Drawing Edgecliff – Adventures in Poetry Merch

Let’s pick up where we left off. The incredible Angelina Sáenz asked me to illustrate the cover of her book of poems Edgecliff which turned into an additional 39 illustrations (of her Instagram posts) for her critically acclaimed book published by Flowersong Press in 2021.

Next step: T-shirts!

We decided to make limited edition t-shirts – 2 scoop neck/2 crew neck in each size (XS-4XL).

I reopened my Etsy shop, where there are still a few shirts left that you can buy.

I looked into ordering t-shirts online, but the quantity/cost/design parameters were too constricting and finite. I wouldn’t be able to see how the designs fit on the shirts or how the shirts fit if I ordered in bulk online. And we didn’t even want bulk.

I invested in new tools to get the job done in-house. Literally in my house/home studio. I bought a Cricut cutting machine and a heat press. (Long story short, I had been eyeing these tools for a while, ever since my fingers started going numb when I got into making paper flowers…and even before that I had a middle school teacher colleague who made great bulletin board designs with the Cricut.)

[Side note: Screen printing is a great t-shirt decorating(?) option, but not for me for this project. It’s on a list of things to get into.]

I figured out the Cricut design program eventually. Although none of my designs are the same, I learned how I can duplicate my favorite versions of the Edgecliff drawings while also optimizing the use of materials.

These are screenshots of me figuring it out on Cricut’s design space:

The line drawings for Edgecliff translated pretty well into this printing process. First I figured out the size of the illustration to print (maybe that wasn’t first…whatever I’m still figuring it out). Next, I printed onto heat transfer vinyl (HTV for those who have googled how to heat transfer vinyl a lot…). I printed on mostly black fabric, so I got to use fluorescent HTV colors (my favorite).

When the cool little robot printer finished printing, I had to decide which parts of the vinyl to “weed” away. Lots of thinking as far as positive and negative space. At some point, I was able to backwards-plan from a design I wanted to achieve. At first, and pretty consistently throughout, I pieced together designs and compositions that fit the particular shirt (or bag or coaster).

Sáenz noted she wanted the title of her book, Edgecliff, on the merch. That was my only rule at first.

After making 10 shirts, designing with these sometimes giant and always double-sided canvases, I established some patterns and best practices.

The heat transfer is magic. I used the heat press throughout the design process because I’d work on a few shirts at a time. Also, I’d look at a “complete” shirt and figure out a way to make it completer.

Good news! I sold out of the coasters and pencil bags. Bad news! I don’t have the best photos of them because they’re all gone. **Embracing the idea of limited edition**

Coasters! 4″x4″ Multiple colors. My favorite are those turquoise ones at the bottom. They don’t photograph well, but they glow in the dark and are holographic. Sweet!
I made 4.5″x6″ pencil bags. I wish I had better pictures of them, but they sold out at Angelina’s reading. Not the worst thing. : )
My first weeding. I didn’t really know what I was doing.
This process is helping me better understand negative space and line weight. At least!
Close up of the glow-in-the-dark holographic coasters.
When I first got the role of holographic, glow-in-the-dark heat transfer vinyl (HTV) I spread it out on the dining room table. My cat was into it.

I started playing around with ways of internetly sharing the merch. A bit of fun.

++These images are from Sáenz‘s family, life, and book of poems that has joy and sadness. I’m playing with marketing and enjoying new tools, but she wrote the book and lives her life with the people depicted in these wearables and totes. I can’t stop thinking about that. The good kind of haunting. ++

Edgecliff Children’s XS T-shirt
(red with white)
Edgecliff Adult 2XL with Pocket T-shirt
(navy with white)
Edgecliff Adult Large T-Shirt
(turquoise with fluorescent pink)
Edgecliff Adult Large T-Shirt
(black with fluorescent green)
Edgecliff Zipper Bag 13″x15″
(black with fluorescent pink)
Edgecliff Adult Medium T-Shirt
(black with fluorescent green)

I wasn’t sure about the animated Edgecliff poetry/art merch, so here’s a look at it still:

The Edgecliff art/poetry merch all lead up to a standing-room-only launch of Angelina Sáenz‘s book. Coming up! Exciting thoughts around how I reached price points, made signs, and, last-minute, ended up making/printing and hanging art from Edgecliff to populate an over 600 square foot room for the launch.

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