Patterns of T-shirts all natural Designs sport ferns leaves, even fish

July 11, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Along with the rest of the environmental movement, Doris Edwards is getting back to nature.

The 14-year owner of Ducks 'n Stuff in Finksburg is adding a line of shirts printed with natural materials to the designer sweat shirts she offers at area craft shows and fairs.

"I've been known for this up until this past year," said Ms. Edwards, motioning toward a table full of sweat shirts with stenciled designs, with lace around the collar or cut-outs to reveal a quilted lining. "Now I've been doing these T-shirts."

Her "Back to Nature T's" are hand-printed on unbleached cotton shirts with acrylic paint.

Short-sleeve shirts sell for $14.95, long-sleeve shirts for $16.95, a mock turtleneck, for $18.95. Ms. Edwards said she will also custom print shirts to match an outfit on request.

"The shirts are completely biodegradeable and don't have any dyes in them," Ms. Edwards said.

After washing and drying the shirt, Ms. Edwards covers one side of a leaf with paint. She then flips it over, pressing it onto the shirt and leaving a perfect replica of her model.

"I try to get ones that are perfect without any bug bites in them," Ms. Edward said of the tree leaves that come from her yard.

The ferns are purchased from a local florist shop and the ivy is picked from a neighbor's garden, she said.

Although her craft has been compared to Japanese hand printing, Ms. Edwards is quick to note that the Japanese relied more on carved blocks than natural materials for their designs.

"To the best of my knowledge, this [style of printing] came from cave-men times," said Ms. Edwards, comparing it to prehistoric people pressing leaves into mud and making prints on cave walls and rocks.

Flower designs -- sunflowers, geraniums, forget-me-nots, dogwoods and pansies -- are made by a "secret process," Ms. Edwards said. Each portion of the flower -- stem, petals, leaves and center -- are then printed separately.

"I make a pattern from a real flower on a type of recycled material," she said. "It's the same process, but I'm using a recycled material for the pattern."

A yellow/white perch purchased from the Giant grocery store RTC also formed a popular print, Ms. Edwards said.

"With the fish, you roll it on for the print," she said, demonstrating with an imaginary fish. "People really like the fish, but I don't like it that much. It doesn't make the shirt smell or anything. I just don't like it."

Ms. Edwards -- who also decorates sweat shirts with quilted squares, painted stencils and lace -- said she came up with the natural prints last year when sales were slow.

"I thought ahead to fall coming up and thought people might like that design," she said. "You always have to keep ahead of your customers."

The shirts were such a success that during the Cranberry Mall craft show, Ms. Edwards started printing them on the spot to keep up with demand.

"I won't tell you how much I made, but I sold a lot," she said.

In addition to the Carroll County Farmer's Market, Ms. Edwards also sells her work at the Maryland Home and Flower Show and the Maryland Home and Holiday Show, both in Timonium, New Market Days and the Cranberry Mall craft show.

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