[2009-02-14] Lint roller art

Lint Lint.'

First, find a suitable lint roller. Obviously, it has to be the 'tape' kind with the tear-off sticky sheets. Mine was made by 3M. Second, find a suitable frame. The image will be preserved by adhering it to the backside of a piece of glass, so it's good to decide early on how big that glass is going to be and what kind of frame it's going to go into.

Now pull one sheet off the lint roller, stick it to a flat surface, and measure its dimensions. Now you know what size to make your stencil. I designed mine using Illustrator and printed it onto regular plain white printer paper. Align it carefully at the edges and wrap it around the roller. The roller's surface should be plenty sticky to keep it in place.

Don't try to cut out the stencil "in the round" on the roller unless you're just a masochist. Rather, unwrap the top sheet from the roller without tearing it off and flatten it on a cutting board or piece of glass. If necessary, tape down the free corners. Now you can cut out the positive from the stencil without worrying about cutting too deep into the roll. Cut through the stencil and the underlying roller tape with a hobby knife and remove the positive areas.

Now carefully wind the cut-out stencil back onto the lint roller. It should stick back in place with no problem, but if it tends to come up at the end you can secure it with a piece of Scotch tape across the seam. Just be sure not to cover the open areas of the stencil.

Apply the roller to a sweater or other source of short, true lint. Long fibers, such as hairs, do not work well for this process, and are pretty gross besides. You could also use dirt or sand or flour or something. Make sure to cover the exposed parts of the stencil thoroughly with lint.

Wearing clean rubber gloves to prevent contaminating the background with stray dirt or debris from your hands, peel away the negative part of the stencil, leaving only the positive areas covered with lint. Any stray fuzz can be removed with tweezers at this time.

Finally, tear off the upper lint roller sheet bearing the positive image and stick it to the back of the glass under which you will display it. Make sure the surface is clean before you stick the tape in place, and make sure you center the sheet as accurately as possible on the glass, because once it's stuck there's no getting it up again without destroying the image. Now assemble and hang the frame, and you're done.

last modified 2009-02-14