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Old 08-25-2011
ilikerust's Avatar
1968 Pearson Wanderer 30
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Painting a sail graphic?

I just recently had a brand-new main sail made by SailCare. We tossed around some potential graphics for the sail, but I finally decided the cost was prohibitive (given what I'm already spending fixing up my old 1968 Pearson, not that SailCare's prices for its services were excessive).

I've seen sail graphics that appear to have been painted on. I've got more than a little bit of artistic/creative ability, so I'm considering hand-painting on a big sail graphic.

I'm wondering what paint would be good to use - I obviously want something that will last a while and withstand some sun and sea, but I also want something that won't harm the fabric of the sail. I'm assuming that a solvent-based paint, such as Rustoleum, would be bad.

I've sent an e-mail to SailCare, asking this same question, but I figured I'd see if anyone here has any experience with applying your own, home-made sail graphic.

- Bill T.
- Richmond, VA

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
- Mark Twain
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Old 08-25-2011
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Since most painted sails are woven dacron or laminate materials and which are virtually chemically inert, 'paint' used on such sails is only a temporary proposition ... ultimately resulting in flaking off and cracking, etc. of the grafix. Thats why the numbers and manufacturer insignia are not painted on sails.

An alternative would be the use of a adhesive backed lightweight 'insignia cloth' - the adhesive backed cloth that is used for sail numbers and insignias ... if the graphix is not too large. Such can be applied then the edges oversewn to keep the cloth in place.

The best time to do extensive graphics is when the sail is being assembled/sewn, then you can insert properly dyed sail fabric, do the necessary 'applique', etc. on relatively small unassembled panels/pieces ....... VERY hard to do on a fully sewn sail because of the 'bulk' under the sewing arm of a sewing machine.

BTW that 'eagle' on the spinnaker on my avatar was made by 'slashing out' the panels, and inserting 'the black' to make a uniform panel with aligned 'bias' to the cloth, ... the 'details' are adhesive-backed and sewn down 'insignia cloth'. You have to get the 'fiber alignment' correct with the inserted so that the panels stretch the same ... otherwise you will get 'puckers' when the sail is fully windloaded.

Last edited by RichH; 08-25-2011 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 08-25-2011
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Maybe not such a good idea on a new sail, but, I love to see more expressive boats out there.
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Old 08-25-2011
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Sails can be painted or more correctly inked. there are severeal ways that it can be done. it can be painted on with a brush or roller they can be slik screened. they also can be dyed or printed with a dye. to do dye sublimation printing on a sail it is done before it is sewn together. some have used the dye with air brush. it does matter which sail material you are using as the dyes and inks are designed for the specific material. heres a spinnaker that was hand painted.
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