LAB CRAFT — an exhibition celebrating digital fabrication

digital adventures in contemporary craft

Lab Craft is an exhibition featuring 26 makers who combine their artistic vision and manual skills “with cutting-edge digital technologies such as rapid prototyping, laser cutting, laser scanning and digital printing.”

Curated by Max Fraser for the UK’s Crafts Council, the exhibition showcases work from several makers previously featured here on the blog including Gareth Neal, Geoffrey Mann, Liam Hopkins, Lynne MacLachlan, and Tord Boontje.

My favorite piece in the show is Shine by Geoffrey Mann. This piece is the result of 3D scanning a Victorian candelabra and 3D printing the scanned information in silver plated bronze. The scanner being unable to distinguish the actual surface of the object from the reflections produces spikes which vary with the intensity of the reflection.


These Scarves Show off What Digital Printing is All About

the Spring/Summer 2011 collection from Charlotte Linton

Traditional fabric printing involves a limited color palette. Whether it’s block printing or screen printing, more colors always means more cost.

One of the greatest thing about digital textile printing is that designs can have unlimited colors at the same cost as a single color. Yet designers using digital fabric printing still cling to flat designs with a few, flat colors.

Let Charlotte Linton show you how it’s done.

above: Mineralogy


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.

Fabric Printing at Home

Printing on fabric with an inkjet.

Craft posted an interesting article about fabric printing using an inket printer. We have previously mentioned services that will custom print fabric for you and a way to convert an inkjet into a t-shirt printer, but I haven’t seen anyone print fabric with an unmodified home printer before. The key point seems to be the type of ink your printer uses.

Printing your own fabric is not as difficult as it sounds, and you don’t need any special equipment to get started. The only secret to a successful print is to make sure that you have the right type of ink. Cheap printer cartridges and refills often use a dye based ink that colors unpredictably on fabric, and may even wash out completely in water.

More expensive printer cartridges use pigment ink. Pigment ink is color-fast on a many of different surfaces, and is much more useful for printing on fabric.

Of course, this is definitely not a manufacturer-recommended use of your printer, so there’s some risk you may damage your printer. Try this with caution. If you still want to brave this new frontier of home printing, be sure to read the rest of the article.

You also might find the previously mentioned article on making a t-shirt printer useful. It includes a section on choosing the right kind of printer.

Via Make

Dressing in Digital Prints

six spring collections of digitally printed textiles + the awful loss of Alexander McQueen

Fashion was my first design-love, and Alexander McQueen was my first designer crush. His collections were ceaselessly astonishing and their presentation always a work of performance art. (I remember reading in Vogue how McQueen held his fashion show on a pier during a hurricane. It was one of those brilliant and sinister moves that makes you fall instantly in love with a troublemaker.)

As a nod to the late and great Lee Alexander McQueen, here’s a look at the Digital Print Storm that took the Spring 2010 fashion runways. While the “Enfant Terrible” pushed the look to extra-terrestrial limits, Basso&Brooke as well as Mary Katrantzou delivered bright CGI graphics that still cling to the 80’s trend of recent springs. Elie Saab followed suit with digitally printed splatter paint in neon colors. And Nathan Jenden and Prada chose to go photo-real.

Peruse the Digitally Printed Fashion Revolution after the jump.


Karma Kraft: Custom Printed Textiles

3 Steps to DIY Printed Fabrics Starting at $20 Per Yard

Update 5 Sept 2011: We’ve received a few messages from people saying that they have been charged for Karma Kraft orders that they never received. No one from the Ponoko blog team has ever ordered from Karma Kraft; this blog post is just information from the Karma Kraft site.

With Karma Kraft you can upload and print your own designs on: Cotton, Linen, Silk, Polyester, Rayon, Suede, Ramie, Hemp or Wool. But if there is a specific fabric you need that they do not have listed here we can get it for you and print on your new fabric base. They can quote you the total printing cost per square yard using your chosen fabric before you order. If you choose a special “non-stocked” fabric for your order they do require a 20 yard minimum order.


Textile Republic — Patterns from the People

half-drop your way to a $1k


Textile Republic offers digitally printed products and a way for independent designers to win a thousand dollar payment plus a 5% royalty contract. The company uses a crowd-sourcing model to solicit original pattern designs for fabric and wallpaper products based on a competition theme. There is a new contest theme about every six months, and submissions are voted upon by registered users.

The current contest theme is completely open and ends 1 December.

Along with voting, registered users can also leave comments underneath each design. This provides a thread of feedback which is, at the very least, useful for gauging the popularity of your work. With over 2,000 designs entered since the site launched in the spring of 2001, the gallery of patterns is also a nice inspirational resource. But as anyone who has ever worked in the textile design industry will tell you, “inspiration” has a broad interpretation when it comes to churning out patterns for the corporate machine. I would keep this risk in mind before uploading your entire portfolio in hopes of just one of your patterns scoring the $1k and royalty deal.

Below are the previous winners for which the risk paid off.


Envelop—Textiles Designed by You (Produced, Packaged, and Shipped from the EU)

Textile designers rejoice; there’s a Ponoko for us too!

Laser-cutting? Pssh. You don’t want holes in a pot holder or oven mit. 3D printing? Big deal. No one wants a crusty plastic pillowcase or a metal-sintered tote bag. DIGITAL FABRIC PRINTING — that’s the future… of aprons and napkins and place mats at least. Okay, so those comments don’t do anything to elevate the field of textile design, but a new company is stepping up to the plate. (And not to wash it!)


Envelop is an “online print-on-demand platform where [designers] can create, promote and sell high quality cotton items to textile lovers worldwide.” With Envelop, designers submit their designs which are digitally printed in Belguim and sewn into one of a number of finished products on-demand. Digitally Printed = unlimited color. On-Demand = no inventory. And the best part? Envelop = 12.5% royalty earned on each order. The worst part? Belguim = 21% tax.

Setting Envelop apart from many mass-customization start-ups is the company’s dedication to true designers. This isn’t the place for your mom to print the kids pictures on place mats. In order to register with Envelop, you must submit a link to an online portfolio that showcases creative, original graphics or illustrations. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a simple collection of work on a community profile or blog. There are currently 80 independent designers from around the world signed up. Designs can be printed and made into aprons, napkins, oven gloves, pillow covers, place mats, pot holders, table runners, and tote bags.


SHOW RCA 2009—Part Two

shoe sculptures, nebulous knits, copper cloth, and more


The second part of my SHOW RCA 2009 coverage of rapid production and personal favorites highlights the Fashion, Jewelry, and Textiles program with a quick nod to Printmaking and Vehicle Design.


#NeoCon09 Coverage: Digital Printers

Print technology for cloth and canvas.


(above: Perspectives in Print booth at NeoCon)

Textile design is gradually gaining the sort of respect and recognition given to architecture, furniture, and product design. The field of fibers and textiles has experienced a surge of innovation and experimentation as a result of technological advances and cross disciplinary practice. While it may take awhile for NeoCon textile exhibitors like Maharam, Mohawk, and Shaw to offer LED embedded felt flooring, rasterized rugs, or laser-cut leather room dividers, there were a couple of companies showcasing their digital printing capabilities.

Perspectives in Print offers custom design and both digital and traditional printing for fabric, carpet, wallpaper, and even plastics like acrylic and styrene. The advantage of digital printing, similar to other methods of rapid manufacture, means no minimum orders, on-demand production, and fewer design limitations. Below is a selection of different projects ranging from pop-up store displays to drapes and custom props to limited edition products.


Canvas On Demand is using digital printing to turn personal photos into artwork. Photo canvases can be ordered by uploading digital photographs or scanning or mailing in traditional prints. Below are some of the canvases submitted to the gallery by Canvas On Demand customers.