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A Heart Wallming Story

Diazo PaperDec of Cards
Doesn’t it seem wall décor printing is creeping up everywhere?

Actually, I think it’s a great buzzword for an application that has been around longer than you might think.

While trending all over Chicago, Cushing has been printing wall murals and creating custom wallpaper for years. Of course, it was never a simple mouse click. Early applications of large format “décor” were Cushing’s abilities to make very large pictures of pictures (have fun with that tongue twister!).

Before the advent of large format color printing, we assisted companies with enlarging and printing photos or graphics to be mounted and displayed. We would print these images initially on Diazo paper (which had a tendency to fade over time when exposed to light) and then xerographically on equipment that could print up to 36” wide.

Results were dramatic and quite affordable but hardly a designer’s dream in monochrome. It sparks the memory of a client, several states away, who needed assistance with custom wallpaper.

No Short (Paper) Cuts
Over thirty-five years ago (kids, that means no iPhones, Twitter or email), we would process orders for a designer in upstate New York who needed heavy weight sepia toned paper – material he was using to create custom wall treatments and actual wallpaper for select clients. 

The italics are intentional – believe it or not, there were client requests that could not be fulfilled.

Diazo paper is a very inexpensive print medium used primarily for construction plans. Once treated with a specialty coating, it transforms from blueprint to use as a decorative wall print.  Pretty simple, right? We treat the paper, ship it to our friend in New Yawk’ (sorry, couldn’t resist) and the diligent designer gets to work…

In reality, there were more steps involved that went from cheap paper to premium product. He paid a premium price for specialty coated paper, paid again for the images he designed to be printed on it, and then incurred a fee to treat the paper a final time, preserving it as wallpaper.

Are you still with me?

Ultimately, I recall his customers (select customers, that is …) were thrilled with the end result.

Imagine this process today.  Of course, we were happy to bill for the paper!

Write On
So, where are we today in terms of these types of projects?

Inkjet printing on a wide-body machine made large format color images affordable and opened up a whole world of materials, not just wallpaper – light and heavy paper, vinyl, transparent films – and the ability to mount these materials easily to poster or foam core boards.

The variety of materials made experimentation with different graphic applications an attractive option.  An image itself on an inkjet print was somewhat fragile, but prints could be laminated or encapsulated for longer wear.

Now Cushing has equipment that eliminates all of the objections to short run large format graphic production.  We can image directly to rigid or semi-rigid substrates, eliminating the need for the cost of mounting and, in some cases, eliminate laminating as well.

We can custom cut out literally any shape on our digital routing table.  And we now have a latex based printer that will render an image that is smear proof, water proof, and fade proof making it the best possible image for wall coverings.

If you’re that designer in Upstate New York, and you happen to be reading this – can we catch up?

Cathie Cushing Duff

One of the third generation membership owners at Cushing, Cathie has been active in the organization since 1975. A graduate of the University of Toronto (St. Michael’s College) she attended the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Illinois School of Business. A Past President of the North Central Reprographic Association and International Reprographic Association, she has served on the ReproMAX Association and Chicago Family Business Council Boards. When not exploring print and digital communications, her passions are family, knitting and crocheting. Visit Cathie’s Google + profile.

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