Eight Days of Santacraft, Part 7:
The New Suit - The Stencils

Previously: Eight Days of Santacraft, Part 6: The New Suit - The Hat

I knew I wanted my modified leather jacket to be the centrepiece of my new santa costume, and while I wasn't going heavy on the Cthulhu symbolism as I had previous years, I wanted to keep my Cthulhu Claus santa persona going in some form.

The answer was to cover the back of the jacket in a suitable design. I'd known friends who'd painted leather jackets with latex paint to great effect, but as I've mentioned before I'm a competent designer but not much of an artist - a freehand design was beyond me. The solution was a stencil.

I scribbled a few sketches in idle moments to figure out how I wanted to shape the head and features, then knocked up the final design in Inkscape, printed it on strong paper, and cut it out with my usual snap off craft knife. I never believe I can cut a clean line freehand but the curves came out surprisingly well with a slow and careful approach.

This was the first time I'd stencilled something, and I was fairly nervous about ruining the jacket. I ordered a can of white acrylic spray paint and tested the process on the old jacket until I was happy I could get good, even coverage without drips - there are plenty of guides online, Adam Savage's videos about spraying models have some good suggestions, including making sure that each sweep with the can finishes away from the target area so that the paint doesn't build up while your arm is changing direction.

I carefully taped towels around the area to prevent marking other parts of the jacket, and draped it over a pillow, plumping it up to stretch the stencil over the leather and reduce the gaps around the edges. Finding that thinner sections of the stencil were curling and lifting up, I fixed them down as best I could with little folded-over pieces of duct tape underneath.

I swept the spray can back and forth as gently and evenly as I could, and managed to restrain my nerves for a few minutes for the paint to become tacky before peeling the stencilling ensemble off.

It really came out much better than I expected, with the majority of the lines crisp and sharp - and I was actually really pleased with the misty effect on the edges which made Cthulhu Claus' face look suitably eerie and unreal.

A few lines were obscured enough to detract from the design though, and I went back over them with Games Workshop latex paint and a good paintbrush, feeling much more confident when I found that the black paint matched the leather perfectly and allowed me to adjust the outline pretty much at will. I used red paint and brush to fill in the hat as a colour accent against all the black and white, and called it a job well done.

This year, with a slightly more practiced approach, I went back and completed the design.

Next: Eight Days of Santacraft, Part 8: The New Suit - The Boot Toppers and the End

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