Saturday, March 2, 2013

Ethyl Cellulose - Now add a binder and we got lift off

Adhesion is very important when it comes to t-shirt printing, which is why my approach at making an ink that would wash out is ironic, or moronic, depending on how you look at it. Still it was harder than I thought to make an ink that would wash out, even without any binders. My research and craftiness has now taken me down the path of making a natural ink and it appears that the stuff I was using as a base, Ethyl Cellulose, is actually used in inks for printing. Article posted at stated: "It is also found in printing inks, hot melt adhesives, football helmets, and tool handles". This means that my use of Ethyl Cellulose was not far fetched as a printing medium. I have made some concoctions that grew mold or didn't seem to gel, but with this encouraging news I am going to go back to the drawing board and see what type of gooey mess I can come up with. I am afraid to use my old batches of goop and I am going to make a more sterile solution so as not to encourage a growing environment for other things. Ethyl Cellulose only has to be mixed with water and allowed to gel. I purchased the stuff in 1 pound bags at Douglas and Sturgess in Richmond, CA. Ethyl Cellulose one pound bag for sale online here:

Slap Tags that can be made with t-shirt printing

I recently learned the phrase, "Slap Tag", and liked the way it sounded. Although you can easily say the word "sticker" for an pressure sensitive adhesive backed image that can be put around in places for promotional purposes, it doesn't quite contain the process of promoting in it's name. Slap Tag implies the process of slapping a label on something and the sing-song sound of the words together made me repeat it for a few hours. The problem with slap tagging in public is that it is illegal unless you voluntarily give the sticker to someone and they put it on their car or personal property.

I have been playing around with t-shirt transfers and punk rock fonts and recently found that I can make a thick plastisol print and turn it into a removable sticker for car windows and some other surfaces. I am calling these slap tags, with the idea that if they were used in public, it may not be illegal since the sticker itself can be removed easily and would not cause any damage. More to come...

The perfect font - Punk Rock Lettering for transfers

I have always avoided t-shirt transfers for a bunch of reasons, but for lettering the issue of getting the transfers straight would worry me so much that I have never done lettering for t-shirts, unless I could print the whole name. Then I started experimenting with a punk rock font that I could use to make emblems for cars and not worry about how it lines up since it is "Punk" to begin with. For t-shirts the concept should be the same, so I mocked up a bunch of neighborhood and city text designs for Los Angeles to get the idea out there that I can now do lettering. Here are some samples:I call it Punky Town t-shirts, although I am thinking about changing it to Phunky Town. These shirts are going to be listed for sale online here:

The time has come to experiment with the cotton matrix

I have spend a lot of time working with cold casting materials and epoxies to create durable artwork, mostly detailed here at Now I am going to turn my attention towards cotton and printing and try to have the same amount of fascination that I have had with embedded pigments and apply it to screen printing. I love testing things and seeing if they work, so I hope this makes for some interesting projects.

My last experiments with t-shirt printing was to make a label free t-shirt by printing the size information into the shirt with an ink that would wash out. I found that mixing particles in a water-based paste would still leave pigments embedded in the fabric, which I think is the basis of pigment dyed garments anyway. The smaller the pigments the more they should embed themselves and the more difficult it would be to remove the color, even if there isn't any binder holding the pigment in the t-shirt once it is washed. Which means that it could be possible to print with inks that have no binder and still get designs that stay on a t-shirt, for awhile. Eventually it seems like the pigments would loosen and wash out. This would cause a t-shirt print to lighten over time. This very well could be a more organic way to print t-shirts even though it would essentially be an image that could dissolve away.

My base ink was made with a ethyl cellulose and I tested mixtures of gum arabic and some thickener. I was surprised by how well the ink printed and how well it stored in a plastic container with a lid. I am going to get out my concoction, now that it is a month later, and see if it still works.