Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Digital Dreams

by Christina VanGinkel

I recently found myself in need of a last minute gift for a friend. Extremely last minute, as in I needed to be at a party in less than two hours and I had no time to shop, and nothing I would likely find last minute would probably be appropriate anyhow. She was what I considered a good friend, and I did not want to give her something tacky, so I was really stuck. Jus what was I going to give her? I could hardly believe that I had marked the day of the party down wrong, and had thought I still had a whole week left to shop. In addition, to make it worse, I would not even have realized it if another friend had not called last minute to ask me if I could pick her up on my way, as she was having some car troubles.

As I was quickly panicking, I remembered the pictures I had snapped of her and several other good friends a few months before when we had all met at the park with grandkids in tow. We were there celebrating the fact that we all had been friends for years, and how we use to joke about that someday when we were old and gray we would actually be grandparents! That had once seemed like such a far off day, but it had arrived, well almost, I still did not have any gray hair, but that is another story. Anyways, that day had arrived and we all seemed to love and be enjoying this new time in our lives. By drawing from that fun filled day, and what my camera had hopefully captured, I thought I might be able to salvage the no gift problem yet!

As I had not even looked at, let alone downloaded any of these, my idea was actually only that, just an idea at that time. I grabbed my digital camera and headed into my office to download them onto my computer to see what possibilities existed within my photographs.

About ten minutes later, after transferring over thirty photos and perusing each one of them, I knew my idea was going to work. Digging through my desk drawers, I found the pack of t-shirt transfers I had picked up months back. Purchased with the idea that I would like to make some photo t-shirts for my kids and grandkids for the holidays next year, I knew if I did not pick them up right then, I would forget all about it and never get any. So, with transfers in hand, I opened them and read the instructions on how to place them into my printer along with instructions on transferring the image itself to fabric. Once I was relatively sure I knew what I was doing, I turned my attention back to my computer and the photographs I had just downloaded. One in particular was going to be perfect for my plan. After a bit of cropping, I knew it was just the thing.

Once I had added wording below the altered picture I was going to use, I double-checked my graphics program instructions for printing in reverse, so that when I ironed the transfer on to the fabric, it would be readable and not backwards. I then set the printer to print two copies and went looking for the rest of the items I would need.

As I was sure from the start that I did not have any new t-shirts that were unadorned with something on them already, I had already formulated an alternative. I had recently picked up a pack of plain white pillowcases with the intention of crocheting an edging on them for my own bedroom. Already pre-washed and dried, they were waiting for me in my yarn basket. I grabbed them, along with my iron and a towel and headed back to my office. I laid the towel out on the floor and plugged in the iron for it to pre-heat. Not ideal conditions, but as I do very little ironing, I do not own an ironing board. I always substitute with a towel in this manner whenever I need to iron something.

By now, the printer had long ago finished printing and I proceeded to lay out the pillowcase onto the towel, on which I placed the transfer face down, with the opposite end of the towel over the back of the transfer, and then proceeded to iron the transfer face down onto one of the pillowcases. After completing the transfer, I stood back and admired my handiwork. Perfect. I repeated the ironing process a second time and soon had a matched set of pillowcases that looked as if I had been planning their creation for months.

After a quick wrapping in tissue paper and gift bag, I headed out the door in time to pick up my other friend on the way. As to the pillowcases, everyone loved them, especially the recipient. Each night she uses them, she can go to sleep with a picture of her granddaughter and the words Sweet Dreams Grandma below. All this thanks to the wonders of my digital camera and a few computer touches.

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