the captain cape breton tee

Four years ago I was on maternity leave from my job as a graphic designer at Dalhousie University. The previous year I had designed an I Love CB t-shirt and a LOVE onesie the year before that, as well as cards and calendars. Once I got into the groove of mommy hood, I spent some nap times working on new designs.

I created two designs - "home" and "Captain Cape Breton". I wanted to design apparel that Cape Bretoners living there and away as well as tourists would want to wear. That was why I designed 2 versions (the home t-shirt is no longer in production -that's a long unnecessary story- but I still see some of those around and they still look really good.) The Captain Cape Breton t-shirt was named by my husband. Brandon and his siblings, unlike me, grew up loving superhero movies, comics, and clothing. I now have an appreciation for superheroes, especially because our daughter loves them too. When Brandon suggested the name, "Captain Cape Breton" for the t-shirt design, I thought, okay that sounds cool. I like it. He even went so far as to dress up like the Captain Cape Breton superhero - twice! And yes, I'm dressed up as Mary Morrison - a Cape Breton superhero in her own right : )

The original Captain Cape Breton t-shirt was printed only in one colour - a kelly green Jerico brand t-shirt. A comfortable, soft tee. I chose green to represent Cape Breton. I started selling them at the local Mabou Farmers' Market and people bought them. They really loved the tee. Adults and kids alike. I was so excited and happy to see people proudly wearing their Cape Breton tees.

I never thought I would add more colours to the line or more designs, but I did. From there I included  grey and black tees with green logos. Then the navy and red t-shirts with white logo. As well as new designs - LOVE (updated) and C+B. And last year a whole slew of new colours - super soft tees.

Last summer, 2017, I also introduced the Cape Breton Crew t-shirt. This is the Captain Cape Breton logo with Cape Breton Crew text above it as well as the Inverness County Square Dance tee.

This summer I will have the original colour combo of the Captain Cape Breton t-shirt (kelly green + white) for adults and kids. I'll also have additional colours.

You can find me at the Mabou Farmers' Market on Sunday, July 29, 11am to 2pm and at the Sydney Waterfront Festival, Friday, August 10, noon to 9pm. Watch my Instagram and Facebook for possible POP-UPS!

Daydreaming at dusk in the Glen

On Friday, December 8, I completed my fall semester Screenprinting class in the Printmaking department at NSCAD. I learned an abundance of information, made new friends, spent a lot of time away from my sweet family, was exposed to new art and ideas, had epic days in the studio where at times I felt frustration or elation with every new layer I printed. But that's the really cool thing about screen printing. I printed the colours. I created the positives. I put the emulsion on the screens, cut and tore the paper and printed the layers and when I curated and editioned the work I felt like I really, really accomplished something. I created the print! Entirely!

The pre-requisites for my final project included:

  • 30"x22" - that is double the size of anything printed previously. I learned I like to print small.
  • On an unusual material - something other than paper. I chose frosted mylar because it is like a drafting film used by architects whose job it is to imagine and create within rural and urban landscapes.
  • 4 different positives, including a photographic layer
  • 7 colours. When I started this class I thought maybe I would do 3 colours max. This was huge for me.
  • Installation in a space in the NSCAD building where we took our class

My first two projects had a Cape Breton theme. My third project used a photograph and more graphic elements - which I am more comfortable with as a graphic designer and photographer. The 4th project was inspired by the Cape Breton landscape but interpreted in more of an imagined way.

Inspiration image - Glenville field, Cape Breton Island

Inspiration image - Glenville field, Cape Breton Island

In Photoshop I converted the digital images to bitmaps. Then I placed the main image, along with a few other images – the ferris wheel and the trees in the foreground into InDesign so that I could do a mockup with placement and colour. I would be interested in printing these as giclees on watercolour paper to compare the result with a screen print of the same size 


The first layer (pink rectangle) was created from torn paper. Doing a flat at this size was much more difficult than I anticipated. The rectangle is 22" x 14". I found it hard to control the ink, but that colour sure is pretty. I mixed all of the colours for this project, which is exciting in its own right.

Test Prints: Colour and registration testing on paper. Both colours are a bit darker than I was expecting as I wanted to include a transparent layer or two in the foreground. I really had to think this one through. I printed five prints of the sepia/purplish colour on the right and then took a different route.

I love using bright, playful colours in my design work. The same is true for me in screen printing. I also enjoy mixing real and imagined landscapes which I learned from this piece, has a more universal appreciation. This is six layers in to the 8 or maybe it was 9 layer print.

I taped off the sky so that I could I could register it better.

I taped off the sky so that I could I could register it better.

A final pre-requisite was to install the work in the building at NSCAD. I chose to suspend my piece - it is back to back with a piece of stonehenge paper between. I chose a wooden frame to reflect the rural setting. In the third photo you can see the images that are back to back. It was a surprise for most of my classmates that the prints were different. A happy accident as my instructor put it : )

Title: Dusk in the Glen, 30" x 22", screen print on frosted mylar 

Title: Dusk in the Glen, 30" x 22", screen print on frosted mylar 

Title: Daydreaming at dusk in the Glen, 30" x 22", screen print on frosted mylar

Title: Daydreaming at dusk in the Glen, 30" x 22", screen print on frosted mylar

It was truly interesting to hear from my classmates and teacher that this print looked like the Yukon or Newfoundland to them. Even though I was inspired by Cape Breton, the landscape is interpreted differently depending on your experience.

I'm very excited about this direction and plan to continue screen printing. I'm hoping to set up a small studio space in my basement to practice this winter. I hope to do more prints, like these, on paper. 

Stay tuned ...

Screen printing: how I created project two

I forgot what it was like to be a student and take a class that requires a lot of outside class time. Don't get me wrong, I love it, but whoa ... it's a lot of work. You may know what I mean, learning how to do something new with so many variables for mistakes. It's stressful and exhilarating. Every step I take in the process is new and scary and I mess up a lot! As a graphic designer, I design pieces on the computer and then I upload them online or send them to print. DONE! With screen printing, it's a WHOLE process. I'm going to explain the steps for my second project. Must haves for this project included use of:

  • cut paper as a stencil or burned onto a screen
  • rubylith (really good for doing a large flat of colour)
  • velvetone (great for doing rubbings or frontage)
  • use of any other material we've already used (acetate, tracing paper, etc)

The first step for me is to consider the imagery to use. With this class, my focus is the Cape Breton landscape. I have a bunch of Cape Breton photography and for my first project I based my print on a Mabou sunset. It didn't go as planned and I made a lot of mistakes but I really did learn so much. By the end of my 5th colour I think I got the hang of pulling that squeegee across the screen.

I went to Cape Breton for the Thanksgiving weekend. I took a piece of velvetone to the beach with me and did some rubbings on driftwood, beach rocks and plants and then on the siding of the cabin where we were staying. I also took some photos of the local scenery and for the first time in my life took photos of the schoolhouses in Glenora Falls. These two abandoned buildings are next door to my parents-in-laws' home. There are 'No Trespassing' signs on the lawn, which I stayed behind. I see lots of photos of these buildings in my Instagram feed during the summer months and I thought they'd make a cool print - what I created is not an exact replica, but a re-imagined image. 

Inspiration Image: Glenora Falls, Cape Breton Island

Inspiration Image: Glenora Falls, Cape Breton Island

I used cut paper for the background colour of the hills. I cut the rubylith in the shape of the houses and then I used cel vinyl on the acetate for the sky. Cel vinyl is a really fun material to work with. I drew the details of the buildings on tracing paper. One of the velvetone rubbings is used on the sky. 

THE PROCESS: from creating the positives, to burning the screen to printing two different editions (same design, different colour scheme).

No Trespassing I

No Trespassing I

No Trespassing II

No Trespassing II

This project took 20 hours to complete. I KNOW! It's crazy... but also I'm new to screen printing and just learning the process. I'm sure it would take less time with more practice. The steps included:

  • putting photo emulsion on 2 screens
  • creating positives on rubylith, velvetone, and tracing paper
  • burning positives on screens
  • choosing 2 sets of colours - this took forever! Mixing colours.
  • cutting newsprint, mayfair and 2 different types of paper to size
  • punching holes in the paper for pin registration
  • printing 4 layers of 2 separate editions - allowing each layer to dry
  • tearing paper to size
  • cutting interleaf to place between each print
  • curating (choosing the best prints that match each other) and editioning work (signing)


Cape Breton Crew

Celebrating social culture of Cape Breton Island. Not to generalize, but most of us are a fairly social bunch, enjoy the company of other people, having a visit... and whether you live in Cape Breton year round, part of the year, or visit once in a while, quite often there is a crew in Cape Breton to do your thing with.

Read More