Monday, January 4, 2016

Printing Miniature Rugs On Specialty Papers

Let's just get one thing straight: I am not a seamstress, I do not hand sew very well. I did complete some cross stitch kits way back in the day. They were not very good, and I didn't enjoy doing them very much. Short attention span, I guess.

On a sewing machine, I once completed a one piece shorts outfit for my daughter using an actual pattern. She was 4. She is now 28. On the same machine, I sewed a Super "A" cape for my son, which he wore until he was about 8. Beyond that, I am intimidated by anything sewing related. I know, that is more than one thing, but you get my point.

I admire the very talented embroidery pieces done by folks like Brae and Casey, but I lack the intestinal fortitude required to commit hundreds of hours for just one piece. I guess maybe I am just lazy... So, how does a lazy miniaturist make rugs for her projects? With computer, printer, and special paper. Here's what happened...

There are several miniature rug printing How To's out there, but I found that it was hard to source the paper. A few of the web sites no longer exist, were out of stock, or in one case, said it was in stock but actually had not stocked it in four years. I'll direct you to Fancy Papers For Printies by Otterine for her very useful experience.

I'll focus in this post on the materials I used, where I found them, and my experience using them.

I experimented using both S.E.I. Velvet Paper and Hygloss Products Self Adhesive Velour Paper in white. I am printing on a Canon MG7520 Inkjet printer - nothing fancy. I am using free images of rugs found searching Google Images as well as patterns created myself in Publisher.

I purchased the Hygloss Products Self Adhesive Velour Paper on Amazon, but as of this post they are out of stock. I did find it on eBay, but only found the color variety pack that included 10 sheets. Two were white. They do have Lt. Blue and Beige, so those might work for you. Both packs are 8.5" x 11", but Amazon only offers them in a 5 pack The per piece price works out to be $.99 through eBay and $2.39 through Amazon. Both are free shipping.

I found the S.E.I. Velvet Paper on the S.E.I web site, but I accidentally ordered it in "cloud". It looks like a light blue cloudy sky, and if you are printing full color rugs (no shades lighter than the paper), it works fine. They do have it in Coconut and Porcelain which both look to be white/off white. It is sold by the 8.5" x 11" sheet for $1.50. Shipping is $7.99, so to make it worth while I ordered 10 sheets. With shipping included, that makes it $2.30 per sheet.

I am still looking for other reliable and affordable source for specialty papers that can be used to print rugs. If anyone has information, please leave it in the comments so everyone can find it.

The Set Up

Neither paper nor their websites offered instructions. Because I have experimented using fabric paper on this printer, I just proceeded in the same manner. I only loaded one piece at a time into the print tray to avoid any chance of the printer mis-feeding and picking up more than one sheet.

The program that I use to create and manipulate graphics is Publisher. That is because it generally does everything I want and more. Because I paid for it when I purchased my computer, it is free. If you have PhotoShop or something similar, you probably already know all that you need to about using graphics. If you use Word or Paint, just make sure you are using the best possible starting photo (300x300 min), and not attempting to resize it larger than double it's original size. Doing so will produce a very pixelated rug.

All of that being said, I'll proceed in Publisher giving Publisher instructions. Since most Microsoft basic program functions are universal, I'm confident you'll be able to follow along. If using PhotoShop or on a Mac, I can't be of much help. I don't remember much from my old Mac tech support days nearly 20 years ago!

Prepare Your Print Layout

In the Page Setup menu, set your paper size to 8.5" x 11". Set your Margins to 0 on all four sides.

Your page should look like this:

Insert image/s:

Resize image/s to fit your space. Right click on image, then:

Enter the height and width. If you have Lock Aspect Ratio selected, then enter the height, then Tab out of the box, the width will be calculated for you. If you uncheck the Lock Aspect Ratio box, you are free to resize both width an height. This may distort your image, so play around with both ways. Control + Z will undo any unwanted changes.

A note on color. Found the perfect pattern but don't really like the color? If you want a tone on tone sort of thing, do this:

Right click on the photo, then select Format Picture:

Under Color, select More Colors:

Pick a color family and shade (there are a million different options here so play around with it):

Click OK, then OK again. You can play with the brightness and contrast settings to dial it in. Don't like it? Control + Z then try again.

Arrange image/s on your paper. To move them, drag using your mouse, you use the arrow keys on your keyboard when the image is selected. Try to print as many rugs as possible now, using up all available space.

Once you are satisfied with the layout, select Print and set the advanced print settings. Each printer is a little different, but you should have settings that allow you to choose:

Paper Type: I chose Fine Art Paper as this tells the printer that the paper is thicker than normal. Your printer may have closer options.

Print Quality: I chose High as this will allow the printer to use the maximum amount of ink possible.

I followed these steps and then printed on both types of papers.

The Results

S.E.I. Velvet Paper
The Packaging: Comes in a sturdy and re-closable clear plastic envelope.

The Print: As expected, the blue sky/cloud pattern showed up when the image has a light or white background. Not as vibrant as the images themselves, but would work well when a muted or soft image is desired, or when printing an image in the blue family. Other than my personal printer not being easier to use, I found this paper to be wonderful! I will order some coconut.

The Texture: Very soft and velvety, very sturdy, will not have an issue with lying flat. Not shiny, does not appear to have a "right" or "wrong" nap.

Cutting It: I used both scissors and a ruler/x-acto knife. Both were easy, but my lines were straighter with the x-acto.

Hygloss Products Self Adhesive Velour Paper
The Packaging: Comes shrink wrapped in clear plastic. Will have to find an envelope to store it in so that it is protected from dust and other things that may come into contact with it.

The Print: The paper reacted beautifully with the ink. It did not smear or run. Other than my personal printer not being easier to use, I found this paper to be wonderful!

The Texture: The Texture: Very soft and velvety, very sturdy, will not have an issue with lying flat, especially due to the self adhesive backing. I am not going to actually stick my rug down to the floor. I'll just leave it lie as I am not sure what the adhesive would do the wood flooring. Not shiny, does not appear to have a "right" or "wrong" nap.

Cutting It: I used both scissors and a ruler/x-acto knife. Both were easy, but my lines were straighter with the x-acto. I did not find that cutting through the adhesive backing made any difference at all.

My overall assessment of both papers is A+! I will definitely be printing rugs for all of my projects!