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…)

Thursday, 21 February 2013

I just popped by...

Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick
to share my excitement, at having won a giveaway from Craftseller magazine, (a great publication containing copyright-free projects and lots of great advice in regards to selling your handmade crafts - the only magazine I actually read from cover to cover!) for a free screen-printing workshop with Iain Perry at Print Garage. I literally never win anything!!! What's more, it's a complete coincidence that I've just completed the basic print club workshop with Iain, held at Jennifer Collier's Unit Twelve (more to come about this...) therefore I was able to book myself straight onto the intermediate follow-up session in a months time - for free! Happy days :-)

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

So much to do-so little time!

You could be forgiven for thinking I’ve been slacking, but this couldn’t be further from the truth! Apologies for not having checked in with you during the last fortnight, (when I’d promised to pop in weekly – I’m not doing very well am I?!) only it’s been all hands on deck these last four weeks, to prepare for T’s best friend’s wedding. Rest assured I have still been crafting – however the creations were somewhat different to the norm!

First of all, I was asked to sculpt some dinosaur wedding cake toppers (odd I know, but it all made sense once I’d heard the readings during the ceremony) from fimo (coloured, oven baked clay) inspired by the work of Jennifer Walker (hence you won’t see these for sale on my website, as I have made them as a one-off gift only, so as not to tread on anyone’s toes) – not something I’ve ever done before, but I was up for the challenge! However I soon regretted showing such willing, as each one took literally hours to perfect (and perfect they had to be, since it was me making them!!), not to mention the frustration involved with sculpting one to look like the other (brideosaurus lost her head at one point…). Non-the-less, I’m really pleased with the outcome, and the bride was delighted with her ‘cake’ (I say cake, but it was actually cheese…) toppers.

Photographs originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick
My second and final creative endeavor in aid of the wedding, was my fascinator. Just where do you buy them?! I looked and looked, but any I found were either the wrong colour, or quite frankly hideous. What’s more I loathe paying for any item I’m capable of making myself. Therefore I took a cheery little trip to Hobbycraft to purchase a comb, a faux purple rose, purple feathers and some tulle, and set to work. This project too, took far longer than I’d expected and I was rather worried that the finished piece was a little on the large side (as I dislike wearing hats/items on my head as it is), but T managed to talk me into wearing it on the day-and what’s more I received many compliments… so it was well worth it.

Photographs originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, (bear with me, I’m still learning-advice welcomed) or you’ve visited my website lately, then you may have seen that one day, during the bad weather, (the first lot) T and I were snowed in; therefore I took the opportunity to put the Christmas presents he lovingly, yet painstakingly hand-crafted for me, to good use. 

(Incorporating not only my love of knitting, but also my love of stars and the colour turquoise, I simply adore my new knitting needles!)
Photographs originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick
Photographs courtesy of Toby Lea
At this point in time, they’re not available to buy online, but snoods can be knit to order in almost any colour of your chosing for £22. Suitable for both men and women they’re made from beautifully variegated, acrylic yarn (for I don’t know about you, but wool brings me out in rash). * End of shameless advertising *
And finally to mention, I’ve received my very first commission! I can’t tell you too much at this point in time, as I promised my client the first peak and what’s more I don’t want to spoil the surprise for the recipient of this gift. Therefore, watch this space…

Once again, thanks for stopping by… I’ve got lots coming up, so be sure to check back for what I hope to be, far more regular updates.

Abby x