Thursday, 8 April 2010

Silkscreen Printing

Late yesterday afternoon my combi-boiler finally started to co-operate, not without a great deal of resistance right up to the end of the six days that I was without central heating and hot water. At about the same time, the weather changed dramatically for the better and today has been a beautiful, almost hot day. But with the clear skies, the evenings and nights are decidely chilly so I'm glad to have my heating system fully functional again, not to mention the instant hot water.

At the point on Friday morning when I was wondering what to do for the best about my boiler, I received my first ever request through Zazzle for some customisation - a lady in the US wanting me to make that sweet pea design that I used for my bookmark into invitations for her wedding. So in between the phonecalls to plumbers and visits from heating engineers, emails were flying back and forth as we gradually worked out between us how to fit the sweet pea image around the text of the invitation. We finally 'got there' on Tuesday afternoon and now I'm anxiously waiting to hear how the invitations turned out.

While I was about it, I decided to make some more general wedding invitations (see flash panel at the foot of this page) and other products, such as this ringer mug, which has space for the customer to add text around the top, just below the rim -

And I also managed to dig out and scan an old photo of the roller blind which I made from the fabric I'd screenprinted about 20 years ago, using the original design -
You can just about see that the sweet peas were either blue or pink, not both together as in the watercolour painting that I've been using recently. (and you can also just about see our long-deceased 'Dougal' dog trying to decide whether to go out into the garden - or not!) Fortunately after a lot of ferreting around, I discovered that I had kept the tracing of the sweet peas all that time!

I actually really enjoy screenprinting! I think what appeals to me is that you can change the colours and thereby change the whole look of the thing without having to go back to square one - and it's a medium that gives rise to a lot of 'happy accidents'.

The screenprinting class I joined at the Adult Education Centre in Norwich, Wensum Lodge, was known as the 'therapy class' because almost every week, someone would arrive with some sort of crisis going on and we would all talk it through whilst we were mixing our inks or to-ing and fro-ing with the squeegees and it invariably seemed to help.

But I discovered screenprinting somewhat accidentally! One winter half-term holiday when my two younger children were about 6 and 10 years old, I bought a small screenprinting kit to keep them amused as the weather was bad. They had a lot of fun with the kit for about a day and then moved on to something else. I, however, was hooked!

So I joined an Adult Education class in Sevenoaks, near where we were living at that time. But it was a mixed beginners and 'experienced' class and we found that the 'newbies' got very little attention. That first term we were supposed to produce a Christmas card but not until we had learnt to make a screen from scratch, which took up several weeks. That, by the way, introduced me to using a power jigsaw, something I've been grateful for in later years when I've bought old and decrepit houses to 'do up'!

Unfortunately, the lack of attention from the teacher meant that most of the new students didn't get a Christmas card finished by the end of the Autumn term. But as I had already picked up the basics through the children's kit and because I was very motivated to work at home in between classes, I just managed to complete mine. It was pretty awful as far as the colours were concerned but I've since used the basic design to print at home in other colours and more recently used it again for a gold and silver gouache Christmas Card design -

Which reminds me, I ought to start thinking about the bi-lingual Christmas cards for our local newsagent....