The LED Shirt

After I was accepted as an official Maker at Maker Festival 2015, I started planning my booth. One of the things I’ve always liked about organizations with tables at events is a consistency in attire. Shows a solidarity in the group. The idea for a design for myself and my brother, who would be helping me out at the show, to wear popped into my head. What better design than a LED?

My entire project is based off a simple LED. One of the most common questions is “Which side is positive and which is negative?” Answer: Anode (long lead) is positive and Cathode (short lead) is negative or ground. When pairing a LED to a watch battery, this is important to know and become second nature on your 50th ball. But the first time? Maybe not so much.

So I designed this;

On both Instagram and Facebook, the reaction was very positive. My friend Stacey immediately reacted with “needs to be in gold.” and a few other people felt like I wasn’t doing enough if it didn’t actually light up somehow. I’ll put this out there; I appreciate feedback but for the most part if I feel like I’m on the right track or what I’m doing is sufficient, I file your recommendations away in my *shrug* folder.

I’ve done screen-printing before. I’ve even printed shirts before. I’m not very confident with shooting my own screens and for my gun series, I relied on an outside source to set up my screen for me. While I was working on a re-design and gauging interest in a t-shirt run, I was running out of time to produce shirts for myself and my brother. For the short term, I decided to print my own. We had some Lumi InkoFilm that produces really good quality negatives with a inkjet printer.

Following a really basic setup with a bright incandescent bulb, I set my screen.

45 minutes later, I had a screen ready. Some spot filling needed but it was passable.

Libs had some gold fabric ink because, of course she did. I made my first shirt and liked it.

I printed four overall. Two in black and two in charcoal. My brother and I were able to wear the opposite and still look co-ordinated. Mission accomplished!

In the meantime, I’d done a pretty hard sell on a pre-order idea for the new design. The shirts could be made by a place that does that sort of thing professionally and is less likely to mess it all up. So I reached out to Hardboiled Inc. Considering the work they are capable of, my simple little LED plus identifying marking is a piece of cake. I needed a minimum order of 12, I set my target on 25 and got 18 orders. I made up the difference for extra shirts I could sell later and put the order in. If you’re reading this and you did the pre-order, thank you so much. It was an act of trust and I truly appreciate it.

Hardboiled did an amazing job and true to my word, I did them in gold. Bling! I flattened the negative side as it was rightfully pointed out most LEDs are like that with a flat spot on the “bell”. And I made it way bigger. For my Maker Festival shirts, I was stuck at under eight inches for my print because that was the size of the film. With Hardboiled, I could say make it big. So the printed design is closer to the original size in my comp from the beginning. I am really pleased with the result and can’t wait for everyone to get their shirts and post photos!

2 thoughts on “The LED Shirt

  1. Awesome to see the process of it all. Such a cool simple design. Would be cool in a few years once LED fabrics take hold to have this be one of the first examples.

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