When I was searching for a shower curtain to go with our bathroom re-do, I had a hard time finding anything I really liked. I knew I wanted a mermaid to go with our predominantly mermaid-themed bathroom, but everything I was finding I either didn’t like or seemed too busy. (I’ve come to realize that part of keeping the “chic” in geek involves keeping it simple – too much pattern/design tends to make a room feel overly cluttered.)
So, after searching just about everywhere imaginable (including places like eBay and Etsy), I decided to make my own. Although I greatly enjoy DIY projects, I am by no means an artist, so the next question then became – how do I paint a giant mermaid on a shower curtain? Why, stencil, of course!
I absolutely love the finished result – very minimalist and “chic” while still indulging my geeky love for mermaids. Here’s how I did it.
1) First, I chose a design by searching Google for “mermaid silhouette.” Then, I measured the area of the bathtub/shower curtain to decide how big I wanted the image on the finished shower curtain to be and adjusted the picture size accordingly in the image program that came with my Mac (Preview).
2) Now I, of course, don’t have the ability to print what was an essentially a 3 foot by 4 foot image, so the next step was to take my file to Staples and have them print what’s called an “engineer’s print” (costs about $3.)
3) Because I was stenciling fabric, I decided to use the freezer paper method of stenciling. (You cut your image out of freezer paper and then iron the freezer paper to the fabric. The wax on the one side will cause the paper to stick to the fabric temporarily so that you can get good edges on your stencil.) To get a big enough piece, I ripped out two lengths of freezer paper and taped them together horizontally.
4) You can now lay your engineer’s print underneath the freezer paper and trace your design.
5) Once you have your design traced, cut out the spaces you want to fill in with paint. If you have any areas of negative space you want to block out inside your design, make sure to cut these out too. You can also iron these down on your fabric to keep them from getting filled in with paint. (I had to do this for an area inside the arms.)
6) Put down some cardboard or paper under your fabric to protect your counter/floor (wherever you’re going to paint) from paint bleed-through and then iron on your freezer paper stencil.
7) Fill in your design with paint. Be sure to either use a fabric paint or turn your paint into fabric paint by using a fabric medium, such as this one from Martha Stewart. (Non-fabric paint will dry too stiffly on fabric.) Also, when painting your stencil, be sure to brush away from the edges of your design rather than toward them. (Or else you risk getting paint under your edge lines. Lastly, make sure to do at least two coats of paint. Even if coat #1 looks filled in enough, when you peel the fabric up off your paper/cardboard your coat of paint will look a lot thinner and potentially have some barely filled in spaces.
8) Follow the directions on your chosen paint to set-up your finished design, and voila! – You have a giant stenciled image. Enjoy!
Here are some more pics of our bathroom re-do: