Shirt Stamping Method

Since I’ve only ever posted pictures of my finished stamped shirts, I thought perhaps this time I’d get a few photos as I worked on the latest one. The process is simple: sketch out and then carve the stamp, roll out some fabric ink, and have at it. Well, okay, on this project I also made a makeshift paper stencil for the shirt.

Shirt designs, cont’d

My shirt stamping process is more streamlined now that I’m doing more. The problem is that I’m working with only one palette and two rollers at the moment. That’s a lot of cleaning to do between colors.

I’m learning that the best way to approach it is to start with one color and mix and modify as I go –that is, if I’m starting with pink, I can pretty easily had a little yellow and get a nice orange. Today I had a purple which needed white in order for it to show on the black fabric. From there I added even more white, then green. Not bad!

It also helps if I do more than one shirt at a time. Today I did three shirts. The last one I did only because I didn’t want to waste the ink.

Stamping shirts has an advantage in that the design can extend beyond the traditional rectangle of the silkscreen. I really enjoy playing with that.

Here are three of the shirts, front and back. (You can’t say you’ve seen one unless you’ve seen the back, too!)

Shirt2_back Shirt3_front Shirt3_back Shirt1_front shirt1_back

T Shirts for Sale

Years ago, I made a couple of designs for shirts, had them professionally silkscreened and then I hand-colored each one of them. They were pretty nice, I think. However, I didn’t end up selling them like I’d hoped to, that is, in some local shops. Perhaps I was asking too much for a t-shirt at the time. I think I was charging $20 each — yes, for a hand-colored shirt.

Since then I have seen shirts going for $30 and $40. Short-sleeved shirts. Not hand-printed. Not colored individually.

I thought I’d try this again. I mean, I love doing it. Let’s see if I can sell a few. After all, this is the day of social media, blogs, whatnot. These were not available to me that first time around.

So, my first shirt is going to my daughter who is graduating tonight from her school of nine years. I thought she might like to have her friends sign it as a keepsake. I grabbed a plain white shirt I’d had stored away for just such an occasion:


And here is my second shirt, which I had the idea for while making the first shirt:


I also had this gray shirt in storage, waiting for the optimal occasion. What I actually want to do is to sell !00% organic cotton shirts, and these two are not that. I have already ordered a few organic cotton shirts to work on, but of course they are more expensive than these $2 and $3 shirts. Still, I like to do what I can to support only the best and most sustainable land practices.

How did I make these? I hand-carved stamps and used a brayer with Speedball fabric and paper ink. So no hand coloring for me this time. However, each of the stamps you see were hand-carved. Mostly by me. (The heart/key stamp on the first shirt was carved by my daughter who gave me the stamp for Christmas.)

Oh, and I carved this logo stamp this morning, so it’s on the gray shirt, but not on the white.


What do you think? Know anyone who would buy something like this? Should I pursue?