Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Print Club (Beginners) 10.02.2013

T has always wanted to have a go at screen-printing – in fact this was one of the first conversations we had when we met (having realised we have similar interests and creative backgrounds). I’ve printed before, both at university and then at college on the foundation diploma, however I’ve been looking for a low-tech, cleaner solution, enabling me to print on both paper and fabric at home. Therefore, I booked T and I onto Iain Perry’s (aka Print Garage) PrintClub for beginners, held at Jennifer Collier’s Unit Twelve, for T’s birthday.

We received a warm welcome on a cold, wet Sunday, from both Jennifer and Iain, and he quickly set to work with a demonstration: showing us how to cut paper stencils, with which we would make our prints, (as opposed to exposing screens). Although I’d done this before, Iain’s induction was not only perfect for jogging my memory, but also for picking up alternative tips and tricks. What’s more, his incorporation of a simple yet sturdy print bed, (not something I’d used at college), offers the option to achieve prints of more than one colour, due to the ability to align each colour separation with the previous (registration)– something I’d not known was achievable with this process. Furthermore, Iain removes the cost and the hassle of buying specialist screen-printing inks, by adding a printing medium to acrylic paint (and yes, there is one available for use on fabric too!!!).

Meanwhile, Jennifer was very attentive with plenty of hot drinks (including decaffeinated coffee and earl grey), biscuits and encouragement. Unit Twelve was the perfect workshop space (albeit a little cold), offering everything you could need and more: aprons, umbrellas and inspiration from the gorgeous work of both the artists’ in residence and the regularly changing exhibitions.

Now I don’t want to give much more away regarding the actual process, for I highly recommend you try Iain’s Print Club for yourself, but I thought you might like to see what I achieved…

Upon booking the workshop, we were advised to bring inspiration with us to draw from, therefore I took along photographs, and mementos such as tickets, collected during my trip to New York, five years ago (I’ve been meaning to do something creative with them ever since). I had hopes of producing several different prints during the 6 hours, therefore initially selected to reproduce a graphic of the Empire State building, believing that this, in a single colour, would be a good/simple starting point to reacquaint myself with the process. 

Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

However, upon beginning to draw my design onto newsprint, I quickly realised (as per usual with anything I seem to do) this wasn’t going to be as simple a task as I’d first thought. The lines I needed to cut, were too close together and even if I were to manage it, (unlikely), the stencil would be too fragile to achieve an accurate print.

Stencil/Screen 01
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Iain moved around the room, discussing our ideas with us and providing expert advice based on his experience with the method. He therefore suggested that I separate my image into what would be two or more stencils, allowing space between the design elements and the opportunity to print using multiple colours – something I wouldn’t have thought to do myself.

Unfortunately, printing with a paper stencil doesn’t allow the most accurate/delicate of outcomes, especially where type/letterforms are concerned, but you can create a quirk about your work that’s not so achievable with a light-exposed screen.

Stencil/Screen 02
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Not that you can tell from this photo and despite being a bit nervy, I did venture into the unknown and print with a second colour – all be it grey!
Finished print
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised by the outcome/combination of the two stencils… (excited enough to seek T and squeak at him!). I love the art deco feel to my print. What’s more, the grey alongside the black gives depth to the image, suggesting an optical illusion.

I now look forward/feel able to take what I’ve learnt at Print Club, combine it with my pre-existing knowledge and have a play in the comfort of my own home… with some fabric! (as this process is suitable for printing on both paper and fabric - with the correct medium). This doesn’t mean to say I’m not looking forward to Intermediate Print Club on 10th March; T has also booked himself on to it and we cannot wait! I’m looking forward to the possibilities that exposing a screen will offer in addition to what I’ve learnt here.

You can see the work of the other students who took the beginners workshop (including T’s interabang) here. I particularly like Kate Johnston's pinecone!

To see the work created during previous Print Club events, click here… and then why not sign up for yourself?! (includes a deliciously generous slab of cake…)

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