March 20, 2009

Daddy Makes: Just Some Jetty, Happens To Be Spiral

K2 models her jetty-esque t-shirt

I've had this image in my head for a long time, and I thought, with proper steps to assure a transformative work exemption under fair use law, it'd make a great t-shirt for the kids. And sure enough, it did.

I began with the Google Map image of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty, and thought I'd manipulate it into a silhouette in Photoshop. But the image was still way too low-res, so I ended up tracing it out by hand. And then I redrew it onto acetate last night to make my screen because the copier at the silkscreening studio was broken.

When I burned my screen, I found that many of the penstrokes from the Sharpie translated through to the image; Sharpie is not an opaque medium, people, but the effect was almost like a woodcut, and I decided to embrace it. Experimenting with the printing process, I found that an extra pass or two with the squeegee would fill in many of the traces and give a thicker, more solid silhouette.

The Ur-Jetty-Shaped Spiral Kid's T-shirt

Since I wanted a bird's eye or Google's eye view, free of the perspectival distortion you'd get viewing Smithson's Jetty from the land, my first idea was to print the image up and down, or North-South. But as it turns out, Smithson's Jetty actually points west. And once you've been to the Jetty, it's hard to dislodge the land-based orientation from your mind. So after the first Google version, I made the rest "right side up."

The great appeal to me of the project was the color. Smithson chose the site for his Jetty because the water at the north end of the Great Salt Lake had an unusual pink tint. So you haul the kid out to the middle of the desert to see a massive lava rock earth artwork, and it turns out to be covered in white sparkles and floating in a pink sea. This was pink I could live with.

kid wearing t-shirt with a jetty-shaped spiral

The grey-on-white color combo was an unexpected surprise, inspired by the color of Smithson's Jetty beached high and dry on a salt flat. Since he built the Jetty in the shallow water, and it was soon submerged and remained covered until long after the artist's death, Smithson never saw a raw, landlocked Jetty.

Anyway, it was an easy blast making the shirts, and the kid loves hers. K2 has no opinion about her pair, though in her defense, she was only seven months old and mostly alseep when she visited the Spiral Jetty.

I made a couple of extras, in American Apparel 18-24mo and 2T size. If you have a kid who'll fit, or who'll grow into it, leave a comment with your email address below by Friday April 3rd, when I'll choose a name at random to get one.

[Your email address won't be displayed or used for anything except to notify the winner--and maybe to give you a heads up in case I decide to make another batch.]

see some more photos in the DT Jetty-shaped Spiral t-shirts photoset [flickr]


You knew I'd respond, right? Those look fantastic. Whatever size you can spare. We've got our own second child on the way so s/he will grow into it if it doesn't fit our 3yo.

I really like that the shirt takes into account the issues of site and color that were so integral to Smithson's work.

Those look awesome! (and yes, i have 2 girls who fit nicely into a size 18-24 mos, depending on how that particular shirt is cut)

Great looking shirts, well done!

We've got a kid for each size -- a very small almost 4yo and a very large 8 month old. They were actually able to share some clothes on the last trip when luggage got lost; not ideal, but it worked! It would make a great B-Day present for April 4th...

Whee! I haven't won anything in a while...

Cool shirts! I tried to make a trip out there once with a friend in a snow storm, the backroads were all iced over and we had to turn around. Maybe better luck is in store now...

they look great! we'd love one in 2t.

I'd totally love one for my girlie. 2T


Been reading you since, ...well let's say I'm on my 2'nd kid now. ~~2T or Bust~~

Pink: it may pass. My girl fell into the land of pink a few years ago, which really irked me. But I let her have her head, and just this week (she's 7 now) said "I think I like blue better than pink these days."

Love the idea. We live in Utah and are excited to take our 1yo to the jetty this summer.

Nice Work Greg! Spiral Jetty Rules! Dad-Made is THE BEST!

NIce! Either size would be great. Everyone thinks our boy, who's just getting to 18-24, is a girl anyway so why not go with it. Also, we're trying for another & it could be an act of faith.

We've been out there a number of times, living in Utah and the scene is surreal and beautiful. The water itself is actually closer to red than pink in the late fall, and with the rocks submerged for years the jetty is an incredible white. In fact when it emerged from the water, a friend of mine and I went out to find it, and it wasn't as easy to find as it was today, and it was fun to be part of a hidden part of art history.

Surrounding the site is decaying industrial equipment, which was part of Smithson's plan as he studied entropy and decay, so it is appropriate that the shirt didn't come out quite perfect, eh.

We'd love a 2T if you have one to share.

It's so adorable. We'd love the size 2.

Cool tee, would love a size 2. Great description of the process, etc.


Forgot to ask - have you noticed the American Apparel neck size to be on the small side? We have a homemade, long-sleeve T that was given to us & we really have to stretch out the neck before putting it on. Of course, the boy does have a giant noggin...

Would love one for my DS-18-24 months pref

I want one in mommy sizes! Those are very cool! I will be adding this to our "to visit someday" list.

If you pick us, 2T would be our prefered size. I can't believe that I'm dressing my not quite one year old in a 2T already.

We have a kid for each size too!

Such a great shirt! I'd love either size!

I'll enter the mix in hopes that I get picked for the smaller size.

Lovely - I have a lifelong fascination with spiral's and the golden ratio. Maybe it's time to pass that along to my spawn?

Either size will find a good home here. We'd love one!

Cool shirts. We're planning a trip to drive to visit both sets of grandparents which takes us right by the Spiral Jetty.

Cool design. If chosen, my daughter is 2 in April.

Really very nice! And a wearable reminder for a future family vacation. Either size - my daughter will be 1 next week and can fit either. Thank you for the opportunity!

thanks for all the interest. I'm closing the drawing list now and will pick a winner at random in the morning. stay tuned!

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