Fun with BLEACH

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Well, that’s certainly a title that’ll get your attention, eh? This is a quick and easy way to personalize cotton t-shirts just the way you like them – it’s not screenprinting, but the results are just as satisfactory and the whole process is way faster. Plus it’s something that even kids can do (if you trust them to use bleach). And I’m going to show you two ways to do it.

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First, you need some spray bottles that produce a fine mist (the squirty ones won’t do you any good here), and some bleach. Make a solution of about half bleach and half water (or maybe 3/4 bleach and 1/4 water if you trust yourself) and pour that in the bottle.

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Now you need a cotton (or mostly cotton) t-shirt in a dark or bright, saturated colour (you can use pastel colours but the results won’t be as contrasty). Wash and dry the shirt to remove any sizing from the manufacturer that may interfere with the bleach.

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Grab yourself some adhesive vinyl or Con-Tact paper.

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Cut your vinyl into the desired shape you want. You can either use the shapes to mask off an area that you will bleach around, or the vinyl can act as a shield to the rest of the shirt and only your design will be bleachy – that’s up to you.

Make sure to press the vinyl firmly into the fabric of the shirt.

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Slide some waxed paper or plastic inside the shirt to prevent the bleach from leaking through to the other side.

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Spray your design lightly and evenly with bleach.

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Just a light misting.

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Use a rag to dab away any beads of bleach that might drip onto your shirt (unless you want them to drip).

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Wait a few minutes and then carefully peel off your vinyl.

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Watch as the design emerges. When you get the right level of bleachiness that you like, rinse the shirt under cold water to stop the bleach process. Then chuck the shirt in the wash and run it through a cycle with soap to get out all the bleach.

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When your shirt is dry, you will be the coolest person out there.

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Another method, if you don’t have adhesive vinyl on hand is to use paper stencils and a glue stick. So you just cut out your design and slather it with glue from the glue stick. Make sure to go right to the edge.

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Flatten it firmly on your shirt.

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Spritz on your bleach, dab, and remove the paper before it gets too saturated with liquid (because that will soak through). Don’t worry if there’s a bit of paper left – that will come off in the wash. On this design (Serenity!), we added a few extra drops of bleach here and there to make it look like the ship was traveling through a nebula in space.

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Tada.

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On this shirt we did a similar negative image with a Rebel Alliance symbol from Star Wars, and then on the back we did the Galactic Empire symbol, so good on the front and evil on the back!

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Here we did a positive image, where the paper served as a shield for the rest of the shirt. You may recognize the Autobots symbol from Transformers.

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Another positive image, this one of a stylized Joker’s face from the Dark Knight film series.

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Because the pupils were hard to glue in place I used a fabric marker to add them back in. The shininess will go away the first time the shirt is washed.

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On this design the stencil I used was too thin and the bleach soaked around the edges. Not to worry!

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I simply used some more fabric markers to trace the proper outline and I really like the finished result.

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Art with Glue and Shoe Polish

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I have been wanting to try this for YEARS, ever since I saw it on Make It … a Wonderful Life.  I don’t exactly know why it is that I haven’t made any yet — but now is my chance.  With the new place we have an excess of blank wall space and the Pie and I were both raised to believe that a) if you can see the colour of your walls you don’t have enough art on them; and b) there is no such thing as “enough” art.

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In our lower bathroom we have kind of an avian theme going on, so I thought I’d continue it while trying out this nifty craft.  Make It … designed it to be a craft for school kids to learn different techniques, but I’ve taken out a few steps for us silly adults who have trouble following instructions.

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Start with a piece of cardboard the size and shape you want your finished piece to be.  Draw a simple design onto the cardboard with a pencil or marker, and by simple I mean really simple.  Big lines and grand shapes only.  You can get fancy and detailed later.  Now trace those lines with Tacky Glue.

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I actually prefer the brand name glue for this, as it’s the only white glue I can find that dries in the same thick lines in which  you lay it down.

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Anyway, once you’ve got all the lines traced, and filled in everything you want to, set that somewhere to dry completely, probably overnight.

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When it’s all ready to go, grab a piece of aluminum foil just slightly larger than the piece of cardboard and cover one side (shiny or dull, it’s your choice) with a glue stick (you have to use a glue stick or it will show through the foil).

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Be generous with the glue stick, and go over the foil a couple times with it.  On my first one I didn’t use enough and had trouble sticking it down.

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Press the foil, glue side down, over your design.  It’s best to start from the centre and work your way out.  Press the foil against the glue lines.  You can rub them in gently with a paper towel wrapped over your finger and use a cotton swab to gently press the foil close against the glue lines so everything is tight.

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You may get rips, just because the foil is too tight.  But don’t fret — they’ll be camouflaged later.

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Now, if you like, you can take a dull pencil and start drawing in patterns in the blank spaces between the glue lines.

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When you’ve decorated to your liking, take some black shoe polish and give the whole thing a once-over, getting the polish into all those little lines you made.

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Make It … recommends the sponge-applicator shoe polish for ease of use, so that’s what I did.

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Leave it for a moment and then gently buff it off with paper towel.

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It leaves a lovely silvery patina and makes the whole thing look really cool.

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I stuck these to the boring bathroom cabinet to jazz things up a bit.

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