The short news is, I’ll be selling garden flags again for the holiday shopping season this year! I am so happy to be able to offer these again, and making them myself gives me so much more versatility in size and shape, and a greater selection to offer at quantities that make sense, as well as possible customization. And that title will make far more sense to you shortly.
Developing the flags
I’ve been trying to figure out a way to make my own garden flags since the printer for the last ones closed about six years ago. Those flags were printed digitally on special polyester non-woven fabric which I had to special order and provide to the printers I worked with. The printer could produce just one of a design or a half dozen, but the total cost was as high as $8.00 each. They were printed two-sided and they were durable, lasting a full year fully outdoors before they began to fade. But the paper became difficult to find, and when one printer closed and I found another one to print them, I discovered the second printer’s toner wasn’t waterproof, and I had to spray each flag with silicone waterproofing spray, more expense, time and yucky smells. I let it go and sold the ones I had, but every time I looked at my photos of them I knew they were still a product I wanted to offer.
Starting autumn 2018 I gathered fabrics and ways to imprint on them for outdoor use. I decided I could stencil or screen print a few of them and above are two experimental flags on ripstop nylon—nice wave to the flag and I didn’t have to hem because ripstop doesn’t fray, but kind of expensive, not always the colors I wanted, and it required special inks. By June this year I worked out the use of fabric transfers that should stand the test of time out in the weather on various fabrics, cotton only because synthetic fabrics would melt in the heat press, but I needed to put the flags to the test before I even considered selling one.
I made the four flags below, each with a different combination of cotton fabrics (muslin/canvas) and fabric transfers (light fabric/opaque/cold-hot peel) pressed in different ways for a different finish and thickness. I printed the transfer, heat pressed it onto the fabric, trimmed, and stitched the pocket at the top. They’ve been hanging in various areas in my front yard since June 23 through some really hot days, relentless sun, and a few pretty wild storms. I had figured if the transfers wouldn’t stand up to the elements I’d see some fading pretty quickly, and if the fabric wasn’t durable enough I’d see some rips along the top and fraying along the edges, and that would narrow down or eliminate one or all.
You can read more details about the fabric and process for each of these flags in this article on Portraits of Animals. The opaque transfers are like a thin sheet of plastic or vinyl that’s melted onto the surface of the fabric in the heat press, so the artwork looks like an art print, no fabric pattern discernable at all. I was pretty much sold on using it before I started because I love how it looks, but I discovered one thing right away: it causes the flag to curl when it gets wet, or even on a cool damp morning. Imagining winter mornings, you’d never see your design! After about a month, I also noticed that Greenhouse Gerberas, which is out by the street so it gets a lot of reflected sunlight along with direct sunlight, was beginning to fade at the top of the rod pocket, and just last week when we hit two months it even looked as if the flowers were fading a bit. This is why I had to test them! Also, Evening Wildflowers is intentionally in a shady and damp spot that gets little sun, and with my old flags in that spot I’d noticed they developed some mold and mildew. Sure enough, I saw some specks on the unprinted back of the flag. The opaque plastic coating keeps air from circulating through the fabric.
“Two Cats After van Gogh” is printed on cotton muslin with a light fabric transfer finished with a “hot peel”, which means I peeled the backing off of it within seconds after it came out of the heat press leaving minimal plastic coating on the fabric. For that reason the transfer gives it a little bit of body but no real stiffness, and it has no vinyl feel at all to it. It never curls from wetness or cold. Because the transfer is intended for light fabric it covers the fabric well and holds the art well, but doesn’t coat the fabric the way the opaque transfer does. You will see in the flag in these photos that one corner is slightly frayed, and here and there along the edges too. I need to be more careful about my trims!
Here is a closeup of what the finish looks like.
The flags are printed on only one side. My prior flags were printed on both sides, but pressing transfers to both sides of the fabric has to be done at the same time or it distorts the first transfer. The heat source is only from the top so the bottom transfer doesn’t heat at the same rate the top one does and I had a problem with getting a consistently good print on both sides of the fabric. Though I can’t print on both sides, you can see a bit of the design from the back anytime during daylight, and you can see it pretty clearly when the sun shines, something that wasn’t possible with the opaque transfers.
It’s printed on cotton muslin fabric and has the nicest “wave” of all, even flapping just a little where the others don’t, very light and responsive to breezes. Below you can see it from a few different angles, with a good breeze and even just a light breeze, and, of course, Mimi makes a cameo appearance.
Size and availability
These flags are 11″ x 15″ because my largest fabric transfers are 11″ x 17″ and then I fold the top over for the pocket. In the future I may make other sizes and shapes, and I will be screen printing, stenciling and using other techniques as well. But for these first flags I will be producing all four of the designs I tested, and am planning many more both in cats and flowers as well as wildlife, landscapes, seasons, holidays and more.
Do you have a favorite photo or artwork of mine that you’d like to see on a garden flag? Please let me know in the comments below!
Mimi and I will let you know how it goes!
It’s not done until Mimi approves!
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Find out more about creating custom items for your own home using the images you see here. Visit the “Ordering Custom Art” page to see samples and read bout how to order.
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It’s all done under the close and careful supervision of my studio cats!
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!
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