Sandra Springs Into Spoonflower

Today is officially the first day of Spring and flowers are everywhere.  I think it’s a great time to take a look at Spoonflower. I’m going to give you a quick tutorial on how I turned black-and-white ink drawings into a quilt, using the wonderful Spoonflower printing services. Before I get going, for any of you who don’t know what Spoonflower is, it is simply, a company that will print your artwork onto fabric. I have used it several times with much joy and satisfaction and look forward to some free time when I can create more.

Some quick facts and great things about Spoonflower:

  • They have 12 kinds of fabric, from several cottons,  to knit, jersey, silk crepe de chine and even canvas, starting at $15.75 per yard
  • There’s no minimum order
  • Swatches are available for $5.00
  • Printing is eco-friendly
  • They even have wallpaper and gift wrap!

So, here’s a little lesson on how this works. First, you need to create your artwork. In this case, I’m using flowers I drew with brush and black ink, and scanned into my computer. In my illustration and lettering work, I mainly use Adobe Illustrator, but it is not necessary to use this program. You just need to be able to upload your artwork in a form that is acceptable to Spoonflower (there’s plenty of help on their site). Here are the flowers in their raw form:

black and white flower art

Then, I had fun playing with the colors and placement. I tried repeating, adding shadows,  and altering the colors.  For example:

Screen shot 2014-03-19 at 7.59.26 PM

I played with the layout, added a background color, and here’s the finished art, combining all the flowers:

Screen shot 2014-03-19 at 9.03.32 PM

Here’s where Spoonflower comes in. You simply go to their website, upload your artwork, and decide how you want it configured onto the fabric. This is what it looks like on your screen:

Screen shot 2014-03-19 at 7.54.18 PM

Knowledge about “dpi” (dots per inch) and scale are helpful. You can reduce the art for repeats, and even change the placement of the repeat. For example:

Screen shot 2014-03-19 at 7.53.10 PM

Here’s the cotton fabric (almost 2 yards) on the design wall of my studio…..

IMG_1960 copy

….and here’s the completed quilt. It is titled, “My Imaginary Garden”.

P1040104 copy

I have had several designs printed by Spoonflower, and have made them “public”, which means that anyone can go to the site and purchase my designs with the fabric of their choice. I get a small percentage which can be converted into “Spoondollars”, which means more free fabric for me, yay! My next hurdle in using Spoonflower is learning the correct way to do a repeat, so that my design can be printed without seeing the “tiling”, meaning the image flows and you can’t see where the repeat happens. I very much want to learn this technique and it is on my “to do” list! So far I have avoided it by making my image large enough to print it in one image across the width of the fabric. A lady from Paris ordered my “Big Buddha” fabric and made a dress from it! I was delighted to see a picture she sent of herself in the dress. Another Spoonflower customer bought my “Big Buddha” on canvas and had it stretched onto a frame so she could hang it in her dining room! Many possibilities!

This is basically it. I encourage you to go take a look at the website. You can put in a keyword to find existing fabric that people have designed that you can purchase. For instance, if you put in the keyword “underwater” you will find my “Big Star Maiden” design, along with 252 other underwater designs. I think the sky’s the limit when it comes to utilizing this service for one-of-a-kind fabric for quilting projects, and clothing too.

Before I sign off, I want to announce that an article I wrote is coming out in the April/May issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, in the “Spotlight” section. It is an issue about making portrait quilts and I feel very honored to have been included. I hope you’ll check it out and consider talking my class at Zephyr Cove this Fall.

Happy Spring, and don’t forget to smell the flowers!


Luminosity—a Very Special Effect

9a AA DecNew Year’s greetings from me, Christine, to all of you! I hope you’re enjoying (or recovering from) the holiday festivities and are looking forward to a fresh year. If you aren’t already relaxing, I invite you to do so now while I show you one of my favorite special effects, luminosity. In my first post I wrote about luster—the sense of light striking the surface from above or from the side. With luminosity, the light and warmth come from beneath the surface.

I stumbled on the concept of luminosity while playing with transparency. As I was working on a mock-block exercise, I said to myself, “Oh my gosh, that block looks, well, it looks luminous!” As I worked with the concept more, I came up with a luminosity recipe—when you surround a relatively small area of warm, medium-value, intense color with a larger area of cooler, darker, duller color, you can create the illusion of glow. I can’t begin to tell you how much quilters respond to this effect—when it works, we all say, “Wow!”

Let me begin by defining value, temperature, and intensity. Value is about how light, medium, or dark color is. Temperature is about how warm or cool color is; yellow, red, and orange are warm, while green, blue, and violet are cool. Intensity is about how bright or dull color is; neon green is intense, while sage green is low-intensity.

The three fabrics on the right below pulsate with warmth and light, making them great for creating luminosity. Surrounding them with the three fabrics on the left would enhance their luminosity.  (The middle two fabrics got into the act because I loved them.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWoven plaids like the one below look luminous on their own. When you fussy cut them to isolate the warm color, then surround it with cooler color, it’s as if candles burn brightly beneath the surface. 3 AA DecThe same woven plaid, in a different colorway, used just in the center of this block. (This image looks so soft because I framed the block using nonglare glass.)4 AA Dec“Airy” batiks are great for suggesting luminosity, and the colors can be a mix of warm and cool. The dappling in the center batik also suggests distance because a light-value fabric will recede when surrounded by a darker-value fabric.

5 AA DecLuminosity can be just about light, without the illusion of warmth. In this block, the lighter-value batik looks far away, as if you’re looking through a cut-out in a dark stripe square.

6 AA DecThis cut-and-paste block shows how a combination of different fabrics—woven plaid, woven stripe, batik stripe, and ombré—makes a luminous block more interesting. 8 AA DecAnd finally, sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between luminosity and luster. Look again at the pillow at the start of this post. Do the circles suggest light striking and bouncing off the surface, or light and warmth emanating from beneath the surface? (The circles are cut from a Caryl Bryer Fallert “Gradations” ombré, and the solids are Kaffe Fassett shot cottons.)

What about the blocks below, where the ombrés and Marci Derse prints switch places?0 AA Dec These are the things I love to ponder, and I hope you find them just as enticing. I’d love to hear what you want to learn about color. Let me know your thoughts, your questions, and I’ll explore them in future posts. The New Year is the perfect time to play with new colors and concepts. Let the creativity—and the fun—begin!