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Textiles for the Maharajah

(February 2009) posted on Thu Feb 26, 2009

Dream Fabric Printing provides graphics on fabric for Smithsonian.


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Keeping up with the sustainable times, the Smithsonian Institution has now taken on "green" processes and prefers its vendors to do the same. That’s what drew the museum to Dream Fabric Printing, a print provider in Orangeburg, New York, that also produces its own textiles.

The company’s eco-fabric, Dream Green Banner, has a canvas-like texture and is made strictly from recycled domestic bottles that are processed in the United States. "We met with the Smithsonian, and they have older buildings but wanted to go ‘green.’ Since they couldn’t do much with the building itself, they have gone green in other ways-including these eco-friendly banners with our banner material," says Victoria D’Angelo, director of Dream Fabric Printing (dreamfabricprinting.com).

For this particular project, The Smithsonian Institution requested two sets of 45 x 185-inch entry banners for both the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, featuring Indian artwork of garden paintings that once resided in the royal palaces of the maharajahs.

The Smithsonian’s art department produced a digital file of the artwork, created "to the exact measurements needed for their specific fixtures," says D’Angelo. In the meantime, she says, "We tested the fabric for the percentage of stretch and calculated accordingly so the fit would be tight and there would be no loose fabric to be affected by the wind or the fact that the building is sitting behind the banner (airflow)."

Dream Fabric Printing used its Italian-made Reggiani high-speed printing system with aqueous disperse dye inks and Reggiani Evolution software to direct print onto the Dream Green Banner material. To reduce the carbon footprint of the project, the shop sent the banners to a sewing company near the museum to create pole pockets for banner installation (which was done by the Smithsonian staff).

"This fabric weighs a little less than a pound a yard and ships in a plastic sleeve as opposed to another carton-this reduces wasteful packaging and further reduces the carbon footprint of the project," explains D’Angelo.

Prior to approval, the shop provided a proof consisting of a miniature of each banner plus an actual-size print of a section on the banner material for the client to check color. It took five days to provide the proof, and another week for printing and sewing.

"The Smithsonian Institution is actively working with us to create a product line in the same Eco fabric for the museum stores-totes, various bags, and possibly small ‘posters’ of the artwork or miniatures of the entry banners," says D’Angelo.


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