Damn, I Printed That?
In the early days of my screenprinting we were totally operating blind. I didn’t even know there were shirts in printers folds and I bought thousands of bags of Hanes undershirts in three packs and in my basement “shop” I had giant stacks of cardboard and bags of plastic bags that I ripped open.
We used to print a giant image of a design we called “Petroglyphs” by my friend artist Ken “Cardo” Brown. It features what look like the primitive cave paintings but instead of bisons and birds there were jackalopes and spaceships and other fanciful funny images. This was a tremendous amount of ink to put down when printing by hand. Oh yeah, and we didn’t have a press. Oh yeah, and we didn’t know what flashing was. With ink additives and ingenuity with my pal Robert Preston we figured how to print it. We built a one color “automatic” press out of a primitive graphic press called a filbar (which we named “Phil.”) It included squeegee pressure controlled by how many lead weights we put on it. We added all kinds of things to the ink which “detackifiers” is the only one I remember. We printed thousands of these shirts, they were very popular.
The other day Ken Brown found this one still in circulation and says, “I met this guy coming out of a store in Turners Falls Massachusetts and he was wearing this shirt from 27 years ago. He said it was his favorite and I congratulated him for a record in the T-shirt longevity sweepstakes.”
With what I know now about printing I can’t believe we printed these as well as we did. I guess it really is true that “that which does not kill us makes us stronger…”