The wheels of the motorhome; Artist Stacey Patty takes her screenprint on the road with a creative makeover | Community


Some call her the “T-shirt Lady” while others admire her work as a graphic designer who designed their logos and business cards.

Stacey Patty isn’t picky about what others attribute to her. She’s just grateful to use her fine art degree to color our world.

Patty, owner of Stacey Heil Design, grew up in Blount County and graduated from William Blount High School in 1993. She then enrolled at the University of Tennessee and earned that fine arts degree for graphic design . While many in the community know her as Stacey Heil, she recently married Mike Patty and changed her name.

His touch is definitely about the city. She designed the logo, menus and website for local restaurant The Walnut Kitchen. She started her own business right out of college.

In addition to her corporate graphic design work, Patty got into screen printing t-shirts a few years ago and worked at Studio 212 in Maryville. She is now alone with this side business she calls 865 Studio Shirts.

Some have probably seen her at various public events, set up along the sidewalks of downtown Maryville. The assembly and disassembly of his equipment took him a little time, which allows him to do the screen printing on site, so this artist had an idea.

An original idea takes root

“I told my husband I wanted to convert something – maybe a motorhome or a horse trailer – into a mobile screen printing unit,” Patty explained. “We just posted it on Facebook, asking if anyone had one they just wanted to get rid of.”

Turns out someone did. Patty has a friend who gave her a pop-up camper, so she and her husband got to work.

“So we tore it down,” the artist said. Then they brought it back to life in a new form as a mobile screen printing unit. The Pattys built the tables to fold up easily for travel. They installed a rubber floor. Now they can hitch it up and take it almost anywhere.

She screen-printed T-shirts at Summer on Broadway and the East Tennessee Makers Market, both of which were canceled this year. But, Patty has branched out and provided her services to schools, cafes, breweries and others where installation is possible.

It’s rewarding, she says, to be able to attend a local school event, where she designed a t-shirt for students, teachers, etc. If they bring their own t-shirt, it only costs $5 to add their unique designs.

It’s her business model everywhere she goes. As she explained, she’s not in the t-shirt business; thus, selling hundreds of shirts in a day is not his goal.

“I do small batches of T-shirts,” Patty said. “I’m more design-oriented.”

She attended elementary schools in Montvale, Townsend and Friendsville. Sometimes it’s for a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) event, she said. Attendees can spend a few dollars and walk away with some kind of souvenir. If someone comes without their own t-shirt, she brings some with her to buy some.

We love our Dolly Parton

Take a look at some of her designs and it’s pretty obvious that she’s an East Tennessee girl. Patty does a lot of designs using hiking, fishing and the Great Smoky Mountains as themes. Dolly Parton is also in the foreground. Patty has done her likeness on T-shirts and pillows.

“It doesn’t matter what side of the political fence you’re on, or your stance on wearing a mask or what’s going on with this crazy virus,” she said. “I love that people can have a moment of brevity and smile at the designs because they relate to the whole community and region. Who doesn’t think Dolly is a queen of Appalachia? Who can’t identify with the Great Smoky Mountains? Who doesn’t love this beautiful country we live in, work in, raise our children in, called Tennessee?”

Patty’s goal is to bring those smiles as she moves and moves with her popup.

Customers who want shirts for bachelor parties and motorcycle club members have asked Patty to design and then print batches of shirts, and she happily complies. It’s a very affordable option, the artist said, since that $5 cost per shirt applies.

One of his latest attempts is to offer screen printing lessons through Airbnb. Patty said the reaction so far has been positive. She will guide the workshop students through all phases of the process.

“It starts with a design idea, then preliminary sketches and finally a full computer render, which is then printed onto a transparency,” she said. “The blank screen is coated with a light-sensitive emulsion, which is then placed on a light table with the transparency of the design sandwiched in between.”

This process is called “burning the screen”, explained Patty. He creates the stencil which is then sprayed with water to remove it from the screen, leaving behind the hardened emulsion. The screen is taped to prevent ink from penetrating through areas not covered by the emulsion. She then uses a squeegee to push the ink through the screen and onto the shirt.

The shirt is then thermoset at 350 degrees. Then voila, says the artist, a printed shirt is revealed.

Those who attend her two-hour workshops will walk away with a screen-printed t-shirt and tote bag as well as posters. They also have the option of bringing five additional items to print.

“They can see the whole process from start to finish,” Patty said. “It’s a very hands-on process.”

Meet Patty in person

Today, May 30, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Patty will be settling in at the Little River Outdoor Resort in Townsend, where she’ll have her own designs to screen-print on shirts for $5.

She’ll be at SouthSide Garage in Knoxville from 6-9 p.m. on Saturday, June 6, then at the Vienna Coffee House in Maryville from 8 a.m.-noon on Saturday, June 13.

The refurbished popup motorhome will be in tow. Patty said she was still trying to find a name for him.

Patty admits it’s a great feeling to walk down the street or down the aisle of a store and see someone wearing her design.

“I scared some people in Target the other day when I said, ‘Hey! I made your shirt,’” she said. “They looked at me like I was crazy. But on the other hand, people come up to me and say, ‘Aren’t you the T-shirt Lady?’ It is an honor and a real pleasure to meet the members of the community.


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