Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ah, Spring!

Spring is such a wonderful time of year here. This year my Wood's Rose bushes finally decided to bloom, after two seasons with not a sign of a bud -- I had almost given up. But then the other day I looked out my back window and saw splashes of pink amidst the green foliage -- and sure enough, they were blooming! What fun!

rose,wild rose,wood's rose,pink rose

The beauty of nature really is such an inspiration!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Desert Roads

While on my way to take pictures of the desert last weekend, a funny thing happened: I missed a turn and ended up at Hoover Dam.

Oh well, as someone who has a knack for taking the wrong turn anyway, I have decided that when these things happen, I'm not really lost, just exploring.

So on the way out I was able to stop and get this shot of the dam bypass highway construction. What you see is an arch being built to support the highway. For some reason, the sight of such a structure in its half-built state is more impressive than when it is all done and looks like it was always there. I just can't imagine what it must be like to be up there working on that thing, eek!

This shot was taken on the road to Nelson's Landing, on the same day. The clouds were gathering, it was windy, and in fact we got some rain later in the day. I just love the light, and the yellow Brittlebush that were in bloom, and the rugged mountains with the cloud shadows marching off into the distance.

Finally here is a shot of a hillside with a stand of Teddy Bear Cholla cacti glowing in the light. This type of cactus is a very strange variety, with dense spines very close together all over. It looks almost soft from a distance, but on the contrary it is is very, very prickly! Also, as you can see in this picture, the bottom of the cactus tends to die off, at least outwardly, turning brown, while the top of the cactus continues to grow and remains very light. These cacti tend to grow in stands like this, with new ones starting from the dropped pieces of existing ones. I have one of these in my garden at home, and I have also noticed that it is the most efficient water collector I have ever seen. If you spray the top of the cactus, the water is focused almost magically towards the central part of the cactus and runs down to its base. I keep thinking there must be a way to use this fact, some enterprising engineer ought to take a look at the structure of these and figure out how to harness their water-focusing powers!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Couture Cushions

Yellow Rose Couture CushionThese flower photos may look familiar, as I used two of them in the quilt that I talked about on my first post.

Another way I used these photos is to make decorative throw pillows, as you can see here. You can click on the cushion photos to see larger versions.

First I printed out the images on my Epson 4880 printer onto JetCol transfer paper. The prints are mirrored as they will be reversed when they are printed onto the fabric.

The 4880 printer is a professional-grade workhorse that can print on paper sizes up to 17" x 22". Instead of using regular inkjet inks, it is loaded with 8 Airtanium dye sublimation inks: the standard CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black), and also Light Cyan, Light Magenta, Light Black and Light Light Black. This 8-color assortment allows for finer details and subtler gradations in the finished print.

The JetCol transfer paper is a special high-release paper that is used when making dye sublimation transfers to soft substrates.
Lush Hibiscus Couture Cushion
These images were printed at a size of 15" square. I trimm the transfers and leave 1 to 2" or so around the image. Next, I warm up the heat press. For printing onto fabric, I use a temperature of 400 degrees F and a high pressure setting. I also place thick heat-conductive rubber pad on the bottom surface.

When the heat press is warmed up, I place a 17" square piece of satin shiny side up onto the rubber pad, then lay the transfer face down onto it, squaring the transfer to line up with the grain of the fabric. I then lower the heat press and press for 50 seconds, release and peel the transfer off the fabric.

The result of this process never fails to astonish me. The fabric retains its luster and its silky smooth feel, but now it has an image that has become part of the fabric. The dye sublimation inks have bonded into the polyester fibers to make a permanent image on the fabric.

The imaged square is then sewn into a cushion. In the cushions shown, I chose to add decorative piping. The backs are black satin with invisible zippers so the inserts can be removed. These cushions can be washed and ironed with a cool iron, just like any polyester satin item.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Snazzy Little Handbag

Sometimes things are so obvious that it may take us awhile to recognize them.

I started with dye sublimation printing because you could print on things like mugs, tiles, and cutting boards -- any of a large number of items with specially coated surfaces that will bond with dye sublimation inks using heat and pressure.

It's that whole "specially coated surfaces" thing... it took me awhile to grok that the special coating was a polymer coating. The "poly" was the clue... it suddenly occurred to me one day, that must mean you could print onto polyester fabrics!

I hastened to my local Hancock's Fabric shop and bought a couple yards of white polyester satin, and gave it a try.

It has not been disappointing! The images bond right into the fabric, and they are extraordinarily vivid. They do not affect the feel of the fabric at all -- it retains the same soft hand and satiny shiny smoothness as before it was printed.

So far I've made pillows and purses. Here is a little sparkler of a purse that I finished recently, complete with fractal printed pattern, sequin trim and a gold chain strap.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Quilt Squares From Photographs

Welcome to my Studio!

I hope you will enjoy sharing my creative journey.

It delights me to be able to take a photograph of a beautiful flower, download it to my computer, edit in in Photoshop, and then use it to create a lovely item of home d├ęcor. I use both standard ink jet printing as well as dye sublimation printing to transfer images to a variety of materials.

These are quilt squares that I printed using an Epson ink jet printer. I used specially treated cotton fabric available from Color Plus Fabrics to print these images directly onto the cotton, then incorporated them into a quilt using solids and prints that picked up the colors in the flowers.

Using direct printing gives a more vivid and detailed image than printing onto transfer paper and using an iron or heat press to transfer the imageto the fabric. It also results in a more natural "hand" to the fabric with the image. Quilts, of course, should always be comfortable as well as beautiful!

The finished quilt was a throw size, about 45" x 60". It looks like a mini flower garden that has been brought inside.