Sunday, June 14, 2009

How to Make Chess Team T-Shirts Using Fabric Spray Paint

For full instructions on this project, see my other blog post about making t-shirts here. I used the same general technique for making the chess team shirts but with some specific embellishments.


Aerosol fabric paint. Something like this. In black.
White t-shirts.
A cardboard rectangle big enough to slide inside the shirts.
Xacto knife and cutting board.
Freezer paper.
Iron-on letters (optional)

1. Find or draw your design. You are looking for a simple silhouette of a chess piece. You can use whichever piece is your team's favorite. We used kings because our coach refers to the kids as King Benny, King Ben, etc. Maybe you want to be knights or even pawns. You know, the pawns are the most powerful pieces on the board. Or something. Look for something very simple in silhouette, like this:

2. Print out your design at about 10 inches high.
3. With an Exacto knife and cutting board, cut the design out of freezer paper. Save the inside! If you need a visual on this process, check my other post.
4. You now have two pieces of freezer paper -- one in the shape of a chess piece (to make the white king) and one with a chess piece shaped hole in it (to make the black king).

5. Position the freezer paper with a chess shaped hole in it in the spot you want the black king, and iron it down.
6. Slide your cardboard piece up inside your t-shirt to protect it from seeping paint. Spray your fabric paint into the stencil. Spray LIGHTLY! This is not a job for kids. Back up about a foot from the shirt and spray in gentle bursts. If you spray too close or too heavily, it will get clumpy and gluey and will not dry properly. Ever. As long as you live. Even if you live to be 37, like I have.
7. Let it dry for a few minutes and then peel the freezer paper outline off. You now have a black king!
8. Position the king-shaped freezer paper where you want the white king. and iron it down.
9. Spray your fabric paint around this reverse stencil. This is supposed to look a little graffiti, a little rock-and-roll, so spray in a zig-zag and let your inner tagger out. You do have an inner tagger, don't you? You didn't poison your inner tagger with too many violin lessons and tae kwon do tournaments did you? Good. So tag away.
10. Let it dry for a while and then peel the freezer paper off. You are done!

You can also add letters, iron-on jewels, and other embellishment. Go mad. The beauty of custom t-shirts lies in the creative potential; you can put anything you want on them and have a lot of fun doing it, so go nuts! Chess is a battlefield, and you may need to employ all the iron-on weapons in your arsenal. More pictures:

On the kids' shirts, I put the black king on the back.

Father and son shirts. Yes, this is their game face.

Chess shirts in action at the Championship Chess Norfolk tournament in May.

Benny's concentration pose.

The Benjamins

The Brocketts

Chess warriors

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Benny's First Crush

Benny has had a serious crush on a little girl named Cecelia for almost a year. He has had dear, close friends who are girls before, girls he's planned to marry, girls he's been devoted to -- like his deep abiding love for Zoe since he was four years old. But his love for Cecelia is different -- more frantic, more urgent. She's a beautiful, sweet girl with long glorious hair and he just adores her. They hold hands, do art together, play Warriors together, and sometimes he just drags along behind her, worshiping. She is kind enough not to rebuke him, although the intensity of emotion isn't there for her. She sees Benny as a good friend and is happy to let him hang out with her. I so appreciate her tolerance! I thought I'd share some pictures of them together before they both grow out of it.

It must be love. He lets her drive on the bumper cars:

Happy and airborne:

Riding in the front of the roller coaster:

Spinning on the Katapult:

Happy children:

It's summer and they won't be seeing much of each other. I can see at this point that they've already started to drift. Benny loves girls, and his interest is pulled in other directions. Cecelia needs time to hang with her girlfriends and that frustrates him. I can see in my child that his emotions are intense and his loyalty, for a nine-year-old, is deep. The fact that he's been so focused on this one girl for so long is amazing. Thanks to her graciousness and kindness, his first crush was a sweet, innocent business that gave him a lot of joy.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009