Best school days

I spent a wonderful day at St Sampson’s Infants School this week screen-printing with 70 children and staff on the last day of term. Given the time frame — two hours to do 80 prints with dozens of very small novice printers — the only option was to take a ready prepared screen rather than faff about cutting stencils. We used a photo taken at the PTA barbecue a few days earlier. Here is our print:

Screen printing with St Sampson's Infant School
Screen printing with St Sampson’s Infant School

 

And here’s Iris’s. She’s six and a half and was helped pulling the squeeguee by two of her classmates. Not bad, eh?

An impressive effort for a six year old!
Printed by Iris, age six

A minimalist with young children?

I recently came across a blog (zerowastehome.blogspot.com) about minimalist living. It’s by a Frenchwoman based in San Francisco who has downsized her and her family’s life to the point where they consume only what they need and produce almost no rubbish.

I can’t say my enthusiasm for minimalism has spread (willingly at least) to other family members but I have got rid of all but the most hard-working items in my wardrobe and have re-homed a few carloads of our stuff. I’m enjoying the (relatively) clutter-free result.

My latest project was how to manage the endless reams of paper and craft projects produced by my children without stifling their “creativity” (let’s face it, not that much work went into some of it…). I photographed some of their favourite doodles and screen-printed them onto pieces of cotton sheet (up cycled!) to make two sets of cotton napkins.

Below is the result. The three dinosaurs are by Freddie, who is three and likes to include stomachs in his drawings. Iris drew the others at various points over the past two years.

iris and freddie’s doodles on a cotton napkin – obviously this one could do with an iron

One of my favourite-ever drawings by Iris is of her and Freddie. She was almost four when she drew it. I think she likes to capture extremes of emotion.

iris and freddie by iris, age almost four at the time
iris and freddie by iris, age almost four at the time

This final photo was taken by Iris — in action in the studio! If anyone is interested in the technical details, the images were photoshopped to size,  copied onto acetate, then photoemulsioned onto the screen.

Action printing in the studio, photo by Iris, Freddie at bit restless by this point!
Action printing in the studio, photo by Iris – Freddie a bit restless by this point!

 

 

Open air screen printing workshop in Sark

We are slowly getting our studio back in order after taking our screens and inks to the Sark Folk Festival, and have had some time to go through our photos of the weekend. Whereas at Arts Sunday we were mobbed and could do little more than give people pre-cut stencils, this time we were able to work with people on their own designs. Happily, many adults as well as children decided to give it a go. Here are a few:

Pulling, pulling, steady as she goes
Pulling, pulling, steady as she goes
the big reveal…are you pleased with it girls?
the big reveal…are you pleased with it girls?
I love it!!!
I love it!!!
oooh, you're showing off now!
oooh, you’re showing off now!
Guernsey French translation stall AND screen printers in the same field….inspired!
Guernsey French translation stall AND screen printers in the same field….inspired!
Sreens drying at the Sark Folk Festival
Sreens drying at the Sark Folk Festival
Fab designs by primary school children
Fab designs by primary school children

And after all that hard work, time for cider and a dance:

Morris dancing in Sark with Dora (and v odd hair)
Morris dancing in Sark with Dora (and very odd hair)

Screen printing at Sark school

We are back in the studio after a phenomenally fantastic weekend in Sark. For anyone who doesn’t know it, Sark is a small island with a population of just 600, a 45-minute boat ride from Guernsey. The Sark Folk Festival has been running for three years now and is a small family-friendly, relaxed music festival that brings together folk bands, morris dancers, hirdy girdy players, bag-pipers, lobster catchers, craft makers and now screen printers!

School transport in Sark - there are no cars on the island!
School transport in Sark – there are no cars on the island!

Since we were lugging all of our screens and inks to the festival we decided to offer a workshop to the school as well. There are 34 children at the school between the ages of 4 and 16, taught in three groups. We anticipated a quick two-hour workshop, but a lot of the children decided to design their own stencils rather than use our pre-cut ones so we were there for most of the day.

The combination of small-island life and being taught in mixed age groups seems to make for very independent thinkers and a very supportive group of children.

Sark school pupils preparing screens to print
Sark school pupils preparing screens to print
Some of the younger children printing
Some of the younger children printing

The computer game Minecraft seems to be all the rage in Sark (we’re way too old to know what that is but we were amused when a flipped letter made the slogan “I love Winecraft”) and the ubiquitous One Direction is popular, but there are a lot of original thinkers at Sark school. Have a look at some of their creations:

A few of the finished products drying in the sun
A few of the finished products drying in the sun

And some of the bags already in use:

Bags already in use! (if you want 'horses' on a bag with a Scotty dog who are we to protest?)
Bags already in use! (if you want ‘horses’ on a bag with a Scotty dog who are we to protest?)