Introduction to Screen-Printing on Fabrics

History and Process

Screen printing is one of the most popular printing methods we use to create custom designs, patterns, and logos on clothing. The process of Screen printing involves a fine mesh “screen” that is stretched around a frame. The areas that masked out on the screen are not printed. We used the photo-emulsion screen printing process, which is great for printing text or images with fine detail. To create the print, we took a black picture that we drew on the translucent Mark resit paper, place it against the screen, and then expose the screen to UV light. The light causes the emulsion to harden and bind to the mesh. It was explained that where the light strikes the screen, the emulsion will bind, making a solid layer. Where the light is blocked (black image) the emulsion remains water-soluble.

My drawn image on the mark resist paper. I used Posca pen which is an acrylic paint ball pen. As you can see from the photo, I had difficulty with anticipating the drying time and cause smudges which had to be sanded away.

After exposing the screen, we spray down the screen with water, washing off the emulsion. Where black of the image was is a clear area is where the ink will be pressed through the screen. The framed screen is positioned over the item to be printed, along with a spoonful of thick ink. A squeegee is then used to press the ink through the screen. The masked areas prevent ink from passing through, but the unmasked areas allow the ink onto the material. I didn’t have any issues up to this point having done Screen print at University of Worcester however id never done fabrics, technical issues around “pinning out” the t-shirt and dealing with coarser, denser fabric than cotton was new learning for me. Pins needed to be flat to the print bed surface so not to damage the fine mesh of the screens nor catch the track of the squeegee passing the pint through. The main technique was to pin the fabric at a sharply acute angle and Masking tape over the pins seeming to be the best way to ensure no damage to the mesh in the screen. Also finding an even pressure using the squeegee one-handed was an issue for me. I discovered I was better left-handed in this process.

Above is my design printed on to paper in mustard colour and on cotton blend in blue. Both pieces have come through the screen with most of the detail still intact. In parts of my border and halo, my line was not dense enough, and the UV light was so intense as to burn through the resisting area. The composition has worked well, and I felt comfortable mimicking the romantic 19th-century ladies and Morris’ flora style. When thinking on possible additional elements during the design stage, I opted to leave the flower head the lady is admiring missing. I plan to use digital embroidery to make the flower head, thus incorporating a modern process with a more traditional. My reasoning was to reflect on the struggles Morris felt about the industrial influence of his ere upon the textile production at that time.

Artist influence

Having been at Birmingham Art Gallery and Musume the day before I was keen to bring some of the William Morris designs, I’d looked at into the print.

[Photographs of Morris’s ‘Honeysuckle’ 1881 I took on my visit to Birmingham art gallery] Morris’s original design for ‘Honeysuckle’ hangs in Birmingham’s art galley. This design became a set of linens sold in the shop on Oxford Street in 1800’s after Edward Burne-Jones insisted on have the print for his own home.

William Morris was a famous 19th-century designer notably recognised for his nature-inspired wallpapers. My interest in his work leans more to his collection of book designs. Morris also produced tapestries, tiles and textiles with an expressed love of hand-produced items and a craft-based artistic community.

“A key figure in the Arts & Crafts Movement, Morris championed a principle of handmade production that didn’t chime with the Victorian era’s focus on industrial ‘progress’.” (V&A, 2019)

Despite never needing to earn a wage due to the inheritance of the large Woodford hall family estate in Essex, Morris was a hardworking and prolific.

In 1875 Morris became sole director of the renamed and restructured Morris & Company. Over the next decade, he continued to design at an impressive rate, adding at least 32 printed fabrics, 23 woven fabrics and 21 wallpapers – as well as more designs for carpets and rugs, embroidery and tapestry – to the company’s range of goods.”  (V&A 2019)

Much of Morris’s childhood was spent exploring local parkland and forest his love of nature always apparent in almost all his work. Also, at an early age, he showed a passion for the church, including its architecture, something he would later explore as a career. Morris went to Oxford University to study for the Church. It was there that he met Edward Burne-Jones, who was to become one of the era’s most famous painters, and Morris’s life-long friend.

A lesser know influence that was consistent, but didn’t become his passion until later in life was his love of fantasy. As a young man, Morris was enamoured by the writings of the Scottish fantasy author Walter Scott. Rumoured to be his favourite of Scott’s work was the Lady of the Lake, a poem published in 1810.

In 1891 Morris was offered the Poet Laureateship after the death of Tennyson, remarkably he turned it down. Instead, Morris chose to set up the Kelmscott Press. The books the Press produced only totalled 66 before Morris’s death in 1896. The appeal was these books were beautiful and prized. Printed and bound in a medieval style, with Morris having designed their typefaces, initial letters and borders it is not hard to see why. Ever since I was lucky enough to see The Book of Kells, a precious 9th-century manuscript, at Trinity College Dublin in 2018, I have been influenced to make better use of framing devices for the text in my work. The Book of Kells is an exquisite combination of ornate Latin text and intricate illuminations. One of the world’s most famous medieval manuscript and the images are rich symbolism worked into the layouts and subject matter. Morris too made translations of ancient and medieval texts, but his love was poetry. ‘The Wood Beyond the World’ a fantasy story by Morris is considered to have heavily influenced C. S. Lewis’ ‘Narnia’ series, while J. R. R. Tolkien is said to be inspired by Morris’s reconstructions of early Germanic life in ‘The House of the Wolfings’ and ‘The Roots of the Mountains’. (Scull and Hammond, 2006.) All three authours are writers who heavily influence my writing of Young Adult fantasy, but Morris in particular also affects my ideas of illustrating for the Young Adult genre.

Above is the more famous of Morris’ Kelmscott Press published books.  An illustrated edition of the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, which was published in 1896, a few months before Morris’s death. (item C.43.h.19. at British Library)

How do the works and artist fit into the development of my project?

“I began printing books with the hope of producing some, which would have a definite claim to beauty.” Morris, W. A Note by William Morris on His Aims in Founding the Kelmscott Press. (Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1898)

This direct quote from Morris directed my A’level work back in 2000. I knew soon after I completed my studies that art was my way to contribute to society in a meaningful way. I had/have to work extremely hard at academic studies; it is not a natural learn way of thinking for me. Having great artist, their works and dedications in life to follow and guide gives me a way to talk passionately and communicate why my artwork is so important to my place in the world. As dramatic as it sounds, I do risk a lot in pursuing my goal at a writer and illustrator. Morris didn’t have to fight or peruse the quality of production and beauty he achieved; he could have had a more comfortable life. He chose to give everything he could of himself to not only his work but also the defence of handcrafted and traditional skills. 19-century had its fight with the industrial period, and some skills have been lost forever; currently, we can view the digital and computer-controlled elements as a threat or as Morris did eventually, learn to incorporate them into techniques as a support, not as a replacement to the traditional.

Moving forward I want to keep that beautiful and traditional protected both in the aspect of print techniques and process, also concerning stories and folk tales. Print can be lengthy in the process to get an image; images for children’s books and technical manuals are more commonly digital now. In advertising digital and photography is king. The traditional print is still valued for its quality and tactile nature. Individual prints methods have had a comeback as I found in letterpress. I will try to explore if it is a possibility that other print methods are back into fashion in children’s illustration; a sort of revised Golden Age of Illustration that the book publishing 19th century benefited from the industrial revolution. Might we get to see more engraving techniques? More Morris’ illuminations, Lear’s lithography and Rackham’s watercolour and ink?

Listening to Alexis Deacon

Listening to Alexis Deacon

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born in New York this award-winning illustrator and writer loves storytelling

“I always knew I was going to be in illustrator because sharing and trying to communicate was so important to me. understanding of the stories help us to do that”

Alexis’s number one tip for writers: “start as close to the end as possible”

Alexis read some of his stories to us and took us on a very cleaver memory trail which turn out to be completely made up. Why? To teach us in his own words… “imagination and forgotten memories, like my best friend being a chocolate rabbit are boundless sources of stories and images.” Alexis encourages us to live our imagination out and play with our own imaginary friends in our heads

We transport imagination through line drawing and image making.  “make it as real to you as you can and thoughts can be shared. draw and draw all your life children do this without being told as we get older we stop drawing and stop imagining but true illustrators don’t, so keep going nothing you do is a waste.”

Alexis went to art college at Brighton he found it hard to make drawings for other people thus he tells us his first book – monster zoo- was a big learning curve.

Watching a couple of Slow Norris’s one day gave him great pleasure and started his imagination going. “the two were just wondering towards each other down the same rope. They met in the middle had a staring contest, they both made a face and went the other way. This one moment inspired my first published book – Slow Norris” Alexis advise us to take moment like these and let your imagination go wild if you find it entertaining the chances are it will engage your reader too.

What is illustration? He asked us then answered “It is universal communication. The face is universal and universally understood. looking at the face we filter out other things and we see just the expression we only need simple values to tell this story. we are hardwired to understand expression from an early age. You need to keep that in your mind when you produce your character’s form on to the page.  just like the face gestures transporter and give us information too. Learn to love gestures as the context is strong. this gives you a good story and an expansive narrative from these simple ingredients of image.”

Alexis closing advise to us who are studying illustration this year – “By illustrating you give your story to someone else so you need to leave enough space for the reader to imagine too”

  
 

The Well; An Artist Date

  
As any working or struggling creative person knows some days we are all out of inspiration. Maybe it’s writers block or as my best friend calls it “brain paralysis moments” but you just look at your work and think I’ve done this before. I have no original ideas left?
Well then you must be well overdue for an Artist Date. 
Julia Cameron author of the Well says we have “simply overfished our inner reservoir without having taken the time and care to consciously restock our storehouse of images” so what should we do Julia?
You need to take time to romance your subconscious artist. You need to go on a date!
“Put simply an artist date is a once-weekly solitary expedition to something festive that interests us… This is something that requires you and your inner artist to spend time alone… One of the mysteries of the creative life is the fact that an investment of interest in column A – let’s say listening to a great piece of music or a trip to the aquarium. Will pay off obliquely in column B – setting pen to paper ” or in our case life behind a lens or at the drawing board.
Julia goes on to tell us more about the wonderful effects and avoiding the resistance we might feel, because at not time will we feel less like taking a break in production than when all is going well and we have a great flow of work.
So here is the task I’m taking on : for the next year I will take one day a week for a minimum of four hours on an Artist Date. Like a dedicated marital artist I will limber up my brain and see if the payoff is in the creative fight.
Lens at dawn Cowboys!

Exhibit 

had a very successful opening week. I was honoured to be part of an excellent group of artists. Some fantastic portraits by Anna, Natarlia and Daysie. I was truly in awe of their hard work and dedication.

Well done to all who took part the standards were so high.

 

Me by my own images for selection.

  

  

  

Pushing the Envelope @ Hereford College

The first ever postage stamp, The Penny Black, was issued on 6th May 1840. To celebrate this landmark, Hereford College of Arts joined forces with House of Illustration and Hay Festival to host a programme of exhibitions, workshops and a symposium of talks from acclaimed commissioners, archivists and practitioners.

A showcase of work commissioned exclusively from a selected and invited international group of professional illustrators. Each practitioner has been asked to personally respond to this landmark anniversary by decorating and embellishing an envelope. This unique collection of new work will celebrate the art of postal communication and can be seen at Hereford College of Arts College Road Campus, until the 1st of May

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Amanda

Amanda Blake: our tutor meeting her hero; DAVID GENTLEMAN

Speakers at the symposium included DAVID GENTLEMAN:  illustrator, author, designer, lithographer and wood engraver. Designer of many of the UK’s most enduring stamp designs and BRIAN WEBB: Co-founder of award winning design group Trickett & Webb. Brian is also a Designer of postage stamps and biographer of David Gentleman.

We were so luck to be able to speak to both at the end in the viewing of the exhibition.

Tara Books visits Worcesters Hive

Tom and I were fortunate to get an invitation to join Worcester universities Illustration students in meeting an inspiring woman named Gita Wolf. Tara books was set up in 1994 its founder Gita Wolf has been traveling around Europe to raise awareness of the project.

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Avid supporters of the children’s library at Worcestershire Hive will know how the university’s English and illustration departments are keen to bring a wide range of new and attractive projects to young people in the area. This new project comes to us from India. Gita is a publisher who goes out into the rural and small towns in India to seek out artist and cultural stories. Her aim is to exchange these for education and money for the artist and the town or village they live in. Gita herself was born in India and then moved to Germany to study retuning to India to begin this new project. Artist and stories are not the only part of this bold project. Tara Books is also an environmentally sourced project and supports local business and training in hand published books with in central India. Part of the fair trade organisation with 25 artisans they produce 3,000 books at a time screen printed and bound by hand.  That’s a 110 screen prints made a day; every page is screen printed including the words and cover art. 

 Talking to Gita you get a real feel for the love and passion in this project. “It’s not just by vision anymore its organic. The artist and community take it up and really infuse their traditional and imaginative energy into each part. We know we are a publishers who straggle two worlds and we love to share the benefits and diversity with both. We are honoured to enable creative voices to be heard. Independent publishing really helps to encourage diversity and awareness in communities.

Our stories are for all walks of life and we love tactile materials. It really matters to us the sense of craftsmanship and quality of production we want some focus to come back to that in today’s industry. There is room for both the digital and the handmade; I myself own an tablet for reading and writing but I truly value what I can hold in my hand. What it feels and smells like a sense that it has be touched by its creator and their own personal spirit is in it.” – Gita Wolf 2015

 

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Alessandra Marie: Artist 

Originally from Seattle, Washington, Alessandra attended the Pratt Institute where she graduated in 2012 but remaining in New York where she currently lives and works.  It’s been a pleasure to see her style evolve and to see her art embraced into the eyes of countless viewers and I’ve always wanted to sit down and talk to her about all of it. She has gained a lot of recognition though interview, blogs and social media which I guess is a sign of the times.

All her works are with coffee stain, ink and pencil then Alessandra adds gold leaf details. This creates these wonderful dreamy pieces with an almost art nouveau feel I think.

  

My favourite interview answer when asked about her work :

Alessandra: Well – I don’t work with color! It’ll start to come in eventually (in certain areas), but my mind doesn’t work like a painters’ does. I see and compose work in terms of pattern, as opposed to light.. At first I perceived it as a serious disadvantage, but now I’ve found that it enables me to overcome some obstacles in interesting ways. It goes back to that Picasso quote, “If you have five elements available, use only four. If you have four elements, use three.” You can’t keep the intention of the piece pure if you’re too focused on balancing a bunch of irrelevant parts.

And yeah, Klimt was where the initial idea for gold came from! Growing up, my grandparents had some lovely Japanese lacquer boxes with gold that were great too.. I’ve always thought they were beautiful, and the execution on them inspired the work as well.

  

Having a go myself was going to be a challenge. I didn’t have gold leaf so I just used metallic pens to match the iridescence. I have to say learning to control and predict what the coffee stains would do took several test attempts.

My attempts:

   

 

Final piece…

  

Oxford: The Ashmolean Museum

The present Ashmolean was created in 1908 by combining two ancient Oxford institutions: the University Art Collection and the original Ashmolean Museum.

The collections span the civilisations of east and west, charting the aspirations of humankind from the Neolithic era to the present day. Among its treasures are the world’s largest collection of Raphael drawings, the most important collection of pre-Dynastic Egyptian material in Europe, the only great Minoan collection in Britain, the finest Anglo-Saxon collections outside the British Museum and the foremost collection of modern Chinese art in the Western world.

The Ashmolean is also a teaching and research department of the University of Oxford, providing research and publications of the highest standard in the academic fields of art history, archaeology and history.

Refurbished in 2009, the way that the collections are displayed in the new galleries & enjoyed by the public became the driving force behind the transformation. The galleries are interlinked by one big theme, Crossing Cultures, Crossing Time. This encourages visitors to make new connections between the collections of the Ashmolean. Adding 39 new galleries to the original 1845 Cockerell Building, the Ashmolean’s new wing was designed by award-winning architect Rick Mather.

The Art class and I needed more than the few hours we had to full apriciate the vast collections. However we had a brilliant adventure exploring art history from around the world.