The first set of color cards has arrived, and they’re lovely! I had them printed on Spoonflower’s Smooth Wallpaper, so they’re slick and clean and crisp. I think I can ratchet up the loveliness though. The bottom rows in each family are almost solid black. They make a big leap in value from the rows above, and there’s very little value change between the swatches themselves. I’m going to have to resample everything and cinch them up out of their dark depths.
I also need to take back some of what I said about using colors “willy-nilly” because the gamut issue seems to be wreaking a little bit of havoc. In a couple of spots, the values are weirdly reversed. All of the lighter values should be on the left, but two swatches in the red-orange family and two in the yellow-green family are backwards. Not a huge big deal, but good to be aware of.
So, back to the drawing board. I think these are going to be nifty once they’re fine-tuned.
The Color Family Wallpaper Sampler I ordered from Spoonflower arrived, and—Good news!—it shows that despite the fact that all kinds of beautiful saturated colors were being identified as “out of gamut,” they all printed just fine.
I started to get nervous when I was working on a set of full-spectrum color cards (like Color-aid Paper only more of them), and the triangular “out-of-gamut alert icon” on the Color Picker kept popping up. I was afraid I would have to make a major detour, but thankfully no. The “Really, Really Red” I wanted, for instance, is in fact really, really red, and not a dingy off-red or grey.
The greens do appear to be a wee bit off in the upper right corners. There’s a yellow tinge to them, but it’s not off enough to exclude them.
There may be other nuances I’m missing—I don’t think I’m a super human tetrachromate—but I feel like I can use all the colors willy-nilly now without concerning myself with their gamutness.
I finished the first set of color cards earlier this week, and I’m waiting to see how they print before I continue with the other four. The sampler also showed that Spoonflower doesn’t trim their wallpaper exactly along the design’s borders. The top and left edges are missing an eighth of an inch. Probably wouldn’t matter if I was using the wallpaper as wallpaper, but as a one-off piece, it looks goofy. Like I don’t understand how rulers work. That’s good to know though. I was able to make some adjustments on this new design and gave everything more wiggle room.
I can’t wait to get my hands on the color cards. Everything hinges on them.
While I wait for my “what does out-of-gamut look like” color sampler, which should arrive tomorrow, I’ve been playing with a couple of other wallpaper samplers I ordered from Spoonflower. I wanted to see how their Prepasted and Peel & Stick wallpapers work for projects other than wall treatments. Things like appliqué templates and collages.
But first, a quick backstory. With quilting in mind, I developed a bunch of black and white designs that I think of as “patterns that do the heavy lifting.” Without a lot of fussy piecing or appliqué, I want to be able to create elaborate compositions using fabrics that, because they’re only two colors, will create new and unexpected shapes when merged together. There are 24 so far, but before I order them on yards of fabric, I wanted to try them out in miniature collages.
The Prepasted Wallpaper Test: I thought I could potentially use both papers for collaging, but to activate the Prepasted glue, you have to wet the paper and let it sit for a couple of minutes, which seems slow and messy, so I ruled it out. As a template for appliqué, it worked much better. Instead of ironing it to the back of the fabric, like freezer paper, I just sponged it down and stuck it on. No fingertip-burning iron required. I was concerned that it would be so sticky that it wouldn’t separate from the fabric or that the glue would stay behind, but neither happened. It stayed stuck while I was stitching and peeled away cleanly and easily when I was done. Hooray!
The Peel & Stick Test: With an X-Acto knife, I cut the blocks apart and sliced a strip off of each one. To my surprise, it cut fairly easily. Since its a heavy weight and has a paper backing, I expected it to be tough, but I was able to get nice clean edges. Peeling the backing off was a snap as well. No fiddling with the corners to get an edge started, and the collaged pattern mash-up was fun too. Hooray some more!
Verdict: Very pleased with both applications and a bit stoked about the possibilities! Wallpaper = a whole new tool.
. . . . .
This week, a Very Random Survey Question of the stranded-on-a-desert-island variety that came up while my husband, Brad, and I were toodling around running errands:
If you were stranded on an island and could only have one album (musical, not photographic), what would it be?
Me: Dave Brubeck’s Time Out because it’s upbeat and complex, so it would set a cheerful mood and not get boring. I also adore the cover art by Neil Fujita, so it’s a twofer.
Brad: Jimmy Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland because it has “very innovative recording techniques for its time, great songs that flow into each other, and if I’m lucky enough to be stranded with a four-speaker stereo system, quadraphonic sound.”
How about you? What album would you want to be stranded with?
This week I uploaded a new designer’s tool to Spoonflower. I’ve been wanting to create a deck of color cards similar to Color Aid Paper but with a broader range of colors (750 vs. the 314 in Color Aid’s Full Set). It would be a collection that I could print at Spoonflower and that would take the guesswork out of color selection and the disparity between screen color and IRL color. Something that could be shuffled, dealt, grouped, matched, auditioned, and coordinated to create a bunch of different, yummy, go-to color palettes.
In the process of designing the cards, though, I had to contend with the “gamut” issue: what parts of the color family were reproducible in ink and what were not. As I systematically carved away all of the unusable colors, like greys and uber darks that look the same no matter what color family they’re in, I was alarmed by how much of some color families fell into the “out of gamut” range. The cool side of the color wheel in particular (green, blue, purple) seems to shrink dramatically when you have to consider its printability.
It made me curious. I tend to question restrictions and good advice, and like my husband and his buddy when they come across a “Road Closed” sign on their motorcycle adventures and say, “Let’s see how closed it is,” as they proceed past the sign into the verboten area, I thought, “Let’s see how ‘out of gamut’ these really are.” So, I took a detour from the color cards and made a color sampler instead, using thirty entire color families. Out-of-gamut colors and all. I designed it to fit on a swatch of Spoonflower’s Prepasted Removable Smooth Wallpaper to get the most intense color they can print. The order was placed on Wednesday, so we’ll get to see what we’re dealing with in a couple of weeks.
In other news: sales!
It’s the end-of-the-year financial report wrap-up, and I actually have something to report. The design that got into the Spoonflower Challenge Winner’s Circle in October — the Khokhloma Tea Towel — has sold 9 whole times! One was bought by Spoonflower for the complimentary towel that was included in the prize package. Most of the sales were during sales, but my commission stayed the same whether it was on sale or not. Bless all the folks who shop at Spoonflower!
Breakdown for the year:
1st quarter: $1.30 for 1 Ambrosia Bites tea towel
2nd quarter: $2.60 for 2 Ambrosia Bites tea towels
3rd quarter: zippo
4th quarter: $12.60 for 9 Khokhloma tea towels
Total: $16.50 – That’s four pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!
With this happy turn of events, a question that had been rattling around in my head was answered. Does winning matter? I know it isn’t true for other designers, but in terms of sales, in my tiny corner of the design world, the answer is yes. Yes, it does. The only things that I’ve ever sold at Spoonflower were challenge entries that made it into the Top 10.
The challenge for the new year? To sell something that hasn’t run the gauntlet of the Spoonflower Design Challenge. And…go!