Learning to screen print on fabric at East London Printmakers

Finding fabric with a specific pattern or print has always been a major hassle in that as soon as you’ve fixed your mind on something, you’ll never be able to find it… Ever.

I’d often thought about getting some custom made- there’s a few companies that can do prints for you- but the costs were way too high. Which is a shame because after watching the HP print challenge on Project Runway over the last few years, I was really inspired to do some! I’d thought about drawing or painting over fabric, dyeing things but it all felt too laborious and I wouldn’t be able to repeat patterns with any accuracy or get much fine detail.

And then I found some screen printing on fabric courses. Screen printing is often used for t-shirt logos, tote bags and the like but I was thinking ahead at how this application could be used to create a textile I could use for other things like clothes and soft furnishings.

So I booked onto a 3 day beginners course (£210) at East London Printmakers with Cat in the hopes that we’d learn something useful!

It was so much fun being back in a classroom like this- it reminded me of being back at school! The class of 8 was taught by Ellie and Katy, both experienced screen printing artists. We learnt how to print with cut out stencils and exposed images as well as mixing inks and looking after the screens.

I did a couple of cool t-shirt prints that I love, as well as printing onto come plain calico to use for cushion covers later on. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to do more designs- it’s a pretty time consuming process with a lot of waiting around for things to dry.

In the printing studio…
One of my prepared screens
A cascade of feathers (soon to be a feather cushion)
Anatomical heart print
Heart on a shirt
How easy is it to replicate at home? Not very to be honest. You need a lot of stuff

That being said I was so lucky to find a graphic designer on freecycle who was giving away a massive lot of art supplies, including a bunch of screen printing inks and screens. Which means that whilst I still don’t have all the stuff to expose screens at home, I can still try my hand at some basic cut outs. 

Though if I ever need the space and equipment to do some more professional looking stuff, the handy thing with the ELP is that you can book the studio for your own use. They have time slots and a number of work benches available for those who know how to use them at a reasonable cost. You’d need your own inks but you can rent their screens (which are far better quality than what I have at home). Probably only worth it if you had to print the same high detailed image onto multiple items because of time and money constraints…

Never mind. 



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