Saturday, March 18, 2006

Bear with me here, I'm talking shop.

Well I know it's been a while. I just updated two recent posts to add new photos. Scroll down, or click here and here.

In my (partial) defense, I will note that I tried to add these pictures days ago, but Blogger was having one of its semi-regular spasms and wouldn't let me upload them. In Blogger's (partial) defense, I'll add that I tried to do it again a couple of days later and the system was working fine, but I had deleted the blog-sized copies of the photos and had to re-export them from the large file generated by the camera, and didn't bother to do it right then.

But enough about that, let me tell you about my latest get-rich-slow scheme. First it was the hand-dyed fabrics. But not any more. I've decided that selling them locally isn't going to be the way to go, because A) It turns out that the person who used to dye fabric and sell it at the quilt shop has not stopped doing so (I thought she had) and, B) The local market really won't pay what I would want to make. I can still sell them to people who come to the retreat, but you can't build an economy around that.

Once I realized that the fabrics weren't my final product, I decided that the way to go would be to use the hand-dyed fabrics to make quilts myself, then sell them. Everybody seemed to like the wedding quilt I made for my friends. Maybe people would pay for something like that. Hand-dyed fabric increases the value of a quilt but, when I dye it myself, it actually decreases my cost. So I've been chewing on that idea for a while now.

Then I picked up a random handfull of quilt magazines from my very large supply of back issues and one of the first things I saw was this article about printing on fabric. We all know you can print on fabric and, fortunately, the science of doing so has progressed immeasurably since Lisa and I used photo transfer paper for The Quilt That Started It All. Now you can pre-treat your fabric with this lovely chemical, let it dry, print your picture, wash the chemicals out, and there you have it. No plastic, no cracking. Marvellous stuff.

And Rita and I even have a bottle of this lovely chemical (is "lovely" the word I want here? The stuff is actually 0.001% formaldehyde...) because we're going to use it to print quilt labels with our logo on them. Plus Alex just sent me a lovely (definitely the right word) digital camera. And a new color printer.

With all that stuff already available to me, I just happened to pick up the one magazine from my collection that not only talks about the technique--no news to me--but also shows a whole new use for it. Not printing family portraits for memory quilts, no no. Printing pictures of plants and flowers, cutting them out, and appliquéing them down instead of cutting, say, flower petal shapes out of plain pink fabric. Did I mention I also happen to have this great picture of an orchid from when Dad and I went to Lankester gardens? And a good digital camera? And access to all the tropical foliage I can photograph?

The thing about selling quilts--or any product, really-- is, you have to give the people what they want. And if there is one thing I know for sure, it is this: most of the people who come to Costa Rica are here for the pretty.

Here's the test block I made today - it's 9" square. Of course there's any number of ways to go with this. To start off, I'm picturing four (or maybe nine) of these made with different flowers and different colors, made up into a wall hanging.

Technical notes: The flower is appliquéd in six pieces - the five petals and the central area. I printed four copies of the photo on one sheet of fabric, and ended up using three of them. I cut the three back petals from one copy, the two front petals from another, and the central area from a third. I moved the back petals just the tiniest bit closer together than they really were so that when I put the front petals on top, they would cover the edges of themselves on the pieces below. Got that?

Here's the original photo:


Dad March 20, 2006 5:35 AM  

To quote you: "We all know you can print on fabric..."

Uh, I guess I knew that. Sure did. I even have T-shirts to prove it.

But, help me out here, HOW do you print onto fabric? Surely you can't stuff the fabric through the printer like you would a sheet of paper...

(Am I the only person out here with such a dumb question?)


Anita March 20, 2006 7:31 AM  

Well, Dave and I want to get on the ground floor of your enterprise. We've been talking about commissioning you for a quilt for our room, and so well, not we're talking to you about it. (We're thinking a wall-hanging quilt)

So, ummmm, what next?

Jennifer March 20, 2006 11:00 AM  

Dad: Well, by "we all" I guess I meant people who are In The Business.

Actually, you do stuff it into the printer like you would a piece of paper. But first you iron it to a piece of (freezer) paper. Freezer paper is the third lovley ingredient in the process...the chemical and the printer being the first two.

Anita: Awesome! I've sent you an E-mail.

Dad March 20, 2006 3:33 PM  


(As you know, I'm not In The Business. Only In The Family.)


Sandy March 21, 2006 2:43 PM  

and your family does give you the business...don't they?

Jennifer March 21, 2006 4:29 PM  

Hee hee! Now whatever gave you that idea??

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