my cat, eli, is kind of infamous around these parts (okay, just amongst my friends), so i thought i'd spread his love this holiday season by turning him into a pillow for gifts.
x-posted on craftgrrl
*****edit w/tutorial (eventually to be revised with photos hopefully)*****
so i started out with getting my cat to pose for me and rendering the photo in photoshop to keep as much detail as possible but still be simple enough for silkscreening ( photo emulsion method). to be more specific, i changed the image from rgb to light grey, grey, and black. and then i replaced the light grey and grey with various degrees of just black color halftone (filter > pixelate > color halftone) to give the appearance of shading since it had to be completely black and white for the printing process.
this is what the final image looked like except much larger of course.
the image came out to about 22" x 10". i ended up making my own screen based on the tutorial at barry's farm (http://www.barrysfarm.com/constructing_silk_screen_frames_at_home.html), which was so incredibly helpful. i got the screen fabric at dickblick.com (their west la store is actually about 20 minutes away, but they're always short on silkscreening supplies) and the wood from home depot. i made a screen that measured about 26" x 14" and after completing it, i wished i had just purchased one, but i couldn't find one big enough at the time, so it all worked out in the end!
the actual process of silkscreening was pretty standard. because my cat was so big, i chopped him up into three pieces and printed him onto three separate transparencies (the image, not my cat, but the idea is kind of amusing). i used two lamps with 200 watt lightbulbs to burn the image and left them on for just under 45 minutes. if i did this again with such a large image, i would probably leave them on for closer to 35 minutes and rotate them more during the process.
i bought several yards of pink, green, and off-white fabric (i'll be more specific about this later - i can't remember exactly what kind of fabric) and several yards of brown velvety fabric for the back. the color of the fabric ink is brown as i wanted it to match the back brown velvety fabric as much as possible. before the printing process, i cut all of the front pillow fabric to size, which was about the size of the screen. then i just printed them all at once and let them dry overnight. i had to use a lot of ink since the image was so large! i ended up using about 2.5 bottles of the smaller container of ink (will follow with specifics) for about 20 cats. i guess it doesn't seem like that much, but i'm used to printing much smaller designs on t-shirts. i ironed all the prints with just a manilla folder between the iron and the print the next day even though i doubt anyone will be washing these pillows. it was mostly for my own reassurance.
the sewing process was pretty straightforward. i placed the printed side of the fabric against the velvety side of the back fabric and pinned it together with about an inch margin (i realized that if i sew too close to the actual print, my cat ends up looking like an upside down koi fish). the more margin, the less of a of a billowy cat - if that makes sense. i cut it out, sewed it, stuffed it, stitched it up, and ta-da! a pillow was born.
that was kind of long-winded. i'll definitely clean it up when i add photos. let me know if i didn't cover something or if you have any questions!