John Mohr, a screenprinter with 30+ years experience, teamed up with his son-in-law Alex White and together they became Domestic Stencilworks. Their company is very much eco-conscious, and their printing is done in-house with water-based inks, and food grade dyes.
Having named their company Domestic was a conscious decision. “The name DOMESTIC arose from our commitment to source and manufacture within our home state of California. As we began moving our ideas forward we realised the brand could support other goals we had as well.”
They wanted to bring something new to the printing world. Rather than using fancy technology they embraced the exploration with simple tools, by fabricating their own equipment and spending hours of research trying to find new ways to print.
John and Alex came up with something that sounds both surprising and uplifting: printing with coffee. It’s so clever it’s hard to wrap your head around it: it’s upcycling, all natural, inexpensive and it makes their printing shop smell like a coffee roaster, or so the rumour goes.
To make the ink they cook down a batch of spent grounds, which is often donated from local coffee shops. Then they thicken it to a consistency that mimics screen print ink, using their own secret recipe. No easy task as you can imagine, and it has taken them 4 years to perfect the whole process. The hard work paid off though, and they now have a dye that can be used to print on garments, and which will hold through wash and wear.
The Domestic team not only has a talent for research, they also know very well how to find those creative individuals that are perfect to cooporate with. Fernando Jule, an artist from San Salvador, being one of them.
“The day I met Fernando Jule he was working on a mural at the home of a good friend. People were shuffling in and out of the house, hammocks swayed and music was playing as the mural grew. The next morning we drank our coffee and stared at the finished work.”
Alex decided then and there that this drawing should be available to everyone. Fernando had gone home by then, but luckily Alex managed to track him down and suggest a cooperation. He managed to get the mural resized, and printed the image on both cards and t-shirts. And this is only the beginning of an ongoing cooperation between the Californian printers and the El Salvadorian artist.
Currently Domestic prints in small batches for coffee shops and other enthusiasts who like to have their designs printed in coffee. They also have their own line of coffee printed tshirts, as well as a line of cards. My suggestion? Brew yourself a cup of joe and have a browse in their online shop!
I received a product from Domestic to see their work up close.