How to do it.

28 12 2007

To avoid using toxic spray paint I found a way to make mud stencils. 

            Materials: Mylar, X-Acto knife, tape, mud, sponge.


1.)   Design your stencil.  Draw your stencil the size you want it, or design it on a computer and print it.  Make sure you do not have islands (parts of an image that will fall out if you cut around them, like the middle of an O.)  If you are using text, use a stencil font.  If are using a computer print your design the size you want the stencil to be.  If it is larger then 8X10 cut it apart in photo shop and print it in pieces, or enlarge it at a local copy store.


2.)   Cut it.  Tape your design behind or in front of the transparent Mylar.  Mylar is the same stuff used as transparencies for projectors, you can find a roll of it at art stores.  Use the X-Acto knife to cut your design out of the Mylar.


3.)   Get Mud.  Find or make some mud.  I mixed soil and water then beat it with a whisk.  Make sure your mud is not watery.  It should be about the same consistency as peanut butter.


4.)   Post it.  Tape the stencil to whatever you want it on, it works on sidewalks or walls.  If parts of the Mylar roll up put some tape under it.  Then use the sponge to dab the mud on your stencil. Do not press too hard because if you squeeze muddy water out of the sponge it may sneak under the stencil.

5.)   Enjoy.  Remove the tape on the outside of the stencil.  Carefully remove the Mylar, and enjoy your non-toxic mud stencil.




33 responses

4 01 2008

This is so cool. I’m going to do this.

Thanks for sharing, though the instructions on how to make mud was funny, but in this day in age it’s kind of needed.

Sort of reminds me of the Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy when he said, “that any civilization that had so far lost its head as to need to include a set of detailed instructions for the use in a package of toothpicks, was no longer a civilization in which I could live and stay sane.”

We live in a crazy world.


11 01 2008
Pedro Soares Neves

thank you

22 03 2008

pretty cool. I added a link to this page on (which you might be able to expand on).

Another method I’ve been looking at is spray bottles (the pump-up ones), and supersoakers. it wouldn’t work for mud, but it might work well for some natural dyes, or paints.

2 12 2012

mie imi pare cam .nush cam lash ..plm cat poate sa dureze sa pui un stick ca asta 5-10 sencude?da da-l frate stencil asa are mai mult gen abtibild sau macar daca tot il vroia stick trebuia cred sa nu il faca stencil adica sa nu lase bridgeurile grosolane, ca si-ar fi permis sa il faca si fara bridge-uri.nush eu asta

24 03 2008

Thanks for linking my page, I always appreciate people doing that. I hope the spray dyes work out, It would be great to see more non-toxic street art.

2 05 2008

First off its cool to see someone trying something new such as using mud. I have been cutting stencils for several years now and one of the first things i noticed was that on the back of the can of spraypaint it says that it has not CFC’s which is the chemical that depletes the ozone. Although the spray paint is still harmful when inhaled it isnt harmful to the ozone.

10 05 2008

That’s right, I believe CFC’s have been banned in the United States for some time now. That does not however make spray paint an environmentally friendly medium. If it is toxic to inhale, then it is also toxic when released into the air. The amount of pollinates being released from using spray paint is probably minimal though. The greater environmental damage it causes occurs in the extraction of chemicals, and manufacturing of the product. That is also the case with many household products that we treat as disposables, especially electronics.
I am not suggesting people should stop stenciling with spray paint. I just use mud as my medium because it seams hypocritical to create environmental art that is toxic. I also think its fun to play with mud. Thanks or your comment, I appreciate the point you are raising and I would like to make the distinction that I do not believe I am saving environments by using mud as my stencil medium. What I am doing is more for my comfort in avoiding toxic products, and inspiring others to find alternatives to toxic products they use.

17 06 2008

This has to be the most brilliant idea I’ve seen so far in ambient advertising+save the environment.

Thanks for the sharing!

1 07 2008

ingenious work. i will spread the word

13 08 2008

I like it, but I can’t see any suggestion of how long it stays on walls etc – does it wash off with the first rain? Or do people end up cleaning it off by other means? Obviously it’s less problematic from building managers’ point of view than traditional spray paint, but how long do the mud stencils let you communicate your message for?

18 08 2008

It all really depends on where its placed. On a sidewalk they get washed only after a really heavy rain. On most semi-exposed walls they will last a few months. Under an overhang or protected wall they stay up unless someone removes them.

11 04 2009

I have been experimenting with other materials. X-rays work better than mylar, they are free, and you will be reusing instead of consuming! I think there are patient confidentiality issues with people X-rays, so I got some from a veterinary clinic. Laminated paper would work too. Tarpaper, which is used under roofing shingles, works well, especially for large stencils. Use a projector to enlarge your image on the paper, then trace.

21 10 2009

I think your idea is fantastic and reminds me of my senior thesis at the School of Visual Arts in New York. I wanted to focus on environmental art and started to go crazy about what I should use as my medium. I ended up doing some drawings with dirt/mud in my studio on recycled paper. It was a very freeing experience.
I followed the links from today’s Treehugger post over here to your site to look at your stuff more fully. Very cool. After beginning to read the “How To” section I immediately thought, ‘yeah, but what about Mylar!” and to my satisfaction I see that you are playing with different ideas. Even cooler. What about making stencils out of canvas? Could that work? I don’t have any experience with stencil making… but also an avenue to think about if you haven’t… old sheets?
Best to you, continue the Good work!

27 08 2011

Thank you all for the great ideas. I love the idea of getting x rays from the vet! Has anyone found a non toxic ink or dye that could be used with a spray bottle and stencil? I am a ceramic artist so I love the idea of mud, but it would be cool to layer the media…

29 04 2009

Awesome job! I was wondering who was putting these up on campus. =]

9 06 2009
k dilley

I love this project! And thank you for sharing your step by step, so generous. I linked to your project on my blog if you have time please stop by.

Have you ever mixed seeds into the mud?


11 07 2009

interesting !

suggesting; take natural hennapowder which is -as far as i know-
non toxic was well.
perhaps tempera like;
with an egg yolk!
( it makes my hair shiny ! )
the colour is fading away s l o w e r
for instance your favorite stencil , like a s n a i l ! ! !
btw: take rubber gloves

14 07 2009

This has got to be the BEST idea I have seen in a while!! Encourages serious guerrilla graffiti. I love the idea that it can wash away – here today, gone tomorrow, reappear somewhere else just as easily. Looooooovvve it!

20 10 2009
pedro homero

At last, graffiti that i like – that means, graffiti that can be rubbed off by the person(s) that live on the house/street used. One person can spread a message, another can clean his/her wall. Perfect!
Great tip, thanks!

22 10 2009
Daily DIY Network - Science Projects Plans Guides » Blog Archive » Mud graffiti is fun, eco-friendly

[…] not normally a huge fan of graffiti, but I like Jesse Grave's this technique of using mud stencils to temporary graffiti. It seems like a nice, low impact alternative to making moss graffiti, plus you get to play with […]

23 10 2009
Joel Smith

I love this idea. Has anyone tried clay, or adding clay to the mud recipe? Ask your friendly local potter for any waste clay or slip. Darker clay bodies should work well, and I’d bet they would be more durable that garden-variety dirt.

23 10 2009
Green Graffiti // MAKE Magazine » THE P.S. BLOG

[…] green?  Jesse Grave uses mud stencils to create ‘temporary’ graffiti.  Here’s a guide on how to make graffiti with mud.  The best part is that you get to play with […]

23 10 2009
25 10 2009
Mud graffiti is fun, eco-friendly | ToGadget , The Guide to Gadgets

[…] not routinely a outrageous fan of graffiti, but I similar to Jesse Grave’s this technique of using sand stencils to have proxy graffiti. It seems similar to a nice, low stroke pick to moss graffiti, and you get to fool around with mud! […]

29 10 2009

needs colors…
and needs a surface that will wash off… stuff with holes, guaranteed not so good…
I’m thinking of making at least one of the walls on my house into an easel designed to take mud or something similar to paint on… and then wash off…
great outdoor activity for kids of all ages..
We did some of that, in fact, last spring: painted a wonderful large clay frog planter copiously with water color… outdoors, in the air and sun, onto the grass and ground with any spillage, and voila! a lovely colored frog.
i’ll be making unglazed figures for outdoor paintable sculptures, and signs! paintable yard signs… like, “obama spoken here”… each house really expresses itself.

25 04 2011

This is great never heard of this. Wonder if it can be used for shop decoration?

13 06 2011

I have enjoyed looking at your work. I reckon Industrial commercial paints colonize the imagination. How can we grow a nourishing creative worldview that values ecological health with inherently toxic media? Is it ok for me to link your site on my blog?

13 06 2011

you bet! please just credit images.


22 06 2011
Eco-Friendly Stenciling | Fauxology

[…] Graves was kind enough to give a good working recipe.  A quick how-to time lapse video showing how to mud stencil is provided by the Keep A Breast […]

20 09 2011

Now I’m using toxic paint for an art-project. Never happy with it. I’ll see if this can fit in the concept. I love the idea of this technique.
If I use it , I let ya know!

27 01 2012

I like this post. I am very glad to have read of this information. This will inspire me totally to update my blog on How to Be Eco Friendly. Keep posting great posts…🙂

9 07 2015

I just did this with my kids! It was so fun! Thank you for sharing your brilliant idea!

29 09 2015
Mud graffiti is fun, eco-friendly | Make: DIY Projects, How-Tos, Electronics, Crafts and Ideas for Makers

[…] not normally a huge fan of graffiti, but I like Jesse Grave’s this technique of using mud stencils to make temporary graffiti. It seems like a nice, low impact alternative to moss graffiti, plus you get to play with mud! He […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: