There are no absolutes in the world of pinstriping. You have only to view a handful of the truly great stripers to see that the possibilities of expression are truly infinite, but at the same time, there are boundaries. Although your color palette is unlimited, the wrong choice can ruin a design. Technique and accuracy are crucial for the successful execution of pinstriping designs.
Before you build a house, you have to establish a foundation, and learning to pinstripe is no different. In this article, we’ll take a look at the basics of design, practice strokes, attitude, stance, and other fundamental skills. You may well discover that pinstriping is the most difficult skill to tackle and requires years to master. The tools and the coordination necessary to successfully stripe are quite different from the ones you’re used to. My greatest piece of advice to you is to take this one step at a time.
The first step is to purchase a beginner brush-one that will give a reasonable performance at a reasonable price. I recommend the Mack sword striper, series 10, which is available for $12. I typically use 1-Shot lettering enamel, a favorite of stripers for as long as I’ve been around. For practice, use Black #199L. You’ll also need a white metal panel to practice on, which I buy from a local aluminum company. The panel should be at least 12- by 18-inches. Do not use glass or wood, as the “tooth” (surface tension) is not as good as the basecoat that comes on the metal panel.
First, you should work on getting the feel of your new pinstripe brush. The grip should be only tight enough so as not to drop the brush. Pinch the handle lightly, tuck the end against the “crotch” of your thumb and forefinger. It might feel awkward at first, but it will grow on you.
Trim only the slightest amount of hair off the end of your brush for a thin line. To do this, wet the brush first with brush oil or motor oil to shape it, then slide a single-edge blade firmly in a perpendicular line across the last 1/16th-inch of the hairs.
After laying out the fineline tape to the side of your panel, lay your first line right next to it, all the way down the panel in one steady stroke.
Here we go! Lay the second and subsequent lines down along the other side of the tape until you reach 100 lines (Yep! You read that correctly: 100 lines!) Wipe everything off from the right side of the blue tape and set your 100th stripe next to your first stripe. see any difference?
Here are a few preliminary lines. Riaht handers will I definitely have an easier time working left to right. Note: Lefties should work right to left, not like knucklehead here! Here, Josh Bubin, my friend and 1 5-year-old genius at art, attempts a design. Yes, he’s breaking my “no designing until you learn the basics” rule, but I made him do it! As you can see, even someone with his vast talent needs practice with a brush before starting designs. Do not try this yet!