T-shirts = complete

braziltshirt.PNGLast night Shamus and I completed the last of the t-shirts for his martial arts academy. Holy moly it was a lot of work, I think we probably invested a good 40-50 hours on the project. We also put quite a few dollars into the project. Shamus spent about $170 of his t-shirt income to buy screens, hardware, putty, and inks. I spent about half that on new emulsions, construction supplies, and fabric. But now that the setup is built, the maintenance costs will be minimal and the resulting t-shirts are masterful.

It may not look particularly amazing by itself, but compared to those t-shirts that first came off of our assembly line the difference is staggering. Take note of the great consistency of the colors and the alignment… oh man, the alignment is DEAD on.* I think you’d have to work on such a project like this to really appreciate the complexity in achieving an acceptable pressing tolerance.

You can’t even compare these shirts and the cupcakezilla t-shirts of a few years ago – totally different leagues. Now that I have this apparatus, four color t-shirts are fully achievable. If you have any really clever multi-color t-shirt ideas feel free to fire me an e-mail and let’s make it happen.

*”DEAD on” given the screens we used. I think I could improve the quality just slightly by adjusting the tolerances of the transparencies used to make the screens. If you have a sharp eye, you might notice the slight intentional overlap of the green over the yellow. We should have done the same of the green over the white around the flag’s perimeter – especially considering that the shirts are black.

Silk Screening Adventure

Normally I save these types of posts to use as Features, but this weekend was too eventful to wait.

On Saturday, Shamus and I got together to start work on a silk screening jig for an ambitious silk screening project. Shamus takes martial arts classes and agreed to make a four color t-shirt for his peers. For those of you in the silk screening know, you’re probably thinking “Four colors!?!! Gah!!” Indeed, four colors.

Cupcakezilla was the last time I tried a four color shirt. And while the shirt came out pretty sweet, we only had 3 semi-successful runs out of 8 attempts. Not a good ratio. This time, success was even more important because instead of screening on $3 shirts, we would be screening on $20 exercise shirts. No room for error!

After making a plan, Shamus and I went about building a very robust jig.

Shamus – in action!

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I’ve dabbled with silk screening of t-shirts and I definitely love the process and the results… but I’d describe the results as little more than a fun past-time. I want to make my screening more artful. Interestingly, I’m not sure the best way to do so is through better use of photoshop MSPaint.

What makes the perfect silk screen?

If you recall, a year or so ago I posted a link to the Ramones on window shades. Find it here.

Today I saw this blending of Snow White and Apple on Digg. Genius!

I think silk screening is beautiful in part because it requires a simplification of color. Screening multiple colors is a pain in the butt, so you’ll rarely see silk screening that incorporates more than three colors.

So unearthing the fundamental shape of your subject is number one.

Less important, I think, than representing your subject is choosing one. For me, my favorite silk screen examples almost always incorporate some reference to pop culture. Don’t get me wrong, unique individual stuff is awesome too, but I just love it when someone can squeeze a pop culture image into a creative unexpected use.

And there’s medium. I’ve been exclusively working on t-shirts. I think I need to explore other types of canvas. Walls, drapes, pants… that snow white laptop is brilliant. I have an old bass amp that I don’t use much, perhaps I could silk screen something righteous on its face.

Finally, size. I’ve been so specifically focusing on 8×11 that I need to try something different. Something HUGE. I was thinking about trying to silk screen a wall in my house.

It’s time I expanded my silk screening envelope.