Soft Spot Turns 10, and I Printed the T-Shirts

On July 15, a day after Bastille Day, the Soft Spot at 128 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is hosting its tenth anniversary party. I went three years ago to their seventh anniversary, where they played up the 7 theme by turning the joint into a fake casino.

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For this year’s festivities, I was commissioned to print five dozen t-shirts based on this design.

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Printing these particular shirts involved every aspect of what I have come to appreciate as an easy job.

  1. The shirts were mostly-cotton, heather grey shirts from American Apparel. It is much easier to print on light-colored shirts compared to dark ones because I can avoid…
    • using water-based opaque ink that dries in the screen and can extend production time
    • using discharge ink, which smells like rotting fish and is probably a little toxic
      It is also easier to print on all-cotton or 90% cotton because they ink adheres better to the fabric.
  2. The design involved only one color. It saved me from having to burn two screens, and I didn’t have to resort to any two-color trickery with my one-color printing station.

  3. It was easy to custom mix the ink. My ink supplier doesn’t make burgundy so I resorted to mixing a little bit of brown ink into vicon red which more or less made burgundy ink.

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  4. I printed the entire run inside my studio space. Because of the noxious fumes involved with discharge printing, I often have to print on the front porch. As nice as that might sound, it presents some logistical challenges: it requires sunlight, which is hard to exploit with my work schedule, and it leaves me exposed to blood-thirsty mosquitoes. Here, I could print indoors with artificial light and some light air conditioning.

Once I had the ink mixed, I was able to load each shirt on to my printing station and churn out one shirt after another.

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As is common in the summer, the shirts air dry very quickly. By morning, they were completely dry, ready for heat treating, packaging, and delivery.

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Speaking of delivery, aside from sourcing the t-shirts from American Apparel in Los Angeles, everything used to make these shirts was sourced within Brooklyn and Manhattan. It seems fitting that I will be taking these shirts to the bar on foot.

Soft Spot 10th Anniversary

  • July 15, 2015
  • 128 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn

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