T-shirt stencilling

I made this the other day – Sainsbury’s sell fairtrade cotton T-shirts for £3 each. Still horribly ecologically damaging, but there aren’t really any practical alternatives to wearing cotton. And cheap, so I picked up some to experiment with.
Gold & blue T-shirt 1

(I tweaked the brightness and contrast a little, to adjust for the domestic lighting and make the pattern more visible.)

Following a friend’s suggestion, I made a screen from net curtain fabric (£1.50 a metre from Walthamstow market) and spread it taut on my tambour frame. Some viscous grey acrylic worked nicely to block it out, after drawing on the design with a Sharpie (note to UK people – you can get authentic Sharpies at Ryman’s, and they are indeed as good as people say).

I mixed up the paint, using 1:1 acrylic paint and textile medium, but managed to overestimate and dish out far more than I actually needed. I ladled it out with the brush and vigorously rubbed it in (with the same brush – this makes it, technically, stencilling rather than screenprinting) going over and over in several patterns.

The first layer – the gold – went on nicely, but I didn’t have complete coverage. Some areas of the disc were a bit patchy. I ended up taking the screen off and hand-painting over it, since it was such a large area and no fiddly bits to deal with, and deliberately doing texture effects. I’m not sure either way about the rough, frayed edges of the disc – I rationalise it by thinking of it as deckle.

After leaving that to dry for 24 hours or so, I put the second screen on (the first was a simple circle) and repeated the procedure with the blue. This time it didn’t need overpainting except in a few small areas – I didn’t want to risk putting the screen back down and ruining the registration.

I’m rather fond of the distressed print effects and broken lines, and I’ll freely admit to being a sucker for this particular colour combination.

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