need to buy a airbrush gun to get the effect of spraying bleach. i dont know how to use one, but imagine its not to hard.
Any advice is appreciated.
GG
 

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gailsinger19,

Congrats and good luck. Hope you get the look you're going for.

There are a wide variety of methods that one can use to discharge fabric with bleach so definitely go a little wild and experiment away until you get the look you're going for!

For the spattered look you were mentioning, I might try dipping a tooth brush into bleach and using your thumb to pull back on the bristles and let them fly forward. Basically, I think anything with somewhat stiff bristles would be a decent method of delivery. I've not tried it with bleach, but it works for paint.

As to whether you need an airbrush gun, that depends on what you're looking for. It's entirely possible to spray bleach onto shirts using a $1 spritzer of the sort you'll find near the travel shampoos and what not at most stores. I liked the ones that you push down with your finger rather than pulling a gun trigger because they seem to have smaller droplets and a tighter spray pattern. Eventually found I couldn't really get the sort of spray I was looking for and wound up buying a hobbyists canned air airbrush that was less than $30 or so and you can get them at Michael's or a model shop. Sooner or later I'll have some extra dollars and probably buy a more professional gun but I really don't see the need in spending on one unless your technique gets to the point that it calls for greater control.

Hope that helps!

~pablo
 
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