This technique can be interpreted in a variety of ways: It can be used to create quick and simple artwork for your walls, as a base for a mixed-media or assemblage piece, or in the way in which I’m demonstrating today…recycling a beloved t-shirt into canvas art! No joke, I’ve owned this t-shirt for 25 years. After I stopped wearing it; I kept it in my closet, thinking I would come up with a creative way of reusing it…and that day has finally arrived! I concluded that the best way to preserve this funny old favorite of mine, would be to turn it into a canvas art piece that I could hang in my studio.
The supply list is short on this one. You’ll need a t-shirt, an appropriate size canvas ( I used an 11 x 14), regular gel medium in a matte finish, fabric scissors and either a large paint brush used specifically for glue or a disposable foam brush.
Start by cutting the sleeves, collar band and back off your t-shirt. Leave an ample amount of material that will allow for the image to fit the canvas top, but to also be stretched around the sides. Perform a “dry run” to make sure the t-shirt fits the canvas accordingly. Next, dip your brush into the gel medium and generously apply it to the top and sides of the canvas. Smooth out as much as possible, to ensure an even application of gel medium.
Carefully center and place your t-shirt on top of the canvas and begin smoothing out the wrinkles, stretching the material around the sides and to the back. You’ll need to cut into the corners to eliminate the excess fabric. Fold and make hospital corners with the material on the top and bottom of the canvas. Use scissors to cut off all the excess fabric from the back, making sure the sides of the canvas are completely covered. Use additional gel medium to glue down any areas of the t-shirt that are not adhered well to the canvas. Let dry completely.
Finish your canvas art by applying another thin coat of gel medium, to act as a sealant. FYI: Mod Podge is better suited for adhering paper and cardstock materials. The thicker gel medium works better for gluing t-shirt material or other fabrics onto the canvas. You could, however, use Mod Podge as the top coat/sealant for this project. I also recommend the matte finish on whichever product you choose to use…it maintains the vintage quality of the material. In other words; a t-shirt should not have sheen, in order for the image to shine! Insert smiley face…!