Screen Printed T-Shirt Fundraiser
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photograph of 3 white tee shirts, screen printed in various colors with illustrations of coronaviruses and the words if you can read this, you're too close

Screen Printed T-Shirt Fundraiser

Business during Coronavirus has been slow, and stay-at-home life with bored teenagers, stressful. As a creative person, my self-soothing routine requires an art project to channel all that excess nervous energy. Enter the Provo Craft Yudu home screen printing machine I ambitiously bought 11 years ago and never found time to open. Through a combination of a comically outdated instructional DVD, magnanimous crafters’ more detailed YouTube videos, and sheer force of will, I figured out how to print a pro-social-distancing design on some fabric, hand-sewed an ill-fitting mask, and promptly switched to t-shirts.

After a fun and easy short printing run, I approached a friend who works for the Summit Medical Group Foundation about selling tees to raise money for their COVID-19 Community Relief Fund. To maximize donations, I’d donate the labor and printing supplies, and all profits would be used by the Foundation to purchase personal hygiene and protection products (such as soap, hand sanitizer, and/or masks) for people in need. I bought a bunch of inks and shirts and created an online order form, which invited people to choose their own text and illustration colors to create a custom combination. What could go wrong?

Closeup of Yudu screen printing lid with t-shirt inside. Shirt says if you can read this you're too close. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Words are surrounded with cartoonish coronavirus illustration.Well, after discovering that very few people ordered the same ink color combinations, I realized I could print about 2 or 3 shirts per day (allowing for screen cleaning and drying time, among other factors). Roughly ten shirts in, I also started to understand why the Yudu was discontinued. The screens started to lose tension, resulting in unpredictable blobs of ink appearing where once I pulled crisp images. The rigid plastic squeegee somehow got dinged; this tiny divot created a blank line in the print. I ordered some more blank tees and searched for replacement Yudu supplies on eBay, but worried about durability. Eventually I discovered that a real-deal screen printing company had created sturdier, compatible screens and squeegees, so I invested. After 6 weeks of two steps forward, one step back progress, all the shirts were printed and, I’m proud to report, $545 was donated.

After taking some time to relax and regroup, I’m sure I’ll look forward to using my upgraded equipment and hard-earned knowledge on another project.

Photograph of wood-paneled basement with bin of screenprinting ink, squeegee, Yudu machine, timer, screen, and T-square on desk. Ironing board is nearby.
the basement became a printshop
Photo of several tee shirts hanging from hooks. Each tee shirt is printed with the same message - If you can read this, you're too close. Stay safe. Stay healthy. - in different color combinations.
printed shirts in various color combos