Stencil for Spray Painting - Quick and Fun

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I'll show a fast and fun way to take scraps of cardboard / duct tape / random items / etc. to make a quick stencil. With a little creativity, being light on the first spray or so, and doing it in a wind-free spot, you can make sharp stencils for nothing. Easy to leap from this idea to multi-layered stencils with different colors.

I've spray paint stenciled clothes for a while, and have a few shirts that I spray painted about 7 years ago that still hold strong. After a good hanging out to get the fumes out and a run through a washer, it's all ready to wear.

I'm planning on doing some more thorough experiments and will share notes as I go.

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Step 1: Make a Stencil...

So if you want to spray paint a stencil a first thought might be that whatever you use for the stencil has to be waterproof/heavyduty/thick/whathaveyou. It doesn't have to be. I've used light printer paper and cut it out with an exacto to make feathers for a griffin design and that made many sprays.

The trick is to go very light with the first spray you do. If you spray a thin even coat on your paper, and let it dry, then repeat, ie, build up slowly, you get a waterproof coating on your stencil paper. If you spray too hard you can soak or sog it down and it either gunks up or rips and falls apart.

I made some stencils on a whim after pulling a cardboard donut out of a 2gal glass bottle I bought and thinking it would be a nice frame for a stencil.

The other bits are just duct tape and printer paper cut after being folder over 2wice and cut out with scissors (I reinforced their bottom with ducttape).

Step 2: Weigh Down and Spray...

once you have a stencil you want to try, find a nice sheltered spot (I use the basement for 1 or 2 offs, if you are going to spray for a while, go outside!), smooth out folds in the fabric you want to spray, weigh down the stencil with 6 dollars worth of quarters, hammer head, stones, random tools, scrap wood, etc.

As long as you spray over your stencil in a gesture that's like petting it down with your hand you can keep nice sharp detail. Don't rush to force out a super dark spray the first time. You can hit it light, let it set, and spray onto that. Repeat as you need. I like one light hit on the fabric so it's softer looking and doesn't have too much junk hanging out on me.

Step 3: Check 'em Out!

After you spray one or two coats, you certainly want to just let it sit for at least a few minutes. I'd then recommend hanging them outside on a windy day or two and even running through the next wash before wearing. I tend to only spray paint on clothes that are already dirty and ready for the laundry for this reason.

I know this was a quick and dirty instructable, but maybe its useful to someone to get some ideas rolling?

Have fun, share cool stuff!

Step 4: More Stuff

griffin design I used to tag tools / buckets / walls / my mailbox and an unlucky pair of tightie whyties

tree cut out I did a few years back. I lost the stencil, I liked it.

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    7 Discussions

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    MaggithaMay

    10 years ago on Step 2

    I've found that rubber cement works really well for holding down the stencil. It makes a really crisp outline, it's really easy to pull the stencil off when you're done, and the glue rubs right off the fabric.

    None
    Kaiven

    10 years ago on Introduction

    Hmm... seems like it would be hard to do for a complex design, but then again you would need to cut out the complex design from any stencil lol.

    None
    lazlow69uguy

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    booch as in kombucha. I always call it booch, like hooch but without the badness.

    None
    lazlow69FreshPineSent

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Anything I had! I've used enamel, although that can be a bit stiff, but I think basic latex cheapo spraypaint has worked quite well for me and lasts a while. I've got that stencil on a pair of overalls that get a ton of use and it's still strong and clear. Good luck!