Crafting like a Man with Patrick Murillo: Painted Stencil T-shirts

Some people are crafty,  some aren't (i.e. me). It's the way of the world. But taking a cue from Mantastic Crafter Patrick Murillo, I'm training in the art, and hoping to work my way up to something truly mantastic, all while trying to avoid what Murillo calls a "craftastrophe."


I was feeling pretty optimistic about my crafting adventure as I walked into Murillo's home this week, despite having a bit of a cold. Who knows? Maybe some cold medicine would open up my inner crafter. Not that I wasn't still cautious, since I was feeling pretty optimistic last week, too.

Even after Murillo announced this week's project, I wasn't intimidated. Painting T-shirts was fine and dandy with me; didn't sound like too much of a challenge, I thought. And you know what? I was right: It was a pretty simple process.

I mean, I still managed to mess it up, but it wasn't that hard.

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1. First, you'll need to think of a word or phrase to paint onto your shirt. No problem! I'm a writer, right? I'm, like, a pro at this sort of thing. Apparently not. I panicked and thought up something lame: "Crafter in Progress." Wouldn't "Crafter in Training" make more sense? Is "crafter" even a real word? I didn't have time to grab a thesaurus, so I rolled with it.

2. Next, write the word or phrase in block lettering across a piece of cardboard. My block letters came out a little thin and wimpy, especially when compared to Murillo's "Mantastic" stencil, but the "n" kind of looked like a lightning bolt, so that's something.

3. Using a precision crafting knife, cut out the block lettering. Me and these knives have a history: I snapped a couple back in high school working on photography projects, then hid the remains around the classroom. "But not today," I told myself, "I've got this." I grabbed the knife and got ready.

"Hold on, like this," Murillo corrects me.

I was holding it backward. Crap.

But once I got the right hold on it, I still had some trouble cutting through the cardboard. You have to be strong but careful about it, Murillo tells me.

Crafting like a Man with Patrick Murillo: Painted Stencil T-shirts

"And I gave you thicker cardboard," he says. I look at him for a second. "'Thanks,' right?" he says, laughing. Turns out, thicker cardboard makes for a less flimsy stencil.

4. Before you start using your stencil, you can decorate your blank T-shirt with some stock stencils you can find in crafting booklets. Out of a batch that Murillo had, I chose a turntable to add to mine. What does a turntable have to do with "Crafter in Progress," you ask? Not much, but my second choice was a deer.

5. Using fabric paint in spray bottles (not aerosol) lay the stencil down on top of your shirt and spray over it. It's OK to paint outside the lines a bit, it creates a nice effect if you use the border of the stencil. With a complimentary color, add your hand-made stencil. You can use a few different colors on this one on different sections of the stencil and have them blend together.

Crafting like a Man with Patrick Murillo: Painted Stencil T-shirts

6. Set it out to dry and you're all set.

My shirt dried, and I started to leave. Walking out, I realized there was glitter on my hands, and I was suddenly confused. We didn't use glitter. Either the Murillo household is magic or my cold is worse than I thought... until next time...

For comparison, check out Murillo's final shirt (top) and mine (bottom):

Crafting like a Man with Patrick Murillo: Painted Stencil T-shirts
Crafting like a Man with Patrick Murillo: Painted Stencil T-shirts

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