DIY Gmail Messenger Bag

It all makes sense! You use gmail to send messages and it’s a messenger bag! Why didn’t anyone make this sooner. Dare I say that it’s cool? It’s not something that I’d use every single day, but it is something that I would use every so often to earn me tech geek street cred. The DIY enthusiasts will love this, especially the ones that, ummm, love to send emails? I want this.

The DIY Gmail Messenger Bag is available now from Geek Cook for $43.99.

Shirt Detects When You’re Being Poisoned (or Drunk)

Now this is pretty rad. Warning Signs is a new type of T-Shirt designed by New York University students, Nien Lam and Sue Ngo. It is designed to detect the presence of large amounts of Carbon Monoxide. I can see it being useful if you ever find yourself stuck in your car inside of an enclosed garage, but I fear that at the point the warning sign may be a bit moot. In the video below, you can see the “veins” in the heart below turn to a light blue color in the presence of large amounts of carbon monoxide. The duo also say that they are working on a T-Shirt that will detect when you’ve had a bit too much to drink. I’d buy that shirt.

“Warning Signs is a visualization of the pollution that exists invisibly all around us. When the wearable senses carbon monoxide, the piece subtly changes color and pattern to indicate higher levels of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere to the wearer and those around him or her. This piece was designed and created by Nien Lam and Sue Ngo.”

365 Days of T-Shirts: Day 4 – Making of Punk Rock Cock Throw Pillow

The great thing about the 365 Days of T-Shirts Project is that I don’t need to do something complicated every day. Today, I post a few photos that I took while the Punk Rock Cock Throw Pillow was being made. Those hands are my mom’s hands. She refused to allow me to video record her doing her thing! Enjoy!

Day 4: Making of Punk Rock Cock Throw Pillow

And of course, you can view the completed Punk Rock Cock Throw Pillow here.

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365 Days of T-Shirts: Day 3 – Threadless Punk Rock Cock Throw Pillow

Don’t get me wrong, I love each of my Threadless tees. However, my Punk Rock Cock T-Shirt suffered from a stretched out collar. As such, it wasn’t so great for wearing anymore. So it sat, unsued, in my drawer for a long time. That was until I came up with the idea to turn Aled Lewis’ classic tee into a one-of-a-kind Threadless throw pillow.

Although I came up with the idea, I have to say thank you to my mom for having the know how to actually make it into a tangible product. Thanks mom!

Having said that, the pillow is super comfy and very stylish – I Love It! I should also note that screen printed tag from the T-Shirt is sewn on to the back of the pillow (I thought that would be cool). We were originally going to use the entire T-Shirt for the pillow cover (minus the green), but the punk rock cock graphic was situated in such a way that it would have been impossible to cut a perfect square without the cock being off-center. So instead, we decided to cut a tight square around the cock and then use green fabric for the rest of the pillow. Doing this added a nice border around the front graphic.

Day 3: Custom Punk Rock Cock Throw Pillow

Materials:

  1. Used Punk Rock Cock T-Shirt ($20)
  2. 16-inch Polyester All-Purpose Zipper – Natural Creme Color ($1.68)
  3. 16″ X 16″ Pillow Insert ($6.37)
  4. White Thread
  5. Scissors
  6. Pins
  7. Ruler
  8. Pencil
  9. Sewing Machine
  10. Mom that knows how to sew

This throw pillow was inspired by Punk Rock Cock by Aled Lewis.

How many of you would be interested in purchasing this pillow? Or maybe would be interested in having a custom Threadless pillow made especially for you for a nominal fee (i.e. you choose a Threadless tee and then I buy it, make it and then ship it to you)? Comment and let me know!

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Make Your Own See-Thru Portal T-Shirt

I’ve never played Portal before. In fact, before seeing this Ben Heck episode the other day, I had no real idea of what the game was really about. Thank goodness for Wikipedia.

“The game consists primarily of a series of puzzles that must be solved by teleporting the player’s character and simple objects using the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device (ASHPD, also dubbed the “portal gun”), a unit that can create inter-spatial portals between flat planes.”

Neat! Natural born modder, Ben Heck, set out to create his very own Portal T-Shirt. ThinkGeek has one for sale, but it turned out to be just an April Fools Joke. So if you want one of these puppies, you’ll have to DIY (that is Do-It-Yourself for the acronym disinclined).

I did watch the episode and the process seems pretty straightforward, though a little cumbersome. Of course, you’ll need to order the parts, including a mini LCD screen and a small surveillance sized video camera. But once you get all the pieces together, the effect is pretty cool. Might make a good Halloween costume?

Threadless Tee Turned Comic

Joe Carr is no stranger to the Threadless community. In fact, he has been printed multiple times and is a regular contributing member at Threadless. You might recognize him by his Threadless screen name, Isaboa. Alongside the release of his newest Threadless tee, Carr decided to do something not seen within the community before. He created a comic Book based on his Full Throttle Threadless Select Design and has made it available for free download at his site, Antiquated Press. You can download the comic book inspired by the Full Throttle design here.

“The story is of an alien fighter, going about his daily routine. Interacting and working like we all do. The reader is given little bits of the alien’s life, the whole scenario begins to develop when the alarm sets off sending the whole dramatic sequence into action. I do have the rest of the play in my head and maybe I will draw it out, but I just wanted to leave it at the scene of the alien defenders heading into battle with an unbelievable foe… I felt like we pretty much have enough information about the shirt’s character at that point. He is a defender, a father and husband, a good man who puts his life on the line for his planet along with his fellows… his pals.”

If you wanna make the physical version, then print this file first. Next, flip the pages you printed back into the paper feeder and print this file. Staple along the spine, fold, and you’ve got Joe’s “Full Throttle” comic book!

Full Throttle by Joe Carr

Full Throttle by Joe Carr

The Cubicle Project Part 2

My quest to T-Shirt organizing imortality continues! This episode I walk you through the now stocked 3X3 cubicle that I built last week. I describe how the tees are organized, give you a peek at some packages waiting to be featured on the show and show off a small but growing button collection!

Human Anatomy Patchwork

You’ll always find something when perusing Etsy, like this handmade patchwork human anatomy shirt! Man, was the second halfof that first sentence a mouthful. Like most other things at Etsy, this shirt is a DIY project done by Etsy member, takeahalliday. And according to the product page, it “is perfect for wearing with leggings, jeans, or if you’re really daring, by itself!” Interested? It’ll set you back a cool $70. I’m thinking that this is one of those “statement” shirts. 

Human Anatomy Patchwork

Human Anatomy Patchwork

Modeling Your T-Shirts 101 (Part 1)

Modeling Your T-Shirts 101 is a guest post that was written by tee and belt designer, Jon Wye. In Part 1, Jon discusses how to create quality product shots using a DIY lighting box.

After four years of trying various photography methods for T-shirt display I’ve learned a few things that, with the help of Coty, thought I might pass on.

When I first started my company I was convinced that the photos had to be the best. I pulled in a favor from a professional photographer friend. Rented backdrops, rigging, lighting, lighting, lighting. Lighting is expensive. Asked a few attractive friends to help model. I even hired a professional hair and makeup team. My girlfriend, Nikki, was the hostess and helped provide a constant source of conversation and food.

It was the most professional endeavor I had organized to date! The photos came back amazing! My T-shirts were looking like a million dollars. The products looked hot, the models looked hot. Everything was in place.

I launched the new photos of the new products. Day one, day two, day three: where were my sales??? I didn’t get it. I had created some world-class imagery! Surely people would see my stuff and want to buy.

I realized many many months later that the problem wasn’t the photos, it was the fact that my site, my fans, my image, my WALLET wasn’t ready for a photo shoot like that. I was trying to walk the walk too early, portray myself as a bigger designer than I really was. So I took a step back and asked, are they buying me or my tees? And the answer was both. All the fancy photos were distracting from me, the small designer, selling you my vision.

So I took my licks and kept pushing ahead. And so I keep it small time, but really fun and classy!

And over the years I have come up with a few good methods for photographing on the cheap and hip, and just wanted to share some of them.

Method 1: The Abercrombie Method (no models)

Despite whatever violent ideas come to mind when you think of Abercrombie they have an impressive and consistent method for t-shirt photography; the precisely wrinkled head-on t-shirt photo. Check out their stuff, you’ll understand. Basically they take a freshly ironed shirts and do some hand wrinkling to make it look rugged, wearable, hip, and intentional.

But how do they get such good lighting and all those cool mini shadows that form from the wrinkled tees? The quick answer is a professionally lit photography room, but I’m guessing if you are reading this then you probably don’t have one and neither do I. But you can create a mini lighting box!

1. Paint It White. Get two 4 ft. X 4ft. board and paint them a matte white finish. Make sure it is matte white! And paint on enough layers to be completely opaque. The t-shirt will lie on one board and the other will go on the top of your creation.

White Paint

2. Built The Frame. Find a way to build a 4 ft. X 4 ft X 4 ft. frame (I used PVC pipes and fittings). Place that frame over the 4 X 4 board you just painted.

PVC Pipes

PVC Box

3. Cover It Up. Drape a WHITE cloth over all four sides of the frame. You can buy something called white duvotene cloth from many stage supply houses, and it will block out excess light from within your frame, but still keep the interior white.

4. Cover It Up. Take your second painted board and cut a 5 inch hole in the center of it, this is where your camera lense will go through.

5. Add The Lights. Go to the hardware store and buy four duel fluorescent lighting fixtures (3 ft in length). Buy some DAYLIGHT BALANCED bulbs to go in them. Now screw those into the white side of the 4 by 4 board that has the hole in it. Starting to make sense?

You are basically done with the build. In the end you should have a 4 by 4 by 4 cube that has a white board as a base (one that you lay the t-shirt on) and a white board on top that has lights attached and a hole in the center for a camera.

Lighting

6. Set Your White Balance. Turn the lights on and watch that baby glow. Don’t put any t-shirt in the box yet. Before you start shooting you need to WHITE BALANCE your camera from the light and color inside the box. Consult you camera’s manual to determine how to properly white balance. This is extremely important or your images will turn out like crap.

Cameras

7. Take some photos. Start putting those t-shirts in your new lighting box and start snapping away.

Octopus Boy by Jon Wye

Indie Tee Spotlight #14: Jon Wye

In this weeks Indie Tee Spotlight I feature Jon Wye, a belt and t-shirt designer based out of Washington, D.C. who has been doing his thing for four years now. You might remember that I recently featured the Jon Wye designed Homemaker belt in my last Glorious Nonsensities video review. Jon is the ultimate do-it-yourselfer as he has developed his own methods to produce his signature graphic design belts and buckles. He also has developed a unique method for taking 3D product shots, providing a unique experience for the potential buyer.

I had the opportunity to get to know Jon more and am happy that he was able to share a little about himself and  the company that he has poured his entire self into for the last couple of years.

Jon Wye Photo Dome

Coty: Your signature products are your custom made leather belts and buckles. What was your first experience in working with leather and what propelled you to start a company focused on making original and custom made belts?

Jon: It all started with a girl. I think that’s how a lot of good stories start. One of our first dates was making belt buckles out of wax carvings, plaster casting, and melting craft-catalogue pewter into the mold. And when she moved away to Barcelona (pre-planned before we met) I had a lot of time on my hands and so I kept creating. I didn’t want to be the person “left” behind, I wanted to strive for something. So I started making more belt buckles and eventually moved to belts. And the initial ideas for the graphic belt process came about a year into my brand. It was one of those ‘ah ha’ from a dream moments. And it kind of consumed me until I perfected it.

Connected Graffiti Leather Belt

Zombie Leather Belt

Men's Sixshooter T-shirt by Jon Wye

Coty: All of your products are custom made in your shop that you’ve named “the funkfactory.” How did you learn to work with the metal and leather mediums that you use for your belts? Did you learn by trial and error or do you have some formal training?

Jon: It was all trial and error. A lot of error! I worked as an Office Manager (glorified receptionist) at a PR firm for about 4 years. I spent a lot of time researching everything on the Internet. A tidbit here, a tadbit there. No one source spells it all out for you. I simply became a good disseminator of information, coupled with an unquenchable thirst to learn more and more. There is so much knowledge available on the internet for the taking. The key is being able to sift through it. And then once you think you’ve sifted through all you can handle you take the plunge and start to put your money on the line and test things out. So my whole shop, process, everything came from being willing to learn and never be too set in my ways, which is something I think a lot of people get hung up on. You have to be fluid.

Junk-baby-blue-2

Coty: We cover a lot about marketing and branding techniques. Have you done anything, either locally or online, different or unique to market the Jon Wye brand? What techniques have worked best for you?

Nothing, absolutely nothing beats getting out into the public! I spent the last 3 years selling at various outdoor events in the DC area, building my name. Every time people saw my display it was bigger and better. When I made money it went right into new displays (all custom built) and new products. People love to see you growing, and love to know that the money they spend on you is helping to build something special… that they had a hand in your success.

I once took out an expensive add in the back of Rolling Stone magazine… worst mistake ever! I spent $2000 thinking I was going to be selling belts and tees like crazy! I think I made about $250 back. I took the spanking and walked away from paid advertising. I started doing what I learned at the PR Firm. I wrote press releases, and came up with unique twists for announcements. And that led to some feature articles in the Washington Post that people still remember to this day.
And I talk about the brand. As one PR person told me, if you don’t talk about you, no one will. It’s true! It might feel odd at first, but if you truly believe in what you are creating it will come across as sincere when you tell people about you creations.

And lastly, my Pink Ducky sticker. One of my supremely talented artists, David William, helped me create a JonWye iconic image. My Pink Ducky sticker is known around DC and is included in every order from online. It was a big risk to create the stickers considering I give them away for free, but I have seen my return 100 fold. People love the darn thing and are shocked that I give it away for free. It’s waterproof and really durable. I made sure the quality of the sticker matched the quality of my brand.

Coty: You’ve been building the Jon Wye brand for three years now. What has been your greatest experience so far? What has been the most difficult or stressful part of running your own small business?

Jon: Actually I’ve been building it for 4 years as of January 2nd. YEAH… 4 year Anniversary! That’s why the JUNK buckles are on sale for $10. It was the first buckle!

I used to look for that great moment, the tipping point (BTW, I highly suggest reading ‘The Tipping Point’) but it’s been more of a slow and steady build. Each year is better than the last. Each year has great moments, but all in all it’s been the whole of it, the journey, the mental game of creating something that has been the most rewarding.

The most difficult or stressful part? OYE! Sticking to my ideas even though every sign around me said it wasn’t right. There were many moments where I didn’t know if I was going to be able to make my credit card payments. Times when I invested in new machines and products when I didn’t necessarily have the money. It is no joke when I say that I have put everything I have into this company, and then some. Thing are still tight, but thanks to all the wonderful people that have supported me the light at the end of the tunnel is peering through.

Coty: How much do you think the D.C. culture has influenced your designs and the direction of your clothing line?

Jon: The easy answer is that I am a product of my environment. I grew up here. I know people in DC, myself included, talk about politics on a more regular basis, as we are inundated. But I am separated from the political scene. And DC’s rich underbelly of Punk Rock, Bike Polo, etc is something I am just now becoming more aware of.

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