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 chance to play in the studio!

By happy coincidence this Saturday we had already (a) tidied up our studio (ahead of a visit by Channel TV…) and (b) finished all of our Christmas orders, which meant we could play with our new vacuum table!

We almost bought an entire studio-full of bargain-price screen printing equipment recently but couldn’t afford to get it shipped over, so our vacuum table is a home-made affair with suction provided by our Henry hoover. Happily Denyse and her son Arthur are very resourceful and despite a lack of any engineering training and heavy pregnancy (in Denyse’s case) seem to manage to produce all of the equipment we need. Next up an exposure unit!

Here are some of the monoprints we produced, using simple stencils and collaging pages of a copy of ‘Les Miserables’ that we rescued from a skip. We often use text by Victor Hugo in our work because of his connection to Guernsey. The prints are embossed with our logo – not necessary but we LOVE our new embosser.

Seagulls over Fort Grey
Seagulls over Fort Grey, an edition of one. £25.
Chickens and Egg
Chickens and Egg, an edition of one. £25
Chickens and Egg, with quote
Chickens and Egg, with quote. An edition of one. £25. Quote reads “The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”

 

If any of you are interested in screen-printing on paper here are some thoughts:

1.     You don’t need a vacuum table to print; we have spent the past year printing without one. But for printing on paper, especially to register a multiple-layer print, it helps as it stops the paper from moving under your screen.

2.    Ink dries a lot quicker on a paper screen than on a fabric screen. Give the fibres of your screen a good soaking before you start printing and sponge off excess water, and flood the screen in between prints or at least any time you need to faff around cutting more paper etc.

Wishing you a very happy Christmas/solstice/Hanukkah/holidays and a fantastic 2014!!!

Screen printing with superwomen

Who knew that Mary and Kate, the two lovely women who joined us for a sedate Saturday morning of screenprinting, would be a former RAF air traffic controller and round-the-world yachtswoman, respectively? No flowery or fluffy motifs on our creations this week. We had boats and jets!

Red Arrow swirls painted directly on to the mesh
Red Arrow swirls painted directly on to the mesh

We covered three techniques all involving indirect stencils (i.e. not using photoemulsion or drawing fluid/screen filler). Some people seem to enjoy the predictability of stencils, while others are much happier creating monoprints by painting directly onto the mesh and then squeegeeing with a bit of extender. Others still gravitate towards the simple resist method of sticking shapes and textures (lace, confetti, feathers, etc) directly onto the textile and then printing over them so that they leave a negative image.

The following few items were made by combining the monoprint and paper stencil methods. Not bad for a morning’s work, eh?

RAF commemorative tea towels and bag
RAF commemorative tea towels and bag
Boats for a new baby!
Boats for a new baby!

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!