Editor’s note: Today we’re proud to announce Blue Collar Lacrosse as the newest industry leader to support LaxAllStars.com’s mission by becoming an LAS Partner. When it comes to the mesh used to string up a lacrosse stick, the Blue Collar’s founders, Tim Weston and Marc Leveille, are the original gangsters and innovators of wax.
The maker of Marc Mesh, the first ever “waxed mesh” and one of the most widely-regarded products in our game to this day, Blue Collar Lacrosse has led the charge in creating new standards for lacrosse mesh for over a decade.
In collaboration with Blue Collar co-founder Tim Weston, today we take a look at the history of multicolor mesh and its rise to becoming commonplace on every lacrosse team.
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When I was first introduced to Tim Weston and his team at Blue Collar Lacrosse, I was also introduced to a whole new language of stringing lacrosse sticks. The company’s premier product, Marc Mesh, wasn’t something I’d ever tried in my pocket or even seen in person. Words like POCK-TEC-TONICS (the study of ball movement within the lacrosse pocket) and MESHBUTTER (Marc Leveille’s proprietary wax blend) quickly became common in our conversations as I learned more and more about the purpose of “waxed mesh” and the real science behind it.
Back in April, Connor Wilson helped us understand the difference between Marc Mesh and other waxed mesh and it got me interested in asking about Blue Collar’s other innovations.
Soon I found out from Tim and Marc that they believed multicolor Marc Mesh was the spark that led to all of the multicolor lacrosse heads we see today. According to the two business partners, strung lacrosse sticks were only sold with solid-color mesh (usually white) and in solid-color heads until around 2010. By 2011, over half of the strung heads available in some retail stores had either multicolored pockets, multicolored plastic or both!
The following is the history of “multicolor mesh,” as told to me by Blue Collar co-founder Tim Weston.
Beginning of 2008 – Blue Collar Is Born
And so our story of “the very first piece of multicolor lacrosse mesh” begins…
Previous to 2008, when Blue Collar Lacrosse began, Marc Mesh had always been white. In fact, when Marc Leveille and Tim Weston decided to go into business, they were both adamant that they would only ever make Marc Mesh in white.
The reason? White hides the ball!
It wasn’t until a conversation with the legendary Ron MacSpadyen that Marc and Tim reevaluated the concept of multicolor mesh and decided to give it a try. MacSpadyen, a 2001 inductee of the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame and current marketing director of the Ontario Lacrosse Association, had been a coach to Tim and a coach with Marc.
“There is no limit to the amount of respect we have for [Ron],” Tim explained to me. The creator of LaX Fest in Whitby, Canada, a tournament that lasts 10 straight days and has over 10,000 players who participate, Ron MacSpadyen is an innovator and the type of guy you want help from when building your team.
According to Tim, Ron couldn’t have been more direct when he stated, “If you don’t try to put more than one color into mesh, you’re idiots!”
Spring 2008 – 2-color Marc Mesh
It was the conversation with Ron that got Marc to begin experimenting. Of course, in the beginning, all the first pieces were identical to what you see in imitation “waxed mesh” from companies all over the globe today.
As it turns out, what is referred to as a ‘fade’ in today’s stringing jargon was actually what Blue Collar referred to as a ‘bleed,’ and they were quickly advancing away from bleeds.
Leave it to a Canadian to share this little piece of knowledge:
Did you know it’s against the law to make a Stars and Bars with a bleed?
Summer 2008 – Multicolor Marc Mesh
Around this time, Blue Collar was beginning to fear that too much white could possibly give the impression there was a ball in the stick when there wasn’t.
To prevent its colored mesh from ever encountering this problem and inadvertently causing a player to break the rules, Blue Collar set two important standards for all future mesh production:
1. Any white line in the mesh must be sharp with no bleed
2. No white line may be greater than than 1/3 the width of the ball.
It wasn’t long before Marc figured out a way to meet these standards precisely for every piece of Marc Mesh produced, and that’s when the very first piece of multicolor Marc Mesh was born.
Fall 2008 – Camo Marc Mesh
The next leap in the evolution of multicolor mesh was thanks to Marc Leveille’s son, Joel. An avid outdoorsman, Joel wanted to make a CAMO colored mesh.
Joel eventually figured out the perfect process for creating CAMO Marc Mesh in late 2008, and boy oh boy, it opened up some doors.
Summer 2009 – Marc Mesh with Numbers and Letters
By 2009, the guys had started thinking about more ways they could take the designs further. White numbers and letters within solid and multicolor mesh soon followed.
Soon after, a chance encounter with the head coach of an MLL team happened and the idea of truly custom mesh came into play.
The Blue Collar crew was at Harvard Stadium prior to the Major League Lacrosse game that featured Mikey Powell’s shot that hit the cheerleader. According to Tim, “She shrugged it off like a veteran MLL All-Star Goalie. and Mike’s band played at the after party.”
It was at that after party that Coach Bill Daye of the Boston Cannons came over to them to thank them for their stringing services. He also stressed how much he’d love to see a UNC logo put into mesh similar to the way Blue Collar did its numbers.
At this point, they were able to easily make diagonal lines and put numbers or letters into mesh. But they had not considered logos. Picking up from Coach Daye’s passion, Tim decided it was time for Blue Collar to see what he could do.
Fall 2009 – Marc Mesh with Logos
The first successful attempt on the road to making logo mesh was in September 2009 when Tim made the leap to being able to isolate a single strand within Blue Collar’s nylon mesh. Suddenly he had full control of the color placements.
After watching a program where an artist made pictures using only straight lines, Tim figured out that if the colors were arranged perfectly, people would be able to see the design in the mesh. Seen in the photo above, Tim’s very first mesh with a logo featured a cannonball for his best friend Paddy ‘Cannonball’ Campbell. At the time Paddy was playing goaltender for the Calgary Roughnecks and the league was sponsored by Reebok, so a special “Rbk” piece followed.
With his first two pieces of logo work under his belt, Tim was convinced that Blue Collar’s ability to imprint logos could set a new standard. But first he needed to get that UNC pocket to Bill!
Winter 2009 – Bill Daye’s Custom Pocket
This custom piece of art was a labor of love! Keep in mind that most NCAA Logos have straight lines however the Tar Heel logo has a curved “NC.” This makes it one the hardest logos in the NCAA to put onto lacrosse mesh.
Although it was difficult, it was the one piece Tim had his heart set on doing for Coach Daye.
Upon completion, samples were sent to the NCAA Rules Committee board in hopes that they would allow players to use multicolor mesh in games. By November of 2009, the UNC mesh was born!
Early 2010 – The Maple Leaf
It was in February of 2010 that Tim finally succeeded in making the most difficult and intricate design yet, the Canadian Maple Leaf.
There’s just something about this design that Canadian goalies, and Scott Rodgers, can’t get enough of. It’s truly one of my favorites as well!
The very first piece made its way to Scott Rodgers who used it for multiple seasons with the Hamilton Nationals of the MLL. Much to the mesh’s credit, you could still see the Maple Leaf after 3 years of steady use!
Summer 2010 – Argyle Marc Mesh
Blue Collar had the process down of how to isolate parts of the netting to either have color or not, but to be able to make beautiful argyll designs, they needed to learn how to put whatever color desired into the isolated areas.
What one has to remember is that they don’t use markers, like Sharpies, to color Marc Mesh, otherwise this would be quite easy. The guys use a specific dye that penetrates the core of the nylon and gives Marc Mesh colors their long life span with no bleeding during the production, or with the use, of the mesh.
This leap was first made by Joel, who figured out a way to put any color he desired in different parts of the mesh. He also developed a way to make the colors more vibrant and dramatically shortend the time it takes to produce multicolor Marc Mesh.
Today – Custom Marc Mesh
After years of trial and error along with all of the previous advances, the team at Blue Collar had all of the needed pieces to be able to produce custom designed mesh! Just like the pieces seen above for goalies Jesse Schwartzman and Scott Rodgers, the options are nearly endless and players can show more personality and flair on the lacrosse field with their own custom lacrosse mesh.
Thanks to Joel’s innovations while making Argyle Mesh, we have plans to start making pieces like this for the public soon! As mentioned, Marc Mesh is 100% hand colored and Buttered, hence why the pieces with intricate designs are pricey! Take note, quality handy work is going to cost ya’ kids!
Although the additional colors add no performance value, they do however look awesome and are made with integrity!
Marc Mesh has come a long way since 2008 when Blue Collar first got started. These lacrosse pioneers were the first to the race and likely will stand tall with the the last of them when it comes to designing and manufacturing lacrosse mesh. The team’s blue collar approach to making lacrosse mesh at the highest of qualities is what’s helped to propel them this far and I can’t see the momentum stopping anytime soon!