This little button on the left was made last year, by me, from polymer clay. You can learn a bit about it here, if you wish. The button itself isn’t as important as the image of the button, and what eventually became of that.
When I was first designing lisaclarke.net, I wanted it to have an interesting, artsy background that also had some significance to me. I’ve tried tiling my cane designs in the past and using them as backgrounds, but that wasn’t really what I was going for this time.
So, I pulled this button image into Paint Shop Pro, kaleidoscoped it in an interesting manner, added a “cross process” effect of my own design, tiled it, and came up with the image on the right. And I did use it as my website background for a while.
When I started making handbags, I got to thinking… Wouldn’t it be cool to make myself a bag with a pattern designed by me, in fabrics also designed by me? A bag to match my website?? Ok, that’s totally the geek in me talking, but still – fun, right?
I knew I wanted the main bag fabric to be that website background design, but I was also going to need some stripes, and a lining. So I took that original kaleidoscoped image and further manipulated it to come up with these two, slightly darker patterns. I now had three digital images, all derived from one little picture of a button.
To turn the digital images into fabric, I headed over to Spoonflower, uploaded the images and ordered a fat quarter of each. In a few weeks, I had my own custom-made fabric. It was that easy.
Pretty cool, eh? It came out darker and less yellow than I’d expected, and much of the interesting detail in the original image was lost – you can’t see any of the little aqua bits, for example. But I think to some extent that is due to my own lack of experience in preparing the images ahead of time. If I had it to do again, I’d most likely enlarge the motif so that the details wouldn’t be so tiny, and I’d do a little research into the best way to save digital images so that the true colors are preserved for printing.
Minor disappointments aside, I was quite pleased, and more than a little excited to be holding pieces of cloth with my own designs on them.
And next time I leave the house, I’ll also be jazzed to be carrying my new bag, made from that cloth. Is that cool, or what? Admittedly the geek-factor of my bag matching my website no longer applies since the website looks different now, but I think I can live with that. Heh.
As I write this, Spoonflower is still in beta, and not open to everyone. You can get yourself on their list by visiting the website, and you can entertain yourself on their blog, while you wait for your invitation.
I should also warn you – a fat quarter is not cheap. It costs more than a full yard of the latest designer quilting cottons to hit the market. As the cuts get larger, the cost per square foot does get easier to swallow, though. Slightly.
My advice, if you plan to try this, is to do your homework ahead of time so that you are submitting the absolute best quality image that you can. The Spoonflower blog has a useful FAQ (try not to ignore the image prep tips like I did).
I think it would be cool to be able to sell these, but given that the fabric costs three times as much as what I usually use, I’d have to sell these bags for practically $70. Not sure I’d have many takers for that price. For now, I’m happy to have the one and only one, and to be able to retire the prototype bag I’ve been carrying around (which I like, but it lacks the pockets & roomier interior of my more recent design).