Afghanistan Comes to Life with Inkjet Printed Fabric | LexJet Blog

Afghanistan Comes to Life with Inkjet Printed Fabric

Photographic exhibition printed on fabric
Beyond the Mountains: The Interior Life of Afghanistan by Lisa Schnellinger chronicles the everyday life of Afghanistan's people. This exhibition at the Sharptop Arts Association's gallery in Jasper, Ga., features hanging photographic tapestries printed on LexJet Water-Resistant Cloth by John Seibel Photography.

Lisa Schnellinger is a globetrotting journalist and photographer whose engagement in Afghanistan goes far beyond the scope of her work. Schnellinger has become involved in the rebuilding of Afghanistan, founding the Pajhwok Afghan News agency and raising funds to build a girls’ school.

Photographic tapestries for a photo exhibitSchnellinger wanted to tell the story of Afghanistan through photography using an interactive art exhibition as the means to do so. Having seen other exhibitions printed on a silk material, Schnellinger turned to fellow Georgia photographer John Seibel, owner of John Seibel Photography in Dawsonville, Ga.

“I did some regular prints for her prior to this project. I was fascinated with her new project. Lisa told me that for the past ten years she’s had a vision of a show telling the story of the people of Afghanistan from a non-political point of view. She knew I had an Epson 7900 printer and wanted to know if I could print it on silk,” explains Seibel. “I did a lot of research, including at LexJet, and they suggested LexJet Water-Resistant Satin Cloth. One of the nice things about LexJet is that they guarantee satisfaction: if it doesn’t work for your purposes and you send it back within 30 days it’s no harm, no foul. I had never printed on a fabric before, so that was good to know.”

Once the primary print material for the show was chosen, Schnellinger and Seibel worked together to narrow the images down from 100-150 to the 20 or so that would be printed for the exhibition, called Beyond the Mountains: The Interior Life of Afghanistan.

Printing photos on fabric for an exhibition“The goal was to have them produced near life-size and floating in the room so that when people walked through they felt like they were interacting with the people she photographed in Afghanistan,” says Seibel. “We did some test prints on regular luster paper and then strips on the Water-Resistant Satin Cloth. Once we felt like we had the profile and adjustments right, we began printing. LexJet does a great job of producing profiles for their materials, and the profile for the Water-Resistant Satin Cloth was right on the money for my Epson 7900.”

Schellinger designed the layout for the exhibition, which included an audio tour. Attendees could grab an mp3 player with an audio track Schellinger narrated that provided background and stories about the images featured at the exhibition. The combination of hanging fabric tapestries and the audio tour created a dynamic, flowing, interactive and three-dimensional experience.

Photo exhibition about Afghanistan
Lisa Schnellinger, journalist and photographer, who created the exhibition Beyond the Mountains: The Interior Life of Afghanistan.

“The color resolution on the fabric prints came out very nice. You could lay it on the table and it looked good, but it didn’t blow you away until you hung it up in the room and then had the light interacting with the prints,” says Seibel. “I’ve done other prints with Water-Resistant Satin Cloth, including an early morning marina scene. I have it lit from behind and all the light areas in the print just glow. It’s a fantastic medium to print this type of project on. That’s one thing that LexJet does for us; they give us great advice on what products to use for what type project. I’d also like to try LEDs behind it to create the glow artificially.”

Regan has been involved in the sign and wide format digital printing industries for the past two decades as an editor, writer and pundit. With a degree in journalism from the University of Houston, Regan has reported on the full evolution of the inkjet printing industry since the first digital printers began appearing on the scene.


  1. I’ve used the satin cloth and really like the imaging. I really like the idea of hanging images in the midle of the gallery space. Would there be a downside to hanging images back to back to create more of a ‘walk around’ exhibit? Having the plain backs of the suspended images makes the exhibit appear unfinished in a way.

  2. Regan Dickinson

    Hey Jim… John Seibel decided not to hang them back to back, which you certainly can, to take advantage of the ambient light for that subtle glow that you get through the Water-Resistant Satin Cloth. This gave me an idea that perhaps you could hang them back to back and create that glow by placing lights, like LEDs, between the two prints, if you were looking for that effect. Hope that helps, and let me know if you have any questions for John and I’ll send you his email address…

  3. What was used to hang the fabric?

  4. Regan Dickinson

    Hi Kevin,

    John says…

    We used 3/8” Heat & Bond Hem material to create a rod pocket at the top and bottom. The satin fabric handled the ironing process very well with no negative impact on the print.

    In the top rod pocket we put a 1/4” dowel rod that had a small screw eyelet in each end. The dowel rod was cut to be just slightly smaller than the 24” width of the print. Note that the eyelet and the dowel rod ends can be painted white to match the fabric color.

    Into the eyelet we attached small monofilament cut to the length that would position the print at the appropriate height.

    In the bottom rod pocket we inserted a slightly smaller dowel rod (probably 1/8”) for the purpose of adding a slight amount of weight, keep the ends from curling and retain good form in the print shape.

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