Creative Discontent Part 1 : the Wax Tag





Introduction: Creative Discontent Part 1 : the Wax Tag

Non-Destructive Communication Tools for Mass Public Discourse part 1

The Wax Tag:
This is the first in a series of experimental methods of communication intended to be a creative alternative to regular picketing and rioting, while utilizing accessible non-destructive materials. For this installment you will need:

1 X-Acto or utility knife
1 straight edge meter stick
1 bottle car wax (I used NuFinish and Turtle Wax brand)
1 applicator pad
1 sheet of 1/32" rubber (in NYC go to Canal Rubber 1x1 yard is $13)
1 laser cutter (if possible)

Simply we will be cutting a stencil using rubber for it's nonslip and flexible properties and substituting spray paint with carwax.

Step 1: The Stencil

As briefly described before I chose 1/32" rubber sheeting for its flexible nature and its non slip properties, not to mention it is easy to cut and easy to clean.

I am not going to go over how to create a stencil because others before me have covered it quite well, so if your new to stenciling then check here: Creating Complex Spraypaint Stencils by Hand
and if your new to laser cutting check out any number of fun projects that cut tons of different materials here: Laser Cutter..

I will say this however you will need to do tests probably varying the speed of the laser the power level, and the ppi(pulses per inch) to find a good setting that will cut through the rubber without melting it too much. Also you can format your stencil in Photoshop, Illustrator, or even Flash. Just make sure that your strokes are hairline and that there are no fills when you export it as an EPS file if your using a laser cutter. Again the links above have good information about making stencils, the only thing you have to remember is that you will be dragging your applicator across your stencil so becareful not to make alot of thin lines that could break or move during application. So now lets look at a different material to use with our stencil.

Step 2: Picking Your Target

The car wax is particularly best suited to nonporous dark surfaces, but could work on certain transparent smooth surfaces depending on the background, remember your tag will be white or slightly tinted green(Just think of movie subtitles and how annoying it is to read white on white). Examples of surfaces I have seen done: cars,signs, trash cans, store front glass, and plastic

It is important to remember that the car wax is a greasy liquid and therefore should be applied as thinly as possible inorder to keep it from dripping down and losing form.

Step 3: Applying the Material

Before going out make sure your new check list looks like this:

1. Clean, ready to use stencils
2. Cloth applicator pads (cut if necessary to have a good flat edge)
3. Bottle of car wax (any brand that you have already tested with the stencils)

Now you are ready.

1. Place the stencil where you want it.
2. Properly brace it for your needs. (for example: on vertical glass surface use tape to hold it up tight, or spray adhesive to keep it flat whle applying the wax)
3. Pour a small row of wax parallel to and about a half inch from the flat edge of the applicator pad.
4. Apply gently and evenly in full length strokes
5. Make sure all of the design is filled but not too thick.
6. Remove the stencil. Start by peeling it off from one side to the other and take good care not to let the stencil move, or it will smear your artwork around.
7. Repeat steps 1-6 responsibly

Step 4: Disclaimer

That's it!

Now as far as I know there is nothing illegal about placing up a wax tag, that being said it still looks illegal and depending upon where you place it and who sees you do it your probably not going to win alot of friends. But neither will picketing and rioting so, give it a try at least it does no damage and is a custodians dream.

Lastly don't feel limited by the content depicted in this instructable, be creative, have fun, be careful.

Please send me a message if something is amiss in this instructable and comment in any great tales or new techniques that you discover. If you use this instructable post pics to Flickr with a "Creative Discontent" tag.




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    16 Discussions

    Wax, or no... "legally" it's still considered vandalism. Spray paint chalk works well, as do certain soaps. They even make a soap for kids that act like crayons. with careful design, the stencils could then be a rubbed style stencil. Using soap has an added bonus... To my knowledge, there has never been an arrest made for CLEANING public property. There is a tagger in Detroit(?) who tags by spraying a mild soap/bleach solution onto dirty concrete, and scrubbing his "tag", so this may change.

    3 replies

    I have been looking into spray chalk as you guys have mentioned, but it has been hard to come by since Josh Kinsberg did the Bikes Against Bush project. Keep an eye out for an alternative in the next few days. Also ironsmiter I believe that "legally" there must be a destructive portion to the project for it to be considered vandalism, but I am not a lawyer so maybe someone can chime in on that. It is a great idea to use soap though, I will see if I can add that as an alternative medium to the instructable. As a grafitti method it is too slow a delivery to put down some soap and then scrub an area clean, but as a performance alone it would be hilarious and I definetly could not imagine a cop arresting anyone for cleaning a sidewalk or wall. Keep the ideas coming! I hope some of you are trying these out, and if so post them on Flickr with a "creative discontent" tag.

    There is a law like 'ejecting missiles upon a car' that makes it illegal to put anything on anyone else's car... in most jurisdictions in the US there is a similar law. Also just the generic malicious mischief...

    Pressure washing works good for that too. THere's a guy in town that cleaned off a city storm drain with "PRESSURE WASHING" and his phone number. You'd have to have access to a gas powered pressure washer for this, and they're not exactly cheap or stealthy.

    do you think if you changed your applicator it would be more legible? like using those foam rollers maybe?

    1 reply

    Maybe! It would be a little less easy to carry, but the rolling action could be better than the wiping motion which can cause a bit of hazing on the edges depending on wiping angle and surface contact of the stencil itself.

    Yes, very easily when dry, and fairly easily when wet. If it has dried on a surface you are worried about scratching, it should be able to be re-wet with water and then be wiped away.

    it's Bombin'! why be nice about it? Aluminum Rusto and Brake Fluid 'til Death!! ha.

    LOVE the theme of your tags! Use that Google tip, folks!!

    this is my logic: if a catch a tag with a crayon, or lumber crayon(both wax) and a cop is there, im getting put in hand cuffs. no way out of that shit. you can get off wax and magic markers with the same effort. its all in the game of beautiful vandalism. if your scared of jail, try crushing kids sidewalk chalk and brushing it on. you can add crushed coal to make it darker.

    3 replies

    Nothing wrong with your logic as far as getting busted for the act, but as for the vandalism... It legally requires that there is damage done. There is a major difference between carwax and a wax pencil or crayon. Carwax will wipe off with your finger and no chemical cleaners are necessary. Now as far as getting out of looking as if your doing an illegal act try dressing conservatively. Thanks for the tip on chalk I am still working on an instructable of a new version of squirt chalk.

    Sorry for the month later reply. I have access to a laser cutter through the school I attended in NYC. I can't imagine that many people own these personally as they are very expensive, but I guess with this community it is possible to make your own.

    My kids had this spray paint style chalk. It was used like spray paint, but washed away with a hose like sidewalk chalk. You could use that stuff with the stencil and get the same effect. People might think that it's paint....

    That's basically my senior prank, only on the concrete patio in front of school. Very clever.