How the shirts are made:
First, I start with a blank t-shirt. Not just any t-shirt, but a Comfort Colors shirt dyed by a local company up here in Vermont. Barry T. Chouinard, Inc., is a local vendor from Northfield and a great little company to work with. They're an environmentally-minded shop with that small business feel and an artisinal quality product. The first time I got my hands on one of their shirts I knew they were the ones to use. These are some of the best clothes money can buy and their quality, style and earthy colors are the key to my success.
Not only are their products great but so are their methods. Their computer-controlled dyeing process uses 2/3 less water and utilities than the standard dye operation does. They responsibly treat all the dye run-off and recycle a good deal of the water they use as well. Their shirts are dyed with soft-fade pigment and direct dye colors for that vintage look that commercial dyes just can't match.
My wife Melissa helped me build my workshop above our garage. There, a few close friends help me apply the designs one-at-a-time, using a silk screen frame, a squeegee and a hand-made stencil. My shirts are the opposite of machine fabricated; my process is much less efficeint than it could be but I feel the attention to detail that a small scale operation like mine can afford gives the shirts a sense of character unmatched by the mass-produced t-shirts most of us get stuck wearing.
1) Pick the stencil.
2) Line it up.
3) Apply the ink.
4) Squeegee it.
5) Carefully lift.
My method is very simple. I cut all my stencils out by hand onto a sheet of plastic. I find the stencil I want to use and then I line it up over a shirt. I place my silk screen over it. Using my trusty squeegee, I press the black, water-soluble ink through the screen and onto the shirt. I use water-soluble ink to produce a subtle, flexible image, unlike the hard plastic prints that mass-merchandisers use on their shirts. At this point the shirt is printed, but still wet.
To make it permanent after printing, I heat-set the printed design with an iron before washing the shirt for good measure. The first washing softens the black print a tiny bit, giving it a nicely faded look without having to wash it 100x. All my shirts are preshrunk and as soft as your last favorite tee was before it fell apart. As you can see, this isn't a factory line. I handle every t-shirt myself. I'm sure there are more efficient ways to make a shirt, but I like things the way they are.
Hi! My name is Bo. I was born in the city of Rock n' Roll and awesome BBQ, Memphis, TN. I traveled around this great country for a bit before settling down in Montpelier, VT, where I've been living since 1998. I love Central Vermont and plan to spend the rest of my days here.
My wife and I have two beautiful children and a 22 year old foster son (who is also beautiful). I'm a Music nut; play it, talk about it, listen to, I'm there. I love anything John Denver related, non-fiction television/movies, talk radio, making banjos, stenciling and... T-SHIRTS!
I love t-shirts. I always have. I look for subtle, simple designs or statements on earthy colors and soft, thick cotton. Well, it isn't easy to find an awesome shirt, so I took matters into my own hands, and after receiving a simple screen-printing kit, I began printing my own designs on blank, locally dyed tees. My first t-shirt simply had the word "cheese" written across the chest. People would notice my shirt, laugh, and ask where they could buy one. I quickly realized that lots of other people also wanted simple, colorful, comfortable, original t-shirts. I purchased two more silk-screens, a gallon of water-based black ink and started my business.
For the first four years I sold my shirts, rain or shine, from a small booth at the weekly Montpelier farmer's market. Now I spend my summers traveling to various food and music festivals in the Northeast handing out stickers and spreading the word. People around the world send me pictures of places they put their stickers. You should, too! I also really dig when my customers send me pics of themsleves wearing my shirts.
Thanks for stopping by.