So… my fiancée basically rocks. It was my birthday last week and she decided to surprise me with an introductory Screen Printing workshop over at West London Art Factory. The studio space is run by the very lovely Jewel Goodby and our very patient instructor at the helm for the day was (sorry, this may be wrong) Emily.
We started off by grabbing a coffee and having a quick look through everyone’s artwork. We were a fairly small group of 3, which was great as we all got a turn at doing pretty much everything. Our chosen designs were printed onto tracing paper and lots of back slapping commenced. Once the clapping abated we ventured forth on a super quick tour of the studio and sized up an array of equipment.
(From here on in, I may use “colourful” words to replace the correct technical terms that I should be using. Sorry)
We were shown how to prepare our screens using some photosensitive/radioactive emulsion. Our screens were then placed onto something that looked like a cross between a sun-bed and the Delorean from Back To The Future. I was told that it was German as well. Efficient.
The tracing paper was placed face down, “zapped” by the German Delorean and quickly taken to be hosed down. I don’t know the science, but the areas that were exposed to the UV light stuck fast, while the areas that had been shielded by the dark black ink on the tracing paper melted away.
The screen was then mounted firmly onto a screen printing bed. We then “flooded” the screen (you basically smear a load of ink at the top of your frame and then squeegee it down toward you – flooding the mesh with ink) and marked out roughly where our paper/card would sit. After a couple of tests, we moved onto the Real McCoy™.
I had orginally gone there to print t-shirts, but I think the guys forgot. It worked out great though, as normally you leave with 5 final prints and any rough ones you may have managed to churn out.
Instead, I got to walk away with 2 t-shirts as well. I was très happy with the result (except that I had to use water based ink, so if it rains or I decide to sweat buckets – my castle is going to melt).
The only thing left to do was wait!
The design I used was something I’d come up with while riding on the underground a couple of nights before the workshop (see here – please ignore the guy covered in pillows, he’s my friend and digs that sort of thing).
I worked up the final image the night before using a combination of Photoshop, Flash & Illustrator, and was mightily happy with what I saw.
All in all, it was a great experience and the guys over at West London Art Factory were so open and friendly. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re curious, book yourself onto one of their courses! You won’t regret it. Who knows, you might find me there?
** I’LL BE RUNNING A COMPETITION THIS WEEK FOR ONE-OF-YOUS-GUYS TO WIN A SUPER LIMITED EDITION SCREENPRINT (ONLY 1 OF 5 EVER MADE!) **