I made a t-shirt! Well, technically, I just decorated it, but it was a lot of fun either way.
The Print Block in Whitstable was having an open day as part of the Whitstable Oyster Festival and offering the chance to make screen printed t-shirts, pirate flags and mono-prints, which naturally I jumped at. I decided to print a t-shirt, and…
…started by choosing a stencil. I chose the peacock design above right, designed by Karen Radford, a member and tutor at The Print Block.These are created using photo sensitive emulsion and a reverse stencil. The emulsion is painted over the stencil and exposed to light – it only sticks to the areas of the silk exposed to the light, and the rest is washed off, leaving the non-exposed areas free from emulsion and therefore able to let the ink through – or at least, I think that’s how it works!
The next stage was to place my t-shirt over a specially cut piece of cardboard (to prevent the ink about to be printed on the front seeping through to the back) and lining it up centrally under the stencil.
Having pulled the screen down over the t-shirt, you apply lots of ink to the screen (I chose this gorgeous bright blue), and gently wash it over the whole stencil to get an even covering on the silk – essentially filling all the tiny holes with ink. The lovely Suki, who runs the studio, helped me out with this bit!
Then I had to get my hands dirty! Holding the squeegee (great name!) with both hands at a 45 degree angle to the silk, I pulled the ink slowly and firmly across the silk. At the point the ink goes through the silk, and through the parts of the stencil not blocked by the photo sensitive emulsion, and onto my t-shirt. I had to repeat this process because I didn’t quite have an even print from the first attempt, but after another go, it was perfect!
Finally, a good old trusty hairdryer to dry the ink. (And a good iron under a tea-towel when I got it home to set the ink.) And my very own homemade t-shirt…
I had a wonderful time at The Print Block and along with my gorgeous t-shirt, I came home with a limited edition Emily Turner print of a Fab lolly, and two screen printed bags. (I only just managed to resist the pirate flags!) The Print Block is a great resource, offering courses, 1:1 tuition, tailor-made workshops, creative weekends and membership which gives you access to the studio to use as you please.
I just wish I lived more locally. In the meantime, I’ve found a great tutorial from the guardian on how to screen print at home – not quite the same, but it might keep me going until I can get back to Whitstable.