Maldon Art Trail

Maldon art trail logo

Last weekend I was really fortunate to be invited to the Maldon Art Trail’s Children’s workshops – a day of free art and craft workshops for local families. Maldon’s Art Trail began in 2008 and every year is organised by an enthusiastic group of volunteers to showcase the work of the many outstanding local artists, taking over shops, cafes and public buildings all around the town.

I brought along my jelly plates, inks and rollers and taught about 50 children how to use jelly to print onto paper bags. I have to say that I was very impressed with how well behaved all of the children were and how fabulous their prints each looked.

As time was short and there were so many other activities for the children to try, we just focused on the basics of jelly printing (although there is so much more to learn, as the printers on our five week printmaking course are discovering at the moment).

Jelly Printing at The Maldon Art Trail 2015. Credit: Maldon Art Trail
Jelly Printing at The Maldon Art Trail 2015. Credit: Maldon Art Trail

I was also asked a few times throughout the day about other children’s workshops here at Slamseys, so perhaps I’d better put a few more printing dates in the diary – but in the meantime, we are supporting The Big Draw this weekend with our Children’s Dreamtime Art workshop, inspired by storytelling and Australian Aboriginal paintings.

Children's Dreamtime Art Workshop, Slamseys Big Draw, Essex

For any of the parents who are interested in making more jelly prints at home with the kids, there are some directions and recipes here.

Find out more about the Maldon Art Trail here and check out the last few Essex Summer of Art events of the year here.

Troublesome Screenprinting

Moosehead variation, screenprintin at slamseys art, essex

Although I think that screenprinting using stencils and embroidery hoops is the best and easiest thing ever, it is all too easy to have imperfect prints. There’s a number of different issues that can arise with screenprinting and I see them all in our printmaking workshops. While I think they often add an interesting abstract quality and reiterate the handmade nature of the print, there are a couple of problem areas that arise that have simple solutions.

TROUBLESHOOTING

BLEEDING

Bleeding refers to when your printing ink escapes under the stencil causing a smear or smudge on the print. This can be caused by a couple of different things…

1. Too many passes with the squeegee
A common issue amongst beginners is a need to keep passing squeegee over the print to ensure that the whole image has printed, however once you have pushed ink through once, any more ink has nowhere to go and is likely to spurt out the sides of the stencil.

SOLUTION: Try to only pass the squeegee over the print one or two times, using a confident, but not heavy hand.

2. The printing ink is too runny

SOLUTION: If you are using a mixture of acrylic and screenprinting medium, add more acrylic paint to thicken the ink you are using and use less medium when mixing future colours.

3. The stencil and or screen is not fixed firmly enough

SOLUTION: Make sure the screen is as taut as you can get it by tightening the embroidery hoop and pulling through the screen. If your stencil is gaping, it may be too big for your screen so try using a smaller stencil or a larger hoop. You can also use sticky stencils like contact paper, or use pritstick to temporarily glue the stencil to the screen.

PATCHY OR UNEVEN PRINT SURFACE

1. Insufficient ink on screen so that there is not enough ink to cover the whole surface of the screen

SOLUTION: Spoon a little more ink onto your screen – there should be a small amount left over after each print.

2. Ink drying in the screen 

SOLUTION: You need to work reasonable quickly with screenprinting to ensure this does not happen. If your inks persistently dries before you have had time to finish your print run, you might need to add more printing medium to slow down the drying process.

3. Blurred edges on the print can be caused by moving the screen on the page whilst printing

SOLUTION: Hold the embroidery hoop firmly with one hand and use the squeegee in the other, do not move the screen while it is on the paper and lift up in one smooth motion.

Remember that your net curtain screens will deteriorate and fray over time. They may also be punctured by unexpected sharp objects on your printing surface (like staples). If you notice that the surface of your screen has holes or that the mesh has become uneven, it is time to replace your screen.

I hope this helps with some common screenprinting issues.

Happy printing!

How To … do Simple Screenprinting

Simple stencil screenprinting, how to, Slamseys Art, Essex

The first of my new five week printmaking short courses began last Friday with Jelly Printing, or gelli printing or monoprinting or whatever the official term is. This week we moved on to basic screenprinting using a variety of stencils with an embroidery hoop.

The greatest thing about working on this small scale is that being lightweight it is a printmaking process that is open to everyone. When running workshops using my big aluminium frames, some people have struggled to apply enough pressure to get a reliable print and have been disheartened that all the time they spent making their stencil has been wasted. By contrast, when using an embroidery hoop it is much easier to push the ink through the screen and if it does all go wrong you can just rip it off and start again knowing that you only spent ten minutes cutting the stencil.

Here’s a brief How To to get you started…

Screenprinting, an introduction, Slamseys, Essex pg

Screenprinting with an Embroidery Hoop

EQUIPMENT

  • A small embroidery hoop
  • A circle of net curtain, cut a little bit larger than your hoop
  • Waterbased screen printing inks (or acrylic mixed with medium – I like Daler Rowney System 3 or Speedball)
  • A plastic spoon
  • An old credit card or lightweight squeegee
  • Craft knife
  • Newsprint, freezer paper, contact paper or copy paper for your stencils
  • Brown tape
  • Copy paper, kraft paper or card to print onto

METHOD

Prepare your stencil

  • Lay your embroidery hoop on top of your newsprint and trace the inside circle and cut out.
  • Leaving at least a centimetre around the edges, tear or cut out abstract shapes from the middle of the circle. Do not overlap shapes and remember that anywhere there is a hole will be printed.
  • Assemble the embroidery hoop with the net curtain stretched as tight as you can.
  • Attach your circular stencil to the outside of the hoop with brown tape, making sure to tape all around the edges to that no ink can leak out the sides.
  • You can use a craft knife to cut stencils out of freezer paper, contact paper, newsprint, card & various other materials – each will give a different effect

Prepare for printing

  • Mix your inks according to the instructions on the bottle – The consistency must not be too runny otherwise it will cause bleeding of the image.
  • Organise your printing papers into a neat pile so that it is easy to access.

Print your design

  • Lay your embroidery hoop stencil side down on your paper
  • Spoon about a tablespoon of ink onto the screen in a place where the stencil is blocking the screen.
  • Using your credit card, squeegee the ink across the screen, with a confident but not too heavy hand until you have moved the ink across all of the stencil. The squeegee should be held somewhere between a 90 and 45 degree angle
  • You are aiming to make as few passes as possible, while still covering the whole stencil.
  • Lift up your hoop to reveal your print.
  • You can keep printing on the same bit of paper, but just make sure that you don’t put the screen onto any part of your print that is still wet as this will cause ghosting.

Cleaning up

  • When you have enough prints, scrape off any excess ink back into your pot.
  • Peel away your stencil and leave to dry flat, you may be able to reuse it.
  • Loosen the embroidery hoop and wash out the net curtain and squeegee using warm water.

Blue Star Screenprint, at Slamseys Art

Having trouble with your screenprinting? Read my next post on Troublesome Screenprinting.

Creative People Networking Group

Creative people networking group at slamseys, essex

I’ve really got into the Back to School spirit this September and have launched lots of new classes, workshops and courses at Slamseys. Although it’s today that feels like the first day of term as it’s the week that the yoga and pilates classes start up again, our new term of events is already under way.

Last Thursday was the launch of the brand new Creative People Networking Group that I recently set up. I know that there are lots of creative people in the local area, but I just didn’t know where to find them, so I thought, well I’ll make them come to me – and they did!

We had ten people arrive at the barn for our first meeting, bringing a really interesting mix of skills, interests and knowledge with them. There was someone who does willow weaving, someone who makes personalised bunting (I know her as Aunt Josephine), greetings cards and stationery creators, budding photographers, artists, writers, cake decorators and more!

It’s really exciting for me to speak to these local creative types and for us to come up with new ideas for how we can work together in the future – already in the pipeline are some new workshops for the barn and collaborations for next year’s art trail which is all about food & kitchens.

Find out more about our Creative People Networking Group meetings.

I’m really excited for the rest of my Back to School workshops and courses this week – next up is our free art group which starts on Thursday and then on Friday the first of our new five week short courses kicks off – I can’t wait!