Friday, August 09, 2013

Somerville Artists Laura Caron and Doug Luther: Putting Literary Busts on Your Bust

Nathaniel Hawthorne T-Shirt

The Sherman Cafe in Union Square, Somerville was pulsing with energy one summer morning. In the corner of the cafe was a young woman who was pitching an idea for a non-profit to a graying man, with a black suit and shades.  In another corner a young couple was discussing an educational consulting project they are involved in..

 I admit it. I am an unapologetic eavesdropper. But I was interrupted from my private musings by Doug Luther. Luther is a Waltham resident, but he is in a romantic and business partnership with Somerville resident Laura Caron. Their company Henceforth produces T-Shirts with the busts of literary figures burned on the fabric, among other things.

Luther is an English teacher at Maynard High School, and his partner Laura Caron is a lawyer for an outfit in Newburyport, Mass. Caron is originally from Seekonk, Mass. Luther told me that Caron loves our city. She likes the mayor; she likes the fact that the city is arts friendly, and she is excited by the opportunities and prospects that the extended Green Line will hopefully bring.

Luther said of his literary tops: “We started with Henry Thoreau. We used the screen print method. Basically you burn on the image with a 250 watt light bulb—using a specialized screen.” Luther said Thoreau was a natural choice for him: “ I worked at the Thoreau Bookstore at Walden Pond. I liked the fact that Thoreau was a writer, artist, nature lover and intellectual.” Other literary figures that were burned (so to speak) were the Belle of Amherst-- Emily Dickinson, and Edgar Allen Poe, to name a few.

I asked Luther what he thought the great writers would think of their busts riding the busts of many of their customers. He said:  “I think it is a reflection of respect for the author. And also it says something about yourself, and things you may have in common with other people in the community.”

Luther talked about other folks that adorn these shirts. There is Stanley Miligram—who was noted for his experiments concerning authority, and his implementation of the shock method. Then there is Alfred Mosher Butts—the inventor of board game Scrabble.

Luther said he and Caron hang out in various places in Somerville, such as the Mt. Vernon Restaurant, and the Starlight Lounge.

And this columnist would be remiss if he didn’t tell you about Caron’s Thoreau Candles. These and other artful merchandise can be viewed on

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