Civic Works Community Lot Team t-shirts!

This is one of my favorite designs to print. We generally print it twice a year, once with this winter color-scheme and once in the spring on light blue shirts.

This shirt for the Civic Works Community Lot Team has a 4-color front and a 1-color print on either sleeve. This front graphic was a result of a collaboration between me and my friend Emily C-D. She drew the graphic, and I drew the text and made the color-separations.

You may recognize this illustration style from Emily’s numerous murals around town and her drawings for the City Paper and Urbanite Magazine. She’s in Mexico right now doing community art projects, and spreading the love far and wide. She referred this job to me a couple of years ago when she was working with the Community Lot Team painting murals on walls and the street, in some cases, around abandoned lots that have been given new life by the CLT, who make mini-green spaces out of them.


Woodberry Kitchen T-shirt!

The CommonSEED-press had the pleasure of printing 336 of these shirts for the Woodberry Kitchen, purveyors of ridiculously good food with special attention toward local and seasonal ingredients. Yes they canned, and I bet they’ll do it again, if they aren’t already doing so right as these words are being plunked out on this keyboard.

This is a 3-color screen-print (dark blue lettering, with a red shadow, and a dark grey jar), using regular water-based inksFor screen-printers: the jar was printed with a 230 mesh screen, at 55 lpi, screen angle 70º.

We printed these on a variety of colors of Royal Apparel Organic cotton t-shirts. They are available at the Woodberry Kitchen from toddlers sizes to men’s. Come for shirts, stay for the delicious food.

Organic Cotton Threads

Why does it matter if cotton is organic, I don’t eat it? -True enough, but the reason to go organic in all things farmed has more to do with a return to common sense agriculture and healing our relationship with the Earth. The soil nourishes us so we need to nourish the soil in our farming practices. Cultivating balanced bio-diversity in the ecosystem of a crop helps all life inside and outside of the open-system. If these ideas were practiced widespread then maybe there would be less need for an Organic Certification. But given the large-scale nature of many of our industries, an unbiased third-party organic and fair-trade certification can help educate a consumer about the environmental and social impact the product may have on the world and society.

-Organic Cotton Threads-
•It takes roughly one-third of a pound of chemicals (pesticides and fertilizers) to grow enough cotton for just one T-shirt.
•Cotton uses approximately 25% of the world’s insecticides and more than 10% of the pesticides.
•Organic growth systems nourish the soil, and help to build and maintain biologically diverse ecosystems.
•Conventionally grown cotton is weakened by the chemicals used throughout its production. The chemicals break down the fibers and create a weaker garment. For a stronger fabric that is soft on the skin (especially good for babies, kids, and those with sensitive skin) and the Earth, buy organic.

New Poster Print for Sunny Side Farm

A new poster print, once again, artwork by Annie Howe, paper-cutter extraordinaire. This a poster to commemorate a the first pig raised and roasted at Sunny Side Farm, taking place on November 13th. Learn more about Sunny Side Farm here.

See how this poster was printed in our explanation of screen-printing.

See more of Annie’s work at

Water-Based Inks

Our choice to use water-based inks was first a choice to not use the PVC-based industry standard, plastisol ink. Less plastic and petrochemicals is good, because we fight wars for petroleum and plastic will be in our land fills long after we are gone.

After we made the choice to print water-based ink, we found out that there are many great things about water-based ink that have nothing to do with the environment. There is a simplicity that goes with being able to use water to clean up after work or thin the inks to proper consistency for printing. A rag, a bucket of water, and maybe a spray bottle is all that is needed. Screen-printers accustomed to plastisol might say wb inks are a hassle to use, because they can dry in the screen. For those who aren’t familiar with plastisol, it will never dry, unless it is cured at 320ºF. In my experience the fast drying nature keeps print runs moving at reasonable pace and has created cleaner and better shop practices, because when we pack up to go home everything is cleaned, no lingering uncured plastisol ink on spatulas, inks containers, or screens, which has been an unfortunate feature of a couple plastisol shops I’ve worked in over the years.

Plastisol sits on top of the garment and is basically a layer of plastic, which does not breathe and overtime the ink will crack and peel away. WB inks penetrate the fiber of the garment giving it a soft and breathable feeling. Additionally, if the ink is cured properly the print will stay vibrant for years, and when it does start to fade (as all things do) it will do so gradually and gracefully.

As the market shifts toward more sustainable alternatives to out-moded industry standards, there is an increase in research and development of  water-based inks that make less and less impact on the environment and work for a wider variety of applications. Water-based inks are not perfect, but they are a step away from using petrochemicals.

-No PVC-based inks-
Plastisol ink is a liquefied  polyvinyl chloride(PVC). PVC is by far the most ecologically devasting plastic. Chlorine-based chemicals are released throughout the PVC life cycle(production, application, and disposal). Chlorine combines with other chemicals to form many harmful byproducts such as dioxin, PCBs, hexachlorobenzene, and acidic gases. These toxins go to the air, the water and the food chain. PVC is produced from imported, non-renewable fossil fuels and lethal chlorine gas. The plasticizers used in plastisol ink, which make the PVC stretchy, are carcinogenic and harmful to the environment. They are first released into the environment during the printing and curing of the plastisol ink, they will continue to exhaust toxins when exposed to a radiant heat source such as a house hold dryer or sunlight, and when landfilled, or incinerated the PVC will eventually release all of its additives into the air, water, and earth.

Small is Beautiful


Small is Beautiful is a concept articulated by British economist E. F. Schumacher in which unrestrained production is not seen as the driving force of an effective economy. An effective economy takes into account the scale of local population needs in relationship with the limited natural resources.

Let us come together and do for ourselves.
(An an ongoing conversation on community, work, joy, and higher calling)

Gainful Employment- use of physical and mental faculties to grow in a particular direction.

Occupation- filling a given time or space with an object, action, or energy.

Livelihood- that which makes us lively.

“Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfill a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you  when that dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.”
(Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet)

The number one import and export of a locally self-reliant economy is the understanding of how to live as stewards of the gift of life. The market is an extension of our physical and mental faculties and should be used to serve all life on Earth. Monetary currency is a tool for exchange in the market. It serves the function of creating a standard to measure the value of goods and services. But there is no standard by which to judge the value of  money except for the whims a global free-market driven by growth and consumption. Economy based on consumption and debt is wholly unsustainable on every plane of being. Our world society has aptly demonstrated this.

At the moment, money is far too abstract to be considered a standard by which to base the value of anything. One morning we will all wake up and find that money has no value, both in the market and in the service of life. What then? Is there not something else shared during an exchange between living entities in the market place, something that nourishes our inmost yearning? What we seek to gain through the employment of physical and mental faculties should be closely examined now.

“On every level the word ‘profit’ conjugates with the verb to have, and the word ‘service’ conjugates with verb to be.” (Frederic Lionel, Revolution in Consciousness)

The value of an industry will no longer be based on the amount jobs it creates. There is no need to create jobs to keep people busy. There is more than enough work for everyone to do in the service of life on Earth.

I identify as an artist and a screen printer, the essential function of which is communication through imagery.  At the moment, there is much that I take for granted, like, that I can print with a variety of ready-to-print ink colors onto quality t-shirts using professional tools all of which arrived to my house by truck. In that process there are at least six industries that were once and can once again supply many people with gainful employment locally.   All there is to do is become intimate with the elements involved and to reach across disciplinary boundaries and figure out how to source all of our tools and materials from locally available industry and renewable resources. This is the task, and we are more than equal to it, all there is to do is to gainfully employ all of our faculties, most of all our hearts.

We each take assessment of our skills, aptitudes, and areas into which we wish to grow. We then come together and share our “haves” and our “have-nots,” or our resources. It is important to view our needs as resources, because it gives others joy in being of service. Reciprocity, in this regard, is equally as important, so as not to create imbalances from which quarrelsome attitudes may arise. It is crucial to the evolution of humanity that our energy be used wisely, because there is much to be done. Therefore, we should limit the time spent on that which does not bring us joy. If we can support one another in putting more energy into that which nourishes our mind and body to better serve the spirit then we are succeeding.

-Michael Clark

Last Installment of Screen-Printed Poster for Hamilton Crop Cirlce

This is the last (for now) of 3 limited edition screen-printed posters for The Hamilton Crop Circle. Artwork by Annie Howe. They will be shown at the Creative Alliance tonight through Oct. 30 in THE FOOD NETWORK: a show involving many artists, gardeners, chefs, organizers, and visionaries who are a part of Baltimore’s urban-agriculture movement.

T-shirts of these designs are coming next week, and will be available at the Lauraville Fair.

Screen Printed Posters for Hamilton Crop Circle

Three forth coming posters printed at the Common Seed Workshop-Baltimore. These are for the Hamilton Crop Circle, and can be viewed at an upcoming exhibition on Saturday at the Creative Alliance. See what Arthur Morgan and friends are doing with Urban Agriculture at

Artwork is by Annie Howe. Believe it or not she sits there with an exacto knife and cuts these designs out by hand. Believe me, that’s not for the impatient at heart. You can check more of her work at

Barn Aid T-shirts!

We had the honor of printing these shirts last week for Barn Aid, an event to benefit Springfield Farms. Looks like a great event with some awesome bands. For details check out

This shirt was designed by Kathy Fahey, a talented local artist and designer, among other things. It is always a pleasure to print her work. You can see more of her work at

What are we doing?

Well, the short answer is, “We’re printing t-shirts.” But, as it turns out, there are a lot of ways to print shirts, and the truth is we have strong biases on the the best way to print shirts. So, we are going to go into this deeper as this site develops, and hopefully at least a few of you out there in interweb land find it interesting.

Live Well, Do good work,