Pinstriping is an art that requires a steady hand, a great deal of focus, and tremendous talent. Pinstriping artists that are accomplished are patient. They are inventive. They are exclusive. Fortunately, I am the daughter of one of these exceptionally gifted persons. My father taught himself how to pinstripe in his parents’ garage almost 45 years ago. He’s been doing it since then. His ability has helped him to distinguish himself from other artists and automotive enthusiasts. And he is incredibly distinctive; any auto mechanic in our neighborhood knows to go to him since he is the greatest.
Pinstriping Starter Lesson
Pinstriping is a decorative element. It enhances a standard paint job and makes a car, or anything stands out. You could line up several black ’32 Roadsters and they would all appear identical. Detailing, such as pinstriping, is what distinguishes and differentiates each item from the others.
However, pinstriping is not exclusive to autos. This particular “flair” can be added to any artwork that requires a facelift. To name a few examples: boats, planes, coolers, refrigerators, and guitars. My father is fond of saying that he can pinstripe anything that rolls, floats, or flies. He has even been known to pinstripe a few toilet seats. Let me tell you, striped toilet seats provide the ideal bathroom for a man cave! Numerous patterns fall under the heading of “pinstriping.” There are straight lines, elaborate designs, letters, images, and occasionally even flames!
However, pinstriping is not for everyone. As stated previously, this requires specific talent. It requires specialized equipment and resources and is a demanding procedure. However, you may be interested in learning more about this so-called ‘process,’ so let’s discuss it briefly.
Grease and Wax Remover
Even on freshly painted surfaces, the surface must be prepared. New paint can harbor skin oils, fingerprints, and other pollutants, therefore a wax and grease remover will be required. You should use one rag for application and one rag for removal.
After removing the wax and grease, you will need to clean the surface once more, but this time using a glass cleaner. Occasionally, the wax and grease remover is not completely removed using the ‘take off’ rag; therefore, employing a glass cleaner will ensure that all are removed.
Your surface has been prepared and you are ready to begin!
I’m sure that some painters prefer to have a design sketched out before they begin, while others prefer to “fly it.” My father is the spontaneous type. With over 40 years of expertise, he has seen his fair share of ideas, so he does not have a specific plan in mind before he begins. To ensure that the design is centered, he measures the midpoints of the headlight, hood, trunk, etc., as preparation is essential. You may use a water-soluble pencil to indicate your measures; it will disappear after the striping is complete! But when it comes to the stripe, he puts pen to paper, or in this case, brush to the surface, and follows where his hand leads him. Regardless of the method utilized, it is essential to maintain a uniform appearance throughout.
Preparing the Surface
In addition to preparing the surface, pinstriping requires additional preparation and work behind the scenes. The brushes come in a range of sizes and shapes, but according to my father, they are ‘heavily modified’ and require some work. Depending on the type of brush you choose, it may require “grooving.” My father trims his brushes to make them narrower, and then he squares off the tips. Sometimes the bristles on the brushes are kinked, much like human hair, which can be problematic. Kinked bristles are not straight by nature, thus they offer difficulties when attempting to draw a very thin, straight line. Always test the brush on a practice piece to familiarize yourself with its feel. AND sadly, certain brushes simply do not function.