New Zazzle Dazzle

I haven’t written about Zazzle in a while. I told you back in 2008 that I was an instant convert to the new print-on-demand site when I heard that I could have sneakers made from my own artwork and designs. Sadly, they stopped making sneakers, though they recently added flip-flops to the lineup. So far I’ve only designed one flip-flop (they call them sandals) out of my Peacock Feather kaleidoscope design.

Peacock kaleidoscope flip-flops

For about a year I wasn’t paying much attention to my Zazzle shop, beyond adding a few items here and there when I’d create a photo that called out to be used in a design on one of Zazzle’s products.

But I got really excited when they added clocks to the lineup! They don’t offer a template with numbers on it, so you either have to go number-less, design your own, buy a template, or find a free one to download. For George’s birthday I ordered a clock that I designed with my photo of our hen Maureen, and was really impressed with the quality. (My watermark doesn’t appear on the products.)

Hen clock

The image is sharp and bright, completely true to my photo file, and the clock itself is sturdy and well-made.

And for more Zazzle dazzle, they just started making wrist watches! One of my favorite photos of a hummingbird hovering works great on this watch, don’t you think?

Hummingbird hovering wristwatch

Some of the watch styles have numbers on the dials, but for the ones that don’t, I discovered that my clock template works for the watches as well, which makes it more worthwhile to invest in buying a good template from an expert if you’ll be designing clocks and watches.

You know me, I’m incredibly happy when I can use my artwork to adorn useful things, so I’ve been going crazy designing watches. Here’s one of my favorite new photos, a monarch butterfly on a zinnia flower, on a wristwatch.

Monarch butterfly on flower on Zazzle

Click here to go to my Zazzle shop to see all of the products I’ve adorned with my artwork. Do you have a Zazzle shop? I’d love to check it out, please leave a link in the comments. And if you’re an artist and haven’t tried designing on Zazzle, it’s really fun (but addictive! )

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

Zazzle addict

Okay, it’s true. Working on my zazzle gallery at home has taken up a lot of time.  I have so many images that it has taken quite awhile to get them up, and I keep working on new designs, and can’t wait to get them onto a t-shirt or mug.  But I’m also addicted to checking how many people have stopped by to see my gallery.  There’s a counter showing how many visits you get in a day, and how many total visits you’ve had.  I know the counter isn’t completely reliable because people on the forums mentioned that, and I have also seen the number go DOWN from one minute to the next — not sure what’s up with that.  You can also see what products have been viewed by day, week, month, etc.

What else?  Well, people can leave comments on your gallery, or on the individual products.  People can also vote for your products, by giving you one to five stars.  And I mentioned the “Today’s Best Award” I got for my zebra sneakers.  That was such a thrill!  I check the TBA throughout the day, just to see what has won.  I admit that a lot of the things that get the awards aren’t that great — I don’t even think those zebra sneakers are my best, but oh well….

Oh yeah, you can also join other galleries’ fan clubs if you like their work, and hopefully some will join yours.  If you click the “Community” link at the top of the page it brings up a set of changing products — there’s a row with some things that have recently sold, then a row where they show some recently-posted items that you can rate, and a row of what they call “fresh galleries”, that I assume means a product was just added to the gallery.  I’m not sure how they decide what goes on those crawling panels.  Sometimes my gallery or item will appear there soon after I put up a new product, but not always.  The “Pulse” button on the left side has similar crawling panels.

And of course the ultimate validation is selling something.  I didn’t even realize that someone had bought a set of my postage stamps,  my very first sale! until several days later.  Zazzle sends form emails every time you post a new product, and I had just been deleting them without looking at them – so I didn’t realize that this email said “Your item has been purchased” rather than “Your item has been published” or something like that.  I was going through all the trashed emails to find something and found out about the sale!!  I’ve never been so proud to make a couple of dollars in my life!

Zazzle

Recently I started a gallery on zazzle.com.  I have been trying to add a small panel to this blog showing some of the products, but haven’t been able to do that yet.  I think my web genius friend, Nadine, is going to solve this problem for me.  I know just enough about websites to know that there’s tons I don’t know.  Anyway, zazzle.com is a print on demand company that lets you put your own images and designs onto the products that they then print and ship.  I was won over to zazzle by the fact that you can make your own SNEAKERS!  In fact, I won a “Today’s Best Award” at zazzle for one of my sneaker designs that I made from a photograph of a zebra I took at the Oakland Zoo.

The other unique product you can make at zazzle is a tie.  I ordered one for George, and wasn’t ecstatic about the quality.  They’re polyester, and I’m used to my own perfect prints on silk or soft cotton, and I wasn’t impressed about the slight lack of sharpness they achieved with the polyester.  But I’ll probably order another to make sure.

Otherwise, you can get the normal products that other print on demand services offer, including custom postage, cards and prints, mugs, t-shirts, buttons, magnets, etc.  I’ve been very impressed with the quality of everything I’ve ordered other than the tie.  I have gotten several t-shirts, mugs and postcards.

For me, the strength of the zazzle website is in instantly seeing how my designs look on different products.  It’s incredible that you can just click the template for a product, upload your design, and see how it would work as a sneaker!  Getting a gallery is free, and you choose the amount of the royalty you want to get from anything that sells.   If you have a gallery and you order your own products you pay a basic rate.  They have a somewhat complicated discount program that I’m not even going to try to explain.

Their customer service is incredibly good.  I have called and emailed questions and get responses very quickly.  I bought some of my own things to sell and wanted to use my tax exempt status, since they’re in California.  They responded almost instantly with a clear and easy explanation of how I could do that.  I remember trying to use my tax exempt certificate with smugmug about a year ago and being told they weren’t set up to handle it.