Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Holidays ahead and screen printing

Well I have finally finished for the holidays. I had a few reports to 'tidy up' which seemed to take me forever but I now feel that I'm on my holidays and looking forward to taking some me time to catch up with a few friends and get a little bit creative. I was chatting to someone once (they'll remain nameless) who has a very utilitarian view of life and she said that everybody should aim to do a maths degree. I was a little bit shocked especially as we'd been talking about the film 'Shine' with Geoffrey Rush and the creative struggle that David Helfgott had endured. It leads onto my musings about art and design and what they are and the importance of them. At a very cynical level you could argue that art is  unnecessary and in some ways it doesn't perform the same function as registering a company for VAT or writing some school reports  but it's what makes us human, the desire for self-expression, beauty and to design and to create.  They found artwork in the cave paintings of the most primitive of our ancestors, didn't they? And the more you look the more you see design at a basic level everywhere from the design in our clothes to the packaging of our cereal to the more sophisticated aspirational Mac book air that my little Emily covets. It's blinking everywhere. It amazes me whenever I go to the National Gallery in London that people have the tremendous ability that they do but also that you can go and see the most extraordinary art collection in the world for free!! (Actually they suggest a donation which I do give but in theory you aren't obliged to).

A couple of years ago I was trying to think of a present that I might like for Christmas and I decided that I would like to do a workshop in screen printing. It seemed like the perfect present i.e. learning a new skill and let's face it you do get to the point where you have most of the material things you want. So Johnny H bought me a course of six screen printing lessons at Factory Four in Leeds under the guidance of the lovely Gina. They've since rebranded and it's called Inc. Workshop but they still offer courses in screen printing as well as furniture restoration, picture framing and they've even  got a laser cutter which sounds like another potential course at some point.
Here's a picture of the very place and if you live in the Yorkshire area then do have a look at their website; it's a really encouraging place where you can develop any latent ability you have.

Inc. Workshop also offers the opportunity for a really reasonable yearly membership where you can pay hourly to use the facilities.

So I trotted along in a cold January, met some really nice people and learnt how to prepare a screen with photo emulsion; use the light exposure unit to 'burn a screen' i.e. fix an image on the screen; how to use a squeegee and transfer my chosen image onto paper, card and fabric.
And it really is enthralling, fun and life affirming. So much so that I've set up my little shop on folksy (please have a butcher's!! - click the link at the side) and got loads of screens and a few squeegies and a load of gorgeous ink. By the way the cheapest place I've found for ink is
System 3 seems to be the best, cheap isn't always cheerful especially when it comes to acrylic ink. So I treated myself to loads of ink and have a screen printing table that I set up and use the workshop for the light exposure unit. I'd love to have one of these at home but they cost several thousand pounds and we don't have anywhere big enough to store it.

By the way, if you want some tuition then I can heartily recommend the lovely Karen Lewis from Blueberry Park. Karen is a designer maker with a penchant for screen printing. She screen prints her own fabric and makes really gorgeous things from it; e.g pencil cases, pouches, quilts, lampshades, infact anything!! She sells her stuff here

But if that wasn't enough, she also runs workshops on the stencil method of screen printing and how to print on textiles. I thoroughly recommend it.


  1. thanks for such a lovely mention Liz! By the way I have a Maths degree and love galleries...not sure what that says about me ;-)

  2. It shows how accomplished you are, Karen. It was the view that maths is superior to other forms of learning that irked me when I chatted to the person mentioned before.

    Sounds like you're keeping busy?!

    L x