Customer Spotlight: Black Duck Inc.

cs_blackduckincName:  Erich Campbell

Business:   Black Duck Embroidery and Screen Printing

Anyone who knows anything about machine embroidery probably knows about Erich Campbell and Black Duck Inc.  He is the digitizing guru who creates the fabulous works of art for which Black Duck Embroidery and Screen Printing is known, as well a sharing his expertise at www.erichcampbell.com.   He writes for Printwear Magazine and for Mr. X-Stitch.  Erich is a huge advocate for the industry and always willing to share his knowledge and abilities to help others.   I’m honored that he took a bit of time from his busy life to answer some questions about the work he does,  the company for which he does that work, and why he does business with EnMart.

Please describe your work.

EC:  I am primarily an embroidery digitizer,  but our company does everything from small to large scale screen printing on manuals and automatics,  all manner of embroidery,  heat-printing, sign-making, sublimation and digital transfers, all in house and with our own art staff.

What do you like best about what you do?

EC: Creating solutions that delight people; creative problem solving is satisfying in itself,  but being able to do so in a way that allows us to both exercise our love of commercial art and design and supports people in our local community makes our work an absolute joy.  We have customers tell us that we are seen as the shop to seek out if no other shop can handle your work or is willing to try.   We are artists, experimenters, and we work well together.

What is the biggest challenge you face in doing your work?

EC: Doing the work that we want to do and are good at doing and making sure to keep it profitable and responsive;  probably the hardest thing to do is pull away from the work of production to make sure our business is current,  keeping up with technology and promoting itself to the right audience.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing your industry as a whole?

EC: It’s a massive cultural shift that’s causing challenges for all of us – the shift toward individual personalization is difficult, but doable, whereas the continuous pressure to deliver more quickly, almost instantly, and to produce a better product with a high-quality decoration at a commodity price can be tough.

Were you always creative?  Did you make things as a child?

EC: I would say that I come from a long family history of makers – I wasn’t always enamored of the visual arts, though.   I can draw passably well,  but I didn’t while away my time drawing when I was young.  I did, however, carve wood,  build things,  play with construction toys,  work on machine and cars with my mechanic father,  help my mother who at times worked as a seamstress,  and last,  but certainly not least,  I was always a writer.  Language was my first creative venture, and remains a favorite outlet to this day.

What one tip would you give people starting out in your field?

EC:  Be ready to fail and forgive yourself,  then learn to control your variables and test.  You will destroy a garment.   You will have to sample things more than once, and you will make mistakes.  Accept it,  then learn by degrees to let it go.  Analyze your failures and take what you’ve learned to heart; measure everything, and apply what you learn.  You will grow by leaps and bounds once you do; you will be a sponge at first, absorbing everything,  but it’s in the experimentation and doing that it will all solidify and become real.

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If you could travel back to when you started in this industry,  what piece of advice would you give yourself?

EC: Never get comfortable.  Try more, execute faster,  and be less conservative with your ideas.  An idea is nothing until it is executed, and there is rarely a “perfect” time to try.  Get more things to market and give them their season; you never know what might stick.

What is your favorite leisure time activity?

EC: That’s a tough one;  I’m a big movie watcher and reader,  but I also love hiking, drawing and teaching where I can.  When you do what you love,  leisure and work sometimes bleed together,  even when they are tiring or difficult.   In truth,  I do work quite a lot though.  I often joke that there’s just a break between my first shift (work at Black Duck) and my second shift (writing and teaching for the industry).

Why do you buy from/work with EnMart?

EC:  EnMart has tested quality product and the best customer service;  I’ve never had a problem ordering by any method of contact, and I can always trust the products that I ordered will come in,  as ordered,  on time.   EnMart is reliable and saves me time.

What EnMart products do you use most?

EC: Sublimation inks and papers, blank patches, and Q-104/102 water soluble topping and backing.

Why do you use these products?

EC: EnMart has always been our sublimation partner,  and they carry top quality Sawgrass products as well as their own tested brand of transfer paper;  their added service and support is fantastic and makes the difference.   Q-102 is great for making our own in-house custom shaped emblems,  so it’s a natural fit for us as well.

You can find Erich and Black Duck Inc.  on the following social media sites:

Facebook

Twitter

Google+

Pinterest

Instagram

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Happy New Year!

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EnMart will be closed Monday,  January 2, 2017  in honor of the New Year.   We wish all our friends and customers only the best for 2017! 

Time Travel Tuesday: What’s Ahead for 2017

time-travel-2One of the fun things about time travel is the fact that it goes in both directions.   Today I thought we’d take a moment to look at some things that are coming up in 2017.   Here’s some of what the future holds for EnMart.

New Products – We are preparing to introduce a new line of products at the Creativation Show in Phoenix in January.   We’re in booth #619.   If you’re at the show,  stop by and see what EnMart and Iris Thread have to offer!

New Look for the Website – EnMart is working on a redesign of our website for 2017.  Some of the redesign will be appearance related,  some will be functionality related.   We’re excited about making our website easier to use and creating a look that reflects the EnMart experience.

We’ll be Traveling – Currently our list of scheduled trade shows for 2017 includes the VDTA Show and all three DAX Shows as well as the Creativation Show listed above.   At the DAX Shows,  as usual, we’ll have a wide variety of products for sale in our booth.   We look forward to seeing everyone at these shows.

Educational Efforts –  We’ve scouted a great location we think will be useful for some quilting videos.   There are plans in the works to do some series posts on this blog,  discussing things like backing or types of thread.  We have some other ideas as well,  so it should be an exciting and educational year.

Mostly,  we’re just excited about the plans we have for the upcoming year, and all the great things we’re going to do.   We’re also very grateful to those of you who have supported us in 2016.   Whether it was stopping by our booth at a trade show,  purchasing something from our website,  leaving us a review on our website or on Facebook,  or simply taking a moment to let us know that you appreciate what we do,  we’re glad you’ve spent a bit of your time with EnMart.   Thank you.

 

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Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah

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EnMart will be closed on Monday, December 26 in honor of Christmas.   We will re-open on Tuesday, December 27.   We wish all our clients and friends a happy and joyous holiday!

Time Travel Tuesday: Which Thread is Best

extra-35-picAmong the eternal questions that plague the machine embroidery community,  the question of which thread is best is probably the one heard most often.  Sometimes the question involves what type of thread works best,  and sometimes it centers more on which brand of thread is best,  but the answer required always centers around a comparison and a qualification,  something has to come out on top as “the best”.

A couple decades ago,  the answer to the which thread is best question,  at least when it came to type of thread,  would have been rayon.  Made from regenerated cellulose,  rayon was the thread of choice for a lot of embroiderers back in the day.   It had great shine and made embroidery pop,  but it wasn’t necessarily a strong thread,  or a washfast one.  Still, for a long time,  it was the only game in town.

Polyester,  in the time when rayon was king,  was primarily a matte thread,  dull and not considered a show piece thread.  Over time, though, manufacturers,  like Hilos Iris,  started working on creating a polyester thread with shine.  They also worked on strength and durability,  using trilobal fibers to make the thread both stronger and shinier.  The result was a polyester thread that could beat rayon at its own game,  a thread that equaled rayon in shine,  but exceeded it in colorfastness,  washfastness and strength.   While there are still die hard rayon users in the embroidery world,  a lot of embroiderers have switched to polyester.

Once an embroiderer settled on what type of thread to use,  the next question to be answered was which brand was best.   As with the rayon/polyester debate,  the choices for a brand of thread started out narrower and expanded over the years.  Madeira and Robinson Anton are brands that have been around for a quite a while.  American and Efird has been around for over 100 years.  Coats and Clark, in one incarnation or another,  has been around for quite a while as well.

As time went on,  new brands entered the market place.   Iris thread,  a trilobal polyester was introduced to the American market in 2007.  Fil-Tec introduced their Glide thread.   Companies started bringing in and selling cheaper thread from the Pacific Rim.  Suddenly,  embroiderers were spoiled for choice.  The question about which thread was best was heard more and more often.

The simple answer to the question of what thread is best is this:  the best thread is the thread that works most efficiently for you.  Different threads will sew out differently depending on what machine is being used.   The fabric being sewn, and how the design is digitized can also have an impact on how well a thread works.  The durability, colorfastness and washfastness of the thread should also be considered.   Thread breaks that slow down productions,  or colors that run can lead to lost business and lost time.

The biggest mistake embroiderers make,  in my opinion,  when considering which thread is best for them is placing price at the top of the list of things to consider.  Many shops may operate on strict budgets and price will need to be factored into the purchasing decision,  but placing price before how the thread sews out,  or giving price more weight than the durability of the thread, or settling for a thread that isn’t colorfast because it’s a thread that’s cheap accomplishes exactly the opposite of what’s intended.  Not all cheap thread is bad thread,  and not all expensive thread is great thread,  but the likelihood that a thread that costs more will also have more time, effort and quality materials in its construction should not be ignored.

One way to gather data for your decision about which thread is best for you without breaking your budget is to ask the thread manufacturer for a sample you can test.   Most manufacturers or distributors will be happy to send out a sample.   If you’d like a sample of Iris thread,  please contact us and we’ll be happy to get one out to you.

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How to: Order from EnMart

order-onlineIt occurred to me the other day that we put tools in place to make it easier for our customers to order and to take advantage of pricing levels and other incentives,  but what we think is easier might not appear the same way to those who are buying from us.   So,  I started looking at the site through the eyes of a customer,  and trying to figure out,  if I were new to the site,  what I could grasp easily and what might be harder to figure out.  Once I had my list,  I decided to put a blog post together,  to help those of you who buy from us get the most of your EnMart experience.

Wholesale Pricing:  Wholesale pricing is available to those businesses that have a tax i.d. number and who apply for a wholesale account.   If you do not apply and your account is not set up for wholesale pricing,  you will not see those prices nor receive them at checkout.  To apply for a business log-in,  you can click the “I Need A Business Log-in” button on the home page,  or click the “Wholesale” button in the top menu on any other page of the site.   You must submit your tax i.d. number to be considered for wholesale pricing.  Once your application is received,  it generally is approved quickly.   You will be notified by e-mail when your wholesale account is activated.   To see wholesale pricing,  make sure you log-in before you shop.

Pricing Levels: There are some products which only have one tier of pricing,  which is wholesale pricing.   Often this is because it is a product which wouldn’t interest the general public,  is one that can’t be seen by the general public,  or is a product that has an industry wide or manufacturer mandated price that we need to meet.  Things like thread,   backingblank patches and bobbins do have both public and wholesale pricing,  so having a wholesale log-in if you’re qualified for one is a good option.

Shipment Times: Our goal is always to ship every order as quickly as we can.  Most orders,  if they contain goods we can simply pull off a shelf will ship same day,  if placed before 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.  Things that need to be made,  like blank patches,  have longer lead times for shipping.  When there is a lead time,  it will be noted on the page for the item.   Order shipment speed may also be impacted by the volume of orders received.

Sales Tax: By law,  EnMart is required to charge sales tax in Michigan,  Illinois,  California,  Nevada,  Georgia and New Jersey.  When someone applies for a business log-in,  if they are in one of those states,  the approval e-mail will also contain an attached form,  which must be completed and submitted back to EnMart for an account to be made tax exempt.   If the form is not completed and on file,  we must charge sales tax.

If you ever have questions about anything pertaining to EnMart,  you can always feel free to contact us. We want your shopping experience with EnMart to be a good one,  so feel free to reach out if you need any assistance.

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Happy Thanksgiving

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EnMart will be closed Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25 in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday.    We will reopen on Monday,  November 28, 2016.

We wish all our friends and customers a happy and safe Thanksgiving. 

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Customer Spotlight – Tricia Maloney

triciamaloneycustomerspotlightName:  Tricia Maloney

Business:  Orphan Quilt Designs by Tricia Maloney

Website:  http://www.orphanquilter.com

Blog: http://www.quiltwithaview.blogspot.com

Tricia Maloney is a quilt designer, author and teacher.   She has written three books about quilting, Orphan Block Quilts, A Russian Journey in Quilts, and her latest book,  coming out in November,  I Love Precut Quilts,  which is available for pre-order.   We are proud to say that our Iris Thread is used to create some of the quilts in that book,  and we’re excited to even have a small part in the creation of Tricia’s work.  Tricia will also be doing demos in the EnMart booth,  booth 1365,  at Quilt Market.  We’re excited for her to share some details about her new book,  her experiences with quilting,  and her experiences with Iris Thread.  Before, however, that happens,  we thought we’d let you get to know Tricia a little better here.

What do you like best about what you do?

Quilting is never boring.  One day I might be working on my computer designing or writing or connecting with people.  Another day I might be piecing or quilting at my sewing machine.  Yet another day I might be lecturing or teaching.  Sometimes I do all three in the same day.

I also love connecting with people.

Did I mention the fabrics???????

What is the biggest challenge you face in doing your work?

Time is my biggest challenge – there’s never enough of it.  I have a tendency to take on a lot of projects all at once and sometimes I get a little frazzled, but everything usually works out just fine.  If only I didn’t have to sleep……

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing your industry as a whole?

Rising costs of fabric, supplies, books, patterns, etc.  The more costly things get, the more quilters have to make tough decisions about their buying practices.

Were you always creative?  Did you make things as a child?

Yes, I’ve always been afflicted with creativity.  LOL!  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making things.

As a young child, I used to love to draw toy catalogs and write the descriptions of the toys.  Later I wrote stories and poetry.  I made dolls and even some of my own jumpers and dresses.  I made my first quilt after I graduated from college and it’s been an exciting ride since then.

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Was there a mentor or someone in your field that helped you when you were starting out?

Yes, when I began to seriously think about writing a book, I had the opportunity to talk to a local designer who had just written her first sewing book.  She very graciously connected me to her editor which eventually led to the publication of my first book, Orphan Block Quilts.

What one tip would you give people starting out in your field?

I would tell people not to be afraid to fail.  You just have to pick yourself up and try again because there’s really no failure in trying.

What are your goals for your business?

I want to see my business grow steadily over time.  I plan to write more quilt books, work with a greater variety of magazines and other publications, and I want to get back to designing fabric collections.

If you could time travel back to when you started in this industry, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

I would tell myself to do my homework.  It’s so very important to know what’s trending right now and what’s coming in the future.

What’s your favorite leisure time activity?

I enjoy reading a good book, preferably something that will make me smile.

Why do you buy from/work with EnMart?

The products are high quality and the service is friendly and efficient.

What EnMart products do you use most?

I discovered Iris Ultra Quilting Thread around the time I started my new quilt book, I Love Precut Quilts!.

Why do you use those products?

I was very impressed with the quality of the thread.  It was strong yet easy to work with for both piecing and machine quilting.  I’m really excited about the new colors, too!

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How To: Vinyl and Rhinestones on a Cubbie

Please note:  The manufacturer of Cubbies does not recommend that Cubbies be used for anything except embroidery.   This was an experiment that an EnMart customer did that we wanted to share with you.

WeIMG_3897 have long maintained that Cubbies are about a lot more than just birth announcements and can be decorated in a variety of ways,  some of which don’t involve thread.  Today we’re going to prove that to you,  by featuring a Cream Dumble,  decorated by Brandi Womack of MommaWombatCreations.   This adorable little guy is decorated with both rhinestones and vinyl.  Best of all, Brandi provided us with some hints and tips on how you can create your own decorated Dumble or other Cubbie, using these materials.

The infinity heart was a design that Brandi created herself,  because she couldn’t find an existing design that she liked.  At first the heart and the infinity symbol were intended to both be vinyl,  but Brandi decided to add a little bling to the design by creating the infinity symbol from rhinestones instead.   Templates were created using a Silhouette Cameo.   Sticky flock with hotflex tape was used for the rhinestone template.  The vinyl is Siser Easyweed.  The vinyl was pressed to the ear using a heat press set at 310 degrees.  It only needed to be tacked in place, so it was only pressed for a few seconds.  The rhinestones required that the temperature on the heat press be bumped up to 325 degrees and required a press time of 25 seconds.

The other ear has a vinyl monogram featuring the initials of both Brandi and her husband.It was created offset in two layers.  It was pressed at 310 degrees to tack it into place and then pressed for a full 22 seconds to secure it to the Dumble.  Please keep in mind that pressing temperatures will vary based on the type of vinyl used for the project.

Finally,  Brandi added the jaunty bow around Mr. Dumble’s neck as the finishing touch.   The bow was created using ribbon and floral wire.   The first step was to fold the ribbon end over end and then twisting floral wire around the middle of the folded ribbon to hold the bundle together.  Then the ribbon was fluffed until it achieved the desired fullness.  After that,  a longer piece was cut to go around the Dumble’s neck,  using a noose like loop.   Additional floral wire secured the bow to the loop for the neck.  The wire was trimmed as short as it could be to match the length of the ribbons. Once the wire was trimmed,  the bow was slipped over the neck,  and the ends of the ribbon were trimmed to a length that suited the size of the Dumble.

This is a great design for an anniversary or wedding gift,  and would be a treasured memento for any couple.   It also goes to show that vinyl and rhinestones can be an elegant way to decorate a Cubbie.

To see more of Brandi Womack’s work,  visit MommaWombatCreations on Facebook.

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Customer Spotlight: G. Barner Quilts

CS_G.BarnerQuiltsName:  Greg Barner

Business Name:  G. Barner Quilts

Website:  www.gbarnerquilts.com

Greg Barner creates fabulous quilts in a variety of styles.  His work is bursting with color and geometric shapes.  Visit his site, www.gbarnerquilts.com to see a wonderful gallery of his work.  You can see a small selection of his wonderful quilts in the picture gallery in the middle of this post.  He also instructs and gives classes in the art of quilting.  Here’s what he had to say about his craft,  the industry and why he uses EnMart products.

What do you like best about what you do?

GB: I started quilting fourteen years ago when I needed something to do that was creative, mathematical and involved problem solving.  Quilting fit the bill.  When my mother retired she took up quilting for others and I would help once in a while. When I neared retirement I knew I needed something to fill my spare time so I took up quilting with the intention of seeing how good I could get and doing some instructing.  I continue to work at getting better and I have done quite a bit of instructing around the area.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your work?

GB: I like the challenge of learning new techniques and patterns,  but I also like creating my own patterns,  especially abstract patterns.  In fourteen years of quilting I have not lost interest in learning more.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing your industry as a whole?

GB: There are a lot of quilters in Michigan,  especially Northern Michigan.  The biggest challenge is to continue to grow as an industry,  involving more people in quilting,  particularly the younger generation. Another major challenge is cost,  mainly the cost of fabric which continues to increase.  If the pattern continues it will make it difficult for some people to continue because they can’t afford the fabric.

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Were you always creative?  Did you make things as a child?

GB: I have always been doing something creative.  Growing up I was involved in vocal music and drama as well as sports.  I taught elementary school for forty years and tried to be as creative as possible in my approach.

Was there a mentor or someone in your field that helped you when you were starting out?

GB: My quilting is mainly self taught (trial and error a lot of the time). I do have an extensive library of quilting books and magazines for ideas. I have found shop owners and other quilters very willing to help me improve.

What one tip would you give people starting out in your field?

GB: I would encourage people starting out to pick smaller and simpler projects to learn with.  This would allow a person to experience more techniques in a shorter time and perhaps with less frustration.

What are your goals for your business?

GB: My goals for the future are to continue to experiment with new patterns and techniques.   I would like to create more of my own patterns.

What products sold by EnMart do you use most, and why?

GB:  I was introduced to Iris threads a number of years ago by an embroiderer. I piece (sew) with the Iris Ultra Cotton thread and I quilt almost exclusively with Iris thread.  My long arm works really well with the Iris UltraBright polyester thread and customers like the look of it.  I have tried other threads,  but my long arm quilter prefers the Iris thread.

Note:  If you’ve visited the EnMart booths at AQS Paducah or Quilt Market in Houston,  you’ve seen Greg’s work.  He very graciously allows us to display his quilts in our booth at these shows.

 

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