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30-something mother, wife, lawyer, writer, design junkie, craftaholic, cook

likes: clever tools, snazzy colors, working for justice, kid wrangling, Meyer lemons

dislikes: inefficiency, civil discovery, most shades of purple, Tori Amos

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Entries in printing (2)


Better than sausage or legislation any day!

So the title of this post is probably not ideal since I had to explain it to my husband who thought it had weird (creepy?) overtones. Jokes are never funny when you explain them.

Anyway, you know the old saw: watching laws get made is like watching sausage manufacturing--sort of ruins your appetite for the end result. Well, when Stephen Fraser from Spoonflower sent me this video of some of my fabric being printed, I felt just the opposite, so I just had to share:

On the one hand, there's something almost unremarkable about it--we've become so accustomed to inkjet printers with picoliter droplet sizes and borderless printing at breakneck speeds, that it's easy to be unimpressed--in essence, this is just a giant inkjet printer, right? But when I think about how far digital printing has come since my family got our first Image Writer II (1987?), it blows my mind. Reminds me of the Saturday Night Live sketch where the crochety old man says, "We ate dirt for breakfast, and we liked it!" Back then, we had four-color ribbon printing and 72-dpi and we liked it! It wasn't like anything we'd ever seen. Low-cost home printers made anybody with a story and a willingness to hack away at Aldus PageMaker a desktop publisher. And now services like Spoonflower are democratizing craft, making it possible for anyone with a vision to forge on in a medium that has been all but completely closed to individual artists and craftspeople. And that is, as I told Stephen when he sent me this video, just plain rad.

Try it out

If you've wanted to try fabric printing but hesitated about the cost, there's still time (2.5 hours as of this writing) to get two free 8"x8" swatches (in the fabric of our choice, and with free shipping, too!) from Spoonflower. And while you are at it, they've made it super easy to donate some or all of the money you save to a wonderful charity, Heifer International, that provides cows, lamas, chickens, and other livestock to people in developing countries as a means of empowering them and enabling them to meet their long-term food and economic needs. Also rad.

Free swatch day is over, but swatches are only $5, so what's stopping you? I have a frightening number of them, so I am working to come up with a project to use some of them up.


I Want That Wednesdays #5

Oh precious CMYK, I still love you, but I think we should see other colors.
This week I want something that I am pretty sure does not yet exist but that I think, based on my, ahem, expansive understanding of print engineering,* is entirely do-able.

I want an inkjet printer that prints spot colors. At home. I want to print in white ink on black paper. In gold on silver. And I am willing to make some concessions in return.

See, my understanding is that opaque white and metallic inks have fairly large particle sizes, particles which will clog up the sprayer nozzles on your home inkjet. But isn't that just because your personal inkjet has become so advanced that it can print like 1440x1440? Which, for the record is more than 2 million dots per square inch.

So what if people like me were willing to sacrifice photographic dpi for the flexibility of printing in opaque pigmet inks, dare I say, in Pantone spot colors? I'd happily accept something more like 144-300 dpi. I think with the evaporation of the gocco as a home printing alternative there is a small but potentially mighty market out there for an alternative to screenprinting and letterpress. Of course, it would get cost prohibitive to offer every color in the Pantone spectrum as a dedicated spot color cartridge. But I'd be happy with 24 or so colors!

Who's with me?!?

*I grew up in a print shop when xerography was the apex of print technology. Oh. And ten years ago I wrote a buying guide to commercial printing services for small business owners for my job at a now-defunct tech boom startup. That makes me an expert, right?