February 2009

Home Studio Home

yep, that's the bed in the lower lefthand corner

Here’s my new home studio where I tiny run. It’s a corner of my bedroom, folks. I’m going for a low tech theme. By low tech, I mean that I cannot afford high tech. And by high tech, I mean square footage. Or high tech.

Readers may notice my ventilation system. Bathroom fan + plywood = lungs full of happiness for the whole family. On the cheap.

melt, damn you...

Along with the bathroom fan, I purchased this new little wax melting pot. In a fit of capitalism I fell prey to its implied greater control of temperature, which is a matter of importance for batik. It’s been a bit of a disappointment as I have to crank it to max to get the wax to where it needs to go. Problem with the device or something else? I’m not certain, but as long as it manages to get the wax up to temp and doesn’t ignite the whole place, it’ll do.

Wait, where the hell is the sewing machine going to go?

More Soon

Success is sweet and sweeter if long delayed and gotten through many struggles and defeats.
–Amos Bronson Alcott

I’ve come to some conclusions while I finish production on The Lincolns and get all pieces together to ship to the shop to produce The Bacons. And most of them revolve around being delayed. I don’t care for there to be long delays between promise and arrival. I have understanding customers, of whom I am indebted, and not a single one in the face of these delays has come back to me, and asked for their order annulled.

But I do find that I cannot continue with the production of a future prototype when I have orders for previous shirts that are unfilled. It is unacceptable.

So, I pause again, to finish these tasks at hand, like a fine meal, before I move on to the chocolate mousse dessert.

Bacon Saga

One year ago, it came to pass that I started this crazy train of shirt onslaught called Tiny Run. Somewhere in thereabouts, either just before or just after, I was thinking about a bacon shirt. I wanted to do something playing within the bounds of expectation, but I also wanted to stand out from the growing internet bacon-crowd, and thought that I could up the ante by doing something simple, tasteful, a single strip across the chest, for instance. Short, sweet, perfect.

Within that idea, I still strove to be different from any bacon-meme based anything that I’d seen or would even be likely to exist. I thought I would embroider the strip of bacon! Awesome! Still not enough. How about the ‘fat’ of the strip, it would be embroidered with glow in the dark thread. Awesome! Still not enough. I’ll offer this masterpiece on four different color shirts, set to reflect a background of the buyers preference of ‘done-ness’ colors that bacon will reach upon cooking. Short and sweet was rendered more perfect.

makin bacon

I set about creating the original art and digitizing that into stitches. My home machine struggled to stitch out the design with any accuracy. I laugh now at my former level of digitization skills, or the simple facts that made every attempt to stitch it out a different newbie failure.

Over time and much thread, material, and sweat, I had a version that I thought was acceptable. I set about the task of trying to take a decent picture of it, and found my camera could not capture the glow itself. I subbed in a blacklight bulb to produce images that resulted in a purple ‘glow’ which I thought suitable to give the idea of the actual glow element, even if that looked green in actual glow enactments.

This just seems silly now...

Finally, the bacon shirt debuted and my small advertising campaign brought in traffic beyond my small mailing list. Orders commenced, and were quite exciting. As each order rolled in, it was clear that this item would be my biggest seller, and it still is to this day.

A long enough space of time passed that I started to think that my home stitchery was not very good. Certainly not good enough to carry the weight of the original idea, or the pressure of delivering something awesome to so many people.

I started contacting local embroidery companies, to determine what could be done. The final company that seemed more reasonable in price had some stipulations. They didn’t have glow thread; I would need to provide it. They would digitize the art, and there would be a $100 fee for the process. I would also provide the blank shirts, which needed to be heavier weight than the American Apparel shirts originally detailed on the order page.

I found a suitable shirt replacement, but they didn’t offer quite the same coloring as the original options, and the sizing was also slightly different. I sent out an email to those who had ordered, asking them to examine these new options, and reselect a size and color, asking them to hold on a little longer. Everyone was still jazzed with love for the shirt. Further emboldened by their support, I ordered the shirts. I ordered the thread. By this time the company had finished the digitization of the original strip of bacon art, and I got to see a demo of what it looked like stitched out.

original pro test stitching, in the round...

Gorgeous. I was very excited. But slightly overwhelmed trying to keep all the colors and sizes and people straight. I made a spreadsheet. After the shirts and thread arrived I took them to the embroider and waited for assembly and completion.

that's a fair amount of bacon, friends

After about a week, I had the privilege of picking up a box of a variety of colored shirts and sizes and took them home over a month after the original design run on the site was completed. They were gorgeous, and I was so proud, and pleased that I had ordered a few extra. Putting up the original stitched-at-home with the pro-embroidered, it is easy to tell the difference.

good and the bad

As a final processing step, I ironed a covering inside of each shirt, to cover the back of the stitches, and protect people whose skin might be sensitive. Then I attached tags, packed them, labeled them, and shipped them out to the US , Canada, UK, Germany and even Ohio.

It remains a high point in an effort to supply interesting and top quality items that most people, myself included, have not come across before. I think I did ok. People wanted to know what food I would do next. Suggestions ran rampant. I knew I was eventually going to go with a more breakfast theme for what I was calling the ‘as you like it’ series.

But I guess I wasn’t done with the bacon yet. I also did a glow-in-the-dark bacon print edition, comprised of two strips of bacon, which I donated to a benefit auction. That was fun, but the shirt still seemed to command enough interest for a reissue. That, and my step-dad really needed one, as during the tumult of the first round, he was left forgotten.

So here we are, a year from go-time-one, and it seemed as good a time as any to pull out the old favorite for another spin.

BACON: another serving

you could be this handsome

in regular light

in very very very dim light

for the ladiesfo the dudes, and unisexers

Michael Cianfrani
design run of
02/01/2009 through 02/15/2009

Many know the drill by this day and time, however, if you are new to glow-in-the-dark embroidered bacon shirts, I welcome you to the brave new world. You can read all about the origin story here. Things to note in the re-edition: the price remains the same, delivery time will be greatly reduced due to knowing the deal this time, we are using BEEFY T’s out of the gate, and more color options! Though I have to tell you, black is still my favorite.