I am not originally from Northern Kentucky but my husband’s family is. And as with most Northern Kentucky families, their roots run deep. As our family runs errands he will often point out where his grandpa lived, his friends’ houses, where he played baseball, where he went to school and such. But on one trip to Covington he drove down Holman Avenue and said his (paternal) grandpa owned a bar there.


I didn’t pay too much attention until one day when one of my colleagues gave me an old photo. It was a picture of a city street, probably from the 1950’s. He said he noticed that the name on the bar said Klaene’s. I showed it to my husband and indeed, it was his grandpa’s bar.

I’ve had the photo for years and always wanted to make a t-shirt of it as a surprise for my husband. However, I had no clue where to start. Fortunately, in the past few months the Kenton County Public Library has invested in items for their makerspaces. One of those items happened to be a heat press located at the Covington branch library. I made an appointment with a staff member to help me with this project. To make an appointment, call the Covington Reference Desk at (859) 962-4071 and fill out the form below.


The project itself was pretty easy. I purchased a few t-shirts from Michael’s Arts & Crafts. I was informed that 100% cotton works best and that polyester does not. I scanned the photo and put it on a flash drive so it was ready to go. Working with Gary and Kathy at the Covington branch library, we pulled up my photo.

One it was positioned how I wanted it, they put special transfer paper in the printer, hit print and it was ready to go.

After printing the image, we then moved to the heat transfer. Again, I positioned the image how I wanted it on the shirt and put it on the press.

A few minutes later, voila, the image was on! I put the photo on the back of the shirt but wanted something from the front. A friend helped me create a logo similar to the sign on the photo. We printed that on transfer paper, put on the heat press and then the shirt was done!

My co-worker was with me at the time working on another project. She loved how my shirt turned out and created one for her husband who used to be a Kentucky State Police Officer. She found his photo on the Kenton County Public Library’s Faces and Places website. I had an extra shirt, so she also printed the image and put it on a t-shirt as well!

Both of these t-shirts were made in preparation as a gift for Father’s Day. Since you need to bring in your own items that you want to print on, the only cost is in the number of transfer sheets you use. In my t-shirt project, the transfers were $1.50 and I paid about $3.50 for a t-shirt. So total cost for a personalized gift, less than $5!

When we originally posted t-shirt on the Kenton County Public Library’s Facebook page to show what the equipment can do, I shared it with my brothers and sisters in-law. Since then, their uncle Paul, who lives in North Carolina and is somewhat the family historian, has shared it on his page. This is his knowledge of the building:

My dad, Claude, called it a cafe but it really was more of a neighborhood bar. Dad served burgers, sandwiches, soup, and chili. He was known for his excellent chili.

 As far as I know, the building is still there. My dad owned the single-story building that was the cafe and he owned the three-story building adjoining it. The taller building had a store-front on the first floor and apartments on the upper floors. We donated the buildings to an organization like Habitat for Humanity. They were going to renovate it and use it for an office and work space.

Overall this was a pretty fun, easy and inexpensive way to make a personalized gift. As the holidays are approaching, I’ve been thinking of other ways to use the items at the Library to personalize gifts. In addition to the t-shirt, I also made a wedding gift for a friend using the Glowforge engraver at the Erlanger Branch. It literally costs nothing to personalize to use when you bring in your own item to engrave. Here is a complete list of equipment available in the STREAM Center at the Erlanger Branch, https://www.kentonlibrary.org/stream

While I’m not tech-savvy at all, it has been fun learning how to use all of the available equipment to personalize gifts. What gifts do you plan to make?



Robin Klaene is the Public Relations & Development Director for the Kenton County Public Library and a Pinterest junkie. 

**Note that the businesses listed in this blog are not in any way affiliated with the library but instead were used for supplies for this project by the author. 

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