Ink Forest and the Original Social Media

Ink Forest started with the idea that t-shirts are the original social media. You get to wear something that looks good, feels great and has a fashionable design element. The design can be artistic, have a message, support a team, support a cause or be humorous.

Social Media, such as twitter, can last a few seconds or a few days before it fades away and disappears from view. No matter what, the social media statement stays on the computer. A t-shirt, on the other hand, can last for years. Your idea lasts as long as the shirt does.

A well-made t-shirt is a conversation starter. When someone wears a great t-shirt, people tend to approach that person since the conversation is already started. The shirt encourages interpersonal contact. It is more human than a tweet, post or update. The t-shirt is social media at its finest.

If You Can’t Do It Green, Don’t Do It

For Our Health

Traditional screen printing involves the use of many carcinogenic chemicals that are harmful both to the person wearing the shirt and to the environment.

There is NO WAY that Ink Forest was, is, or will ever use carcinogenic inks on their printed clothing! Does it make any sense that good intentioned people, wearing a “walk team” shirt or a sponsor shirt in a breast cancer walk, are unknowingly having chemicals associated with breast cancer on their shirt with the ability to leach into their skin? Should children wear clothing that contains hormone interrupters that can be absorbed into their systems? The answer is an emphatic “NO”!

The European Union and other areas of the world have banned these chemicals but most traditional screen printers in the United States continue to use them. Why? Profits and Production before people. Ink Forest will never use inks containing PVCs, Phthalates, heavy metals or azo compounds.  

For the Environment

The screen printing process involves the use of many chemicals. Traditional plastisol ink requires the printer to use harsh chemicals, such as benzene, toluene, and xylene. These generally get rinsed down the drain and into the water shed.

Ink Forest generally uses only water in the printing process. When solvents are needed, we use only locally sourced soybean based solvents, from farms in Bloomington, Illinois. Our customers and their children drink from these water sources. Ink Forest will not contribute to the degradation of our children’s and their children’s water sources.

Water Based Inks

Ink Forest only uses water based inks. There are only a handful of screen printers in the United States that use 100% water based inks. Ink Forest is one of the few screen printers that are Certified Green by Green America.

Water based inks differ from traditional plastisol inks. Plastisol inks contain colored plastic (PVC) particles with enough plasticizer to make it flow as a liquid. The ink is printed onto the garment and then heated to melt it on top of the garment. Phthalates are used to allow the plastic decoration to be flexible.

Water based inks contain pigment suspended in water. This ink is then printed on the shirt. When heated the fabric absorbs the ink. When heated longer, the water evaporates and the pigment dyes the shirt threads. The design becomes part of the shirt, not melted on top of it. It won’t crack, peel or chip off. And it lasts as longs as the shirt lasts.

About Ink Forest

Ink Forest is owned by Judy Mazzuca. Judy handles the day-to-day operations of Ink Forest. She is also a screen printer and often prints in the shop. So if you call Ink Forest, oftentimes you are able to speak to the owner, printer, manager and billing person, all at the same time. Judy is personally involved in every order and is in contact with the customer.

Ink Forest is a woman owned business. Why does this matter? Most screen printing shops are owned by men or more recently, Wall Street investors and venture capitalists. These printers focus on production and profit. As a woman owned business, Ink Forest focuses on shirts that look good and feel good, especially to women. Because of this, Ink Forest offers many shirts specifically made for women, often at the same price as the boxy “unisex” shirts with the thick collars. Another benefit of a woman owned business is Judy’s concern for your health and the environment. There’s more to owning a business than profit. Ink Forest believes in the connection between us, our customers and our shared futures.