Spoonflower Digitally Prints on Silk!

cotton schmotton

On-demand digital textile printers Spoonflower announced today the addition of silk to their printable fabrics! Crepe de chine, to be specific.

Crepe de chine is a 100% silk with a slightly bumpy texture. (It’s not the ultra shiny stuff; that’s silk charmeuse.) The addition of crepe de chine silk makes six fabric choices including quilting cotton, organic sateen, organic knit, upholstery twill, linen-cotton blend canvas, and cotton lawn.

And don’t forget, you can sell your original silk textiles in the Spoonflower shop.

Free Swatch Day at Spoonflower!

free printing & shipping for just one day

Spoonflower is offering 24 hours of free swatch ordering! Get a single free, custom fabric swatch for 24 hours between noon EST on Thursday, 26 August and noon EST on Friday, 27 August.

This awesome offer also comes with the option to donate $5 (or any amount you wish) to Heifer International.

To learn more about Spoonflower, check out our interview with company founder Stephen Fraser.

When Medieval Meets Modern

Whystler’s 3D approach to making.

Meet Whystler – a Canadian digital sculptor with a medieval bend.

How did you used to make products before Ponoko?

-I make my living selling virtual products, that is products designed in 3D for virtual worlds (ie. clothing, furniture, apartments etc).  Since I already use digital imaging programs, like 3d Studio Maze and Corel PhotoPaint, it was a simple matter of taking these skills and using them to design things for Ponoko.  Even before my career as a virtual artist, I was a potter and sculptor specializing in clay and paper.  I think this experience also translates well to 3d printing and laser cutting.

What type of products do you make with Ponoko?

-I think you might say that I am still experimenting with different angles on Ponoko.  I have created products that are recreational, like the 3D chess game and some toys.  I’ve gone into housewares like products for lighting and decor.  I tested out a table design, and my harddrive is full of other pending products for Ponoko.  I just love this service.  It really opens up the floodgates for artists who like the sculptural process.

How would you describe your creative process?

-Everything starts with a spark of inspiration:  an external source or combination of ideas hits me in such a way that I think it would translate well to laser cutting.  Sometimes I actively pursue the inspiration and sometimes it comes as a surprise.  The next step involves a pretty rigorous research period, where I spend a lot of time on internet searches.  This information not only builds on the inspiring idea, but also exposes me to what already exists on the market and allows me to make the decision about whether to continue with the project.  If something close to what I am preparing to do has already been done, I quickly lose interest.  I like new things.  Next, if the idea has survived to this point, I start drawing it in Inkscape, or I might make a 3D model as a virtual prototype.

What material/s do you use/ have you used and why?

-I think my favourite material from Ponoko is bamboo.  It has such a nice grain, the material feels good and the look is very natural.  I’ve also done a bit of work with other plywoods and acrylics.  Acrylics are nice because of the range of colours available, and the finished product looks slick with flame polished edges.

Have you been surprised by anything in the Ponoko process: positives/negatives?

-I think the fact that your service completely opens up manufacturing processes to artists that were previously only available to companies who could afford large scale product is wonderfully surprising in this age of industrial competition.  I am very grateful that folks like Ponoko, Shapeways, and Spoonflower are doing this sort of thing.

Do you have any tips for other users?

-Tip 1:  Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, but don’t be discouraged when you aren’t given all the answers you want.  Learn how to search effectively on the internet and be tireless in your quest on the Ponoko website for information.  If you really want to be a designer, no one is going to hand you information on a platter.  You have to get out there and find it.  It’s all there and really, it’s not hard to find.

-Tip 2:  Strive to be original.  If you just want to make a quick buck by copying someone else’s idea more cheaply, then this game is not for you.  You will get no enjoyment out of it.  The *real* thrill is creating something unique that you can say has a lot of “you” in it.  It’s not about making money fast.

#Neocon09 Coverage: Wrap-Up

Comparing the trends at NeoCon with independent design.


There is always a design zeitgeist that emerges from the various styles, methods of production, and materials that are popular at any given time. So, I decided to compare what I saw at NeoCon with what I am seeing from independent designers using rapid manufacturing.


Centerview: Spoonflower

I’ve been writing a lot about digital textile printing, but you may be wondering where and how you can get your own designs printed. And I’m here to tell you. Spoonflower is a no-minimum, unlimited color digital printing start-up for custom, on-demand fabric. I interviewed company founder Stephen Fraser to tell you all about it.

So where did the name Spoonflower come from?

Spoonflower is the common name of an endangered wildflower native to North Carolina. The White arrow arum, or Spoonflower, grows along the edges of swamps and bogs. My wife Kim and I ran across the name when we were looking for plants that would survive in a rain garden we were building in the backyard of our house. When the idea came along to build a web site to serve the crafting community, Spoonflower just seemed to fit.

Where did this idea come from and how long did it take to actualize it?

Spoonflower was originally my wife’s idea. Kim has always been a crafty sort, but over the past few years she’s also become an avid sewist. A little over a year ago I was a marketing consultant helping Internet start-ups, and I knew nothing at all about textiles. One night Kim asked me if I had ever heard of a company that would let her print her own fabric. My immediate response was that there probably was a company like that, but I expected that she would need to order hundreds of yards at a minimum.

As a conceptual problem — Can an industrial production process be put at the service of an individual’s creativity? — her question about fabric rang a bell for me. I used to be the marketing guy for a company called Lulu.com that solved the same problem for people who wanted to publish a book. By marrying the Web with digital printing technology, Lulu made it possible for an individual to publish a single copy of a single book for less than $10.It turns out that you can also print fabric digitally. Putting that technology together with the Web seemed like such a good idea that I was able to convince my former boss, Gart Davis, to join me as my business partner shortly after he stepped down as Lulu’s president last year.

It took us about six weeks to put together a very rough beta site that went live around the beginning of June 2008. Based on buzz among craft bloggers, the number of people on the waiting list grew into the thousands. We ended up opening registration to one and all in October and at this point Spoonflower has around 20,000 registered users. We’re still working on getting all the features of the site in place, most importantly a marketplace for designs and a broader choice of fabrics for printing.

Centerview: Haile McCollum of Fontaine Maury

I’ve always loved paper products and frequently send letters and cards to friends and family, but the Holidays are really the raison d’être of stationery. So for the month of December, I’ll be focusing on all the things Ponoko loves: mass customization, consumer creation and laser-cutting as they relate to paper.
One stationery company that I’ve personally had the good fortune to freelance for on occasion is Fontaine Maury. Since the spring of 2003, Haile McCollum has been designing modern, personalized graphics for everything from notepads and rubber stamps to melamine plates and canvas wall decor under the brand Fontaine Maury.

The company is soon moving into wallpaper and fabric. Patterns can be customized with silhouettes of the client’s choice. One such silhouette damask featuring Haile’s own profile along with her family is featured in the January issue of Country Living.


With her growing business and a new baby, Haile has been pretty busy. So I thought, what better time for an interview! Below, Haile talks about her love of customization, digital fabric printing, and demonstrates how to correct someone’s spelling with tact.

Me: First of all, congratulations on the baby! Give us the details: name, weight, size, hair color!

HM: William Banks McCollum, little brother of Parker. 8 pounds 3 ounces, September 10, 2007! 15 months old and a QT pie. Hair… maybe red!


Me: When and why did you decide to start a stationary company?

HM: First of all, its Stationery- ery. -ary is when you are standing still and trust me, Fontaine Maury is not standing still. So my big picture is not stationery, but personalized. I moved back to the South after a just turned 30/snowboarding stint in Jackson, Wyoming. Got to our little town, Thomasville, and needed something to DO, not being married or having kids yet, I had lots of free time and not so many opportunities that I could really dig into. I almost bought a sewing machine to do digital embroidery. I love the idea that technology would allow me to sew what I can draw. But the machine was $16,000.  I already had a printer and a computer. So I started a personalized stationery company. I also had some stationery experience and only one 4-H sewing class under my belt, and that was in 1979.

Me: How has living in the South influenced your work and company?

HM: I think that living here I am somewhat out of the inner, super fickle design loop. Which is good in a way. I might be over stimulated if I lived in Brooklyn. Dunno.

above: live oaks line the streets of Thomasville
Me: You attended school in the south as well?

HM: Yes, Vanderbilt University, BS in Human Development (one part organizational psychology, one part mojo, one part managing people in small groups). Savannah College of Art and Design, MFA Graphic Design- I actually wrote my thesis on the correlation between the industrial revolution and the technological revolution and how once artists and craftsmen eventually master the machine born from the revolution, amazing things happen. Think the arts and crafts movement as a reaction to the industrial revolution. But until the artists get a hold of the machines, and the “hand done” (does not have to be literally hand done) element into the work produced, the work is less than stellar. Example- digital fabric printing. Until artists grasp what the printers do we’ll see some pretty shabby designs produced by the developers of the technology. Not artists, engineers and the like. Once the technology is more widely available and artists (creative types) grasp what can be done, it will be amazing! It’s the missing link.
Me: Tell us your thoughts on customization. Why did you decide to offer this service? In what ways does offering custom products build your relationship with clients/buyers?


Custom Fabric Printing from Spoonflower

Spoonflower logo

Spoonflower is a web-based digital textile printing service run out of an old sock mill in downtown Mebane, North Carolina. Indigo has mentioned them previously in relation to the very apt Wordle.

At the moment the site is in Beta and as such does not offer any facility as an online marketplace or shared repository, but they will do in the next phase. This from their FAQs:

“When we come out of beta, … you will be able to choose to make your designs available for purchase by others. This feature — which will make Spoonflower into a marketplace for independent fabric designers — will probably take some time to evolve and grow in complexity. But displaying your designs, as well as selling them, will ALWAYS be under your control.”

Looks like another good opportunity for makers, keep up with their progress on their blog, where the Spoonflower folk also post pictures of their beta users’ creations.
via Make

Machinate: Wordle


I found this little web tool on the Spoonflower blog. Wordle allows you to paste in text, enter a url or a del.icio.us user name to create text clouds. Above is what I got when I ran the Ponoko blog through.
You can also tweak the color palettes, create a custom palette, choose from 34 fonts and mess with the layouts some. Here’s the New Museum wordle.


And of course, you can save them to the gallery or send the image straight to your printer. I think they’d make cute post cards or inspiration posters.