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11. Implications and applications

We’re DIY’s, makers. We make stuff, hands-on. We like to get our hands dirty. We don’t like waste.

Music is my life. I’m a strong believer that life without music would be a mistake. I'm also a fan of merch, but... I would love for merch to be more ecological (no vinyl stickers!), customisable and zero waste. As my background is mostly in a DIY-punky way, this fits perfectly with my love for making.


Printing on Ieperfest 2019

WHY: what's the problem with merch?

In the past I've travelled as a photographer with bands for more than ten years. I had quite a lot of free time and time to talk with the girls and boys from the merch. For smaller bands, selling shirts is about getting a name out, but for bigger bands merch is considered easy money. The problem with merch is the same as with any major fashion brand: there's too much production because the costs lowers upon ordering higher volumes.

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Barcelona

Without going too much into details about which bands, but take for example a shirt with a specific date of a show or tour printed on it. After the show or the tour is finished, it's unlickely these shirts will be bought and therefor they become waste.

On the other hand it's also a mindset problem with people who are buying merch. While merch has (sometimes even a lot of) value for some of a band's fans, for others it's simply a shirt to wear at the gig or festival an to throw out in the end.

My boyfriend's merch collection (but he's not throwing them out!)

This got me thinking: what if we can make merch personal by offering on sight screen printing opportunities?

Wouldn't it be something if you could bring your own shirt and print on it? Or your record? And what if all materials could be recycled and ecofriendly? Now wouldn't that be brilliant?

WHAT: Concept and sketches

With the goal to change merch, it's time to explore and think about the first steps. The first thing in a proces is to decide is focus and starting points. What would I like to develop? What would be the link between these things? Very conrete: where will I lay my focus?

One of my other passions is coffee. I'm a trained barista and even though I don't pratice the job at the moment, the passion is big. Everybody who knows me, knows I enjoy a good cup of black joe. When travelling was still a thing, the first thing I would look up were the coffee spots.

One more cup of coffee for the road, one more cup of coffee 'fore I go

What's more to like than sipping coffee from a Transformers cup while enjoying some music, reading a good book and have a dog warm your feeth? Not a lot, I know ;-)

But when making coffee, the leftover ground coffee is waste. Some of the waste is used as soil for vegetables, or for pressing composite coffee mugs or in ..... But most of the used coffee is thrown out which is a shame as it's a very valuable resource.

One and one makes three: use coffee wast to make durable merch and a better planet. And I get to combine what I love: coffee, music and making!

Question: how can coffee waste be used in the world of textile?

Thankfully with coffee as a base materials, the possibilities are immense.

First ideas:

  • inks
  • stamps
  • flex/flock composite vinyllike material
  • Mysa hair based / coffee ground composite textile
  • PET based coffee filament
  • ...

A lot of research to be done! Let's go wild!

But coffee first. Of course. Maybe with some cherry pie? Or just Twin Peaks? (Perfect for rainy winter days, no?)

I want to experiment with inks and play with:

  • drying times
  • colours (glow in the dark, metallic, ...)
  • conductive ink to make a speaker for example
  • ecofriendly and harmless pigments/colours
  • non-toxic materials so the inks are safe to use with children
  • re-usable bases
  • ...

I already experimented with coffee based stamps which turned out great.

And I'm super excited to explore composites, vinyllike materials. But I need to research a bit more first :-)

The overall goal of my research is to create ecofriendly inks, fabrics, ... based on coffee. I want to be able to give fans and bands the opportunity to create custom merch and unique pieces!

Standing on the shoulders of giants

What do I need?

  • good research
  • inspiration
  • a good cup of coffee
  • music :-)

So if you're reading this and you might have a super interesting read for me, a really cool idea or a great music or coffee tip: reach out! I would be thrilled to explore all of them!

and then some...

But not only ground coffee waste could act as a starting point. Coffee beans grow on plants (makes sense, no?). So even the leaves could act as an ingridient. Or the green beans that aren't suitable for commercial roasting. Imagine what colour pallet you might be able to create when roasting green beans in different ways from barely roasted to charchoaled. I bet it would leave you with the most interesting colour palette! So many extra ideas already and I haven't even got started with the list mentioned aboved... Let's make it a lifelong project :-)

WHO: stakeholders

Every band, musician, label who wants to reduce waste in merch and combine this with highly personalised content. Every artist who wants to create custom, small edition prints. Every person who wants to print on events, at home or in a makerspace. Every artist who wants to use special inks in their projects. ... maybe you?

The whole concept is based on personalisation. Logos and drawings printed will be made to order as well as the inks used. A band might want to print in metallic glitter ink, another in a pinkish colour, another might want to go for deep red etc. Not every print has to be on fabric. We could print on vinyl records, posters, ... I believe I should try to work with as many different bases and inks as possible. Therefor I can only conclude that every part of the concept is to make things personal.

An example is this logo I made for Rites. I drew it by hand and transformed it into a stamp to use in the machine. I haven't tried yet, but it should work on textile as well with the right ink.


Good research (almost) never ends and that's just the way I like it. But time is limited in the Fabricademy so finding focus is important. That's why it's good to have a timeline at hand that's adaptable but strict enough to reach results in time.

As I'm working with coffee waste which is to be found in almost every bar, restaurant or in my kitchen at home it's an easy resource. This makes starting early fairly simple.

But I do know time flies by and when combining super exciting research with a full-time day job, time needs management :-)

Therefor I want to give myself enough time to explore and afterwards narrow things down and focus.

Last update: 2021-12-01