A group of professional caddies is suing the PGA Tour for requiring them to wear bibs bearing the logos of companies that pay fees to the tour but not to the caddies -- and I hope they win, because it's true, as one sportswriter said, that the tour is forcing the caddies to serve as "unpaid human billboards." It's a good thing they didn't ask me to represent them in their lawsuit, though, because my own first reaction would have been "Wow! Free caddie bibs!"
My friends and I not only happily wear logo-covered golf stuff that nobody pays us to wear; we even spend money of our own to add additional logos to our already-logo-covered stuff, the better to emulate Jim "5-Hour Energy-and-Web.com-plus-SunGard-Financial-among-many-other-companies" Furyk and his fellow tour members. We may not be able to play like those guys, but we can dress like them. Someday, maybe, we'll even be able to dress like NASCAR drivers.
Recently, we had quite a bit of additional stuff embroidered on our beloved Jagermeister sweatshirts, which Jagermeister gave us in recognition of our demonstrated eagerness to serve as unpaid shills for that company's main product, the official cold-weather intoxicant of the Sunday Morning Group. We had the embroidery done at another company we're proud to endorse: Full Circle Promos, which customizes all sorts of clothing for all sorts of people, including us.
Recently, Michael Giacona, who owns Full Circle, gave me a tour of his operation. Here he is in his shop, standing in front of part of his inventory of embroidery thread:
Embroidering stuff on stuff is more complicated than I had realized. You can't just scan an image and let a machine do the rest, Giacona explained, because if you did that you'd end up with a flat, featureless expanse of thread, rather than the sculptural magnificence you see in, for example, these police-department patches, which Giacona created. Notice in particular the patch that's second from the far right: the silver part looks like bas relief, even though the thread is just one color.
To create effects like that, Giacona uses a computer program that allows him to assemble embroidery images stitch by stitch. Here's what his computer screen looked like when he was converting our two-dimensional scan of the Jagermeister logo into the three-dimensional logo he added to our official Sunday Morning Group winter knit caps:
And here's what his screen looked like when he was doing the same thing to our faked version of the famous Jagermeister typeface:
Once he's created a map of the image, he loads the file into his embroidering machine and snaps a frame on the garment:
Then he locks the frame into his embroidering machine:
And then he lets it fly. The machine can do six items simultaneously,up to fifteen colors each (although nobody ever actually uses that many colors at one time):
Many years ago, a plumber taught me how to sweat copper tubing (in exchange for an ancient wood-burning furnace that I never used), and I was so excited that I told my wife we ought to have running water in every room of our house. Similarly, when I learned how to install plastic laminate, I thought about how convenient our lives would be if our dining room table and piano had Formica-covered tops. Now I feel the same about embroidered logos. There's still some space available in my closet, but it's going fast.