A weekend in an Art Gallery and Screen Printing Studio

 

The first day of the workshop was spent at The Hepworth.

There were 8 of us on the workshop. The first day was spent mainly in the galleries getting ideas for our screen print.

Laura Slater was our tutor for the weekend. She is a Lecturer at Leeds College of Art and also has a studio at The Art House in Wakefield. She has recently done a collaboration with John Lewis to do some amazing prints on a limited edition clothing line. Have a look and see what you think:

http://www.lauraslater.co.uk/projects/laura-slater-x-kin-john-lewis/

Laura gave us an exercise to do, where we had to choose a Hepworth sculpture and without taking our pencil off the paper we had to draw the sculpture in three minutes, hence my lovely doodle in the middle picture above. It was a good way to warm up. We also had another exercise which was to draw it without looking at the piece of paper, just looking at the sculpture. It was so hard not to look down at the paper….and no I won’t be sharing that mess with you. We also were given some card to make a drawing of the sculpture by just using scissors and black card in a limited time frame of five minutes. These exercises were to try and get us to look at being less uniform in our drawing and forget our normal drawing habits. It definitely helped to give me more of an idea of how to draw my screen print in a more abstract way.

Laura wanted us to look more at texture and how we’d show that in the picture. So we did some examples using pastel rubbings and sponge prints with watered down paint. We experimented for a bit before I came up with the design above.

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We then had to put one on a transparency and one as paper to see how they’d layer up.

We used two colours so each layer ends up being a different colour. I didn’t want to play as safe as I’d usually do so I went with a teal blue (which technically is my favourite colour) and a mustard yellow for my lighter colour and for contrast. We only needed half of a plastic throw away cup to make up the acrylic paint for each colour. We then added a translucent liquid which is the print medium to fill up the remainder of the plastic cup and stirred it in with the paint. This helps to fix the paint to the material once ironed when the paint is dry.

Laura took our finished ideas back to her studio and photocopied them on to transparencies ready for the next day.

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The next day we prepped our silk screens. We used a green emulsion. You only use a thin film of it, and then scrape off the excess and leave it to be completely dry. Or what we did to speed up the process was to use a hairdryer. A hairdryer came in handy quite a lot with screen printing.

 

Once dry we then put one of your transparencies under the silk screen in the uv dryer. This process means that the uv will go through wherever the image isn’t and cures the emulsion to the screen.

 

After 90 seconds of it being in the dryer, we then put the screen into the screen washing cubicle. We then blasted the screen with a high pressure hose to get rid of any remnants of emulsion, so that it should be see-through where the print has not had the uv penetrate through. We did this process twice so we had two screens each with the two layers to our image.

 

Then with the power of the hairdryer we dried the silk screens down. Then it was time to print. I lay a line of the paint mix across the top of the screen, (working with someone as you  need to have someone holding the screen in place so it doesn’t move), I then dragged it quickly down over the  image, then back up to the top. I did this process more than the three swipes you normally need. Five times was my norm on the reps. It’s all about putting down enough pressure using the squeegee and moving quickly up and down the screen.

 

I found this part difficult especially on the tote bags as you needed to apply more pressure than on the t shirts due to the difference in materials used. Meh, I don’t mind the faded look.

In between printing we had to keep washing down the screens as once the ink dried onto the silk screen you can’t use it again. So it was a good process of print, wash, dry, print, wash, dry. We all got the hang of it quite quickly.

We also had to make sure that the first screen print image was dry on the material before we could put the next one on top, which meant Mr/Mrs hairdryer coming to the rescue to speed up the drying process again.

We were only supposed to come away with one t shirt and one tote bag. I ended up leaving with two t shirts and two tote bags, (due to not buying as many plastic bags in the super market these days the bags will come in handy). I like the way the colours came out in the end with the different ways I ended up layering them.

It was definitely a lot of fun. When your hands are covered in paint you know it’s been a good day. Loved it and would recommend.

You can also book to use the studio so you don’t have to buy all the expensive equipment. It’s a great local resource which I hope to go back to again soon.

If you’d like to find out more information about the screen printing studio here is the link to their website: http://www.the-arthouse.org.uk/studios/printstudio

 

 

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