For reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me, my son decided he wanted a Wisconsin State University shirt for Christmas this year … which posed a bit of a problem because, as those of you who live in this neck of the Midwestern woods know, there is no such school as Wisconsin State.
Apparently there is, or was at some time, a movement afoot to rename UW-Milwaukee Wisconsin State. I don’t think it’s gained much traction, but my son, a UW-Milwaukee student, is still holding out hope.
Anyhoo, since I couldn’t go to the college bookstore and buy a Wisconsin State shirt, I had to make a stencil and create my own. I started by trimming a piece of freezer paper to 8 1/2 by 14 inches, then feeding it through my computer printer and printing the words “Wisconsin State” (in Rockingham Condensed) on the flat/non-shiny side.
I weeded out all the letters with an Xacto knife.
I saved the inside of the O and the A, but the rest of the letters were waste.
(It’s times like this when I wish I had one of those fancy die cutting machines … )
Once I had the letters trimmed, I positioned the stencil.
Then I ironed it onto the shirt.
The shiny side of the freezer paper adhered to the fabric.
I made my own fabric paint out of one part of textile medium and two parts of acrylic craft paint.
Then I pounced the paint on with a stencil brush.
I tried not to go too heavy with the paint because the thicker the paint, the more likely it is to crack.
Plus, I wanted the shirt to have a vintage look, to hint at Wisconsin State’s long and storied history …
Once I had the letters all painted, I peeled up the stencil.
Then I just had to flip the shirt inside out and iron it to heatset the paint.
I love stenciling. It takes time and patience but absolutely no special skills. Anybody can do it. And you can make almost anything. Say, for instance, you wanted a dish towel with a retro black-and-white Santa image printed on it. You probably wouldn’t find one in a store, but you could stencil one.
And if you didn’t like that the finger on his left hand was pointing at nothing, you could redraw that hand to have a mitten on it.
Then you’d want to print out the image on computer paper and trace it onto parchment paper. (Or if you were smart, you would cut the parchment paper down to size and feed that into your printer so the image printed directly onto the parchment paper.)
The hardest part of the whole project would be figuring out what to cut away from the image (the parts that you wanted to paint black) and what to keep (the parts that you wanted to remain white).
You’d have to cut the silhouette out with a sharp craft knife.
Then you’d want to go back in and carefully cut away all of the inside pieces. (All of the pieces on the left side above are waste. The pieces on the right side are the stencil.)
You’d have to iron your stencil onto a towel. (Parchment paper will stick to fabric when it’s ironed.)
You’d want to mix a little textile medium in with some acrylic paint to prevent the paint from cracking after it dries.
You’d want to pounce the paint onto your stencil.
Then you’d get to the fun/nerve-racking part: peeling away the stencil to reveal the final image.
If you did it right, you would end up with nice crisp lines of black paint on all the edges.
And Santa would be smiling at you.
Then you’d want to run a hot iron over the back of the towel to heat set the paint, and you’d be done.
In my last post (which you can find here), I wrote about my love of galvanized metal and my success with aging some of my bright, shiny new pieces using vinegar.
Today, I’m going to write about the failures.
Here’s what I started with on the day of the de-shining: eight new containers (all picked up at thrift stores and garage sales) that I wanted to dull the finish on to give them a vintage, timeworn look.
I misted the pieces with vinegar and tried to continue turning and remisting them (for even coverage) for about 15 minutes. Then I rinsed them in water. I was working outside because, well, if you’ve ever smelled vinegar, you know why.
Most of the pieces (five of the eight), turned out perfectly. The shine was gone, leaving a beautiful flat finish.
But a few of the containers, including the two pictured above, were virtually unchanged after their vinegar bath. So I decided to move onto the hard stuff with them.
Toilet boil cleaner: It’s not just for toilet bowls anymore. It’s also good for de-shining your galvanized metal. Or so I’ve heard.
According to the label, The Works is a mixture of 9.5 percent Hydrogen Chloride and 90.5 percent other ingredients.
I’m no chemist, but I’m guessing it’s the Hydrogen Chloride that knocks the shine off of metal. Unless the “other ingredients” are Atrazine, Napalm and/or Hexavalent Chromium. Either way, I figured toilet bowl cleaner had to be more powerful than vinegar.
I spread the cleaner onto the still-shiny containers. And then — and this might be where I went wrong — I went inside to start supper. The plan was to come back outside to turn and recoat the containers in a couple minutes.
But I may have gotten distracted and left a few too many minutes tick by before I got back outside. The good news is when I checked on the pieces again, the shiny coating was gone. The bad news is that the containers also had weird shiny stripes and rust spots on them.
At this point, I wasn’t sure if the shiny stripes were caused by that area being “underbaked” (so the shiny coating was still there) or “overbaked” (so not only the shiny coating but also the flat layer beneath it had been stripped off). Hoping it was the former, I spread more cleaner on the stripes.
Turns out, that was a mistake. Almost immediately, I could see the weird stripes spreading and more rust spots developing. I rinsed the cleaner off as quickly as I could, but the damage was done.
I blame my family. If I didn’t have to feed them every day, I would have more time to focus on the important things in life like spreading toilet bowl cleaner onto metal containers, and this whole fiasco could have been avoided. Sigh…
Onto Plan B.
“When life gives you lemons, paint over them,” I always say. So I sanded off as much of the rust as I could and raided my basement for supplies to whip up a quick batch of chalk paint.
But first I finished making supper.
I mixed a couple tablespoons of Plaster of Paris with a couple tablespoons of water in an empty cottage cheese container from the recycling bin. (And just to clarify, I’m making chalk paint here, not Tuna Noodle Surprise. I don’t take pictures of myself cooking because that would be weird.)
I added about a half a cup of “other ingredients” (i.e. leftover white latex paint) to the Plaster of Paris/water mixture.
Then I painted the containers, inside and out.
The chalk paint took a few coats to cover, but it dried quickly, so I just kept moving from one container to another until everything was covered.
When all was said and done, here’s what I had: five (there’s a small bucket inside the beverage tub that you can’t see) beautifully de-shined containers and three that were painted white.
The white pieces looked a little blah to me, so I pulled out some old stencils…
… and taped a couple of them onto the containers with painters tape. (I didn’t have any stencils small enough for the little rectangular box, so that one didn’t get any embellishments.)
I used regular acrylic craft paint for the stencils.
In case you were wondering about the significance of the 0 and the 3, there is none.
I just liked how the numbers looked.
To protect the paint, I sprayed a couple coats of matte polyurathane onto the containers.
When I was finally done with the de-shining/painting/stenciling/polyurathaning process, I carried my supplies into the house and set them all on the kitchen counter. Then I called it a day and went up to bed.
My husband evidently cleaned up after me because when I opened the fridge the next morning to get the milk out, here’s what I saw: