Sunday, February 08, 2009

the accidental review: stencil 101

You've seen it before.

You call yourself going to Jo-Ann's for a zipper. But it's Friday night and you just got paid, plus you've got a 40%-off coupon burning a hole in your pocket. You imagine yourself high-minded and frugal, but you know you can't go in Jo-Ann's with ample time, flush with cash and a coupon, and come out with just a zipper. As soon as you park in front of the joint, you drop the facade. You walk in the door looking for trouble, and at Jo-Ann's, you always find it.

Before I found the trouble I was looking for, I had taken advantage of the Butterick pattern sale, had my zipper and a few other doodads. I was navigating the tricky waters of the 40% coupon, trying to find something that was worth the discount, but that wouldn't cost a sacrificial amount of money even afterward. Something that was just the right price, and that I really wanted at the same time. Sometimes the two don't meet, and you wind up using the coupon on something paltry, and you get cheated out of that fresh-kill feeling.

It was not mine to be cheated, because sitting in a shopping cart filled with waiting-to-be-shelved books was Stencil 101. I upturn every rock in Jo-Ann's -- and it ain't easy, because it's dark as a cave in those stores -- to find something fresh and interesting, something I haven't seen before. The minute I excavated Stencil 101, I'd found it.

I've been on the hunt for good stencils for a while, but I'd never heard of Ed Roth, the book's author, who sells Mylar stencils and supplies via his website, Stencil1. Apparently Brooklyn-based Roth is a stencil guru. His style, drawn from street graffiti, is bold and direct, no cuddly teddy bears or adorably seasonal bouquets.

With Roth's designs, you can bring a little urban cool indoors (or wherever you might need some). I like to be surprised, so I didn't look through the book in the store, just realized what it was, salivated over the good times to be had, and bought it. When I got home and took my time with it, I grew more excited, because the intro section on how to stencil, stenciling supplies, and the history of stenciling is both educational and inspiring.

After I read through it I wanted to stencil everything, even Mira (I checked; she's got enough room on her sides). It was after 1am, so I had to wait, but I planned to start with an obvious and easy surface, the baby onesie. (A note on onesies: At Target, I initially bought the Gerber brand, but took them back for the Circo brand because the Gerbers run tiny and feel cheapy thin for stenciling. I'd recommend Circo for better quality.)

I had fabric paint on hand, having ordered it last summer just in case. I got it, along with some fabric brushes, here. There are paints for light-colored fabrics and others for dark-colored, so keep that in mind. These go on lighter fabrics.

Turns out fabric brushes don't work as well as special stencil brushes, which I didn't have, but Roth -- heck, let's call him Ed; he's our new friend -- Ed says foam brushes work, and that's what they had at Hobby Lobby, so that's what I got. (Did I mention I live two minutes away from Hobby Lobby? These are dangerous times.) I also got a spray adhesive, which is one of the options Ed recommends for securing the stencil to the surface you're going to paint.

If I have one beef with Stencil 1 -- okay, I don't. But it would be nice to have a picture, rather than just descriptions, of the brushes and other supplies that he lists. You can leaf through the book and find a few, but I like to have an all-inclusive image to match up to what's on the store shelves. I'm hardly anal, except when it comes to craft supplies.

Once I got everything together, which didn't take a lot of effort -- don't we love that? -- I started working on my onesies. The only problem was that I couldn't stop. I was planning to stencil two or three, all for Mister Stevens's new Goddaughter, Soleil, who is a month old. (Don't show me a month-old girl and not expect me to make something for her.) I ended up stenciling all five onesies, the last one front and back.

Still hungry for more, I stenciled this ugly Hanes sweatshirt I bought on the Target sale rack for $1.64. I got the shirt for warmth, not looks, but I think the stencil is an improvement. I was desperate to keep stenciling, so I didn't take the time to center the design or anything. I also had in mind to use it as a tester to see if the paint washes as well as I've heard it does.

So, this stenciling thing. How good is it? The best. I am officially All About It. It's virtually fool-proof, not as messy as you might think, and I can't imagine crack is more fun to do. The instructions in Stencil 1 are simple and yield fantastic results. The fabric paint dries quickly, so you could make a same-day shower gift.

Ed's love affair with the stencil is infectious, and he sets us up nicely with a list of resources and a gallery of VCPs (Very Cool Projects). Not to mention the fabulous stencils he's selected for us. They are laminated card stock, so most of them won't last beyond a few uses -- especially my beloved Afro Girl, due to the fineness of the design. I'm going to order the Mylar version from Stencil1, which by the way, is a treasure trove of information about the craft. Go there and watch Martha Stewart stencil one of Ed's designs with Cynthia Nixon.

Ed encourages us to make our own stencils. I take his instructions as a command, not a suggestion. I've been clicking around, checking out supplies. (Hell yeah I want a stencil burner! Whuut?!) Soon I'm going all the way over the edge, and don't think I'll be looking back, because I won't.

ETA: I sent Ed an e-mail to thank him for turning me into a stenciling fool, and he posted about this review on his blog. Check it out!


DeltaPurl said...

super cute

Stacy said...

Beyond cute! What little girl wouldn't LOVE those???

Ummm, but please don't make me fall in love with stenciling too. I only have so much space for craft supplies in this little apartment. Who am I kidding - after that post I'm going to be looking for that book when I wander into JoAnn's for my next dose of the fabric drug!!

Nik said...

oooo, i hate you. I hate you because now, I'm going to be all up in JoAnn's looking for that damned afro stencil. Like I need another hobby. umph

Anonymous said...

Okay, those are absolute Fabulousness and that Soleil is going to be one coool baby. I was completely cracking up and you described the Joann experience EXACTLY! Fortunately I can never find books at Joann bc digging around for them makes me dizzy. But then you had to go and link didn't you? Did I tell you I nominated you for an award on my blog? I might have forgotten.

j.kaori said...

Very cool onesies! I seriously do not need another craft in my life, not to mention yet another reason for heading to Joann's, but stenciling looks very fun!

Elaine Elwick Barr said...

Great post! I love your blog..will be back..:)

Elaine Barr

Christie said...

Those are awesome and adorable. Am I going to have to go over to Joanne's today?

woolanthropy said...

LOVES the onesies. I seriously almost bought this book this past weekend, but Joe was with me. Man, now I really want it. Everything turned out so great. I think Mira would have looked good too.

Anonymous said...

I ***SO*** love yer blog. :o)

Ellen Bloom said...

OK, now you're a blog star on Ed's blog too! That is so cool that he posted YOUR photos and stencil review!

My artsy cousin, Amie and I stenciled t-shirts for our Bloom family reunion one year. We made stencils from black and white photos of our great grandparents...the ones that all of us Blooms come from...and then screened them onto white t-shirts with our red initial block in the corner. My uncle Hi still wears his! said...

They are all mine! Bwhahahahahahahahahahaha!

mo said...

oh mo!

i MUST have an afro girl t-shirt for grace. i'll even mail you the shirt. PLEASE! (p.s. this will temporarily satiate us until we get the quilt :P)

Anonymous said...

Forgot to ask, what did you insert between the layers of fabric to prevent 'bleeding' onto the other side?


Oh and I frogged it as some in the circle would say. There are some faults that just cannot be on again last night.

jenna! said...

Ever since I read your post, I've had stencil on the brain. Well, thanks to an Amazon credit, Stencil 101 will be mine soon and I can start the madness.

Thanks for the accidental review. It was fabulous!

mj said...

They are fabulous!! Damn you for getting me interested in yet another hobby! Honestly, they turned out really beautiful.
Miss you a lot...

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