Once again we were blown away by all the responses to this week's contest theme. With 77 entries in the Doll Panel contest, once again we'll be breaking the contest into two weeks of semifinal voting with a third week for the finals.
Week one has thirty-nine designs, spread out over four pages in the voting. You can vote for up to one design per page (although a vote on each page is not required) by clicking on the design you like best (a green check mark appears on the image when you select it). We'll take the top five designs from this week and the top five from next week and run them the week after -- with photos -- in the final round. [note: I originally wrote to the participating designers that we'd take the top fifteen designs, but we've since decided just to run ten finalists]
There's one other point that may deserve explanation. As you look through the entries you will notice that not everyone interpreted the idea of 'doll panels' the same way. That's our fault, really, because we failed to set out a technical definition of 'doll panels' in our entry form. As usual, we've accepted all of the entries regardless and we'll leave it to the crafty Spoonflower community to decide which approach to 'doll panels' it most favors.
VOTE HERE. The participants in week 1 are:
Beth Parker Obama Doll Joysmom 'dozen_faces' Rochelle Fugate Birthday Girl Joanne C. Harper Saint Nick in Green Diana Symes dolls Julie Shaw Curlicue Girl Kweli Kitwana MyAffirmDoll Renule 'Dollpanel_triorio1' Marie Eiriksson pigeboldlillagul Sylvia Ion Humpty_Shelf_Sitter Kelly Grooters monster_dolls jennifer borrell anderson out of doors girls peggy gatto 2_copy katy keuter nesting-dolls Cathy Comora 'The_Ta_Ta_Dolls' Jessee Maloney 'Robot Dolls' Laura Wilson Build Paint Bake Sew Dolls Kelli Perkins perkinsdolls Crittie M. Gay Sassy Dolls Annelie Hervi Dollpanels Lisa Rene Anderson Spoonflower_doll_panel_LRA Cathy Bullington vudo2 Leigh Forest Sprites (Mini Dolls) Shala Kerrigan Flower Kokeshi Dolls Lynn Baron twobloomfairy Stacy Campbell-Kraft Darla_the_doll Leanna Maksymiuk gnome_grey Linn Bodur doll1 Valorie Wilson steampunkdoll Jen Addotta matroyshka_nesting_dolls apoo 4 little gnomes Gila von Meissner 4"/ 35cm Kawaii Kokeshi Dolls Elizabeth McKenzie vincent van gogh ...departed artist doll Ginette Callaway Beauty Large Linda Tieu Singing Doll Boy Panel Katie Bailey Kawaii Kokeshi Lindsay Nightingale The Extra's Karen cox Northern Light Dreams Sharyl Chow Sailor Kitty
Here at Spoonflower, we had both these lovely books on pre-order the second we heard about them and have been hungrily paging through the designs for days now. One minor issue to be aware of if you want to print on fabric rather than paper is that these are not seamlessly repeating patterns. Some manipulation is going to be necessary in either or Photoshop or Illustrator so that they'll tile seamlessly--or you can do it the cheater way like I did and use the handy "edit with Picnik" button via our site. I'm lazy like that.
I love Lisa Rupp's sweet blanket for her daughter, shown right. Lisa printed her design with Spoonflower, then had her mom sew it up into a blanket that's appropriate for a little girl, but not at all girly. Her little angel looks so pleased to be sitting there, don't you think?
If your little one would be pleased to have a similar blanket, Lisa says on her blog that she'd be willing to hook you up with a design for either a boy or a girl. You can email her here, but don't skip browsing her site for more gorgeous design work and her blog for other beautiful photos of this project and others. My favorite is an arrangement of real flowers that she turned into a pattern. (We might need to add a new "Dang, why didn't I think of that?" category to the blog now....)
Bari J. Ackerman was a Spoonflower customer at the beginning, back when Spoonflower was still brand-new and we were running things on our back porch and dining room table. (Old video of what a fabric printing start-up looks like here.) We thought Bari's luscious floral designs were just gorgeous, and it was no surprise to me to see that her collection, called "Full Bloom," was snapped up by Windham Fabrics. I thought some of you would-be design professionals would be interested in hearing more about Bari got started as a professional fabric designer, and she graciously agreed to be interviewed by email.
Me: Congratulations on your new fabric line, Full Bloom! I was so thrilled to see some of your lovely designs for sale in two of my favorite on-line fabric shops, Pink Chalk Fabrics and the Fat Quarter Shop. Can you talk about how you got started designing fabric?
Bari J.: Thank you! I had wanted to design fabric for a long time, but didn't have the confidence to jump in. Then in March 2008, I was at the Country Living women Entrepreneur event in Chicago. The key note speaker had us write down what we wanted and say it out loud. This gave me just the push I needed. When I got home, I said it out loud on my blog which really made it real. I had been working on various designs for quite a while, so I had a lot done already. By October, I had the line licensed.
Have you always worked in the design field? Do you have any formal art or design training?
I do not have formal art or design training, but I did work as a graphic designer and copy writer before I had kids and then later designed jewelry and collage art from found objects before I started sewing and created my business, Bari J. I'm self-taught which means A, I learn things the hard way, and B, I'm ridiculously stubborn.
Your designs feature lots of big, luscious flowers and other natural motifs, and they strike me as very painterly. Do your designs originate as paintings? How do you create them?
Each of my designs are drawn by hand...but not on paper. I start with a drawing that I put straight into the computer.
What did you do to get "noticed" by a big fabric house? How did Spoonflower fit into this process for you?
I had my designs printed by Spoonflower, made appointments with art directors at various companies and showed a finished quilt and other small items finished in my fabrics at Quilt Market. Honestly, I do not think it would have shown in the same way on paper, so Spoonflower was really instrumental in my success.
What advice do you have for other would-be professional designers who are trying to get their work picked up?
I would say that it is incredibly important that your work reflect your own aesthetic. Be yourself. Try not to look at what's on the market already, and just do your own thing. Be able to describe how you would use the fabric, how you think others would use it, and how it can be marketed. And most importantly, be willing to put yourself out there and possibly fail a couple of times. I kept telling myself that the worst thing I could hear would be, "No, thank you," and I'd just move on from there.
Have you begun work on your next line of fabrics? When can we expect to see them available for sale?
I'm very pleased to say that the next group is on the way. There should be color cards ready within the month for distributors/vendors, and I believe it will hit stores sometime in early 2010. I can't wait to be able to show it!
You can view and purchase Bari J.'s "Full Bloom" fabrics at Pink Chalk Fabrics and at the Fat Quarter Shop. Bari's blog includes some gorgeous photos of quilts and pillows made up in her fabrics. You can also view and purchase her finished bags in her online shop.
In my other life I'm a gardener. The various domestic arts have always appealed to me, whether I pursued them at the sewing machine, in the kitchen, or in the dirt. I don't think this makes me unusual, at least among Spoonflower folks. Child at Art is another domestic tribe-member, I think, or at least that's how I interpret the photos of her lawnmower and grass circles fabric draped in her beautiful garden. Spoonflower staff all loved this design when we saw it being printed on our linen/cotton last week, and I'm so glad this talented designer has seen fit to share the fabric love in our Flickr pool and on her blog!
Sorry for the long silence here on the blog and on Twitter, y'all, but can you believe that Stephen and I have been (gasp!) on vacation this week? We certainly needed the break, though it's arguable how much of a break we're getting in a big lake house where the kids outnumber the adults. (Eleven of them versus nine of us, in case you're wondering.) But we're managing the occasional nap, and it's lovely to focus on teaching our oldest daughter to water-ski for a change instead of focusing on cranking through the usual routine.
That said, I've still been peeking in on work email and our Flickr pool. In case you haven't seen them, I wanted to point out PaperPie's absolutely gorgeous Spoonflower printed fabrics in our pool. I'm a sucker for all things aqua blue, even when I'm not on a watery vacation, but her designs do strike me as particularly summery and fresh. If you're as in love with them as I am, you can find them (beautifully packaged!) in her WonderFluffShop on Etsy.
I had a Spoonflower user email me a couple of days ago to tell me about her brand spanking new Etsy shop. Her email and shop caught my attention because I haven't seen this idea done through Etsy before--though it's true that I haven't looked. Rather than selling items that she's actually made, Beth Spenader--aka, Miss Black Pepper--sells repeating patterns that she's designed. And rather than the hundreds of dollars other sites are charging for the level of use she's offering, Beth has several designs available at just $6.00 for use even on items you plan to make and sell in your own Etsy shop. How cool is that?
Beth's shop is all of two weeks old now and she'd love to hear from you about what sorts of patterns you might find useful. You can email her here with your ideas and requests. She's mighty friendly, so don't be shy!
I ran across this absolutely wonderful quilted love letter done by Sarah Neuberger at The Small Object (by way of Angry Chicken). Sarah designed a loving letter to her niece in Photoshop, had us print it up for her, and then turned it into a special quilt. I'm sorry to say that I wasn't at Spoonflower HQ the day this was printed and shipped, but...wow. That is one lucky niece you have, Sarah!
There sure are a lot of you out there doing some amazing design work! Even a quick glance at our Flickr pool will prove my point. But we've had a rash of questions lately about how a fabric design novice goes about creating an image to print. Stephen posted about this early on in the life of Spoonflower, but I thought I'd post about this again for all you new users.
Though I've mentioned Julia Rothman's repeat pattern tutorial on design*sponge before, it's worth posting here again because it's a very low-tech, approachable way to work up a seamlessly repeating design. All's you need are paper, drawing or painting materials, scissors, and tape! Oh, and a scanner. But the important point is that you don't need Photoshop or Illustrator to create a repeating pattern. If our own scanner didn't currently lack a power cord, I would show you all a repeating pattern that I myself designed. This method works great, and if I can do it, I assure you that anyone can!
For those of you who would like to try composing images on your computer, you may want to take a first stab at this with ArtRage before investing in one of the more sophisticated design programs. ArtRage offers a free, limited version of its painting program, but at $25 for the full-scale program, it's very affordable and easy to use. This program contains painting and drawing tools as well as rulers and stencils, including the ability to create your own stencils.
If manipulating photographs is more what you have in mind but you don't actually own Photoshop, you can download a free 30-day trial of this super-sophisticated photo manipulation and design program. There are a zillion fun tutorials out there that will teach you what to do with your photos if you want more than just a simple photograph on fabric. You can turn your photos into line drawings (perhaps to embroider over?) or Andy Warhol-esque popart prints for framing, or you can cut and paste elements of photos onto new canvases to create repeating patterns. I have an antique Dresden plate quilt made of hundreds of different scraps, one of which is a dog's head repeated on a white and green polka dot background. It cracks me up every time I spot it. While it was obviously designed in the days before Photoshop, it would be so easy to make something similar and equally hilarious.
So there are some ideas for you design beginners out there. For those of you who are more adept at design, feel free to chime in with some other easy ideas here. If there are enough of them, I can post about those, too!
Thanks to Danielle's work, we now have an updated set of Adobe color swatches, along with a printable color guide that you can order for a nominal $1.
These are the sorts of things that are useful to designer types who are already pretty proficient with digital design. Over the next couple of days I'm also going to start posting a few tips for non-Photoshop types.
The other day I posted about the Fresh:chiyogami pool of free-to-use designs and perhaps was unclear that they could indeed be printed on fabric as long as you weren't intending to use said fabric to craft items for sale to others. If you go this route, be sure to get in touch with the individual designers for complete details about what things are permitted in using their designs. I hope that's a little clearer. I'm bad about thinking I've communicated all relevant details when in fact, the conversation I had or the blog post I wrote was mostly in my head. Just ask Stephen. Sigh.
I'll be clearer about Patternhead, though. Patternhead is a website that offers repeating patterns for sale to print on fabric. I say "for sale," but in fact what's for sale is a license to use the pattern--you won't own it exclusively. These designs are not free but at $5 per pattern they're pretty close. (That's $5 for personal use only. It's $125 per pattern if you need an extended use license that allows you to print the pattern for resale items.)
When you purchase a license to use a Patternhead design, you'll receive a link to a file--in both jpeg and EPS format--that you can download, unzip, and print. Stephen printed up a pretty zinnia design yesterday to test out the shift from their CYMK image to LAB color. That's their image on the left and the printed fabric on the right. We thought it looked pretty nice!
Do you ever waste large chunks of time searching for web pages where you just know you read about something or other? And you never find the original thing you were looking for, but you find something equally cool? I do the time-wasting part all the time, but don't always luck out stumbling across something else. That's because usually one of the little girls wakes from her nap and my computer time is over for the day. Today, though, an extra-long nap yielded me Nerdcereal's plaid maker tool. I'll admit that it's a bit geeky for someone with my level of Photoshop experience. Which is to say, someone who is just finishing up her last class at the local art center and whose free month trial version expired last week. But this stuff is still fun to play with.
Turns out the original tartan generator I was looking for is here, though I can't seem to find who among you originally posted about it. But how about a stripe generator? There sure are a lot of ways to fritter away precious naptime on the internet...
The baby was eating dirt from a houseplant, my older daughter was suffering through studying for a math test all on her own, and our 3-year old watched an episode--okay, maybe two episodes--of "Curious George" this afternoon because I was completely unable to tear myself away from browsing through the fresh chiyogami Flickr pool. Oh my! There are some seriously talented designers out there to be stumbled across!
I was especially intrigued to note that only designs "free to use" are allowed in this pool, though it's true that they're intended to be shared for printing on paper. Click through this lovely group of images to get the specifics on permission to use each design--some have a link to a creative commons license in the right side bar--and for contact information for individual designers.
I was the victim of a stupid sewing accident last night. I was working on this dress out of the Stylish Dress Book, a Japanese pattern book I bought recently from Pomadour, and just realizing I'd made a mistake. As I wondered to myself whether I might pick up sewing Japanese as fast as I once learned kitchen Spanish in my professional baking days, I stepped backward, tripped over a corner of a rug, and fell hard. One crushed antique market basket, a banged head, two scraped forearms, and a bloody cut back later...well, I think I'll give my sewing room a little breather today. Who knew sewing could be so hazardous?
Perhaps working up some new designs would be a little easier on my body? Or better yet, since my computer time is likely to be limited by kidnicks today, perhaps I should work on downloading this free design from Petchy to print up. Read here about Petchy's fledgling plan to offer designs for purchase that you can upload and print with Spoonflower. I've got to hand it to you all out there for constantly coming up with surprising new things to do with our site! And now to go download those pretty trees...
We're all taking a much needed break this weekend after a very busy week spent moving furniture, packing fabric orders, and just generally trying to get our bearings in the new space. I was lazing about online yesterday and ran across Wordle.net, courtesy of Suzanne at Mimilou. Here's a Spoonflower "word cloud" I made by pasting in a bit of text from our about page.
Since designer Jonathan Feinberg permits any images you create to be used however you wish, it's not a stretch to imagine that you could design some wordy fabric this way. Perhaps kitchen towels with cooking related words? A framed piece of word art for a kid's room? Bet y'all will think of something interesting!
I find myself in a position all of a sudden to be exposed to a whole lotta great design. And lucky for me, I don't have to spend hours trawling the internet tracking it down. Instead, it gets uploaded to Spoonflower or to our Flickr pool . Then, quite a lot of it also comes right into my house through the front door! I don't think I've been quite able to express to you all how much this aspect of Spoonflower thrills me. It is SO exciting.
Some of my favorite designs lately come from Kayanna Nelson, posting as juneprints on Flickr. She also sells gocco prints through her Etsy shop, junecraft. She's just one more reason I don't need to bother trying to come up with great designs on my own. Knowing there are that many talented people out there makes me want to relax and just keep watching the printer!
A quick post from Topsail Island, NC here. I just wanted to thank all of you who submitted holiday themed designs for the upcoming CraftStylish piece on Spoonflower (including Cynthia Frenette of Hula-la.com, designer of the sample left). Today was the deadline for submissions, so we are no longer accepting any more. We'll be letting you all know if your designs are chosen and will link to the piece here. Thanks again!