I have a huge, but lightweight, picture frame lying on my desk with several large photos and my logo, waiting to be mounted in it - and it has been there several weeks now. I think I maybe never bothered with it as it never quite felt like the right solution. I really wanted a flexible banner that I could either hang from the front of my table coverings, or on a wall behind. Something I could roll away and not worry about it getting cracked or creased.
I'd priced up printed banners - and increasing numbers of high street places offer them now - but in my mind's eye I had wanted something full colour and with some of my product photos - and that was taking it into the more expensive versions. So I put it aside, thinking a solution would some day present itself. Or the funds to pay for it.
I do my very best thinking in the shower:
I've found over the years, that hot soapy water is very conducive to good thinking. I don't mind so much if it's in the bath, under a hot shower, or washing the dishes. In fact, sanding polymer clay with wet and dry is equally effective. You can't escape and your mind is free to do its own thing.
And so it was a couple of days ago. I'd been thinking about my banner again a few days previously, with upcoming fairs and put the thoughts aside. My clever little sub-conscious, when left to its own devices without me interfering, had found the solution for me.
So obvious and easy, I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner:
T-shirt transfer paper. I had an open pack somewhere in the back of my printing cupboard, from a long distant project and I knew I had some plain white curtain lining bought cheaply in a sale, for a project I've not got to yet - and probably never will.
So I planned a layout, tinkered with some photos - remembered at the last minute to mirror them all - scaled up my logo to the full size of the paper and printed my web URL over 4 lines for maximum text size.
Luckily, I printed two additional photos that I decided didn't fit as well, so had spares to test it first. Which was fortuitous as it gave me chance to snag the process and the end result was better for it.
You'd think the amount of hours I've spent with my ironing board, I would have noticed before now that it is far from actually flat. There are modest little dips and wrinkles in the underlining plate and this gave rise to areas in the print that didn't make a solid clean transfer. So on the second spare test print, I carefully moved the fabric to different parts of the board between pressings to mitigate any problems from old ironing board undulations. Worked a treat.
I needed to position and order the elements with care, so that I didn't spoil one whilst working on a subsequent section. But it worked rather better than I'd expected. I figured I had nothing to lose, the transfer material was bought for a specific long-past task and I wasn't sure it would even still work, or to what quality, it was only a cheap unbranded one in the first instance. The fabric I have used perhaps cost me a pound and a few hours of my time - and a little more yet, to sew it into something finished. But I now have just what I was after all along.
I needed to add my URL in several sections to get the text a decent size. I'm not sure it's totally level or straight as a result, but a blind man on a galloping horse won't be troubled.
Had I realised it would work as well as it has, I might have prepared it with more care and used higher res photos and taken more care preparing them - but it was only really a test to see if it had potential. Had I taken more care, it perhaps wouldn't have been the same success - often prototypes come out better than the final piece. Many times I've made a jewellery piece in copper as a rehearsal piece before potentially wasting the more expensive silver I intend using and find that I like the copper prototype rather better.
Now when I work in silver, I pretend it's copper and don't think about the additional expense and have found I work better as a result, if nothing else because I loosen up when working and physically relax, which obviously reflects in the piece.
This is the finished banner in place at an indoor Christmas Fayre. I'm really happy with how it worked out in practice. It rolls up and just fits inside the standard boxes I use to store and carry my support materials and I thought it looked pretty good, considering it was done in a hurry and didn't cost me anything other than some time: