We recently went on a camping trip with four other families as we caravanned in rented RVs through California’s Sequoia National Park. My responsibility was crafts and t-shirts. Though I love crafts and I love kid’s art… I despise “puffy paints” and hand-drawn t-shirts that end up only being good for sleep and painting shirts. I knew my access to facilities and materials would be limited, so I tried to think of the best way to assure each kid of a cool shirt.
“Stencils!” I thought… “How could I use stencils?” Lucky for me, since the last time that I decorated t-shirts, a new product has come out. These Tulip brand spray paints are awesome. They’re not cheap – but it only took 4 bottles to make 11 t-shirts and 9 pillowcases – with about 1/3 bottle left over in each bottle.
Any stencil would work, but I wanted a custom one, so I printed out a clip art image I found of an RV and taped it to a discarded cereal box. I used an xacto knife to cut out the design and saved both parts. The RV alone ended up being a cool one for the adults (even the dads wanted them!) and then I drew and cut out the words “CAMPER CAMP” on the rest of the box for the kids’ shirts. Since I knew I would be using the stencil a bunch of times I actually coated both sides with Mod Podge to make it more durable. Acrylic Medium would work too.
Once we were on the trip, we laid down some plastic tablecloths on the ground and we got to spraying. One point to note is that the more intensely sprayed shirts ended up looking better after a wash. The kids had a hard time working the sprayer, so I had them direct me which colors and how to spray.
Once the t-shirts were a big hit, everyone wanted to move onto the pillowcases that I had asked them to bring. But the girls, who’d been playing fairies in the woods all morning, wanted fairies and mermaids… so I drew and cut out of more cereal boxes some other designs – rudimentary, but all stencils are – I made dolphins, mermaids, hearts, pirate ships and fairies. They sprayed the body of the pillowcases and used Sharpie markers to write their names along the hemmed edges of the pillowcases.
As I was making them – I realized, not only is this the perfect camping craft – it’s also a great one for a birthday party.
I think we will be revisiting this process in the near future. With more fairies.