Back to the GRIND

If you're from Louisiana, you know what it's like to be stuck behind a cane truck. In fact, you probably remember what it was like being stuck behind cane tractors that topped out at like 20 mph. It's not the most fun part of a daily commute down here, but it's part of what keeps our local economy going. I appreciate our farmers and, more importantly, sugar. :) Look no further than the Chic by Chiaki cupcakes sitting on my counter right now. *drool*

I've had this design floating around in my brain since before I officially started making shirts. I wanted to time this design with the beginning of grinding season and that just didn't happen the last couple years.

As you may have gathered, I'm obsessed with Tik Tok. (Follow us! @rourags) My for you page is nicely curated with artists and musicians and plant peeps. One artist I follow screen prints on shirts and makes her screens with heat transfer vinyl instead of burning an image into emulsion (or however that even works). I own a cricut vinyl cutting machine and have heat transfer vinyl on hand, so the only thing I needed to buy to try this out was a screen, frame, and squeegee. I found a set on Amazon for $20.

I didn't take pictures of the vinyl cutting process. I just uploaded a .png of my drawing into the cricut app and sent it to the cricut to cut a mirror image for heat transfer vinyl. Then I centered the vinyl onto the screen, put an old t-shirt on top, and ironed the vinyl onto the screen. The vinyl stuck to the ironing board a bit, but that didn't seem to negatively affect anything.

Next, I used painters tape (the yellow kind is actual crap- don't buy it) to block off the edges of the screen that the vinyl didn't cover.

The Tik Tok account that I follow (orijenal.creations) uses a diamond cut out at the top of her vinyl on the screen that she matches up with a diamond sticker she puts on her shirt to make sure it all lines up correctly. I tried to do that but it didn't work out this time. Maybe next time. lol

My first print wasn't the greatest, but I still like it because it resembles my block printed shirts. The second print is much cleaner and looks more like a screen print.

This will be the first design for sale that is made using a screen and not a carved rubber block. The major difference for the customer is the look of the print. My rubber block prints look more distressed and have flaws- each print is unique. The screen produces a cleaner, more opaque print.

The screen is certainly faster and cheaper to make and I think in the future it will be easier to make multi-color designs. With each rubber block coming in at about $12-16, it's very costly to carve a second block for a second color. With the screen, a sheet of vinyl is maybe $1 and the screens are just a one-time cost of $20 and can be reused. I do find the screen uses up much more ink than a block, though. So far, the pros and cons list is about even.

As you may have noticed, I switched up the color scheme for the website. I've been trying to find a cohesive theme for my brand and *stick with it* so that my products and images are more recognizable. It's all about branding and packaging (as I have learned from the Tok), so I'm doing my best.

This was my packaging inspiration board:

I'm still using up some of the materials I already have, but I've added black tissue paper with a thank you sticker to wrap the shirts. Shipped shirts are still going out in the teal polymailers, but I've found some marble ones that I'll buy next time. Pick-up shirts are wrapped in the tissue paper and then in brown kraft paper. They will eventually have a marble background new logo sticker, but I need to use up the old stickers first. I've also changed my kraft paper tag to a kraft paper *bookmark* tag. I guess technically the old tag could be used as a bookmark, but the new ones are shaped like bookmarks and they have a quote on the back. One guess as to who the quote is from. ;)

I've also updated the logo and the font that I use. I wanted to create my own font and found out how to do that through the calligraphr site. I drew the letters on their template, uploaded to the website, and downloaded the font! It was super easy. So, of course, after I decided I want to have a cohesive brand, I decide to draw my logo in different colors and with an orangutan on it and a dissent collar. hehe. I am always changing, I love change, and so I figure my logo can be the one thing I can change up to keep things fresh and fun. It's still my logo, but it likes to play dress-up. I've also ordered many of these as stickers, so orders from now on will come with a fun sticker!

I've also decided to try out flat lay product photos. This is yet another way to keep my images cohesive and it saves me a little bit of moneys. I do plan to get a better light to make these photos better (thanks Amy Jo). I also like the idea of making little outfits with my shirts. I love fashion. And, as you can see, the real-life is vastly different from the social media post. LOL

These shirts will be on sale from Tuesday, September 29 to Sunday, October 3.

Happy Grinding Season!

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