Dala-Decker: Part 2

This is the final result of the Dala-Decker postcards that I mentioned in an earlier post. They are screen-printed by hand on 300 gsm paper and trimmed down to slightly smaller than A5. These were a lot of fun to print, but the process was quite complicated.

The first problem was to get the colours right. I wanted the teal ink to be slightly transparent, so it would mix nicely with the red one. It took several test prints to ensure that I mixed the right amount of ink, acrylic medium and thinner for the wanted effect. Another problem was the motif on the back, which mostly consisted of fine lines. This meant that the ink dried up in different places at least three times during the printing.

Biggest problem was the registration. Even if I added crop marks to the print and used a sheet of acetone as reference, I still had to print by eye because of all details. Out of the 15 sheets of cards I used, only 5 became good enough to sell.

If I ever do a second edition, I’ll probably use Riso-printing. It is more expensive, but it handles details better and is more efficient in the long run. I will also ajust the image slightly, like removing crop marks and perhaps define outlines and add a bit of texture. That all depends on how popular they will be!

Edition: Final Piece

This is the final result of several weeks of sketching, discussing, and making. The boxes are made from cardboard and wood that has been reinforced by glue, paper and sawdust before they were carefully sanded down to create a smooth surface. The instructions/edition cards, as well as the sole templates, were designed with Illustrator and InDesign. The soles – bubble wrap, carpet, coir, and gutter mesh – were found, donated, or bought in a pound shop. The sole template was based on a design from a foam insole that I bought in another pound shop.

One of few things that really proved a challenge was InDesign and painting the boxes. You can create unique text boxes with help of vector graphic, but you cannot import shapes made in Illustrator to add text to them: they must be created within InDesign. If you copy and mirror a box, you also mirror the text. I believe you can override that (or at least revert the text), but I never managed to figure it out during the project, which lead to unplanned work.

The boxes were first covered with a layer of white acrylic, than covered with two layers of light grey spray-paint. However, I was unprepared for how long the surface remains sticky until it finally dries up. Because of that, part of the protective paper got stuck onto a box and needed to be repainted one day before our Edition fair.

I did not manage to sell any of them during the fair, but I will sell them in my Etsy shop in the near future. If they prove to be popular, I might produce a second edition with simpler (and cheaper) packaging!

Dala-Decker: Part 1

I don't know when, but someday last year, I thought the advertising space on London's double-decker buses looked like ribbons of some sort. I suddenly got a flash of association to the Swedish Dala horses, a folk art traditions from the 16th and 17th century. Both are red icons in their own rights, so I thought that a combination of both would convey the experience of living abroad. And since they both extremely popular with tourists, I decided to make postcards out of them.

I started of with a humble sketch that I later reproduced digitally and added colour to. I tried to see what kinds of designs would work and what wouldn't. Those I particularly liked were marked with small hearts and pointing hands. You might not see it yet, but it was thanks to my semitransparent markers that I should work with overlapping fields of colour.

I disliked the hand drawn quality of the bus and decided to do a vectorized version. My initial plan was to do a vector based pattern as well, but that was easier said than done. The first test was awful and I decided to make it by hand. Besides, it would add to a nice contrast.

For this version, I combined different sketches and tests that I done in ink and then scanned in. It's a rough proof of concept, but I prefer the result so much better.

These are the first versions I did where I experimented with how much details I should add to the image. The idea with the green colouring is that It would be slightly transparent, resulting in brown shadows. My friends pointed out that the red and green was more Christmas then Dala horse, which I agree to. I think the green in the first sketches were the result of a tiny set of markers and I just kept going wit it.

I return to the image after valuable feedback and kept improving the design. I did a lot of fine touches here and there, as well as experimented with different shades of blue. After a week or two of fiddling, I was finally prepared for the test: Screen-printing a large set of detailed artwork that requires different additives. But more about that in a future update!