Saturday, September 19, 2009

Notes: How to paint a suitcase

I'll be travelling next week, and so yesterday and today, I put finishing touches on my suitcase. The stencils were purchased from Wal-Mart, and I used Krylon spray paint in metallic silver. As noted in my previous post, I had placed a straw onto the tip of the spray can so that I could focus the paint more easily.

There were two designs I wanted to respray: the first flower pattern on the top, and the last pattern on the bottom.  I put masking tape all along the edges of the stencils and used clear plastic trash bags (which I had gotten for free from the rolls offered on the stadium parking lot) to cover the rest of the suitcase.  Starting with the top design, I found that the the straw on the end of the spray can was not useful.  The paint still ended up pooling outside the stencil, rather than inside the cutout shape.  I eventually took a blade of grass, and scooped up the liquid spray paint from the covered part of the stencil, and touching the paint to the inside of the stencil.  That worked MUCH better than the actual spraying.  I applied several coats of paint in this manner.  When I finished and removed the stencil, I found that the spray paint had seeped under the stencil rendering the floral shapes into indeterminate blobs.  When working on the bottom pattern, I used a much lighter hand.

My conclusion is that for ballistic nylon suitcase fabric, normal spray paint and stencils are not a good combination.  I believe that the spray paint is too thin, and just sinks into the fabric.  As mentioned before, the non-porous plastic outline of the stencil had spray paint pooling on it, but very little paint was apparent on the suitcase fabric, even when "brushing" on the paint with a blade of grass.  The paint drops would disappear into the fabric.  Unless I had a large stencil, at least 3 inches across, I don't think I would bother with regular spray paint again.  I have heard that fabric spray paint had a thicker consistency. I would try that next time for my fine stencil designs, if I were to use spray paint. Most likely, if I had a small design, I would just use paint markers. I've found that both Rustoleum and Krylon make paint markers.

After the spray paint dried, I used a DecoFabric fabric markers, bought at Michael's, to highlight the designs. I hope that the paint will not scratch off in my travels--but I get to test that next week.