Finding Sheer Success
Color X transforms a finicky fabric into a realistic-room image.
When a popular furniture retailer first came to New York print shop Color X (color-x.com) seeking large graphic room dividers for its stores, Color X’s Gary Teich first thought, “Easy enough, no problem.”
But “no problem” quickly seemed more like “impossible” when the retailer upped the ante by requesting that the graphics for the dividers be output onto sheer fabric.
“The first challenge was finding sheer fabric on 16-foot rolls,” says Teich. “Typically, sheer materials are only available up to four-feet wide because the wider the fabric, the greater the chance for the material to stretch as the printer prints, which causes inks to smudge.”
Color X traveled all the way to Germany to find the missing fabric ingredient: 16-feet wide voile. “The fabric is very delicate and offers little stability when printing across such a wide area. After finally finding the right fabric, the next challenge was figuring out a way to keep the fabric stable across the width while printing,” says Teich.
In transforming the finicky fabric into a realistic-room image, the retailer provided the shop with the designs, which were one-color black. “We did several tests to get a nice neutral and saturated black. We printed half-sized proofs for color correction and full-size strips to check resolution,” Teich explains.
Then – with the help from tension grippers, the production staff, and several trial and errors – the team successfully utilized its EFI Vutek UltraVu 5330 EC to print 21,000 square feet of sheer banners. Finishing the project began with careful trimming using a hot knife, and then sewing pole pockets on the top and bottom of each banner using a standard single-needle sewing machine.
After the retailer reviewed the finished product, it ordered a total of 135 banners, ranging in size from 10- to 13-feet wide x 10- to 15-feet long, for its 25 stores. Each store installed its own banners by suspending them from the ceilings.
“This project was greatly received by the client and by the client’s customers,” says Teich. “The stores were continually being asked by their customers if the banners were for sale. It attracted customer interest to actually use the sheers in their own home space, like lofts. As for our client, the furniture retailer loved the fact that these oversized sheers were able to define specific areas within the store, yet keep an open feeling to the environments.”