Introduction: Unorthodox T-shirt Printing: Stamping T-shirts

About: I'm a Mechanical Engineer who has been a part of this community for over 10 years! My interests have evolved over time, and now center around 3D printing.

Say NO to screen printing!

I don't like all the equipment involved in the screen printing process, so I am searching for a better way for the standard person to create small amounts of t-shirts cheaply with easily available materials.

In this Instructable I will show the process I used to make a rubber stamp, apply ink to it, and apply the design to a t-shirt.

*I apologize for the quality of some pictures, I only have the camera on my phone available, and I suffer from a work enviornment with poor lighting conditions. : (

I like comments! : )

Step 1: Needed Materials

To make your own stamped t-shirt, you will need the following:

1.  A t-shirt.
              (Check your local craft store, or recycle an old one you have laying around)
2.  Red rubber packing sheet.
              (It's rubber sheet that comes in 6x6" squares at hardware stores.  It is used to make gaskets for plumbing and such.  They are sold in, I believe, 1/16" and roughly 1/8" thicknesses.  I am using the 1/16" thickness.)
3.  Plexiglass, wood, or other material to be used as the back of your stamp.
4.  A small dowel, or other material to be used as the handle for your stamp.
5.  Paint/ink
              (I am using "crafter's acrylic"; it costs 50 cents at my craft store and seems to work well.  Whatever you use, it must be water-based!)

Tools:  Hot glue gun, scissors, Sharpie marker, paintbrush

Step 2: Stamp Making Pt. 1

We will now begin to make the stamp for the t-shirt.  I am making a yin-yang design.

I drew a circle on the computer so it would be nice and symmetrical.  I printed it out and cut out the circle to use it as a tracer.

Trace the design onto your rubber sheet with sharpie and cut it out using scissors or a razor blade for more complicated stamps.

 I chose to cut the yin-yang in half, to hopefully make applying paint to the stamp easier.  My theory was that by separating the two halves slightly, the paint would be more likely to stay on the proper side.

In the next step we will make a backing for the stamp.

Step 3: Stamp Making Pt. 2

Now to make a backing for our stamp.

Mark and cut out a piece of plexiglass slightly bigger than the design you cut out of the rubber sheet.

Hot glue the rubber design onto the plexiglass piece.  Hot glue is not the sturdiest when gluing rubber, but it will suffice for this application.

Hot glue a small piece of dowel rod to the plexiglass piece on the side opposite the rubber design to make a handle.

In the next step we will apply paint to the stamp and apply it to the t-shirt.

Step 4: Stamping the Shirt

Now for the fun part, stamping the shirt.

Grab your shirt, paint brush, paints, and stamp.

Spread your t-shirt out on a smooth flat surface.  It is a good idea to put some newspaper inside the shirt to prevent any paint from accidently getting on the back of the shirt.

Apply paint liberally to the stamp in the areas where you want the color to be.  In my case, black went on one half, and on one small circle of the yin-yang.

Position your stamp and press firmly onto the shirt.  Lift up slowly, and see what the design looks like.  Multiple presses are often required to get a nice clear image, but feel free to leave it half-printed for a worn-out look.

If needed, touch up some areas with your paint brush, by applying paint to the brush, and stipple (use short up and down strokes, as if  you are making little dots) the areas that need some more paint.

If you are using multiple colors, rinse off your stamp and brush, then apply and stamp your next color.  For me, this was the white side of the yin-yang.

Step 5: Conclusion

Once you're satisfied with how your design looks, let it dry thoroughly.

I find that soaking the shirt for a few hours in water helps to make the design less stiff.

Then I iron over the paint, and wash it a few times, to try to get the newly-printedness out of it.

It should be washed cold, and inside out if you're really concerned.

Most all t-shirts lose their printing slowly, so don't be alarmed if yours begins to fade or flake slightly.

Thanks for reading, good luck! : )

I like comments! : )