My first ever DIY stencil tees

Going through a box of photos (remember when we used to print everything?) I came across a couple of bad ones picturing the first ever t-shirts I did, mentioned at my first post on this blog. These were done around 2002 if I remember well. Here are some rough scans, heavily cropped.


There’s not much to add to this. Just standard paper-cut stencils and spray paint. Anyone can easily work their way through such a tee. Spray paint does faint eventually, after washing a lot of times, but to be honest I never tried fabrics spray paint, just whatever type I found at home. Best way’s to have fun with it!



A stencil and iron-on transfer mix (as it turned out): Gang of Four tee

Done around 2003, this was supposed to be an all Brazilian-like baggy yellow t-shirt with a green Gang of Four stencil on it, inspired by their first few singles corner font line. I was probably also listening to Pigbag doing their Brazil nuts tune at the time.

At first, well, the t-shirt wasn’t that yellow and I didn’t have any fabrics spray paint so I used the first green one I found at home. Stencil didn’t turn out that good, spread quite a bit.


It wasn’t after some time that I thought of printing and using each letter on top of the original stencil which was already a little worn out from washing. Darker green transfer worked great and background now-lighter spray paint looked like a photoshop shadow. Or even better.


A simple idea for combining two different tee techniques, but do be careful when ironing on top of spray paint, use silicon sheets or something like that. This is what it looks like now, completely fainted.

First iron-on transfer attempt: Fela Kuti t-shirts

So I’m missing photos of the first stencil t-shirts I did back in 2002. They’re all gone now, used for dusting or something like that.

I remember two specifically. The first one was a simple black spray paint FVGΛZI” white tee, same as the stencil Fugazi used on their equipment. Didn’t tag it with anything else like, let’s say, the typical “This is NOT a Fugazi t-shirt” phrase. The other one was a Smiths inspired “THE QUEEN IS DEAD” green spray paint on white t-shirt, done in common stencil fonts, sort of like that sign Morrissey used to hold in 80’s concerts. Forgot that somewhere, never got it back…


Anyway, it was 2003 when I decided to try iron-on transfer paper for the first time, bought some Pelican sheets (were pretty good actually) and a couple of Pull & Bear t-shirts and headed home. My idea was to photoshop and print a classic Fela Kuti album cover in black & white and use it on light, yet bright color t-shirts.

First attempt was a disaster. Paper got stuck on the yellow tee and I couldn’t find a way to get it off. Got thrown in the garbage bin so I could move on to the next one.


Red one turned out pretty good. Pulled the paper up as it was still hot so I could get that matte finish instructions suggested. Had some missing parts on the corners though and decided to use remaining parts of the sheets to cover those up. After years and years it turns out that corners are still pretty black and that Fela Anikupalo Kuti name tag in the bottom right didn’t go anywhere either.


Here’s a tip, I got that pulling the first tee out of the garbage bin… If transfer paper gets shredded as you pull it off and you have small pieces all over, slightly reheat those parts with the iron and use a knife for removal. Works great!

Photos were taken recently. This is what they look like 10 years on. Don’t wear them that often nowadays…