Thursday, 23 April 2015

Low tech printing

I have been playing around with lots of print ideas lately trying to find ways of producing satisfactory results with very basic means and I thought I'd share some progress so far. I am printing mainly 2 metre lengths at a time to produce something useful which is tricky to manoeuvre around my dining table, but not impossible!!! These are all for personal use, but shall provide inspiration towards something else.

FYI - I use speedball fabric screen printing ink throughout!

This first idea couldn't be any more low tech! It is a stripe design made up of hand painted crosses on grey chambray (with the odd minus sign dotted around). The stripes are painted by eye following the fabric grain and using a ruler down the edge to start me off with an even-ish spacing. All I used was a paintbrush, some ink, a ruler and a lot of patience!



This next one is a screen print using a small thermofax screen. Thermofax screens are a lot more lightweight than regular screens, so perfect for small designs or using in space deficient areas. I got some vouchers for my birthday and ordered a few small screens to use for various projects and they are proving very versatile. They are also easy to store as they are really thin which is a bonus! Claire who runs Thermofax screens is very helpful indeed, so if you were thinking of getting your own designs made up then email her with any queries before placing your order. If you are unsure about anything then she will be sure to help you out. If you don't want the hassle of designing something then they do have ready made designs to choose from.

Oops, made a printing boo boo on the left hand side!


Not sure if it's clear, but I marked the length of fabric with chalk guides for screen placement, so once I was set up with the screen I was ready to go.


This is what the screen looks like.



The next print I made and am still working on is this one which is made using a simple stencil. I have two very large packs of opaque thin plastic sheets that my dad rescued from a council skip from a building job he was working on many, many years ago which I used for my stencil. I'm so pleased I have found a new use for it! I guess it would have been used by architects or for some kind of drafting/design?

I marked my design in pencil and cut it out using a scalpel. The great thing is that it's completely washable and the detail bits don't bend out of shape, so as long as I store it well should be re-usable for a fair time yet. 


I taped the stencil to my fabric and dabbed the ink on with a spongey brush thing. I have, until now, been cutting up household sponges, but this is much better and less messy.


Hand for scale!




So, that's what I've been up to and I just wanted to show you really that you can get pretty nice results from some fairly standard materials. As with any creative undertaking it's all about the play and experimentation. Be bold and try new things and you may really love the results! These are all made just for the enjoyment of it and maybe it's making you look at your plain lengths of fabric a little differently! ;-)

16 comments:

amanda stinton said...

So inspiring as always- aren't the thermofax screens fab!! I love your crosses stencil too- the overlap of the black and the white is really striking. I really must get round to doing some more printing but got so much happening at the mo I can barely find time to sew!

Marilla Walker said...

They are great and thanks for putting me onto them! I hope you find some craft time soon and whatever's making you busy isn't stressful! X

Melissa said...

These are gorgeous. I've never tried fabric printing before and these are tempting. I particularly like the last one with the big circles! Looking forward to seeing what you will make out of your beauties!

lizzy said...

super!I work on the same subject for several months/years but you are much more advanced! Love this minimalism! Thank you for the info about this thermofax screen. oh how inspiring all this!

Marilla Walker said...

Thanks Melissa! It doesn't need to be complicated, just have a go and enjoy it! :-)

Marilla Walker said...

Hi Lizzy, thanks so much! I guess I know my style and what I want to achieve, but simple is sometimes best! :-)

Crab and Bee said...

So inspiring, Marilla - makes me want to get back into it! I put a lot of pressure on myself when I was doing a lot of screenprinting before to turn it into a livelihood, but my favorite kind of printing is low-tech small-scale printing like you've done here

Helen // Grosgrain Green said...

I so want to have a try at this. Thanks for the inspiration - I don't consider myself an artist so it's nice to know that simple works well. Just need to find the time...

Marilla Walker said...

Hi morgan, I had no idea you were so into this kind of thing! Trying to make a living turns it into a completely different animal and I am struggling with the concept of producing a product, so have decided to just play, enjoy and see if I can get to a stage where I am satisfied I've created something interesting. Until then it's just fun! I hope you start up again. I would love to see what you come up with. It will only enhance your well defined personal style!

Marilla Walker said...

Hi Helen, I'm sure a common misconception is that you have to be able to make complex patterns in order to create nice prints, but practice on some paper making splodges and if any of those splodges sing to you try them out on fabric!

Sarah said...

Marilla, these look terrific! Speedball is my favourite product for screen printing. Have you tried photo emulsion? It takes a bit of practice but tends to last longer and give a crisper print than stencils.

Marilla Walker said...

Hiya Sarah, thanks! I may go down the photo emulsion route, but am trying not to as I don't have room for storing loads of screens and things, but I may have a think about it. I've got a few other tricks up my sleeve first! ;-)

Teri said...

I love all of these different fabrics! I have never tried printing on fabric before and I would love to try it. One of these days I'll have to give it a go!

Marilla Walker said...

Hi Teri, thanks for the compliment! If you ever get the time then you should really have a go as it's so much fun! :-)

Minnado said...

I love these, especially the big circles. You reminded me of the fun it was to do printmaking in the past. I used to love playing with printing, lino and monoprinting. Just haven't had spare to even sew a button recently.

JustSewJenna said...

Brilliant!