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

Workshop extraordinaire

Phew, we had a most creative and ambitious group of students on our introductory screen-printing on textiles workshop last Saturday. Lots of fun and some real successes. The workshops are great for us — we rarely get time to play as much as we like so it’s brill to have six people in a room with us, all pushing screen printing techniques in different directions. It reminds us how versatile the method can be. Here’s a sample of some of the work:

Sometimes the simplest images work best. A balloon made using a paper stencil and a piece of lace
Sometimes the simplest images work best. A balloon made using a paper stencil and a piece of lace.
A gorgeous design, again simple and clean, in a single colour. Not bad for a first try!
A gorgeous design, again simple and clean, in a single colour. Not bad for a first try!
Art for the wall, coordinated with a new kitchen design. Not bad, eh?
Art for the wall, coordinated with a new kitchen design. Not bad, eh?
A tandem, made using two colours, superimposed. Lovely!
A tandem, made using two colours, superimposed. Lovely!
A three colour print, using three separate stencils that all had to be aligned. Told you they were ambitious!
A three colour print on a bag, using three separate stencils that all had to be aligned. Told you they were ambitious!
This was made by combining monotype with stencil techniques. Can't wait to see it framed.
This was made by combining monotype with stencil techniques. Can’t wait to see it framed.

 

 

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!