All week I’ve been making chemical water, thickened paste, mixing dye colours and trialling my dye screen-printing. Today I took a time out from that while my prints are batching and attended another screen printing workshop.
This one day event, run by Cath Derksema of Prints Charming, was a delight after my not-so-great experience a month ago elsewhere. Cath is an experienced printer and designer with a long history in the textiles industry. In the early ’90s she developed “Art Park” a multifaceted design studio designing prints for manufacturers including Seafolly, Billabong, Carla Zampatti, Table 8, Target and Woolworths (the Australian one, not UK). In 2002 she created “Prints Charming” selling into America and now locally through Spotlight.
A few of her currently available designs are featured here. Most of the samples she showed us were large crisp uncluttered images printed onto predyed fabric bases. I was particularly interested in looking at the same design printed in different colourways as per the two pictures above on the left.
The day was aimed at paper stencil cutting and overprinting. We were given white cotton, medium weight, around 1 x 1.5 metre to work on with several small sample pieces for us to use for initial trials.
Cath uses Aquatex fabric colours which come in concentrate form and are mixed with a clear bonder, or you could call it an extender, before use. This picture shows a few of the colours we could use because we had already made our initial choices and taken them to our workstations. There was certainly no shortage and we mixed other variations as we went.
Cath cut a simple stencil and showed us how to apply it to fabric, how to correctly hold the squeegee, how much paint to use, how to get a good clear print and finally how to clean up. Her sample is to the left. I’ve not cropped it so you can see the wonderful array of prints she has happening on her drop cloth. Frankly there were enough ideas on that just to get us going!!
I had taken along some of the images I have been developing in my sketchbook for my assignment. They are fairly straight forward and easy to cut, not too involved for paper stencils and easily repeatable when they are saturated. However, if I were to do this again I would use my plastic paper instead of photocopy paper then I could wash my stencils for reuse because I quite liked them but they are now in the bin of course. Here is the piece I came home with:
I’m extremely happy with what I learned today and the result I got. The print registration was done by eye alone, there was no measuring and I’ve done a set of 6 full repeats plus some partials. The only random part are the pink motifs which have been placed haphazardly where I felt so inclined to put them. This now needs to be heat set before using and I’m thinking of tea dyeing the whole thing afterwards as it seems a bit stark, but we’ll see.
Positives from the day:
- The chance to use yet another type of fabric paint and I’ve found I much prefer this brand to my Derivan ones. They are less ‘plastic’ looking and alter the hand of the fabric to a much lesser degree. I’m told that once they are heat set that reduces even further.
- Still on paint – it was terrific to see how easy it is to mix and ‘dilute’ colours to achieve very different effects.
- An opportunity to see how a professional prints, explore her method and see how that fits with the way I work.
- I learned that this process can be quite quick and fun and less laborious than I have currently been doing. So a change in my own practice will now be made.
- I was delighted to see the different stencil designs from each participant and how they built their surfaces. This has given me food for thought regarding my future work.
Negatives from the day:
- It’s over.