Thursday, 23 April 2015

Low tech printing

I have been playing around with lots of print ideas lately trying to find ways of producing satisfactory results with very basic means and I thought I'd share some progress so far. I am printing mainly 2 metre lengths at a time to produce something useful which is tricky to manoeuvre around my dining table, but not impossible!!! These are all for personal use, but shall provide inspiration towards something else.

FYI - I use speedball fabric screen printing ink throughout!

This first idea couldn't be any more low tech! It is a stripe design made up of hand painted crosses on grey chambray (with the odd minus sign dotted around). The stripes are painted by eye following the fabric grain and using a ruler down the edge to start me off with an even-ish spacing. All I used was a paintbrush, some ink, a ruler and a lot of patience!

This next one is a screen print using a small thermofax screen. Thermofax screens are a lot more lightweight than regular screens, so perfect for small designs or using in space deficient areas. I got some vouchers for my birthday and ordered a few small screens to use for various projects and they are proving very versatile. They are also easy to store as they are really thin which is a bonus! Claire who runs Thermofax screens is very helpful indeed, so if you were thinking of getting your own designs made up then email her with any queries before placing your order. If you are unsure about anything then she will be sure to help you out. If you don't want the hassle of designing something then they do have ready made designs to choose from.

Oops, made a printing boo boo on the left hand side!

Not sure if it's clear, but I marked the length of fabric with chalk guides for screen placement, so once I was set up with the screen I was ready to go.

This is what the screen looks like.

The next print I made and am still working on is this one which is made using a simple stencil. I have two very large packs of opaque thin plastic sheets that my dad rescued from a council skip from a building job he was working on many, many years ago which I used for my stencil. I'm so pleased I have found a new use for it! I guess it would have been used by architects or for some kind of drafting/design?

I marked my design in pencil and cut it out using a scalpel. The great thing is that it's completely washable and the detail bits don't bend out of shape, so as long as I store it well should be re-usable for a fair time yet. 

I taped the stencil to my fabric and dabbed the ink on with a spongey brush thing. I have, until now, been cutting up household sponges, but this is much better and less messy.

Hand for scale!

So, that's what I've been up to and I just wanted to show you really that you can get pretty nice results from some fairly standard materials. As with any creative undertaking it's all about the play and experimentation. Be bold and try new things and you may really love the results! These are all made just for the enjoyment of it and maybe it's making you look at your plain lengths of fabric a little differently! ;-)