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 🙂

stenciling rampage

i’m running out of solid coloured t-shirts. here’s what i’ve been up to the past two days.

first i tried a black ron paul shirt… i don’t think his face comes across as well but it’s still wearable

ron paul campaign t-shirt stencils

and a south park-inspired one. for some reason my camera hates the colour red and refuses to take accurate photos, but it has terrence and philip’s facial features and “i’m not your friend, guy” in the south park font.

i'm not your friend, guy

finally, i started working on two ok soda-themed shirts. since they never made merchandise, it was sort of hard to convert the few logos i could find from old cans and try to make something of it. i did two so far but now DH wants some too… there will be many more of these to come

the first one: (front)

ok soda shirt


ok soda shirt


ok soda shirt

second shirt:

ok soda shirt

the second shirt is still drying but when it’s done i’m going to add the “ok” logo reversed on the same spot on the back of the shirt. it’s sort of supposed to be the reverse of this can

sigh. now it’s 1am and i have a lot of paint to clean up. opinions would be great!


summer is not the season for knitting. even though my apartment is perfectly air conditioned, no part of the beautiful weather outside my window makes me want to pick up some worsted weight wool and design a hat. or scarf. or whatever. my solution a few weeks ago was to sew sundresses and circle skirts, which worked out until my machine totally crapped out on me. i haven’t found a good place for repairs here, nor do i know who to ask– so if you have any suggestions let me know. in the meantime, i’ve spent the past two days picking up stencilling yet again.

i had a technique floating around in my head for a few years now and i finally decided to try it. i’m willing to write up a quick tutorial if there’s any demand. i did three practice-ish shirts (the designs wrap around from front to back) and then one more complicated bullet hole one that i’m totally in love with (the design is on the back of the shirt on that one):

hole punch stencil t-shirts

bullet hole t-shirt hole punch stencil

this is the stencil for all four shirts above– made with a heart shaped hole punch from dollarama, on faux-laminated card stock paper.

paper cutout stencil

i also made matching shirts for DH and i… someone linked to this stencil portrait of ron paul on craftster, and i added his campaign “r(evol)ution” text below it. i’m absolutely amazed at how well they turned out, especially considering before these shirts i hadn’t stencilled in years.

ron paul campaign t-shirt stencils

in other crafty news, i’m working on a new style of double knit earflap hat with the giftable designs bow logo using those two skeins of malabrigo from the last post. so far it’s beyond adorable (imho) and i can’t wait to finish it.

that’s all for now. more crafty summer fun later, including maybe a stencil tutorial