Friday, January 19, 2018

There seems to be something different here.

I'm going to be experimenting with different store templates for a while 

Going to try to make the store's layout easier to read. It is already set up to be usable with mobile devices, but I want to see if I can improve it.

Welcome Page layout
can be improved.

How in the world did I come to be 60 years old?

For the last three to four weeks I've been thinking about my own mortality. Wondering about how to provide for my family when I eventually bite it. It has not been a particularly encouraging period.

I should have prepared better

There is debt, the fact that I'm on a fixed income, the lack of life insurance, etc. I've been hoping to use the store to bring in some extra income so I could work on the debt and save some money for them.  However; I haven't been getting any traction with the store.

Let's query the target audience

So, I decided to ask for feedback on a Facebook group that was appropriate to the content.  I felt a little leery doing this because I didn't want it to seem like an ad. I phrased it the best that I could, and then sat back and waited for the page admins to delete the post and send me a nastygram about SPAMming the group.

That was simultaneously better than expected and problematic

On the positive side, the admins didn't delete my post. I also didn't get a lot of members claiming that I was spamming. In addition, I did get a number of members that took the time to visit the store and give me feedback. It wasn't all bright and rosy though. While I did get a lot of feedback, mostly useful - there was some that I can not implement, at least not at the moment. What I did find, however; was that almost no one was going beyond the welcome page. None of the item or category pages were being visited. Many of the issues that were being experienced were only there on the welcome page. That was significant because people were losing interest and not getting to the meat of the site.

Desktop and monitor, check! Tablet, check! Phone, check!

I need to mess with various templates until I can find one that addresses various issues that were brought up.  Therefore, if you keep seeing the design of the store you'll know why. Unlike those people who didn't read this blog post and will just have to figure it out on their own. ☺

I am still looking for feedback everyone

If you have any thoughts on how I can improve the store to bring in more engagement, please let me know.  All comments, positive and negative, and all questions are welcome. Also if you happen to know anyone that might be interested in the items that are available, I'd appreciate if you shared the store with them.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Quasars shift red. Hot stars burn blue.

Quasars shift red. Hot Stars burn blue.

Quasars shift red.
Hot stars burn blue.
Space is warped...
...and so are you!

11oz ceramic coffee/tea mug

We have a new mug up at The Wits End. It's an 11oz ceramic mug that is dishwasher and microwave safe. Get more details here.
The text is over a hand drawn starfield.

Front view.

Handle on the left.

Handle on the right.

General view.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

We are pumping out some new designs at the store

There haven't been a lot of blog posts recently, but that doesn't mean that I have not been active.  I've put out a number of new tee shirt and mouse pad designs.  

Brains are awesome

This is the type of shirt you want to wear when you are having a discussion with someone and wondering how they even remember to breathe:

Brains are awesome


Are you feeling frustrated?  Do you want to help people learn to express their opinions?  Are you a fan of 80s bands? Then this might be a great shirt for you.

Most people aren't aware of it, but the song Shout, by the British band Tears For Fears was actually meant to encourage contemporary youth to protest, and make their feelings  and beliefs heard.  It tried to get them to learn for themselves, rather than just blindly following the pack.

We're in an election year, and there are some extremely important issues facing us here in the US (of course, the shirt is appropriate anywhere) and we should be trying hard to encourage people to get involved. This is, of course, up to us; the shirt isn't going to do anything except perhaps get some conversations started.

Have you tried flinging poo at it? 

Have you tried flinging poo at it? This is a tee for all of those IT department members, and for the family/office/neighborhood "computer experts" that everyone is always coming to for help with their computers. Reminiscent of Roy and Moss and their familiar "Have you tried turning it off and on again?" - but with a decidedly simian perspective.

Have you tried flinging poo at it?


This shirt spells out Atheist using an A and the initial letters of the words 'thoughtful', 'honest', 'ethical', 'intelligent', 'skeptical', and 'thinker'.
This shirt is is available with the Atheist symbol done as a discharge print on either the front (under the text) or the back of the shirt. The discharge pull is an additional five dollars. Color of the discharge will vary depending upon the color and brand of the shirt, but in general it will be a light tan or gray.

The Number of the Beast, in binary code

OK, as an Atheist, you don't believe in this. You also know that the number of the beast really isn't '666' but is instead, supposedly, 616. However, the general consensus amongst the believers is that the Antichrist (which you also know refers to Roman political leaders of the first century) is supposedly marked with the number of the beast and that number will be 666. Well, now you have a chance to subtly mess with those that are worried about such things, and bring it all into the digital age; by wearing a shirt which gives a binary representation of '666'.
The number of the beast, in binary

Sometimes, Evolution Sucks V2 tee

Hey look, there is another version!

Some people wanted the design on one horizontal line, so here it goes. (The orginal design is coming up next)

Are you feeling small and insignificant? Consider the chicken - at one time, it was a Tyrannosaurus Rex. This shirt shows some of the stages of the evolutionary change. It has silhouettes of a T-Rex, an archaeopteryx, a jixiangornis and a chicken. Sizes are not to scale nor is the design necessarily totally scientifically accurate, but it is simply meant to represent the stages. The design can be printed on the front or the back, and the colors can be customized
Sometimes, evolution sucks - version 2

Sometimes, Evolution Sucks tee

You've seen the meme, now get the shirt!

Are you feeling small and insignificant? Consider the chicken - at one time, it was a Tyrannosaurus Rex. This shirt shows some of the stages of the evolutionary change. It has silhouettes of a T-Rex, an archaeopteryx, a jixiangornis and a chicken. Sizes are not to scale nor is the design necessarily totally scientifically accurate, but it is simply meant to represent the stages. The design can be printed on the front or the back, and the colors can be customized.

Sometimes, evolution sucks - version 1

Made With Love (and Science!)

with atom symbol

We don't need any storks! Your baby was made with love and science - note that the 'o' in love is represented by an atom. This onesie is appropriate for the science minded, freethinkers, and in regards to IVF.

Made with love (and science!)

There are many more designs

On tee shirts, onesies, mouse pads, tote bags, key chains and other items; covering Atheism, science, humor, intactivism, vegetarianism, and more. Visit our store to see all of our offerings:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce

Special orders won't upset us.

All we ask is that you let us serve it your way.  

OK, that's a blatant ripoff of the old Burger King jingle; however, it is still true. Within the limitations of what The Wits' End is able to screenprint (for example, we are not set up to print 4 color process), we're happy to try to accommodate special orders.  Recently, I received a some orders that required some work, my wife's shop, LaSeraphin Creations also had some orders that required some.  We source our shirts for each order locally.  Onesies (well, actually, Carter's infant bodysuits - onesies would be Gerber), XXXL and women's fitted shirts are usually only available in white in the Corpus Christi area.  The Wits' End had a few orders that required dying, and so did LaSeraphin Creations.  In all, I had to do two blue onesies with white ink, one yellow onesie with brown ink, one blue XXXL, one yellow XXXL, and one pink women's fitted. Time to break out the dying equipment.

I use Dharma Procion Fiber Reactive dyes for all of my dye jobs. For the shade of blue I needed for both the onesies and the unisex XXXL, I needed to mix two of the blue dyes I had.  The ratio I used was 1 Tbsp -1 tsp of Baby Blue, plus 1 tsp of Brilliant Blue. For the yellow onesie and unisex XXXL, the Golden Yellow that I have was a perfect match. Same for the pink women's fitted, the Baby Pink was just what I needed.
Dharma Procion fiber reactive dyes

It's going to be a long night.

Dying the items is a somewhat involved process.  It generally takes about 90 to 120 minutes for each shade (not counting the rinsing and drying time).  Since I only have one sink, I have to do each color separately. That works out to about six hours, plus the rinsing and drying times. However,  for the rinsing and drying, I don't have to stand over the items continuously - when I dye though, I have to be there constantly, stirring/mixing the fabric to make sure things dye evenly. This is the general process for dying:

  • Ensure that the garments are freshly laundered, any oils, even from fingerprints, could degrade the quality.
  • Gather up all of the items I need. Dyes, lots and lots of salt, urea (if necessary), soda ash, a tub to do the dying in, measuring and stirring utensils, rubber gloves, items to clean up any potential messes, since I'm doing this at the kitchen sink.
  • Dissolve salt into the water
  • Mash up the dye into a paste, and then add it to the water and make sure that it's thoroughly mixed.
  • Wet the fabric and put it into the tub.
  • Stir the fabric in the water (by stir, I really mean move it around continuously; hence the rubber gloves) for about 20 minutes.
  • Add dissolved soda ash to the water over a 15 minute period.  You have to be careful with this step - soda ash sets the dye into the fabric; however, if you get it directly onto the item, it will leave darker splotches.  So, you hold the fabric out of the way, pour in the dissolved soda ash, stirring it in to the water in a corner away from the fabric and then going back to stirring the items.
  • After the soda ash has been added, I'll continue stirring for 30 minutes to an hour, depending upon how deep a shade I need. I'll also add a liquid dye fixative during this stage.
  • I'll then have to give a preliminary rinse to the items, until the water runs mostly clear.  I'll then transfer the items to the washing machine for a full rinse and spin cycle. Then of course, to the dryer.
  • Clean up the tub to ensure that there isn't any dye left to contaminate the next batch, and clean up any mess around the sink.
  • Repeat as necessary for each color needed.
Here are the blue items as they're being dyed.
And here are the yellow.

A look at how they turned out

I ended up not doing the pink, since that order isn't due for a few more days, I'll do it tonight.  I'm in the process of doing up screens sufficient for the XXXL shirts (because, to be totally honest, the ones I have look ludicrously small on such a big shirt), but here is a shot of the onesies after I've screened them.  The white balance in the shot from the phone isn't perfect, the yellow onesie has a nice chocolate brown ink, but it looks black in the photo.

Let us know what you'd like

Remember, we love to try to accommodate any special requests that you might have, so don't hesitate to ask.

The Wits' End online store, or visit The Wits' End on Etsy

LaSeraphin Creations

Saturday, January 9, 2016

New shirt for the IT Department types and the neighborhood "computer experts."

Have you tried flinging poo at it? tee

This shirt has an IT department chimp on the phone - reminiscent of Roy and Moss with their classic "Have you tried turning it off and on again?" - but with a decidedly simian perspective.  
Stop by and check it out at The Wits' End

Monday, November 30, 2015

Breaking up water softener salt pellets

I'm all about saving money whenever possible.

We're a very small scale operation here at The Wits' End.  We make all of our screens and presses by hand.  I screen the items that people order on the island by the kitchen sink.  I hope to eventually move everything out to the garage, but the plumbing is not there and getting it installed is very expensive. Being on a fixed income, I have to conserve money as much as possible (the sales are not yet really happening for the store).  One of the ways that I do that is to use fifty pound bags of water softener salt pellets for use when I need to hand dye items.  Dyeing requires a lot of salt.  I can get a fifty pound bag for something in the range of $4.00 US.

Those things are hard!

The problem with using the pellets is that they are incredibly hard.  I've tried hammering them, I've tried using a mortar and pestle, I've tried putting them in a burlap bag and slamming them against concrete.  None of those worked.  I've gone through a number of blenders.  They work, but they don't last very long. I get the blenders cheaply when they are on sale, or through thrift stores, but it irks me to be continually spending money on something when I'm trying to save money.

A Ninja to the rescue.

After the last blender died, I decided to look at other options.  I have a Ninja Express Chop that I picked up for less than $20.00 a year or so ago and don't use for food any more.  Knowing how hard the pellets are, I knew that the plastic wouldn't hold up to being knocked around by the blades for very long. I took some Duck tape and put a couple of layers around it. That way, it keeps the plastic from shattering, and if it does develop a crack it won't leak. That's important, since I now make a slurry by adding water, instead of just grinding the pellets up while they're dry.  It's not quite as convenient since I can't really do any up in advance, but it doesn't take long to do two or three cups of salt as needed, so it's not that bad.  I've been doing this for a while now, and the Ninja isn't showing any signs of dying.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

30% off sale extended through December 4th.

Good News

Coupon code NOV30 is now valid until midnight, December 5th, 2015

Coupon code NOV30 gave everyone 30% off on their entire order at both the online store and the Etsy shop.  However,  it ended at midnight, December 1st. It occurred to me that many people don't get paid until the first of the month or the Friday following that, and that they might want to get in on these deals in time for gift giving.  Therefore, I've extended the expiration date of the coupon code until midnight on the 5th of December. The coupon can be used as many times as you like up until the expiration; so if you realize that you forgot something, you can stop back in and use it again for another 30% off deal.

Check out what we have available at