This week has been a busy week of scarf printing…Lots of moons, stars and tiny hearts have been squeegeed (yeah, squeegee is actual word and one of my favourite things about screen printing!) on the printing bench. I even found myself wearing stars while printing stars at one point. I’m surrounded by them! Not that I mind, I like stars.
I am a self taught screen printer, one of my biggest regrets when I left art school was never to have ventured into the printing rooms and tried it out. When I started to learn it at home, a few people told me I wouldn’t be able to do it without all of the proper equipment…I’d need hinges and clamps and a big sink, a pressure washer and an exposure unit etc and I almost didn’t try it, but I thought ‘what’s wrong with strong arms, a shower head and a tin foil lined lampshade with a 100 watt bulb?’ It turned out, absolutely nothing! All it took was a call to a screen print supplies company to ask exactly what I needed and quite a bit of trial and error (and inky finger prints where they shouldn’t be) to get me started.
In a way I am glad I leaned to print like that, that my shyness stopped me from using all the equipment at art school. It meant I could start at home on the dining room table without feeling like I needed to be doing it ‘properly’ because I knew no other way.
I still use a similar rustic set up, I hold the screens down by hand and I still use a foil lined lampshade with a 100 watt bulb to burn my screens. These days though I do have the luxury of a studio with a big Belfast sink and long, deep printing bench and I did treat myself to a proper fabric ink heat setter several years ago but the premise is still the same.
I LOVE screen printing. I love the possibilities and the limitations. I love working out designs based around what I know about it and what I have yet to learn. I love the trial and error and mixing of inks, the messy sink, ink under my fingernails, the total hands on, hand printed nature of it.
Who knew that years ago when I said out loud to someone that I regretted not trying screen printing at art school that one day it would form a huge part of how I make my living? Man, I’m so glad I learned how to do it, sometimes you’ve just got to take a leap and give something a go…You never know where it might take you!