Monday morning and the streets of Blackpool are filled with a variety of music and in particular a violinist outside the Squirrel & Tiffin Exhibition space. This made it such a delight to be in the Exhibition and while the music filled the space I began to prepare for the Screen Print workshop.
Using just a few simple items I (chief Squirrel) started to teach the ten enthusiasts how to make a home made screen and then print their own piece of artwork. First of all we drew a design onto a piece of plain white paper. Then stretching a pair of tights over an embroidery hoop we then traced our design onto the mesh.
Using PVA glue we then started to block out the areas we didn’t want the ink to go through – the negative space around the design. After a quick blast with the hairdryer and a brew we started to apply the fabric ink and bring the designs to life on the fabric.
Overall the designs varied from simple to extravagant but more importantly we all learnt how to make these ourselves at home or in our own studio.
Yesterday was the last day of the first week at the exhibition space and we were delighted to hold the mixed media workshop via collage artists Tracey Eastham.
First of all we were introduced to the idea that using negative space we can create an image, a reverse stencil if you like, and gain results that are simple but very effective. Selecting images from books, calendars, maps and materials bought in we started to pull out objects or scenes that we then traced the outline using tracing paper.
The tracing paper is then turned around on the back of a desired pattern and redrawn leaving an imprint for us to then cut out using a scalpal. This then reveals a beautiful paper cut without much freehand needed.
Today was the first of the free workshops at the Exhibition space. I thought it only right that myself (Squirrel) kicks off the workshops and so it was repeat pattern that was on the agenda.
To start off I explained the workshop I attended at Hotbed Press a few months ago and how with a little imagination we could recreate the repeat pattern process using potatoes! First of all we designed something we thought simple but effective to print, then we cut out using craft knives our masterpieces.
Once we had the basics of a stamp, I then explained about printing inks onto fabric using textile medium and acrylic paints (These are mixed together so that the ink stays on fabric and won’t wash away). Then it was down to each of us to create our own repeat pattern and the results were fantastic. Each design was different, from blocks of colour to intricate linear designs.
I also gave a short tutorial how to make our pieces of art into something we could use – a zipper pouch. Simple stitching makes these creations into something we can use daily and along with a handout I am assured the students will be making more in the future.
During the last ten weeks I have been busy trying to get the Squirrel & Tiffin exhibition, workshop and arts cafe space ready for the opening. To say I have had to beg, steal or borrow is an understatement!
With little or no budget to get the space looking right I knew it would be a challenge but with the help of Houndshill Blackpool it came together nicely. First of all they painted the walls white so I had a base to hang the work. I was then able to fashion together some tables out of pallets they delivered which filled out the gigantic space to make two distinct areas – workshop bench and cafe.
The next challenge was to get some seats for people so I spoke to the team at North Pier who kindly delivered some golden chairs adding some sparkle to the space!
Once the work was up, floors swept, windows washed, wood table tops cut and secured, window designed and drawn, black backdrops painted, information printed and nailed up, flowers cut, pillars painted, vases crafted, table runners made.. I was ready for the open night!
A big thanks go to the following for supporting the project and making it all happen – Arts Council England, Blackpool Houndshill, Blackpool BID, Cafe Fresch, North Pier, Junes Fabrics, Savoy Timber, Hotbed Press, Harrington & Squires, Garth Gratrix and all my lovely friends and family too!
The second workshop I attended during my R&D with ACE grants for the arts was one in London with the fabulous Harrington and Squires at Tufnell Park (not Toughnall as I found out during the day!).
Letterpress is something I have wanted to explore for a long time now but haven’t got the chance to do so. The only creative letter type imagery I have produced has been through screen print and that usually comes from an image I have taken. To be truthful letters and type have never crossed my mind as being anything creative as its something that has already been chosen for me within my daily life. Such as the fonts and styles determined by my Apple technology or Word documents.
Oh how wrong I was..! Harrington and Squires is a quirky building build literally in between two ‘normal’ buildings. It is made up of three corridor style floors, white brick walls, heavy wooden floors and lots of crafty storage solutions.
The ground floor offers you a shop, trays of letters to choose from and a toilet hidden behind a mirror. The first floor is where the fabulous Adana metal letter presses live with the paper and ink. The third floor is the kitchen and office. Together at the hear of this is Chrissie Charlton and Vicky Fullick who run the building with precise efficiency. The workshops only cater to two people at a time as the space is literally a corridor but that makes it all the more personal and the work you can produce is of quality and elegance.
To start the process you choose a word, saying or both from the vast amounts of fonts available not forgetting the small symbols such as the printers fist. Then it is lined up on a composing stick with lead the size of your longest line as well as spacing from the mutton and nuts (my favourite saying ever!).
Once this is all how you would like it to be you then secure the lettering into a metal frame and use more ‘furniture’ to bulk out the parts where there is a gap. After this you secure the frame to the letterpress, ink up the bed, secure the register paper and print off a proof. Some adjusting of the paper is then done so you can get exactly what you want on the paper you have chosen and away you go!
Overall this has been my most exciting workshop and one that has changed my work forever!
During the grant period we have been fortunate enough to learn new skills in printmaking and one of the types we learnt at HotBed Press is Monoprinting.
Having no idea what Monoprint was and having no idea where the studio was we were to learn about it was all very exciting! First off we learnt that Monoprint could be done in two ways. The first is where you roll out ink onto a glass surface, place a sheet of paper on top of this and draw the image onto the paper leaving an impression on the underside of the paper and creating a piece of art.
The second way of Monoprinting can be done where you roll out the ink onto a sheet of perspex or metal then take away the ink using various instruments such as a small squeegee, scrim cloth, skewer or turps. Paper is then led on top of this and rolled through a machine to get the impression onto the paper.
Overall it was a great way of learning a new printmaking process. I would say you have to have a sort of art background or flare for drawing to complete this as freehand is quite a challenge if you are used to using cameras and screen prints like myself!