Friday, September 11, 2015

Making Fabric Stamps, Plus A Progress Update!

Today I'm going to show you a tidbit of progress on my latest costume, which is from Monster Hunter!

After breaking down the costume pieces, I realized that every single piece needs some amount of a patterned blue fabric. So, I decided to get that out of the way by making it first, and then I would have it at my disposal for the entire project, as easy to grab for as any of the other fabric I purchased.

More details on how the fabric stamp creation and stamping went down after the jump.

I knew I would need to make a stamp or a stencil, but wasn't sure which would work best. A stamp would be easier to work with if it would do the job (no futzing around with paint oozing under stencils, wiping off the stencil each time, etc.), so I decided to try that first.

First, I used the reference drawings to decide about how big the design should be (in this case, 3x3 inches). Then, I drew the design out by hand until it looked right. I don't know why I never think to use a computer for these things, seeing how I have a degree in graphic design and could whip up a geometric pattern in Illustrator in about 10 minutes, but I don't, and I have no defense other than I like making things with my hands? And I can't "draw", per se, so this is my closest opportunity to draw something usable.

Anyway, I scanned the drawing into the computer for safekeeping, then cut out the outside with a knife.

Next, I took a thicker piece of craft foam and taped my design to it with Scotch tape. This is a pretty ideal material for a paint stamp because it can be cut into most any form, and is nonporous. I happened to have a 3" piece of basswood (a wood used for model-making) laying around from ages ago, so I cut a 3" piece off of it and voila: 3x3 inch block!

I cut right through the paper pattern and craft foam layers together to cut out my stamp. I was worried at first about little extra nicks and such, but they turned out not to show up in the final print. I glued the stamp to the backing with hot glue.

After a successful trial run, I tried a few techniques and found that tamping the paint onto the stamp with a sponge brush (in this case, a stencil brush) was the best way to get good, even coverage. Using a normal brush allowed the brushstrokes to show in the final stamp. I'm using Jaquard fabric paint, the coverage of which is actually a little too good for this project, but I'm going with it. I recommend it on the whole for fabric painting because of that very quality.

Sometimes the stamp comes out slightly unevenly. I have decided to embrace this slight variation (to a point) because I think it is in keeping with the aesthetic of the costume.

I'm still finishing up the stamping (I want to make as much of the design as possible, just in case!), but you can see that it's coming along. I have a better way to keep the stripes even now, too.

How's your project going? Let me know in the comments!

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