For the last few years I have been piling up blank vintage tees waiting for the right project for a limited edition vintage print series. In the process of digging around for blanks I’ve found and flipped a lot of cool printed t-shirts and accumulated a bunch of somewhat cool but not that exciting “extras.” Not blank enough for a limited edition screen print project, not cool enough on their own to list or auction.
My brother and I have both done screen-printing projects in the past for various bands, collectives and kids troops we’ve been involved in having been taught early by our mother who was always in charge of t-shirts for family reunions and even screen printed our family all “moving van” themed t-shirts to get us excited for our family’s big move to NC in 1989.
I was talking to my brother about ideas for some potential screen printing project for these coveted blanks and I mentioned having this hoard of printed vintage tees that I was needing to do something with and wondering if it be worth it to sew them inside out for reuse or do something crafty with them. I told him I wanted to do something I could sell to my vintage lovers and he said “why not just print over the existing design?” He explained the concept of blocking out the initial design with ink and having the new design come through in the negative space and I was immediately sold. Upgrading a just okay vintage t-shirt to cool in endlessly per-mutating collaboration with past designs? I’m in. I wasn’t quite sure how to get the shape out of the two words “Vintage Lover” maybe like in heart I suggested…He said give me a day I’ll send you some ideas.
When I first saw Bob’s mock ups on the computer screen I said “cool looks like the supreme logo” Bob, a fine arts major and professional graphic designer, informed me this is a Barbara Kruger tribute and she was doing this long before any hype streetwear brand. I could immediately see the potential in the printing process for endless different looks, appreciated both the simplicity and the abstraction of the spacing and doubled down on this project needing to happen immediately.
Having done just about every method of silk screen construction there is between us, we have both come to the conclusion, for a big project where crisp lines are a necessity, having a professional service burn the screen is well worth the cost. So, we were swiftly online with the design file ready to send the mock-ups to a burning service.
To get a screen professionally printed you send the design as a negative so anywhere you want ink to flow you leave blank and anywhere you don’t you black out. After quadruple checking to make sure we had the negative space and the positive space correctly specified on the design, which was flipping negative space and positive space to cover up an old print, we put in an order to have screen professionally burned the next day. (Then 3 days later we panicked thinking it was the wrong negative/positive assignment on the design, then we realized, no, it was right how we ordered it. And it was. Whew.)
Here’s our production process on this project from the screen’s arrival to the first successful prints.
Saturday November 6th (rain date is Sunday, Nov. 7th) from 10am-5pm for our Fall Block Market!
We’ll be flooding the parking lots with vintage and handmade goodness from Trunkshow and our vendors, Radyak and Steve Minor Estate Sales!
There will also be live music and food trucks, plus most of the vendors INSIDE Trunkshow will be running booth sales! And don’t forget to make a trip inside Aardvark Screen Printing to check out their amazing antique sign collections, see what they’re all about, and grab some Raleigh themed Merch!
More info on the Block Market: trunkshowraleigh.com
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