Bags and Fabric

Ahhhhh… now that the whole set is out in the open I can talk more about what’s been going on with the deck. It’s so freeing not to keep secrets. On we go with the whole reasoning and design process of the 112 sets of the Limited Edition of the Day of the Dead.

Part 1: Bags and Fabric.

For me the most important part of a project is to find it interesting and challenging. If I’m just doing the same thing over and over then I don’t feel that I am growing.  For me Pixie was a challenge because I set up the structure of using only lines that Pam drew. That is why I never credited myself as the artist on that deck. I didn’t draw a single line. Things were manipulated in photoshop. Cards like the Fox and Bear were made up of different parts of other cards, so much so that I thought PITA would step in because of the chopping and stretching of there animal parts. Doing another deck in Photoshop would have been a bit of a repeat. Likewise the wrapping. I LOVED the wrapped for Pixie. It fit the deck but would not be right for this one… also it would be repeating what I had already done.

The bag idea came about rather early on in the project. I remember as far back as November starting to look into the idea. As I said in my last big post I’m not a fan of having a bag just for a bags sake. I like unique bags that stand out. I thought that it might be fun to find some fabric in a Day of the Dead theme and make a few bags. These fabrics do exist, even at the local Joann’s Fabrics. In my world that is where it went wrong.  I get turned off if I can just walk into the local craft store and get the same item that I just bought from someone. I think I get that from my upbringing. As the kid of a school librarian and art teacher in the 70’s, crafting was ALL around. From melting our old crayons to make candles to crappy latch hook rugs we made allot of the world around us in my youth. That translates to me being, I think, kinda snobby in my arts and craft world today. I figure that if I can make it myself then I should rather then buy it. So when I found the fabric that would be a fun fit at the local Joann’s I was like… I can’t use it. To me would not bring any unique voice to the project. If I had found it at a small boutique store in some far flung corner of a town then I would have thought it more feasible to use.

It was then that I thought that I might look into seeing if an image or two could be screened onto fabric. Hey they do it on t-shirts maybe I could do it too. This is when I delved into the world of fabric printers. Boy I was in over my head on this one. 30-40 different fabrics, each in a variety of different weights and sizes. I had to consult my husband on this one. He for many years was a clothing buyer and could, at a glance, tell me about each type of fabric.  While I was almost certain that I would go with a lush satin I was also thinking a nice textured cotton might work. I sent away for so many sets of samples I swear my postman thinks I’m collecting them. Comparing them was fun and informative way to get a real sense of the weight of the fabric but it would take getting samples of the actual print to see which one would win out.

This part of the process is fraught with the thing that most of us hate dealing with…time. Once the fabric choices were  narrowed down then you can order these huge calibration blankets. These are fabrics that are printed with hundreds of colors and there CYMK or RGB print color codes on them so you can make sure that the color on your screen is what will be more or less what is on the fabric when you order it. One can just send them a file and hope for the best, but the fabric is not cheep and there is no return on it so it’s best to err on the side of caution, spend a few extra dollars, and get things right. The blankets are rather pretty. A huge spectrum of colors laid out in order. They were fun to work with. At this stage it’s just match them as best to what a print of the image looks like, adjust for the brightness of the computer screen and send the file off. Now is more of the waiting game. It takes about 10 days to get a proof back. They are 10 long days. Remember weekends don’t count so it’s about two weeks till you get a little bundle of joy in the mail box to see if you have got it right. Then it arrives for the first time it’s like a small miracle . Here is art..that I drew… art..on fabric!! I was running around to everyone I knew showing it to them.  Seeing the satin next to the linen that I had chose it was clear that it had to be the satin. The brightness of the fabric just added to the vibrancy of the colors. Then ,as one does when working with a printer on the cards,  you get to spend a few hours tweaking colors and contrasts, asking questions over the phone about what one can do to make things either crisper of brighter and start the whole proof process over again.  About 6 weeks later the whole of the testing process was and final full yardage arrived. I won’t lie. It was a moment I got choked up at. I was so proud to have done it and that it look good was just so wonderful.  So now the front of the bags were ready… we have the backs, insides, ties and the whole rest to figure out.. Oh yea..and a pattern… 

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