Crafting with Embroidery Hoops

I keep loads of embroidery hoops in my craft studio, some new, some thrifted, several vintage. Besides stretching fabric taught for embroidery, there’s a multitude of projects to be crafted with them.Cathe-Holden-Rosette-Forms-01I’ve painted and utilized embroidery hoops as mobile suspension rings in one of my book projects, the Rosette Art mobile.8ec5514654e445610a7ba0e1bd09442aI kept one natural wood and used it for a house luminary mobile.Cathe-Holden-House-Luminary-MobileI also enjoy decorating small hoops with rubber stamps and washi tape to create sweet, mini frames for tiny decor or to use on larger projects.

Cathe-Holden_HP_Photo_Canvas_06 Cathe-Holden_HP_Photo_Canvas_04You can find my latest mini frame project over on the SC Johnson blog!Cathe-Holden-SCJ-Hoop-Frame-01Additionally, embroidery hoops can be utilized as tools for paper crafting such as rosette forms!Cathe-Holden-Rosette-Forms-08What is your favorite use for embroidery hoops? If you’ve never crafted with them, search embroidery hoop crafts on Pinterest and share your favorite idea in the comments below!

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Epson P400 Wide Format Printer: Review and Projects

Last month I was sent the Epson SureColor® P400 Wide Format Inkjet Printer and related products for review. I wanted a wide format printer for the studio to create large-scale projects, such as custom home decor. I’ve been so eager to enlarge my collection of vintage ephemera, not just in quantity, but as jumbo-size images printed to various surfaces. Cathe-Holden-EpsonP400-13Right away I will tell you that a wide-format printer has a much heftier cost-of-use than what you may be used to paying for a standard desktop printer and ink. With a retail price of $599 (look for $100 rebate offers) and replacement ink cartridges at around $17 each (with 8 cartridges total), this printer may not be cost effective for the art and craft hobbyist who only prints occassionally. However, though largely marketed towards professional photographers, I believe it is exceptionally suited to the avid or professional artist or crafter for printing large scale custom pieces for exhibit or sale. The Epson P400 just might be the printer you’ve been looking for to start that home-based business!

The wide-format printer takes up a bit of studio space sitting at 24.5″ x 12.8″ x 8.6″. But, with all trays folded in while not in use, it’s nice and streamline for tucking away if not being used constantly.

Upon receiving the printer and following the easy set-up directions, preparing to print was quit simple. The printer is wireless with internet, which can be a bit sketchy out in my barn, so I was able to print both wireless and via USB cable (not included- I pulled the one from my other Epson desktop printer). Once the SureColor® P400 printer driver was downloaded from Epson.com I was ready to go!

Vintage Image Banner

I designed two home decor projects using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, but printed straight from Photoshop. The first project I designed was a banner to print onto an Epson Exibition Canvas Matte 13″ x 20′ roll. There are roll attachments that I first placed into the ends of the roll of canvas, attached them to the back of the printer, then hand fed the start of the canvas into the printer. The printer catches the paper and feeds it into place, ready for printing. (A roll of 8.5″ photo paper is shown below. The canvas roll is 13″ wide.)Cathe-Holden-EpsonP400-10This project originated from a tiny, c.1900 photograph I purchased on Ebay a few years back when writing my book, Rosette Art. This adorable image of a boy with his rosette prize ribbons just begged to be enlarged into something fabulous.Cathe-Holden-EpsonP400-14I used Photoshop to add a hand-tinted color effect to the photo then added a color area with text, before sending to the printer. As you can see, one needs a bit of room to catch long prints coming off the roll!Cathe-Holden-EpsonP400-12Once printed, I pressed the “roll” button and the printer created a faint trim line for accurate cutting away of the finished print. Once trimmed I pressed and held the button for the media to be rolled backwards onto the roll for removal.

I designed this particular project as a hanging banner, pre-planning that the top of the finished project would need an area printed on the backside for draping over a wooden rod. So I printed the entire design as one image then trimmed away the top text section, placing it along the bottom to trim the two sections with the identical scalloped shape. I glued the text section (with Beacon 3-in-1 adhesive) upside down to the top of the photo image, then placed paper over it with a very heavy object (small, loaded suitcase) overnight to mold it into shape.Cathe-Holden-EpsonP400-11I purchased a wooden dowel and caps, and satin rope with tassels from the fabric store for suspending my banner. I adhered the caps to the dowel (once cut to size) and painted them with a transparent coat of silver acrylic paint.Cathe-Holden-EpsonP400-15I draped the printed canvas piece over the dowel, adhered it in place, then strung the rod with the rope and tassels by tacking to the back of the dowel with adhesive and small nails.Cathe-Holden-EpsonP400-16What is important to note is the very consistent solid color ink coverage the Epson P400 printer produced, as seen in the top lavender area of the banner. No gaps, lines or inconsistent coverage.Cathe-Holden-EpsonP400-08My finished banner now hangs on a door in my studio to remind me, and those who visit, to be the very best ourselves that we can be.Cathe-Holden-EpsonP400-06

Vintage Group Photo Print

While on a roll, I wanted to try the Epson Premium Luster Photo Paper roll (8.3″ x 32.8′). Though it wasn’t an especially long image, I wanted to test this media. I printed an enlarged version of a small group photo of school children. (Visual creasing and scrapes are on the original scanned image.)Cathe-Holden-EpsonP400-05The UltraChrome Gloss Optimizer adds a fabulous sheen to the print as you can see here with a yellowish reflection from my overhead lights and bluish reflection from my studio window. The detail in the printing is incredibly impressive.Cathe-Holden-EpsonP400-04

Metallic Photo Paper US New West Map

Don’t think this printer is only for wide format or roll printing, it’s also the extremely high quality of the printing that make this line of printers shine. Within my Epson product review shipment came several different medias including a box of 8.5″ x 11″ Epson Glossy Metallic Photo Paper. I gave that a go with an enlarged vintage postcard-size map, with printing results shown below taken my Instagram feed. (Click on images to view video.)

A project of extreme contrast- printing an antique map on metallic photo paper. #epsonP400 #sponsor #metallicprint #usmap @epsonamerica

A video posted by CATHE HOLDEN ✂️ CRAFT & DESIGN (@catheholden) on

First time printing with metallic photo paper. It’s like a hard pearl effect. Pretty cool. #epsonP400 #sponsor #metallicprint #usmap @epsonamerica

A video posted by CATHE HOLDEN ✂️ CRAFT & DESIGN (@catheholden) on

Printing to Plain Cotton Canvas Fabric

Having tried a few of the supplied Epson media- both paper and roll, I really wanted to print to plain fabric from a fabric store bolt utilizing the hand-feed option of the printer. With my iron I pressed a heavy-weight white cotton canvas to plastic-coated freezer paper and carefully trimmed out a 12.95″-wide by 40″-long section with an Xacto knife, being certain that there were no frayed fibers along the edges to get caught up in my new printer. Epson’s rolls of textured exhibition canvas (heavyweight cotton-poly blend) have just the right sort of coating to allow for the very best color and print accuracy. Using my own cotton fabric, with no coating, allowed ink to absorb and be a bit muddier than it’s original digital image. When printing to plain cotton canvas or other fabric, it may be necessary to bump up the brightness and vibrancy of your image to accommodate this as I did shown below- digital image on the left and printed image on the right. Note that any off-register color placement is directly from the original image itself, offset printed c.1890.Cathe-Holden-EpsonP400-02I hand-fed the length of fabric through the back of the printer. Since it is adhered to the freezer paper and cut with accuracy, it loaded and ran through quite smoothly. Cathe-Holden-EpsonP400-09I trimmed and machine-stitched my finished piece to layers of burlap create another wall hanging.Cathe-Holden-EpsonP400-01Other exciting craft projects that can be created on the Epson SureColor P400 can include custom 12″ x 12″ scrapbook paper or printing of your own digital scrapbook page layouts. Create mounted-to-frame dimensional canvas wall art, and finally print those fantastic panoramic photos directly from your smart phone! Print lightweight fabric (adhered to a feeder sheet such as freezer paper described above) to create fabric patterns and designs for sewing projects. Print and sell custom items such as growth charts and banners. There are SO many possibilities, and also much more to know about this printer:

From Epson.com:

The 13″ wide-format SureColor P400 photo printer features UltraChrome® HG2 Ink for unprecedented print quality. This remarkable 8-color pigment ink set includes Red and Orange inks for vibrant, true-to-life color. Dedicated channels for both Matte and Photo Black inks provide deep blacks on matte, fine art and photo papers. Unique Gloss Optimizer chemistry gives photographs a smooth, professional-lab look and feel. High-capacity, individual 14 mL ink cartridges offer the freedom to print — and replace only the color you need. Plus, cut-sheet and roll paper support allows you to print your artwork on a variety of media. SureColor P400 Product Brochure (PDF)

Flexible media handling — prints cut-sheet and roll paper in sizes up to 13″ wide including borderless; supports photographic and fine art paper, canvas, 1.3 mm thick board and inkjet-printable CD/DVDs

Industry-leading pigment ink technology — UltraChrome HG2 pigment ink for colorful prints that are highly water, smudge and fade resistant

Vibrant color — Red and Orange inks ensure true, deep reds and richer skin tones

Auto-selecting Black inks — achieve optimal black density on matte, fine art or glossy papers from either Matte or Photo Black ink, delivered via dedicated channels

Individual, high-capacity ink cartridges — change cartridges less often with eight 14 mL individual ink cartridges that offer a more affordable cost per set1

Professional connectivity — Hi-Speed USB 2.0, wireless 802.11n2 and 100 Mbit Ethernet support

Advanced image processing — smoother color transitions and outstanding highlight and shadow detail with AccuPhoto HG imaging technology

Industry-proven precision 8-channel printhead technology — MicroPiezo® AMC one-inch-wide printhead with a 1.5 pl minimum droplet size and ink-repelling coating for more accurate dot placement and reduced maintenance

I am very pleased with the ease, impressive quality output, and multitude of options to be had with the Epson wide-format SureColor P400 printer. Be sure to follow me on Instagram for more upcoming exciting wide-format printing projects.

I’d be quite interested to know what YOU would create with this printer!

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Snowflakes from Kyiv: 2015 UPDATE!

Five years ago I shared with you the following blog post with images that were likely the most shared images from my blog of all time. In fact, the photos were pinned over 108,000 times! But, as it turns out, there is much more to this story, something quite exciting I could hardly wait to share and will do so below. But first, please read my original blog post from 2010:

“Snowflakes from Kyiv”

A 2010 Repost

A very talented reader from half-way around the world emailed to me black & white photographs of his beautiful hand-cut snowflakes. I’m so happy to have received these and to share them with you from Arthur Shramko of Kyiv, Ukraine, who writes, “When I was a child my grandmother used to make these snowflakes, so she taught me and since then I make them every year.” He makes them in winter and sticks them on windows. Incredible.

2015 UPDATE:

I had attempted to reconnect with Arthur last year to no avail, but was able finally correspond with him just before Christmas this year (though, as he reminds me, their Christmas is celebrated January 7). Arthur is a 27-year-old UI/UX designer, still living and working in Kyiv, Ukraine, and aside from the hobby of paper-cutting, is also fond of typography and calligraphy.Arthur Shramko KyivHe wrote “I was totally carried away by the sad events in my country. As you may now, we have kind of an undeclared war with Russia, and the situation was very tense last year. So I did not have time for things like snowflakes at all. Now the situation looks more or less stabilized, but still very disturbing.”

 As a young child, he was taught to cut paper snowflakes by his grandmother. “Each year when we decorated our home for holidays, she used to make a lot of snowflakes to put on windows and to hang on strings. Of course, they were much simpler than my current ones, because there was not so much time to spend on them. I put my snowflakes on windows, walls, furniture, wherever I want, actually. But mostly I give them away to my friends.”ArthurShramkoInstagram2Arthur also shared with me some very exciting news- his snowflake images that I posted on my blog and were shared for several years around the world via the web and social networks like Pintrest, ultimately floated into the path of the creative department at Tiffany & Co. With the information from my original post, they were able to find Arthur and commission him to create custom snowflake designs for their 2015 Christmas campaign. His designs were included in in-store snowflake displays, and printed material such as this gorgeous holiday catalog: catheholden-SHRAMKO-snowflakes-Tiffany-Co catheholden-SHRAMKO-snowflakes02-Tiffany-CoArthur Shramko’s beautifully intricate snowflakes could also be found on individual product pages on the Tiffany & Co. website during the campaign. But most spectacular are his snowflakes coming to life in Tiffany & Co.’s Christmas animation:

It is lovely moments like this that remind me as a blogger that some stories shared can be more important than I can imagine in ways I can never predict. I am so blessed to have experienced but a fraction of the bigger picture. Congratulations on your successes, Arthur, and thank you once again for sharing your beautiful creations and yourself with the world.

Want to see more of Arthur’s paper snowflakes? Follow his work on Instagram at @makethesnowflake!ArthurShramkoInstagram

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