Dog's Life: DIY
Make your own textiles, wallpaper, gift wrap and more—digital printing is all the rage!
December 30 2013
Who knew that creating personalized fabrics could be so easy? Anything that can be printed on paper can be printed on fabric, and the possibilities are endless. Put your favorite photo or drawing—of your dog, naturally—on a pillow or quilt, or make a nifty gift wrap. For a festive room decoration, sew or hang small cloth squares on a wide ribbon, à la Mexican papel picado. You can even print on silk—how sweet it is to have a scarf with your pup’s picture on it.
A big fan of “made in America” Pointer-brand denim jackets, I decided to do the ’60s thing and embellish one with a portrait of Lola, my own special Pointer. For the younger set, a photo of sleeping puppies printed and stitched onto a onesie makes an adorable gift. This charming craft started more than 20 years ago, and has been refined and popularized over time. The basic tools are a computer, inkjet printer and fabric. Printers that use the more colorfast, water-resistant, pigmentbased inks are preferred over those using dye (or standard) inks. Major brands such as Epson, HP and Canon have affordable models. For fabric, start off with paper-backed, pretreated and printer-ready cotton sheets. A number of companies, including Jacquard, EQ Printables and Avery, make standard paper-sized sheets as well as fabric rolls. Follow the instructions on the package for preparation and printer settings. More crafty DIYers can apply their own fabric to a backing (called a “carrier”), then treat it so it runs through a printer without jamming.
Go to YouTube for good “how-to” videos detailing all the steps, or find more information at Instructionals.com. Those interested in taking the craft up a notch may want to check out Inkjet Printing on Fabric by fabric designer Heidi Rand, an e-book full of invaluable tips and examples of inspirational creations. There are also many on-demand services that assist you in designing customized textiles. See websites Spoonflower.com, FabriconDemand.com and TheFabricStudio.com for more information.
Try your hand at fabric printing and send us your ideas and examples of your projects—we’d love to see your fabric pooch.
Dog's Life: DIY
December 19 2013
This year, try the traditional Japanese art of wrapping gifts in fabric squares—furoshiki—as an attractive and functional way to reduce paper waste. Not only is this an eco-sensitive option, the fabric can be put to other uses, doubling the gift.
For furoshiki wrapping directions, watch this video or download the PDF, which was created by the helpful folks at the Japanese Ministry of the Environment.
November 20 2013
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we’re taking a moment to make a list of what we are thankful for this year. Working on The Bark for the past 16 years, we’ve been afforded a unique view into the world of dogs, and the people who care for them. A lot has changed, but some of the best things about dogs never seems to.
1. The spirit of volunteerism. The dog community is a compassionate, supportive network of people who foster, donate, fundraise, advocate and share their love with animals who need it. Through a million small and large acts of kindness and with a sense of responsibility—they make a difference.
2. Dog-friendliness is being embraced. A generation ago, dogs’ access to public and shared spaces was very limited. “No dogs allowed” signs were the norm. Thankfully, these are fewer today, and a conscious effort to welcome dogs in parks, businesses and at social events is growing in popularity.
3. Government oversight of pet food. After hundreds of deaths from tainted pet food and treats, and countless recalls of foreign-source and domestically-produced product—we can look forward to new regulations that will impose safety and health requirements to the $21 billion pet food industry. Our pets deserve nothing less.
4. Science is offering new insights. The number of important studies and research that impact our understanding of dogs is at an all-time high. From the dog genome project to studies of the canine mind and senses, these creative investigations into what makes dogs tick is contributing to real, practical improvements in how dogs live in our society.
5. The inspiration of fine writing and art. Some of today’s best writers and thinkers are exploring the rich subject of dogs—from poet Mary Oliver to psychologist Alexandra Horowitz and novelist Ann Patchett—the wealth of words expressing life with dogs is our good fortune. Visual artists like Lucian Freud, David Hockney and Elliot Erwitt contribute their own language.
6. More choice than ever. Gone are the days when Ken-L-Ration and Milkbones ruled supreme. Today, dogs have their choice of organic, wheat-free, freeze-dried, reconstituted, bison, duck, raw, home-cooked and every combination imaginable. The expansion of selection has touched every corner of pet products … there are more dog beds, more toys, more everything to address every need and fancy.
7. Health options are evolving. A similar broadening of veterinary care is occurring, new techniques and medical innovations provide us with more options … holistic treatments, non-invasive procedures and, often, a level of care that can rival our own. The growth of pet health insurance is an idea whose time may have arrived.
8. The impact of canine behavior on everything—from training to unwanted pets. Understanding how dogs think and feel is key to living with them in harmony. It’s such a simple premise, but the plethora of misguided theories can do more harm than good. Fortunately, the truth has a way of rising to the top, and our understanding of canine cognition and behavior will help us solve some of the biggest challenges we face in the pet community.
9. Dogs’ roles in society are growing. Dogs love it when they have a job to do. For many, that means a real task to perform, and as a society, we’re expanding the job pool—assistance and therapy dogs, tracking and law enforcement, conservation and wildlife control, plus traditional duties of herding, hunting and companionship. The value of doing good work is immeasurable.
10. The essence of dogs. Whether it’s their never-ending enthusiasm to embrace a walk or their attentive demeanor as they accompany us through our day—dogs are great company. The bond is unique, and at its best, brings out something special in both of us, encouraging a fresh view of the world.
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