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Scanography: Memories on Display

Updated on January 2, 2011

Scanography: Clothing and Garments

Have you ever decided to rummage through your closet, or perhaps your attic and found a dress, a handkerchief or a bonnet that had a special memory attached to it? Maybe you found the scarf you wore when you had that romantic weekend in Italy! How about your wedding attire? Is it in the plastic wrap, collecting dust in your attic, or crumpled in the back of your closet?

So many memories, trapped in a box. All those little trinkets of nostalgia that are collecting dust. You can't get rid of it, but you're not going to wear it. So you decide to keep it. Unfortunately you put it back exactly where you found it, out of sight, out of mind. If only you could display those memories with others, instead of going down memory lane once or twice a year. What good are memories , if not to share them?

I will be the first to tell you that I have clothes that I can't part with due to sentiment. Special dresses that one of my daughters wore, a shirt from a concert that's been worn out, and that's just to name a couple. Just like you, I'm not going to set up hangers in my home to display every piece of clothing that is special to me! But that does not mean that you can't display the most meaningful souvenirs of your past;

Photo used under Creative Commons License. Photographer:Gonzalez-alba

Scan your garments!

Photo used under Creative Commons. Photographer:chrishayesphotography/a>

We all love to share our memories, and our experiences. That's why people have tons of albums in their home and on their computer. I'm sure that prom dress has a good a story behind it, how about sharing that with your friends and family? Capture that garment through the art of scanography!

You mean take pictures?

Yes! That is exactly it! But we are are not going to go get our digital cameras out, what I need you to do is, go dust off your scanner. Yes, your scanner. They are not only for documents and one dimensional pictures.

I want you to step out side of the box, for a second, and explore the possibility of making wonderful art using that wonderful scanner. Scanning objects gives the subject so much depth and dimension. Working with a three dimensional object is a new and fresh take on digital photography and digital art. Explore it today!

The results will be very satisfying, and the wonderful thing about it is that this is a project where you can involve the rest of your family. In this page, I am going to give you a few pointers on scanning garments.

Scanography is a fairly new concept, explore & make up your own rules. Scan that sock. Love that doily? Let's scan it!

Here are a few pointers you might want to go over if you have never worked with garment scanography, or scanography in general, With plenty of experimentation and creativity, you are sure to find your own style, and have tons of fun with it.

If you decide that you want to scan a special garment, or piece of fabric, for the first time, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind:

You'll need a scanner - (of course)

This model is just like the one I've been using lately, I have found it to be very accommodating to my scanning needs. The bed size is not very big (Legal sized) but I usually don't need much more than that.

HP Deskjet F4480 Inkjet All-in-One Printer (CB745A#B1H)
HP Deskjet F4480 Inkjet All-in-One Printer (CB745A#B1H)

The best thing about this scanner (besides the price! Under $60) is that it's an eco-friendly all in one printer!


Before you scan

Clean your scanner bed. Unless you want a cloudy capture, this is very important, scanners produce very sharp images and any dust will most likely appear. Unless that is the desired effect, cleaning it thoroughly is good practice.

DPI Your scanner's DPI is important when it comes to the type of print you are planning on producing. 300 DPI is usually good, unless your looking to enlarge it over 5"x7", Just remember, higher DPI means a longer wait for the image to be scanned. Test your scanner settings, and see what is best for you.

Take into consideration the fabric you will be using.

For example a red satin top will be a lot more reflective than a black cotton t-shirt. If you are going to scan a garment that is lace -like, or opaque, make sure that you have a contrasting backdrop. Velvet or other dark fabrics may may need to be brushed off with a lint brush. You can also take off particles or debris with a couple of pieces of tape, just lay the tape out, press against the fabric, and strip! Like a painless wax job!

Photogenic Fabrics - They are "dyeing' to be featured

Here are some fabrics that are always fun to work with when scanning. Lace, Taffeta, Tulle, Satin, you can use these over and over!

Ready, Set, Scan!

Enough with the pressure!

When you scan a garment for artwork, it may not always be desirable to completely press the clothing against the scanner.

image created by Sacredcyn

This scan was made with my daughters tutu, and a pair of her favorite ballerina slippers. When I first started to experiment with this, I had a hard time getting the skirt to look nice, I put it on its side. I spread it out. Until finally I just gathered it and scanned it at the bottom. See how the scanner captured the ruffles and the softness of the skirt?

You may want a flat scan if your looking to create a one dimensional copy of a t-shirt design, or something similar. However if you a 2D image, you'll want to leave pockets for lighting, and shadows. This is what ultimately makes your image two dimensional.While you might not want to completely flatten your image, a little weight is desirable,whatever is pressed closest to the glass gets more definition, this is a good experimentation opportunity. If you want to apply even pressure on your images, use a light pillow, or bath towel, if you want I will put a little weight on a certain area, then use a smaller, perhaps heavier object. Try different methods, and see what you come up with!

Background Check

Remember that you want your subjects to show, and to stand out. Pick a contrasting, backdrop, or something that compliments your pallet. Once you have chosen your backdrop, cover the whole thing with a darker garment, that way light does not escape from the scanner, and unwanted light does not go in. (unless you find a cool technique with letting light in/out)

Customize it!

So you've scanned your first masterpiece. Don't be afraid to edit. Now customize, customize, customize! The beauty of creating your own artwork is just that. You can put a date on the corner of the picture, or if you are more experienced with photo editing, you can adjust the contrast, colorize, anything your little heart desires. Even though the scanner picks color up brilliantly, and provide crisp sharp edges, this may just be a platform for something greater! Cut, splice, art media, erase, this is your canvas, so create!

In order to edit your pictures, you'll need photo editing software. If you are a beginner with editing tools, and don't want to spend money at this point try your hand at a free online editig tool

Aviary Tools

Once you feel you are ready for a program for your system,I recommend the following:

From the Scanner to the Wall

Buy the print with a frame!

I then used Paint Shop Pro to enhance the contrast.Using the art media tools, (Pallet knife & Oil brush) I created this portrait to look more like a painting. My one year old's favorite clothing will now always be a part of the household decor.

Fleeing Fairy : sacredyn
Fleeing Fairy : sacredyn

Scan Everything!

Chances are, you won't be able to scan the entire wedding dress, but even the smallest detail from the garment can be your area of focus. This is much more than just taking a picture, your putting together a story. Pick out what is unique about the garment, what part of it brings you back? For example a flower on a dress, a tear in a pocket, or a stain of red wine on a glove. See what I mean? You are the narrator, manipulate the story you want to tell.

Be diverse, and have fun with variety, don't limit yourself to just scanning one thing.. make a collage, get creative. Props are all around you! Express yourself, this is all you, and what you want to share! Think, digital scrap booking.

Actually, when I did this piece every element was scanned individually and pieced together with Photoshop, however , this is the collage point I want to make..

Your Story

Every artist's mind is a world of it's own

What do you have to bring to the table. Tell your story. Why did you keep that scrunchy? What makes that hankerchief so special. This is your chance! Don't let your memories collect dust in the closet, because a picture in fact is worth a thousand words.

Is there a special garment that you would like to try this type of art on?

Scanning Garments - What do you think about scanning clothes?

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    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Have never come across something like this, so I find this lens unique and I'm impressed by your work. Happy New Year! **Blessed by a Squid-Angel**

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 

      8 years ago from Scotland

      An amazing idea, so creative!

    • KarenTBTEN profile image


      8 years ago

      A creative and useful concept. I have done some scanning along these lines (but not as well). Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • Addy Bell profile image

      Addy Bell 

      8 years ago

      I started scanning garments last summer when I started to build my web site. I got some really awesome textures, especially from a marbled silk wrap I had. Then my scanner broke :(

      But if you're reading this, and you're on the fence about whether to try scanning garments, don't hesitate! It's a lot of fun, and the creative possibilities are endless.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wonderful spinoff from your original scanography lens. Your creations are exsquisite! I am going to try this one of these days!

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 

      8 years ago

      Quite beautiful! I would have never thought to do something like this, but now I am going to be scanning away!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I love the creativity you have shown here with explaining the scanography of clothes and garments. Ringing my little Squid Angel bell with a blessing.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      8 years ago from UK

      You know I love this one! Featuring tomorrow (6 Sept) on Squidoo Lens Reviews. Feel free to stop by and claim a badge that you can display on this lens, if you wish!

    • delia-delia profile image


      8 years ago

      what a great lens and artistic talent! This is a great lens and I agree with prosperity66 (aka Dom) this deserves a ~"Squid Angel Blessing"~

    • SacredCynWear profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @indigoj: Thank you so much for your blessing! I will add you to my Blessed Cyn Lens too.. I'm glad you liked it.. let me know if you try this!!

    • SacredCynWear profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @justholidays: There is so much you can do with scan art! I've found it to be so diverse, it can be beautifully technical, to extremely soft and romantic.. for example, one day I'm doing a piece on wires, and the other, a piece on a ballerina..

    • justholidays profile image


      8 years ago

      Seems that scanning our own stuff is clever art making idea! Love this lens and wonder why this hasn't been blessed yet as it does deserve at least a blessing!

    • SacredCynWear profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @WildFacesGallery: Thank you very much! I appreciate the input. Hopefully you try it out, and share~!

    • SacredCynWear profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @anonymous: Your quite welcom. Have fun with Photoshop! If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Hopefully you will experiment with this, It is so much fun!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I really enjoyed this article. I will put this on my list of things to do soon, Just yesterday I upgraded my PhotoShop from CS2 all the way to CS5. So will need to spend some time catching up. But this is a great article. Thanks for sharing.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      8 years ago from Iowa

      This was terribly interesting. Your work is quite beautiful. Very nicely done!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      8 years ago from UK

      This is such a fantastic idea, very original, and I love the results. It makes impressive photo art. I'm definitely going to try this!

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      8 years ago from California

      Never thought to use my scanner for things like this, but I can see the possibilities :) I liked your prints you made by scanning your treasures.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      8 years ago from California

      @Rachel Field: Hey there Rachel...funny seeing you here, but then again you are the creative one with textiles :)

    • SacredCynWear profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @Rachel Field: Thank you dear! It truly is fun as well. I've found that some of my favorite images come from things I've scanned

    • Rachel Field profile image

      Rachel Field 

      8 years ago

      I love this idea! And what fabulous images you've made!

      I'm a big fan of the scanner - you get some really interesting effects :)


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