a shirt a day: week 1

so just to add to my recent printmaking obsession, i’ve suddenly gotten back into silk screening. this happened to coincide with a recent acquisition of about 200 blank american apparel shirts. convenient, huh? so i decided to challenge myself to do one shirt a day each weekday until i can no longer use the silkscreening studio at school. not sure when that will happen, but for now…..

here are last week’s shirts:

1. this is the first shirt i printed in about 6 years. turns out summer camp silk screening experience didn’t help me much– the design isn’t saturated on most of the shirts (i only did one pass each and it took awhile to realize if i didn’t lift my screen i could do 3 or 4 to get more true colors). either way, i don’t mind them. lysander spooner is appropriate for a shirt with a vintage vibe.

2. gadsden flag. i shot this screen with the intention of making stickers, but ended up throwing in a shirt just for fun. it ended up being one of my favorite shirts, and i’ve enjoyed plastering the stickers and handing them out as well. the background of the stickers is an iridescent yellow– i thought gold would be too tacky and yellow would be too flat so i mixed them

3. based off the ever-popular youtube video, peter schiff was right. he continues to be right to this day, and these shirts have been a pretty decent conversation-starter (conversation, lecture, what’s the difference 😉 ?)

4. on that note, i remade some ron paul revolution shirts. the stencilled ones from last year are beginning to look a bit dingy. so even though paul seems to have kind of faded after the election, i’m trying to keep the spirit.

5. finally, i ended the week on a much more intense note, printing-wise. this one started off as a print on paper and eventually evolved into a shirt and then some stickers. it’s oblio and arrow from the point! by harry nilsson. reference photo is from the cover of the DVD. the print is a 9-color edition of 5. and if you know anything about registration, getting that many colors to properly match up on something stretchy like a t-shirt is something only a nutso like me would do. it took the whole day, but hey, i got 4 amazing shirts out of it and i’m really proud (the shirts and stickers are only 7 colors because i left out the background and one of the black layers).

that’s it for this week! thanks for looking, let me know what you think! (with all these extra shirts, i’m always willing to print more for sale. giftable [at] gmail [dot] com for more info!)

quick knitting update– a pair of mittens are almost finished. a sweater is in the works and up to the sleeves. another is about to be frogged entirely. and i’m on the hunt for the perfect yarn for a littleton. lots of pictures and knitterly things to come!

everything is going to be OK

here’s another obscure technique to add to the list: linoleum woodblock printing with a laser etching machine. as it turns out, with a little trial-and-error, technology actually may be a great companion to the ancient practice of printmaking. and while laser etching on to a piece of plexi and using it as an intaglio plate is very much possible, it involves a lot more machinery and expensive materials than the good old wood cut.

if you’ve done woodblock printing before, you know that you begin with a piece of material (wood, or in this case, linoleum) and carve away your design, with the non-carved areas (high points) being what will print. this works well for hand-drawn designs, but for precision, even a steady hand can sometimes cut away too much or make an uneven line. so last semester, i sent out some unmounted easy-cut lino and some very precise computer files to see what kind of detail was possible with the laser machine. i chose to keep with my OK Soda theme, since a big part of the aesthetic of the brand was the clean-cut, industrial text and the layering of multiple images (that is, it had to be exact but would be hard to do with a silkscreen unless i wanted to make a ton of different screens with the appearance of randomness).

so i digitally recreated a bunch of logos (each a few inches wide) and lines of small text (1/2 cm to 1cm in height) from the sides of various cans and sent them off. the laser machine will only etch so deep, and it’s not deep enough. it gets the detail lines really well (see the text on the lino– on some of them, it’s only 5 millimeters tall!), but for large gaps, the roller will dip into the open space and leave you a big mess. below are my final blocks, after being used about a million times (sorry about the grime). you’ll see that i had to go in with hand tools and x-acto knives on all of them to deepen the carvings. that being said, all the exact work was done for me. for contrast, the block of the hand holding a barcode was carved entirely by hand. printing was relatively easy, i just used the stamping method. to make sure every detail printed, i used the back of a wooden spoon to press over the whole stamp before removing it. i tested it on scrap white fabric and then moved on to my t-shirts and then, the symbol of the OK era, the flannel shirt.

text: (seriously. zoom in on this one. 11 megapixels of goodness– the thumbnail doesn’t do it justice)

logo block:


hand with barcode: (hand cut)

why OK Soda? the short story is that it was a fruity soda that Coke released and marketed toward Gen-X’ers (grunge kids) in the early 90’s. their marketing focused on being the indifferent choice and, as you could imagine, they failed miserably at marketing to the unmarketable. the failure of the soda was so epic that the soda never left its test markets and it was soon forgotten. but, nearly 20 years later, fan groups are popping up on the internet and vintage soda cans are selling on ebay. so now, the chronically overmarketed soda which is no longer in existence once again has demand because of its lack of availability. sounds like the paradox of an artist and his art, eh? (that is, that an artists work is never appreciated until he or she is dead).

oh, also i really like the art from the cans. i kind of just wanted merchandise of a brand that never made merchandise (but if it had, nobody would have worn it).

ok, enough typing! here are the final shirts (click to zoom):

inspired by the overlapping logo design here:
(printed on the side of a flannel shirt)

(and on the top and shoulder of a women’s t-shirt)

inspired by the OK-ness of plaid (just following the horizontal and vertical lines):
(on the front pockets of a flannel shirt)

(framing the “OK” logo on the bottom corner of a t-shirt)

(slightly harder to see– hand with barcode on the back of a flannel shirt, framed by plaid patterned text. the hand was taken from this can)

my printing got really sloppy toward the end (especially visible on the 2nd to last one). i was trying to make a deadline on very little sleep and just gave up wearing gloves– my ink-covered fingers were all over the shirts, as were the dirty edges of the blocks. i guess you’ll just have to trust me that printing these is a total dream.

that’s all for now. i promise sometime soon there will be a post about knitting! i’m finally making progress on a bunch of WIP’s and i have a few little FO’s to share. but in the mean time, here are a few of my photos of the 4th of july fireworks this past weekend in NYC. we had an amazing view from the roof. hope you like them 🙂