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How to Stencil a T-Shirt using Bleach and a Vinyl Sticker

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There are lots of different ways to create a custom T-shirt. If you're looking to achieve a gritty, distressed look, a bleach stencil is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to get it. You can create a stencil for this method out of cardboard or heavy craft paper (cheaper) but for this Instructable, we'll be using a vinyl stencil.

A note about positive vs. negative stencils: When you cut out a stencil you have two stencils - A Positive stencil (what you cut out) and a Negative stencil (the hole left where you cut the positive out). For this stencil project I will be using a Positive stencil because I want the "background" of my tshirt to be bleached and the design itself to remain the original color of the T-shirt. Just make sure when you're designing for your stencil that you know which parts you want masked and which parts you want to bleach! You can read more about positive and negative stencils here.

Why vinyl? I'm using vinyl because I wanted to get sharp lines on an image that included some fine lines and I wanted to have text without using "stencil lettering" (where all the parts of the letter are connected). I also wanted to make multiple tshirts and vinyl seemed the best means of repeating the image over and over.

What's the story behind the stencil image? A conversation at a party turned to the discussion of a news article about bears in Russia who are making a habit of huffing empty jet fuel barrels (poor bears!). This conversation generated the phrase "Russian Kerosene Bears", which in turn lead to the creation of a logo for a fictitious product/cover band/candy/anti-theft device/biker gang/etc. T-Shirts featuring said logo seemed the obvious next step.
 
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hvostic28 days ago
Its like "Russian(fem.) Kerosene. Carrying."
But cool anyway. My russian keyboard is not working.
Jan_Henrik4 months ago

Very cool!

MartijnD10 months ago
And put on safety glasses or face mask!
TheLaughingCat (author)  MartijnD9 months ago
Very true! Especially if there is a breeze!
sakko30310 months ago
very cool process, neat shirt too.... where do you buy inexpensive shirts at? I second the safety glasses!
TheLaughingCat (author)  sakko3039 months ago
I just bought the tshirts in the Men's section of Target. I think they're undershirts but they totally served my purposes.

You guys are right about the safety glasses! Good call.
Kostan_Kettch9 months ago
Man, that's not "Russian Kerosene Bears". :) Trust me, I'm Russian. "Российская керосин несет" it's nonsense. A few words with no meaning.
TheLaughingCat (author)  Kostan_Kettch9 months ago
Hah! I know it's fake Russian. At the time that I made the shirts, I was more concerned with the way it looked than what it actually said, so I just put the phrase through some Internet translators to get something that was at least *looked* right. I realize that anyone who can actually read Russian will know it's wrong but I didn't have the time (or the Russian friend to call) to get a proper translation.
tolik77710 months ago
Российская керосин несет? Что то я не понял фразу
Фраза "Russian Kerosene Bears" переведенная примитивным переводчиком типа промта (ибо гугл все таки умнее), при том, кажется, по одному слову :)
Все равно не вкурил при чем тут керосин :) Может про нефть что-то хотели написать?
Да там на тему того что у нас рашке,пару лет назад, где-то на дальнем востоке, в заповеднике, бурые мишки не растерялись и начали токсикоманить авиационным керосином.
А вон увидел дописку в конце статьи: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2294757/Bear-ly-conscious-Russian-creatures-pass-developing-aviation-fuel-addiction-sniffing-discarded-gas-barrels.html
Теперь все ясно...