Saturday, 26 June 2010

New Prints New Products

New Prints

My latest design is inspired by the rich warm chocolate brown bark and luminous orange of the persimon tree I stumbled upon by chance on a wintry day on a walk around my neighbourhood. The tree was silhouetted against a white house, its shape and dark form contrasting against the pale background. Persimon is an old fashioned fruit which must be completely ripened before eating. When ripe, the fruit comprises thick pulpy jelly encased in a waxy thin skinned shell.

It is said that one can predict the winter by taking the seeds out of some persimmons and then slicing the seeds. The shape that shows up the most inside each seed will indicate what kind of winter to expect. The three shapes resemble three eating utensils.
A Knife shape means there will be a cold icy winter (as in the wind will slice through you like a knife).
A Spoon shape means there will be plenty of snow to shovel.
A Fork shape means there will be a mild winter.

The persimon design is printed using the technique I teach at Megalo Print Studio using 2 silk screens: the tree stencil using photo emulsion techniques, the fruit screen using a paper stencil. Im going to have a lot of fun exploring the possibilities of this design.

New Products

Ive had the opportunity to experiment with creating some new products using my printed fabrics and have found the style and design of the tote bag is perfect to display my prints. Some bags are made from a good quality heavy weight hemp canvas and others are made from the test prints on calico which I print to check the colour and the stencil quality prior to printing on my 'good' fabric. I delivered the tote bags to Shop Handmade today. The bags measure 40 cm x 40 cm and are perfect for shopping, library books and going to the fruit and vegetable markets.

Along with the tote bags I also delivered a handful of Mum's kitchen teatowels to Shop Handmade. Mum's kitchen is a sketch of a cottage kitchen in a beautiful old weatherboard house, complete with the Canberra wood fire oven. Kitchens are the heart and soul of any house, and Mum's Kitchen is no exception as you can see the memorabilia collected on the shelves and on the mantle piece. Mum's kitchen is a limited edition print.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

A day of fun discoveries

Yesterday I had a day full of fun discoveries. The first was a new shop in Moss Vale Made by Others which has a lovely array of ceramics, paintings, prints, textiles, jewellery all made by hand by Australian artists. The quality of the wares was exceptional and I couldnt resist buying a lovely little felt broach.

From Moss Vale I then went on to Newtown and found a fabulous little cafe which combined two of my loves: knitting and coffee. A Coffee and a Yarn has four or five large tables with assorted stools and seats arranged communal style. Each table cluster has a wooden box of knitting needles, yarn and directions for anyone want to do a little charity knitting for the Wrapped With Love knitted blanket projects. Alternatively, you are welcome to bring your own project. Unfortunately by this stage I'd already had 3 coffees, so Ive made a mental note to come back with my knitting on a cold winters day.

Almost next door to the knitting cafe was All Buttons Great and Small - store which has an amazing array of buttons for all sorts of projects. I was overwhelmed by the choice and will definitely have to come back when I have a project which requires special buttons.

Finally my day was complete when I happened by chance upon a copy of Prints Charming's new book which has a number of projects which involve creating your own fabric. I love Prints Charmings aesthetics and large bold designs!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Paper Lace

I am experimenting with some more ideas for the Netwurking exhibition which relate to lace and in particular the lace from Elizabethan times. The images above explore the construction concepts of lace (usually they were folded in a figure eight pattern) and shape of the ruffle. I like the idea of turning these paper lace drawings into small books or wearable paper art.....

The text on the concertina folded piece contains interesting facts about lace in the 16th Century - for example in some places only people of a certain rank were allowed to wear lace and then only a certain width according to their status. It was also a dangerous profession to be a lacemaker as they were not allowed to make lace in rooms with open fires because the smoke would discolour and stain the lace. So lacemakers would fill clay or metal pots with hot coals and position them under their skirts to keep warm. Often these hot coals would set fire to the lacemakers clothing!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Screen Printing Notes

I teach printing workshops at Megalo Print Studio in Canberra. The following are course notes for my students.


1. Degrease your screen

Degreasing your screen helps the emulsion to stick properly to the mesh. If you dont do this you may get small spots or fingerprints which resist the emulsion.

Wet screen and clean with sugar soap or commercial degreaser applied with sponge and wash both sides.

* Use AJAX when using mesh for the first time.

Dry screen. Approximately 30 mins in the drying cupboard

2. Create stencil for photo emulsion

The cheapest and easiest way to do this is to create a photocopy of the image you want to print. Clear black and white images convert best to screenprint. If you use an image with greyscale remember that this will print less clearly.\

Oil the photocopy using vegetable oil which will make the paper transparent. Absorb any excess oil with newsprint.

3. Emulse your screen

Make sure you wear gloves for this - otherwise your fingers will be stained yellow!!
Dont forget emulsion is light sensitive - so do this step in a darkened room.

Choose an applicator that is slightly smaller than the inside measurement of the screen.

Fill applicator 2/3 full with emulsion. Using the sharp side apply one coat of emulsion to both sides of the mesh. Repeat process to remove excess emulsion.

Clean any drips on the frame & return excess emulsion in the applicator to the container. Wash applicator thoroughly with water.

Place screen in drying cupboard (on the higher shelves so that wet screens dont drip on your freshly emulsed screen). Drying time is approximately 30 mins.

4. Expose Image on Light Table

Make sure the glass on the exposure table is clean.

Place your image right side up (this is particularly important if your design has text. It should be up the same way as we read it).

Place the flat side of the screen on top of your stencil. Make sure the image is in the centre of the screen.

Drape the cords over the edges of the frame to allow for the vaccum to work properly.
Carefully lower the lid and secure using the clips.

Set the timer for the appropriate time. Exposure time will vary depending on the mesh and image used. For fabric screens (43T mesh) recommended time is 2.5 minutes.

After setting the timer, turn on the vaccum and wait for the rubber to cling firmly to the screen - then turn on the UV lights by flicking the righthand switch. The exposure table will turn itself off after the preset time has expired.

Flick both timer and light switches up to the ‘off’ position.

5. Wash out exposed screen

Lightly wet both sides of the screen using the low pressure hose. This will ‘set’ the image and prevent it from further reacting to light. Carefully wash your image out (it will appear slowly) increasing the pressure slowly. Remember that the emulsion on the flat side of the screen is stronger because it has had more contact with the light. A light spray of water should remove most emulsion and you can use the high pressure hose to remove stuborn bits - but be careful not to wash your image off!

Always wear earmuffs when washing out screens as this noise can cause permanent hearing damamge.

Dry screen in drying cupboard - approximately 30 mins - time for a cup of tea and a biscuit.

6. Printing

Finally - we’re up to the fun bit!!

Switch on the ventilation

Choose a squeegee that is slightly larger than the image and small enough to fit within the frame, making sure it has a smooth edge so that it doesnt leave ridges in the print paste when printing.

Tape the edges of the screen to prevent print paste bleeding through the edges of the emulsed areas. Packing or masking tape works best for this. Now is also a good time to fix any little spots which may have appeared whilst washing out the image - you can do this by spotting a little emulsion on these areas and allowing to dry. Re expose the image to bake the emulsion - which gives the image a longer print life.

Dollop a generous amount of print paste at the top of the screen, above the image, spreading it evenly along the top of the frame.

Hold the squeegee at a 45 degree angle to the fabric table firmly drag it across the screen, from top to bottom, pulling towards you.

Repeat this process 2-3 times depending on the image and the fabric you are printing on. Fine fabrics such as silk require less pressure and less pulls than a heavy cotton canvas - this is where you need to experiment to find out what works best for you.

Allow image to dry before printing on top of it, as the wet paste on the fabric can transfer to the back of the screen.

Wash screen out between colours and make sure you dont let the ink dry on the screen as this will ruin the mesh.

7. Removing the Emulsion

Always wear gloves, eye protection, earmuffs and make sure the ventilation switch is turned on.

Remove any tape that is on the screen.

Squirt stripper onto both sides of screen and work in thoroughly with a sponge. Allow to soak for a couple of minutes.

Turn on high pressure hose (following instructions on the wall) pointing the hose at the trough and then across and onto the screen. Make sure the gun is kept about 30cm away from the mesh as the pressure can distort and even tear holes in the mesh! Keep the gun moving constantly over the mesh pausing briefly over stubborn areas.

Always check to make sure all the emulsion has been removed by holding it up to the light. The mesh should be transparent to look through.

Return the cleaned screen back to the rack of screens for hire.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Sweater You Can Knit in One Night!

I stumbled across this pattern whilst looking for the perfect jumper pattern. Always up for a challenge - I thought I would try it out. I didnt quite knit it in a night - but it was finished very quickly all the same. I have included the pattern below, just in case you are interested to take on the challenge. The great thing about it is that it is two knitted squares, so theres no need to follow a pattern for shaping and its really easy.

4 balls 50g mohair (I used 2 wine coloured and 2 varigated and knitted with 2 stands (combining both the wine colour and varigated wool)
10 mm (000) needles
12 mm (0000) needles

Measurements: fits all sizes to 97cm

Tension: 4 st to 5cm

(both alike) Using 10mm needles cast on 44 stitches and work 7 rows in k2, p2 rib.
Change to 12mm needles
Knit until garment measures 57cm (or prefered length)
Cast off.

Join shoulder seams, leaving 25cm unjoined in centre for neck.
Join side seams, leaving 18cm unjoined at top for armholes.

I knitted this to jumper length, but it would also be a great tunic (if knitted a bit longer) to wear over stockings or jeans.


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