In 2014, a dear friend was in the recovery room, post surgery, when something made her think of me. Still woozy from the anesthesia, she wrote a brief letter in wobbly script so unlike her usual calligraphic precision, urging me to have my designs printed on other products. She listed 10+ items, from the sublime to the ridiculous. I found her note quizzical, flattering, and impractical, and put it away. Clay had been my life’s work for well over 30 years. Clay defined me. I was a one-trick-pony, or so I assumed.
The note resurfaced last year during a cleaning binge and this time it seemed worth considering. After all, my pottery is very labor intensive and maybe a textile line would be complementary. I did some research and realized I needed to make paintings, get them scanned, find appropriate textile products and a printer who could do the work. I spend my days painting imagery on clay, so how hard would it be?
If this was a movie, you would now hear the sombre, foreboding music…the kind they play right before the unsuspecting hero makes a major mistake.
I bought acrylics, only to find out I hated acrylics (& visa versa)…Watercolors were next. That turned out to be a VERY humbling experience. I was competent painting with underglazes on clay but now the rules were all different. Weeks of failures ensued, but finally the pile of rejects were replaced with good ones. The next step was to order samples of assorted textiles that were suitable for DTG (Direct to Garment) printing. I was disappointed to find that the things I liked the best were very pricey, and the more affordable items were not at all what I hoped for.
Late one Saturday night, I vowed to go through every page of Google listings until I found something I liked in the size, fabric, and price I wanted. Most of us never get past page 2 or 3 and there is a lot of junk and advertisements filling up those pages…but I was not going to quit until I located a US company close enough to keep shipping costs reasonable. I waded through listing after listing, and finally landed on Tea Towels by Factory Direct Linen
Note to readers: If you are a company with a “Contact us” link on your site, hire someone to answer those e-mails! So many companies invite you to connect with them, but never answer. But I e-mailed them, not expecting a reply until the following week if ever. Imagine my shock when I got a reply a short time later from the operations manager who graciously sent me samples…and he and his company have been part of my team ever since.
Another Google search led me to Top Banana USA a printing company in Philadelphia…an hour from my home. That meant we could meet in person and seeing his operation was a real treat. Taylor MCDowell is conscientious and pays great attention to detail. The colors on my finished products are crisp and clear and still retain the painterly quality I wanted.