Day ten: offline activism | stencil a t-shirt

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Take your activism offline.

Developments in information and communications technology, especially the internet, has meant that those who are connected can find out what is happening in different parts of the world and take action a lot quicker and easier than before. With a click of the mouse, we can sign a petition, endorse our name in support of a cause or create content to further amplify an issue.

It’s important to augment online activism with action and all other spaces that we occupy. For example, although the internet was crucial in rendering the issue of Korean comfort women widely visible, it was primarily the physical pickets and demonstrations outside of the Japanese Embassy every Wednesday since 1992 that succeeded in putting the issue in textbooks.

Use our bodies to state a stand. What we wearcan be a useful way to say something to people that we encounter everywhere we go. Stenciling is one of the oldest and cheapest methods of printmaking. By cutting out a design on a piece of cardboard, you can repeatedly print the same message on different surfaces.

Instead of advertising brands of manufacturers, challenge your world to Take Back The Tech.

What you need:

  • A plain cotton t-shirt (light colours would work better), or any other cotton item of clothing that you’d like to use.
  • An A4 sheet of paper or manila cardboard (quite a thin piece of cardboard)
  • A can of aerosol spray paint, fabric paint or acrylic paint (you can get these at a hardware store or stationary shop) & brushes
  • Cellophane, masking or any kind of light sticky tape
  • Old newspapers
  • A blade

How to stencil a Take Back The Tech t-shirt

  • Choose any of the stencils in our campaign multimedia section.
  • Print it out the image on a sheet of A4 paper. Copy the image with a pen and paper if you don’t have access to a printer.
  • Skip this step if you copied the image on paper, or plan to use the stencil only once. Otherwise, paste the paper on a sheet of manila cardboard with a thin layer of glue. Keep the image side up. Make sure that the whole under surface of the paper is completely glued onto the cardboard. Wait for it to dry.
  • Carefully cut out the dark parts of the design with a blade. Make sure the connectors (the white parts) are not severed.
  • When you’re done, place the stencil design on your t-shirt (or any other surface you’re thinking of stenciling)
  • Hold it in place by sticking the edges of the paper on your t-shirt with the tape
  • Cover the sides with the old newspapers so you won’t overspray/paint.
  • Spray paint: hold the aerosol can about 6 inches away from the t-shirt and spray on. Make sure you’re doing this outside as too much exposure is toxic. Wear a mask if you’ve got one. Spray on two coats to make sure that the colour is really dark.
  • Fabric or acrylic paint: dab your paintbrush onto your palette, and apply the paint evenly. Make sure your paint is not too wet.
  • Wait for a few minutes, and then carefully remove the stencil and old newspapers.

That’s it :)

Don’t forget to wear your t-shirt to the next demonstration. If you’ve snapped pictures of where you’ve stenciled this, or came up with your own designs, share them!


Happy stencilling!