In the beginning...

Updated: Jan 22, 2019

I can't even remember how it started. Probably like any other craft project or hobby that I get excited about- I saw something cool online and thought, "I could totally make that." Then I buy all the materials and "totally make" whatever it is and then lose interest before making a second one. <insert half-completed weaving hanging on the wall>

So I must have seen a block print somewhere and thought, "I could totally make shirts with that!" I researched (Googled) everything about block printing, linocut, fabric ink, and t-shirts.

I didn't jump right in, though. I wrote out a plan. I want to make hand-printed t-shirts. What kind? Definitely that idea that came about on a Facebook comment thread. My friends are pretty funny, so probably something funny that comes about organically. Probably designs that have to do with Thibodaux. I always have a song in my head so maybe some cool song lyric.

I decided I really wanted to focus on shirts related to Thibodaux and the surrounding areas, but then ended up carving out a play on a song lyric.  ? That's my brain for ya.

So I created an image and printed it out and then used transfer paper to get it onto the linoleum block (in reverse image).

I started carving and WOW that's hard on the shoulder and elbow! It took me a bit to get the hang of it. I finished up carving and inked it up. A few test prints on paper led me to mounting the linoleum on a piece of wood. I was eager to try it out on a sample shirt and of course ended up with a wonky image. Patience is not my strongest suit.

I held off for a long time before attempting to print onto the rest of the shirts. I wasn't completely satisfied with the cut. I ended up printing it onto the other two sample shirts and was still not happy (even though the image was centered!). I was starting to feel discouraged. I had another idea for a Mardi Gras themed shirt so I decided to whip out the second piece of linoleum and start over completely.

And how cute is this design? From the start it felt like it was going to work out AND it sticks with the Thibodaux theme. Win, right?

I hadn't tried out the white ink yet so I started off with a print on black paper. So far so good.

These are all of the Mardi Gras Krewes in Thibodaux in the order that the parades roll. Maasai is a new krewe that was scheduled to roll last year but didn't make it out for some reason. They're still on the calendar for this year so I'm still including them. They're rolling on Mardi Gras day after Krewe of Ghana.

So I was pumped to use the white ink on the shirts! Ha. Another fail.

Hardly even visible. I'm using screen printing ink instead of block printing ink because it's water-based and meant for fabric instead of paper. Most block printing ink is just for paper. There are other types of screen printing ink that would probably show up better, but this kind is water-based and not made of plastic. I'm sure this ink looks just fine using a screen. Well, needless to say at this point I was pretty aggravated. This is NOT a sample shirt. My fault for not testing out the white ink on fabric first. I was ready to give up, honestly, but then I said out loud to myself that the people who are successful get there by not giving up. Cheesy, but it worked. I had nothing to lose by trying to print the black ink on top of the white. Guess what? It looked pretty cool! Woot!

Feeling overjoyed with the results, I finished up the rest of the first batch of shirts!

My vision for the future is to make batches of shirts. Once they're gone, they're gone. This keeps things exciting for me. This first batch is 18 shirts.

And what good shirts don't have a brand name? Rou Rags sounded cute enough. :) There's a whole process of making tags and buying tagless shirts to be able to put your own brand tag in it. That's complicated and costly for this little endeavor, so I just carved up the logo on linoleum and will put it on the bottom back of the shirts. Fits with the theme, eh?

I hope everyone enjoys this very first batch of shirts! Happy 12th night! And stay tuned for the next batch of shirts, probably coming out around April (aka festival season...).


#rourags #tshirts #thibodaux #linocut #blockprinting #tshirtdesign #louisiana #nola #linocarving #handcarved #reliefprinting #printmaking #softkut

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