Saturday, April 12, 2008

Grafitti-Like Art on T-Shirts Using Fabric Blo Pens

I keep thinking of my word of the year “content” and I’m trying to be happy with what I already own and to use what we have rather than pining for things being sold in stores. I remembered this never-done craft item and one day when we were interrupted from our plans and had to go pick up my older son’s new reading glasses, the day was kind of shot, and we also felt burned out of doing our regular homeschooling lessons so we did this project: we made t-shirts using fabric ink applied with Blo Pens.

It was at least a year ago if not 18 months ago that I was at Michael’s Craft Shop and on my way to the restroom discovered they have a clearance aisle. My kids love Blo Pens (for use on paper) so the logo for Blo Pens caught my eye. The product was actually different ink to be used on fabric: Fabric Blo Pen. It was a kit that originally sold for $35 but was marked down to $7. I picked it up and shelved it all this time. We have just been too busy to use it.

Rather than even show my kids that the kit came with factory made stencils, I had them make their own. I explained what a stencil was as both seemed to have forgotten the meaning of the word.

Younger Son's Project

My younger son did his project first. He wanted a hand sign that means “rock on”. He said he could not draw it well, and being seven years old I realized that was true. He asked me to draw it. I explained I was not so great at drawing hands either. I then had an idea. Using our home computer printer/copy machine we placed his hand onto the glass and made a photocopy of his hand with the symbol.

Using a self-healing mat and an xacto knife we already owned, and regular old cardstock, I cut the stencil out. I do not let my children use xacto knives as that is just too dangerous.

Once the stencil was made we got to work. We chose to blow the pens with our mouths rather than with the foot pump. I used masking tape to adhere the stencil to the fabric. We first tested it out on a rag what was formerly a t-shirt. He applied the ink to his shirts. It worked. Hooray! We then moved on to doing t-shirts, some were his white undershirts we already owned and one was a new shirt I bought in hopes of making screen-printing images on (but have not done it yet). Our local A.C. Moore sells Hanes colored t-shirts for $2.50 on sale, a bargain if you ask me. So recently I bought a bunch of those to have on hand, and had pre-laundered them so they’d be ready when the spirit to create moved us.

Later I tested the idea of using two colors of ink and staggering the stencil to be out of alignment (a la Andy Warhol) and that looked good too.

Older Son's Project

Next my older son did his project. He decided to hand draw a robot. I did the stencil cutting. He made a shirt and I made one for myself.

To Wrap It Up

Once the designs are made I heat set them following the kit’s directions with an iron. I have laundered them since and the ink is bright and perfect!

Both of my kids loved this project. They have ideas to make many more designs. They are also talking about starting a t-shirt selling business and selling these shirts to their friends.

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