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!