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

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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.

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.

"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.

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):

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