Friday, May 29, 2015


This photo probably has the truest colors. The rest were shot indoors or with cloud cover. Meh.

Eric's buddy, Juan, is our most-frequent overnight guest. Who'da thunk that of our close friends, one of those that lives the furthest away ends up here the most? We think we're going on his sixth or seventh (or both, depending on how you count) and I decided there should be a commemoration of this. Just prior to Juan's last visit, I was asking Eric a question about said visit and ended up conflating "Juan" and "Montana" into "Juantana." Obviously, this word stuck. How could it not? And a tee shirt idea was born!

I used the tried and true freezer paper stencil method and instead of dye or paint, I used bleach. I had used the method to make Eric a shirt our first Christmas in Montana.*

First, I put together an online clip art map with "JUANTANA" using Photoshop**, made it the appropriate size, and printed it out on printer paper. Next, I taped the print out to an appropriately-sized piece of freezer paper, and cut out most of it with an Exacto knife (leaving the letter Ns and As).  None of these steps were photographed. Oopsie!

I chose a blue tee shirt because I know I'd seen him wear a few different pieces of blue clothing. Eric informed me that it was Dodgers' blue and a safe bet. Whew!

Next, I used a dry iron on the cotton/linen setting to adhere the shiny side of the stencil to the 100% cotton, pre-washed tee shirt. After that I finished cutting out the Ns and As with a soft touch and a sharp blade.

To keep the bleach where I wanted it, I inserted a piece of cardboard inside the shirt and wrapped the sleeves and bottom around the back.  I placed the whole thing in the bathtub (making sure the shower curtain and bathmat were well out of the way of bleach over-spray. Then I sprayed around the edges of the stencil a few times and watched closely.

That is not just bad photography, but also the action of the bleach around the stencil causing that grainy, halo-like effect.

Undiluted bleach acts fast and is corrosive, so have water at-the-ready to counteract the bleach when you get your desired effect and before it disintegrates your fabric. Remember to pull out your cardboard real quick like before dowsing. This is one reason I did it in the bathtub: to have quick and ready access to water as well as to contain the bleach. I have seen projects on black fabric where they have bleached to almost-white, so perhaps I am overly cautious.

I used the handheld shower attachment so that I could focus the water where i wanted it. I am sure you could run it under the tap or even use a pre-filled pitcher to rinse.

After it was thoroughly rinsed, I removed the stencil, inspected the (wet) result, and threw it in with a load of laundry to wash and dry.  Et voilà!

I think the end result is reminiscent of a mostly blue sky with a few fluffy white clouds which is pretty much our part of the Big Sky, so that's extra cool.

Eric says he'll love it. I hope so!

* I had kept this small spray bottle of bleach, clearly labeled, from that last project. Apparently, over time and in a container that is not airtight, chlorine bleach somehow becomes inert or at least becomes something that smells a lot like water and has a similar bleaching capacity of water, because when I sprayed it on the shirt the only things that happened were the shirt getting wet and the stencil ruined. D'oh! I rinsed the shirt thoroughly, then dried it with a load of laundry, remade the stencil, and started over with fresh bleach the next morning. I am glad I did this a couple of weeks prior to Juan's arrival!

** I am still not that comfortable with GIMP and had to bust out my old Windows machine instead of my faster, better Linux machine. If anyone has a great source for Photoshop-to-GIMP conversion chart I would LOVE to know about it!


  1. *Grinning* Ah. Not only does bleach magically turn into water, it can ALSO eat the spray-ey bits inside of your spray bottle, rendering it totally unuseable. Ask me how I know. FIVE dollar $tore spray bottles later. I've finally stopped trying to store a sprayer of bleach solution under the kitchen sink for those disinfecting emergencies, much less for stenciling activities. ;)

  2. [shakes fist at sky]
    NOOOOOOO! At least I don't feel weird about pouring the unused bleach back into its bottle.

  3. That's awesome! What a great gift. Is there anything you can't make?! ;)


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