Big dogs little dogs!

I’m a cat person.  Hey, guess what my astrological sign is?  Yep, I’m a Leo.  And from the first kitten I begged my parents to get (who I named Button, for the spot on the top of her white head), I’ve rarely lived without a cat (or two, or three…).   Don’t get me wrong, I really like dogs.  But when my husband George and I see a really cute dog, we call it a “kitty pup” …   Anyway, you know from my previous blog post that I just started making pet collars from the fabric that I design.  The cat collars came first, of course.  I made this soft sculpture to display the collars from a photograph of our cat Lars.  I lengthened his neck a little so more collars would fit on … a bit of artistic liberty thanks to Photoshop.

 

Lars soft sculpture with collars galore

Lars soft sculpture with collars galore

 

But guess what? There are a whole lot of dog people out there who want collars for their pups!  And boy, are they different from cat collars.  First, the breakaway clasp that I use for the cat collars (so they can release if they get stuck on something while they’re being bad cats) don’t work for dog collars.   You need the dog’s clasp to hold so when the collar is attached to a leash it won’t release.   And another thing that’s different between cats and dogs — cats vary in size a bit, but oh my … you’ve got your mini-sized dogs and you’ve got your jumbo-sized dogs!  So yesterday I made one collar for a mini-dog (an adult dachshund whose neck is 11.5 inches) and one for a jumbo-dog (a Lab puppy whose neck is already 18.5 inches).

Monarch peacock fabric dog collar

This is the large collar.  The fabric is one of my new designs. I took my photos of a monarch butterfly wing and a peacock feather and blended them, then kaleidoscoped the blended image.  I had the fabric printed by spoonflower.  The collar is easily adjustable for when the puppy grows.  The person who wanted the collar taught me something else — some dogs chew up their dog tags (I don’t think even bad cats do that).  Hence, the invention of slider tags.  The tag slides right onto the collar – before it’s sewed up, of course.  You can’t add the slider if you buy this kind of collar ready-made (another reason to make a custom order, hint, hint).  I ordered the slider pre-printed.  Here’s a photo of what the slider looks like (the printing’s nice, I blurred it here):

 

Dog collar  with slider

Dog collar with slider

 

Here’s the small collar.  Because the dog is full grown, I didn’t leave much extra length, but it is adjustable to add about an inch.

 

Small pup collar

Small pup collar

 

And here … a stack of dog collars!

 

Dog collars

Dog collars

 

And for fun, this is the tag I designed for my dog collars.  The model is Scout, who lives with my brother and his family.

I’d love to make a collar for your pet out of any of my fabric designs.  If you’re interested, just email me at HeidiRand@gmail.com  Click here to see some of my fabric designs.  I can also make a custom collar using your photographs or images.

Click here to see the cat collars listed in my Artfire shop and click here to see the dog collars.

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More fabric printed by spoonflower

For my second order from spoonflower.com I decided to have them print a few large images on a yard rather than a tiled, repeating pattern.  My cousin had ordered a pillow from me months ago, and I was dragging my heels on it because I couldn’t  print it myself as large as she wanted.  This is the image she wanted:

Photograph of an angel's trumpet flower

Photograph of an angel's trumpet flower

I took this photograph of an angel’s trumpet (brugmansia) flower in our back garden.  I amped up the colors a bit and took out some detail, then smudged the lines to give the image a dreamy effect.  I used it for the front of one of my Open Studio postcards, and my cousin loved it.

I resized the image to 12 by 16 inches and had a friend convert it into LAB space for me, because I didn’t have Photoshop at the time.  As I mentioned previously, my cherished Photoshop Elements doesn’t have the capability of converting to LAB space.  It turns out that of course I couldn’t do anything with the converted file other than send it as is to spoonflower, because Elements wouldn’t open the file in LAB.  So my plan to address the colors that were out of gamut in LAB space didn’t work out.  As you can see from the picture above, the colors are quite vivid, and a lot of them were out of gamut.  I  decided to send the file as it was to spoonflower, to see what happened.   To fill out the entire yard I included some other designs that I planned to make into pillows or sachets.

This is how the fabric with the angel’s trumpet image on it turned out:

Angel's trumpet flower fabric

Angel's trumpet flower fabric

I’m satisfied with it, especially for the price.  The colors aren’t quite as they are in the file, but they are nicely saturated, which was the effect I wanted for the pillow.

This is how the pillow turned out.  The second pillow is also for my cousin, it’s my ‘Iris & Bromelia’ mandala design.

Pillows from spoonflower fabric

Pillows from spoonflower fabric

I know I keep mentioning the price in relation to spoonflower. If I wanted fabric printed that looked as good as it can on high quality inkjet paper, I would have to pay far more to do it myself with some of the very high quality treated fabrics, like EQ Printables or Colortextiles.  But then this pillow would end up costing far more than I want to charge.  As it is, I don’t sell many of the smaller pillows I make from pretreated 8.5 by 11 inch fabric, I suspect partly because of the price I set for them ($30).

I made another pillow from one of the other images that I included on this same yard order.  Here’s the image:

Butterscotch rose kaleidoscope

Butterscotch rose kaleidoscope

This is one of my favorite kaleidoscope designs, which to me evokes the Arts and Crafts style.  I started with my photo of a butterscotch rose in our garden and cropped it so that kaleidoscoping it put the edges of the rose together, and created a simple geometric design from the foliage and stem. The color of the rose is true – the rose is a rich, saturated caramel color that gets a tinge of blush as it ages.

I had spoonflower print it to about 8 by 14 inches.  Here’s the pillow I made from the fabric:

Butterscotch rose kaleidoscope pillow

Butterscotch rose kaleidoscope pillow

Again, I’m satisfied with the fabric.  The colors are a little bit out of gamut, which is my fault because I didn’t address that before I sent the file to spoonflower.  The resolution isn’t as sharp as the fabric I print myself, which matters more to me than the colors.

I haven’t spoken to the hand of the spoonflower fabric.  At this time, spoonflower only offers printing on Moda cotton.  Their blog states that they’re going to be adding more fabrics,  but that hasn’t happened yet.  I like the fabric for pillows.  It’s a nice tight weave, which is very good for detail.  It’s soft but has substance.  And it was a dream to sew.  I have found that some of the pretreated fabrics I use are hard on my sewing machine needles.  When I need to sew several layers, or have used stabilizer or timtex for a fabric vase, I can have trouble getting the needle through.  I have even broken some needles when sewing purses.  None of those problems with the spoonflower fabric.

I had some more images on that yard, stay tuned….!

Printing fabric through Spoonflower – Part 1

I love to print fabric from my designs myself, but am constrained by the size of my R2400 printer, which can only print 13 inches wide.  I could theoretically print as long as I like with this printer, but unless I do a work-around that I haven’t had the energy to set up, I can only print to 44 inches long.  So to make larger scarves, I had http://pixeladies.com print several of my designs to 12 by 60 inch charmeuse and habotai silk scarves.  They are so beautiful – especially the charmeuse, which feels indescribably luxurious.  I highly recommend pixeladies, they’re very helpful and friendly.  Their prices aren’t low, but are fair for the quality of the product.

Another fabric printing service recently opened for business.  Spoonflower.com was in beta for awhile but has now begun taking orders to print your self-designed fabric in various sizes.  At this point they’re only printing on Moda cotton.  You can order a swatch (8×8 inches), a fat quarter, or a yard.  Shipping on my order was really reasonable, although through a quirk in their shopping cart, if I had ordered the two separate yards together in one order the shipping would have been $7.  When I ordered them separately I was only charged $3 for each.  Silly to care about a dollar, but there you go.  The prices for their fabric are very reasonable.  They charge $18 for a yard.

The instructions for preparing your file to order fabric are contained in their blog, here: http://blog.spoonflower.com/2008/05/how-do-i-prepar.html

Frankly, I first thought of ordering fabric months ago but was a little put off by the instructions, which aren’t very comprehensive.  But I had an order to make a pillow that was larger than I could print, and I was determined to try spoonflower.  So this time I knuckled down and looked carefully at the directions.  Now, I have used Photoshop Elements and other similar programs for years, and have a good familiarity with them.  But for some reason I was befuddled by spoonflower’s requirements.  I think this is partly my fault, and partly the fact that the instructions are a bit too general, and definitely not broken down enough for someone who isn’t familiar with the vagaries of image resizing, dpi, etc.

Since I almost always print my own images, I never really needed to know how to find out what the size of my images is (not the size of the print, as in height and width, but the size in MBs).  Therefore, when I saw that my file could not be larger than 25 MB, I was befuddled.  After not getting enough help from spoonflower itself, it took several panicked emails to a photoshop expert friend (thanks, Kayla!), a post to the very helpful folks on the Photoshop Elements yahoo group and some plaintive queries to my friends on facebook, before I learned how to resize and check the size (in MBs) of my image on Elements.  Phew!

The other somewhat complicated part was that spoonflower recommends putting your files into LAB color space.  They have a good explanation of that on their blog, so I’m not going to repeat it here.  However, Photoshop Elements does not provide for conversion to LAB color space.  Spoonflower explains that you can provide images in other color spaces, but that there might be more of a color shift if you’re not using LAB.  I decided to take my chances, and sent a file in RGB color space.  I think the colors turned out fine in my finished product, but I’m not a color perfectionist like some of my friends, so you’ll really need to decide that aspect for yourself.

I ended up loading an old version of full Photoshop onto my computer today and sent another order in.  I included the same image on the order, one in LAB and one in RGB.  I’ll let you know what happens!

So when you make your order, you can have them tile your basic image in several different ways (or not at all, if you have just a single image or if you have your own method for a repeating pattern).  When you click the different choices, you can see how the fabric would ultimately look, which is really useful.

These are the two images I ordered printed: http://tinyurl.com/3rz8sb

I finally got a chance to photograph the fabric!  Here are pictures of the 2 yards they printed for me.

my Blue girl rose and bouquet collage design

Spoonflower fabric: my Blue girl rose and bouquet collage design

my Blue girl rose and bouquet collage design

Spoonflower fabric: my Blue girl rose and bouquet collage design

Oh, I should describe the design of the fabric I guess.  I took my photographs of a blue girl rose in our garden (my favorite rose, it has an exquisite, unusual blue/lavender color and a strong powdery scent) and a bouquet of flowers that I gave to my mother.  I blended the photographs and adjusted the colors.   I kaleidoscoped portions of the design and that produced the end-design that I used for this fabric.

This is the second yard of fabric.

Spoonflower fabric from my White daisies collage design

Spoonflower fabric from my White daisies collage design

Spoonflower fabric from my White daisies collage design

Spoonflower fabric from my White daisies collage design

This design originated with a photograph I took of a daisy with long white petals.  I duplicated the photograph, blended the layers and played some with the colors.  I kaleidoscoped the design and ended up with this end-design, which Spoonflower tiled to produce the yard of fabric.

Hopefully you can tell from the photographs that the fabric is very true to the original images that I uploaded.  The colors are extremely saturated and the resolution is great.  Next time: waiting for my second Spoonflower order!

Transfer Artist Paper on cotton

I previously wrote in my post about Photos on Wooden Boxes about using Lesley Riley’s new Transfer Artist Paper (TAP), available from her at http://www.transferartist.com   I just tried TAP on fabric.  I have resisted making t-shirts to sell because I was never sure whether the iron-on transfers would last, how they would wash, etc.  I have ordered some t-shirts made with my designs through my zazzle shop, http://www.zazzle.com/GardenDelightsArts* and the shirts are great.  They have a large variety of shirt styles and sizes.  I even sold a couple of children’t t-shirts the other day at the Pinole Artisan Gallery, so hooray for that!  Anyway, I bought some blank onesies (infant garments that snap at the bottom, very cute even to those of us who are childless) and decided to either sew some of my designs onto them, or to try using iron-ons.  Since I wanted to test out the TAP transfers anyway, I decided to use them for some of the onesies. 

Printing: I reversed the images because they’re transfers and you have to place them face down on the surface, of course.  I printed them with my Epson 2400, using Ultrachrome inks.  Per Lesley’s instructions, I printed on the plain paper setting and the medium quality.  The prints looked great – just as good as they would on normal inkjet paper, with full color saturation and detail.

Lesley’s website says to either wash the fabric right away (after transferring), in which case the colors will likely fade, or to wait a couple of days, and possibly the colors will fade less.  At least that’s how I read her instructions.  She also mentions that when she waited a couple of days, there was a line through the image where the cloth folded during washing. 

I pre-washed and machine dried the onesies.  I printed 6 images on 2 sheets of the TAP paper.  Following Lesley’s instructions, I cut out the image close to the edge to avoid having excess polymer transfer to the fabric.  I set my iron to the cotton setting.  As instructed, I used my ironing board which has a thin pad.  I put a piece of parchment paper on top the TAP transfer and placed my iron on top of it.  I held it there for about 10 seconds without moving it.  Then I peeled up an edge of the paper, saw that the entire transfer had worked, and peeled the backing entirely off.

On a couple of the transfers the edges were a little rough.  I think that’s because I didn’t hold the iron in that spot long enough, and the transfer was a bit incomplete.  My fault, but nothing that will affect the finished shirt too badly.  I was surprised that the holes in the iron didn’t cause a problem. Lesley mentions that the holes MAY leave untransferred spots, and I’d assume they would — but I did pick up the iron and place it in different spots, so maybe that’s why I didn’t have a problem. 

The transfers aren’t too stiff, just a tiny bit, but Lesley says that the stiffness will decrease as the item is washed.   I decided to wait until maybe tomorrow to wash them.  I really like the saturated colors and don’t want them to fade too much.  Here’s a photo of one of them taken right after I did the transfer:

Lars, photographic transfer to cotton using TAP paper

Lars, photographic transfer to cotton using TAP paper

I was very impressed that the shades of grey throughout the photo were transferred, as were the vivid colors of Lars’ eyes and ears, and his collar.  I’ll let you know what happens after I wash and dry the onesies tomorrow.

Okay. I machine-washed and dried the onesies.  Consistent with Lesley’s results, the transfer faded a bit, and the hand is a bit less stiff.  The colors are acceptable, and I would feel confident selling items I made with the TAP paper.  I’ll continue to test them.  I’ll make a t-shirt for myself and see how it fares after normal wear and washing.  Here’s the onesie with Lars on it, after washing and drying:

Transfer with TAP, after washing

Transfer with TAP, after washing

Printing on fabric

When I began printing on fabric a few years ago, the main product available was Bubble Jet Set 2000. You had to soak fabric (only cotton or silk) in the BJS, air-dry it thoroughly, iron it to freezer paper, and then you could print on it. You also had to apply an after treatment. I didn’t have much luck with BJS. I printed some silk scarves and some cotton squares, but had trouble with blurry patches and inconsistent results.

Luckily, other products quickly began appearing that worked better for me. Although the pre-treated fabric costs quite a bit more than treating my own fabric with BJS, the results were more consistent and saved me a lot of time and work (ironing, yuck!). The main benefit of BJS is that you can cut your fabric to the size you want, constrained by your printer’s specs, of course, and the size of the freezer paper or other backing. You can buy pre-treated fabric at sizes larger than letter size, but it gets very expensive.

For pre-treated fabric, I started out with rolls of silk and cotton made by Blumenthal, which the JoAnn’s store near me carried at the time. Every time I got a 40% coupon, I’d buy a roll, which made the price of the roll reasonable. I used a lot of the silk rolls for scarves, and used the cotton for purses. At the time I was printing the fabric on my Epson 1280, but soon realized that I needed to change to the 2400 for the pigment ink. The 1280, a wonderful printer, uses dye inks, which fade over time and wash right out of fabric if you don’t treat it. Eventually my local JoAnn’s stopped carrrying the Blumenthal rolls. Maybe they track whether people ONLY buy certain high-priced items using coupons, and if so, stop stocking those items. In addition, I was getting less-saturated prints on the Blumenthal fabric with my 2400.