Posts Tagged ‘bleach art’

The Bleach T-shirt Print

October 19, 2014

I’m teaching Printmaking this semester and have been enjoying the learning curve that comes with teaching a new course. I am focusing on four types of printmaking: relief, intaglio, planography, stencil. Under the stencil category I had the students choose some kind of image that would lend itself to this type of printmaking. Technically this may not fall under the traditional definition of a print, in the sense that you can recreate the image again and again. This would be more of a monoprint style, although you may be able to use your stencil more than once. I haven’t tried that yet.

When I created a prototype for the students to see I used airbrush frisket. It produced some interesting and unforeseen results. The effect is cool in that it creates a lunar feel.

T-shirt bleaching with a stencil.

T-shirt bleaching with a stencil.

IMG_2084

T-shirt bleaching with a stencil.

With the students we used Mask It, which worked really well. I made another t-shirt today and want to share the process so you can make these as well.

Step 1 – choose and image and transfer it onto the Mask It using a pencil or marker. Avoid fine image lines as the bleach will sometimes migrate under the stencil and blotch out your detail. I now know that’s what happened with my first attempt.

Step 1 - choose an image and get it on the Mask It

Step 1 – choose an image and get it on the Mask It

Step 2 – transfer the image onto the t-shirt (100% cotton works well, this shirts change quickly thicker ones take more time. I had a student use 50% cotton 50% modai (?) and it worked really well), or whatever you are using. I had two students use pillow cases! Make sure to mask off any areas you do not want to bleach. In both examples I enclosed the piece inside of a circle. You can easily do the reverse and have the bleach “splatter” out as well.

Step 2 - transfer the image and protect anything you do not want to bleach.

Step 2 &3 – transfer the image and protect anything you do not want to bleach.

Step 3 – the bleaching. I recommend using gloves here and opening a window. Some people are really sensitive to bleach or even allergic. I use an old bug spray bottle (CLEARLY MARKED THAT IT’S NOT BUG SPRAY). Some people will use a normal spray bottle, but I like things refined so a small spray is more to my liking. This step is where the magic happens. Spray your piece and then lay some paper towel over the image to soak up the bleach so it does not migrate under the stencil. This is key to keeping your image sharp. For this shirt I just let the bleach sit on the shirt for 4-6 minutes between sprays. I probably sprayed it 4 or 5 times. The students lack the patience for this so they would spray, paper towel, repeat until they were happy with the amount of bleaching. This worked well also, but time gives the bleach the ability to eat the colour more than “more bleach” does.

Step 4 – remove the stencil. This part is important also because you want to make sure there is no bleach left on your stencil or it will transfer to the shirt, discolouring whatever it touches. Once the stencil is removed it’s time to pull out the hair dryer to dry the shirt fully before the final step. I helped my girlfriend make a shirt and was so excited for her that I went to step 5 too early and it ruined the shirt. Let the hair dryer do its thing on your shirt for a few minutes. I actually tucked the hair dryer into my shirt and let it blow for five minutes or so and then turned it to blow on the other half of the image. You will see the image changing colour as you go. Once the whole image is the same colour, or dryness, it’s time for the next step.

Step 4 - removing the stencil and drying the shirt.

Step 4 – removing the stencil and drying the shirt.

Step 5 – the home stretch. Put it in the dryer for 30 minutes. Once the shirt is dry enough that when you put it in the actual dryer it won’t bleach other areas of the shirt (this is what I did to the gf’s shirt 😦  ). There are tiny bleach crystals that form on the shirt and tossing it in the dryer will knock those off. Once the buzzer goes on the dryer, voila!!! you have a new custom t-shirt to add to your collection of awesome t’s.

Finished product. A cool new T to add to my collection.

Finished product. A cool new T to add to my collection.

Here is a student’s piece. This style is easier in the sense that you do not need to quarantine the rest of the shirt off! You can also get a neat effect with the splatter dots that randomly show up.

Ellie

Ellie

Harold

 


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