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Blog Posted in avatar   Jonathan Farrell's Blog

Roadside Tee-shirt salesman says, 'Tie-Dye Never Went Out of Style.'

blog:21028:5::0
By Jonathan Farrell
Posted Apr 4, 2013 in Lifestyle
On a rustic corner at Napa Road and Fifth Street East in California's wine-region town of Sonoma is a roadside stand full of tie dye shirts, sundresses, beads, crystals and other items from the "Hippie" era.
Yet, when this reporter stopped by to talk to proprietor Jerry Converse (yes, he said his last name is spelled just like the shoes), he pointed out that "tie dye never really went out of style." Young and old both like tie dye.
"Tie dye came back in a big way after Jerry Garcia died and like the Grateful Dead, it just lives on," he said. Converse who has been designing and making tie dye shirts and clothes for over 25 years, quickly noted that some of the process of making tie dye shirts has changed over the years.
Working out of the back of his van  tie dye proprietor and designer Jerry Converse sets up his roads...
Working out of the back of his van, tie dye proprietor and designer Jerry Converse sets up his roadside shop every Wednesday through Sunday from spring time until mid-Summer. "When weather gets too hot, I head for Oregon or my hometown of Seattle," he said.
"Back then we used silk-screens and lots of buckets, now colors are applied with squirt bottles." He also explained, the term 'tie dye.' "You still have to tie and fold the fabric to get the various patterns and effects," said Converse as he pointed to a larger piece flowing in the breeze.
Roadside tie-dye stand proprietor Jerry Converse explained that the term  tie dye  comes from the wa...
Roadside tie-dye stand proprietor Jerry Converse explained that the term "tie dye" comes from the way the fabric is treated. "It is tied and folded and then the various colors are added. In the past the old way was to use a silk-screen and buckets. Now, I just use squirt bottles to apply the colors," he said.
The silk-screening was used to apply his graphic designs to the shirt before the tie-dying process. Yet with the advent of computer graphics and printers that all changed. "I don't do graphic arts as much any more - keep that limited," he said. "I do just the basic tie dye." Still, Converse does try to keep up with the latest color schemes, for example the popular military camouflage-fatigue patterns on most casual wear these days, for shorts, shirts and caps. Converse has his own version of that with a mixture of earth-tones and a touch of neon yellow-orange.
No doubt  Grateful Dead lead singer  Jerry Garcia is a source of inspiration to roadside tie dye shi...
No doubt, Grateful Dead lead singer, Jerry Garcia is a source of inspiration to roadside tie dye shirt designer Jerry Converse. "I also like to add dreadlocks to cartoon characters on some of my tee-shirt designs," he said.
As he was speaking to me, a customer drove up. "I love this stuff," she said. Not more than 30 years old or so, the young woman, asked Converse questions about the tables full of polished rocks, crystals and beads. Not to disturb a sale, this reporter simply observed. She looked around and Converse and I continued intermittently in between her questions and comments. She agreed that tie dye never went out of style. "This stuff is classic," she said as she went back to her car to get cash from her purse. She was pleased with the price $10.00 for a shirt, all made by Converse himself.
In addition to shirts and sun-dresses  proprietor Jerry Converse also sells beads  crystals and othe...
In addition to shirts and sun-dresses, proprietor Jerry Converse also sells beads, crystals and other "hippie-era" items. "All this stuff is still popular and people young and old alike like it," he said.
"I have been doing this for so many years, I can whip these up, easy" he said. The young woman was pleased with what she purchased, wished him well and to "keep doing what you're doing," and drove away.
Polished stones and crystals are items that proprietor Jerry Converse has plenty of in addition to h...
Polished stones and crystals are items that proprietor Jerry Converse has plenty of in addition to his tie dye tee-shirts.
Curious to know more about him and his work, yet approaching him gently, not to invade his space, I asked "what brought you into this?"
"I loved going to Grateful Dead concerts and so initially I wanted to find a way to make money to go to concerts and I enjoy traveling." Tie dye designs seemed the idea that fit. Converse went on to say that when he graduated from art school in 1986, "the computer made all that I had learned in art school out-dated."
Regardless, he continued with his goals and found a niche for his wares in flea markets, festivals and concert venues. "In winter I go to Arizona and then in spring I am back here," he said. "When the weather gets too hot," I go up to Oregon or to Seattle." I then asked if he only sets up shop when the sun is out and weather is fair.
Jerry Converse makes and sells tie dye shirts along the roadside in Sonoma  CA. He says he does pret...
Jerry Converse makes and sells tie dye shirts along the roadside in Sonoma, CA. He says he does pretty well, because as he sees it, "Tie dye never really went out of style."
"I am from Seattle, overcast, foggy or wet weather does not bother me," said Converse. It is when the weather is too cold or too hot that Converse seeks a haven-climate like Arizona for winter and Oregon-Washington for intense heat of summer.
While this reporter was talking with tie dye proprietor Jerry Converse  a customer drove up and was ...
While this reporter was talking with tie dye proprietor Jerry Converse, a customer drove up and was eager to check out all the merchandise he had set along the roadside of Napa Road at Fifth Street, East in Sonoma, CA
"I try to be here in the first part of summer because that's usually the best tourist season time." "Sonoma is a great tourist spot. People from all over the world come here," he said. He mentioned that being on that corner of Napa Road and Fifth Street, East, "People are always asking me for directions" he laughed. "Where's the square?" Sonoma's main square is not that easy to miss and where Converse sets up shop is some distance away from the center of historic Sonoma. "People will even ask me, "where is Napa Valley?"
"I don't mind giving directions if I can because that way people can stop and take a look at my designs, maybe buy something," said Converse. "Believe it or not I do pretty well." Like he said, the tie dye stuff is not out of style. He remains true to the basic format of craft, folding, tying and use of various colors to make the effect. "I used to make shirts with political figures and slogans," he said. "Some fly (sell well) and some don't. But they don't last long and I am then stuck with merchandize," he added.
No doubt  Grateful Dead lead singer  Jerry Garcia is a source of inspiration to roadside tie dye shi...
No doubt, Grateful Dead lead singer, Jerry Garcia is a source of inspiration to roadside tie dye shirt designer Jerry Converse. "I also like to add dreadlocks to cartoon characters on some of my tee-shirt designs," he said.
Like any merchant who has been in business for some time, keeping over-head costs low is part of the discipline of staying in business. Officially, Converse and his designs are 'Tie Dye Mafia.' "I used to have a web site, business cards and all that, it got to be too much hassle and it costs," he said. Nothing against computers or technology, Converse prefers to do business in a way he understands and can manage - low tech and payment in cash. So, next time if you are in Sonoma, stop by the corner of Napa Road and Fifth Street, East and check out the tie dye.

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