Friday, 19 December 2014

box set 2014

I was happy to take part recently in the East London Printmakers' Box Set 2014 - where 30 or so members each make about 40 limited edition prints then distribute them in boxes and each have a set of prints by each artist who took part. There are no constraints of medium (as long as it's print) or subject, only the size of the paper - about 30 x 30 cm.

I took part in a half-studio and half-handmade printing way - I exposed a screen with images for my screen print in the studio, as I don't have an exposure unit at home, but then printed it at home using the screen in some clamps I had previously fixed onto a wallpaper pasting table...

One of the images I had taken to the studio (my print had 4 layers) didn't expose properly, so I did have to make that design by hand on the screen as well - painting it with drawing fluid and screen filler.

I don't usually print 40 pictures at a time, and I don't have a drying rack, so to dry the prints looked like this:

Every surface in my living room was covered with prints. I had to keep the cats and my son out of the area for the duration of the printing session!


...and prints...

...and more prints...

This is what the completed print looks like... I call it 'Green Birds.'

Friday, 31 October 2014

lino prints and stencil prints

In the last 2 weeks, in the fabric printing community class I teach, the students have been making lino prints...

and stencil prints...

Sunday, 5 October 2014

potato prints

Students in a fabric printing class I'm teaching started the term by making potato prints last week...

...these prints were made on paper with fabric ink (it's cheaper to experiment on paper than fabric), but potato prints can make effective block prints on fabric.

Friday, 26 September 2014

registering prints

I have an old two-colour lino block which I use to make a print I call 'berries.'

I've always found it hard to register the two colours when printing (to get the second layer to fit in the right place on top of the first colour) although the two pieces of lino are similar shapes. So I tried gluing the lino blocks onto pieces of wood the same size, and putting a pencil dot at the corner of the block (on the fabric) each time I printed, to try and line up the second block in exactly the right place on top of where the first had printed. But that didn't work - the two prints were often still offset.

So I decided to make up a screen with the same design, to see if that was easier to register...

I made two screens on mesh stretched in embroidery hoops, and painted with screen drawing fluid then coated with screen filler. When they were dry, I washed out the drawing fluid under the tap.

Then I printed the first layer using fabric paint and a plastic card to spread the ink. That printed fine.

Then the second layer, placing the outlines of the berry shapes by eye on top of the blue dots of the berries, by looking through the holes in the screen and wiping the screen with a cloth in-between each print.

It did work. The outlines of the berries are a bit thick - this was ok in the lino prints but looks a bit crude somehow with the screen print. I could paint the second design on a screen again, with a finer paintbrush, but at least this way I was able to register the outline (pink) on top of the blob-shaped berries (blue).

Friday, 19 September 2014

meditation and art

In 2012 I made this small print, 'body scan':

It's about how meditation anchors me.

I think meditation is helpful in life and art. I try to meditate every morning (but don't always succeed!). I like to meditate either on developing compassion or noticing the breath, and sometimes just a grounding body scan meditation where I focus my attention on my body and its connection to the earth, its weight on the ground.

It's relaxing and it increases my awareness. Part of making art is noticing and recording experiences and feelings, so increased awareness helps with this. Also, for me, art is transformative. When I express the thing that I'm trying to say through art, I can move on from that subject, in a developmental way.

Meditation or mindfulness and art are very much linked for me.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

some things I made this week

Banana and walnut cake (nearly all eaten in this photo!)...

Shell block-print make-up pouch...

 Knitting some grey cardigan and small blue mobile phone pouch...

Friday, 5 September 2014

block print tunic

I made a tunic dress/top at the weekend, with the help of my mother-in-law. I used some nice Indian block printed fabric that I bought a while ago at a great shop on Broadway Market called Our Patterned Hand. I checked their website and found that sadly they have since closed down.

I wanted to copy a tunic top that I already have, so drew around the outside of the existing tunic and made a copy out of an old bed sheet, to check that it would turn out alright. It looked ok, so we didn't bother to sew up the practice fabric, but traced it straight onto the block printed fabric that I wanted to use, and cut out the pieces.
We had to measure and guess a bit with the sleeves, as I didn't want to unpick the tunic I already have.

After a bit of sewing (and a lot of help with this from my mother-in-law), here is the finished tunic:

I'm really happy with the outcome as I like to wear long tops over jeans, and would like to make some more of these, perhaps out of fabric that I block print myself.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

wood block printing workshop with Sarah Lawton

In July I went to a wood block printing workshop taught by artist-in-residence at East London Printmakers, Sarah Lawton.

Sarah had spent some time in Gujarat state in India, working on a collaborative project with local artisans (block print and embroidery) during an artist's residency. She shared some information about this experience and its outcomes - one outcome was an artist's book Sarah had made called A New Manifesto Ten Indian Insights and another was some garments that Sarah had block printed.

The first thing we did in the workshop was do some block printing on fabric using textile ink and blocks that Sarah had had made in India.

Then Sarah demonstrated carving plywood using Japanese woodcut tools, and the workshop participants each drew their own design on a piece of plywood and cut it out.

I printed my design of birds flocking, onto a piece of cloth. I didn't love the print, but I didn't come with a specific design in mind, this was just an image I had been thinking about so I could develop it more to make a better print. Also I found the plywood difficult to carve as I mostly just use lino when I do block printing. Lino cuts in all directions easily but with wood you have to follow the grain, especially with plywood - or it splinters.

During the workshop we also made a collaborative print on paper using Sarah's Indian wood blocks and gouache paints:

I found the workshop very interesting. Particularly hearing about Sarah's collaborative artistic practice and seeing some natural dyes which Sarah had brought back from India, which she said should work alright as printing pigments if mixed with a medium for textile printing. I love the idea of doing the whole printing process using organic sustainable materials such as natural dyes and wood (although lino is easier for me to carve). I've never tried mixing plant dyes with textile binder but I'd like to.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

festival t-shirt printing workshop

Three weeks ago I taught a t-shirt printing workshop for children at the Blythe Hill Fields festival in South East London.

It was a good day.  I was in a crafts tent in the middle of the fields, with a great view down to Canary Wharf:

I started off using my embroidery hoop screens plus stencils - some made by me, and some from "Stencil 101" by Ed Roth and a Dover book of dinosaur stencils.
The children could choose a stencil, a selection of which I had taped to the back of the tent, and a colour of fabric paint, and they put a piece of newspaper inside a t-shirt and placed their stencil on the t-shirt where they wanted to print it. Then they used a plastic card to spread fabric paint over the embroidery hoop screen with the stencil underneath, and lifted up the hoop and stencil to reveal the print. Some children wanted to add hand-painted effects with a brush as well, which added a nice individual creative if messy element to the t-shirts.
Then, when it got busier, which it did particularly when it started to rain and everyone came into the various tents in the festival to shelter, I didn't have time to wash up the hoop screens and just gave out the stencils with brushes and fabric paint.

The children who participated made some great t-shirts and it was a fun day.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

lichen curtains

I finally finished making the lichen fabric that I printed last year into curtains...

I deliberated over making them into curtains, as I'd started the print on grey linen but hadn't realised the linen was a remnant at the fabric shop where I bought it, and they didn't have enough left when I returned for me to make curtains.

However when we got a sofa that was more black than grey I decided the the print I had done on a second, darker fabric I had bought (denim) matched the new sofa well, so used it after all.

My mother-in-law did a lot of the sewing for me, as I'd never made lined curtains before, and she measured and attached the lining.  It then took me a while to get around to finishing them by hemming the curtains and lining, and attaching the curtain tape. But it wasn't too difficult in the end (just big, when you're used to only sewing small things like pouches and bags).

They're not perfect (my part of the sewing anyway! my mother-in-law's sewing together of the lining and curtain material was great), but now they're up in our living room and it's nice to see my print in use as curtains, similar to how I envisaged it.

So, in conclusion - if you print onto fabric, I'd recommend you to make your own curtains out of printed fabric, and I found a useful video on youtube which helped me to finish sewing them.

Friday, 16 May 2014

handmade screenprinting workshop

Last month I taught a workshop on handmade screenprinting in Peebles, near Edinburgh.

Firstly the workshop participants cut out paper stencils based on previous sketches they had made and printed these onto fabric, using screen mesh stretched in an embroidery hoop as a screen and printing with fabric paint:

Then participants prepared second screens using drawing fluid and screen filler stencils, and printed these as a second layer on their textile prints:

Some more prints:

...and more:

...and a selection of the final prints laid out on a table:

The aim was for participants to try out handmade screenprinting, and to make the base for a textile artwork that could be added to with embroidery or worked on further if the artist wishes.

The workshop participants came mostly from the Peebles Creative Space art group which meets regularly with their teacher, artist Claire Blyth.  They all worked hard throughout the workshop and I think they made a variety of beautiful and original textile prints.