Saturday, 26 October 2013

Printing Workshop 1 - Image Transfer

A few weeks ago, I attended a one day workshop at Broadstairs Adult Education Centre - "Screen Printing and Image Transfer".

I'd started glancing through the available courses because partly I was feeling a little lost after realising I needed to take another year out before going back to University, but I've also been suffering from a major case of creative block lately, so I was looking for some inspiration too.  One of the modules I've already studied as part of my photography degree was called "Photography in Context" it was a brilliant module which really encouraged the students to think outside the box and made me realise you could do an awful lot of different and creative things with photography - and we didn't even do anything like this either!

We started off working on the image transfer part of the workshop as this would take longer to dry, it's also the part of the workshop I took the most photos of...

1.  We first stapled the calico fabric to a drawing board, then cut out the photocopy the tutor gave us, right up to the edge of the picture  (everyone had the same image)

2.  Drawing corner guide marks on the fabric with the image face down as it will be stuck to the fabric that way.

3.  Painting an undercoat of watered down white matt emulsion onto the fabric - I chose to make mine a little rough and ready so the fabric would show through here and there.

4.  Speeding up the drying process a little!

5.  Tracing out some of the features of the photocopy - not forgetting to add corner guide marks so everything will line up later on.

6.  Positioned using the guide marks, then transferring the traced lines onto the fabric.

7.  Hopefully you can see the traced lines in this photo  (sorry about the picture quality but these were taken using a mobile phone).

8.  Underpainting the image in colours that should give the finished artwork a Warhol-esque style.

9.  Placing the photocopy onto foil to stop it sticking to the wrong things while painting on the image transfer medium.

10.  I didn't take a photo of the process of painting on the medium and placing the photocopy face down on the fabric, using the corner marks as a guide because I needed both hands for the job.  But here you can see the tutor's hand showing me how to cover the image and gently remove any air bubbles that may have formed as the whole image needs to be in contact with the fabric or the transfer won't work properly.

11.  And now we have to wait patiently until everything is completely dry... Oh look!  It was nearly time for lunch  :)

12.  I chose to remove my piece from the board to speed up the drying process but if have the time to wait, its actually a lot easier to leave it in place for the next stage.

13.  You need to gently wet the paper and VERY gently, using the heel of you hand in light circular movements, rub the surface paper away.  This does take some time, but its better to take it slow and steady as you don't want to do any damage to the picture underneath, which is quite fragile.  I have to say I did cause a little bit of damage to mine as I was impatient (you can see the missing bottom right-hand corner) - but it was very exciting to see the image emerge!  I didn't actually finish this stage at the workshop; after it had dried, you could see more paper fibres so I had a second go at it at home.

14.  After you have removed as much of the paper fibres as you can, you need to seal the finished piece with some matt acrylic varnish - I didn't have any, so I used some PVA glue mixed with water at about a 1:1 ratio and it worked very well.  I also used the PVA mixture to stick my fabric to a piece of mount board which gave more stability to the areas where I'd rubbed too hard, it also means my piece is now ready for a frame, which I hope to get very soon.

So there you have it!  One image transfer with under-painted colour.  I really enjoyed making this and it's given me lots of ideas for doing things with my own photos.  So as soon as I can put together all the equipment I need - watch this space!

It took me the best part of a fortnight to recover from taking part in this workshop, but I got so much out of it, that it was worth it.  I'll post some details about the screen printing part of the workshop another day.

Friday, 25 October 2013

The Three Legged Dog

Having trouble trying to sleep tonight, so I was standing at my bedroom window for a while looking at the stars.  Its a reasonably clear night and I recognised some of the constellations even though I can't remember their names and it made me think of another night when my son was about 8 years old, it must have been winter-time as we were walking home after Beavers and it was dark.  On the way, we stopped to say hello to a lovely old gentleman who lived nearby, who was out walking his dog - we chatted to him for a while and "M" was asking him questions about the stars as he knew a lot more about them than we did; and then finally "M" asked him a question that I'm guessing had been troubling him for quite some time "Why does your dog only have three legs?"

"Well" said our companion, "it's actually a very sad story.  There was once a time, a few years ago, I had no food in the cupboards and no money to be able to go out and buy some.  It got to the stage where I was so hungry that I really had to eat something..." by this point in the tale my son, who'd been listening with great interest, had a look of complete horror on his face - while I was stood there biting my tongue to try and stop myself from laughing and spoiling the effect!

I'm pleased to say that the gentleman did go on and explain to my son that it had actually been an accident, when his dog had been a puppy, it had tried to follow his daughter's dog over a brick wall and his leg had been so badly broken that it couldn't be saved.

I don't know what made me think of that story tonight.  The gentleman died some years ago, his three-legged dog went to live with his daughter and my son and I missed our little chats with the gentleman and tickles with his dog - a very friendly, scruffy looking, medium sized mongrel.  We used to see him often when we were out walking, they were a much loved part of our community.  Back then, we had a great little local shop/Post Office just around the corner that sold newspapers, sweets and groceries - our friends were such regulars and so popular that the shop owners used to keep a tin behind the counter with dog treats in especially our three-legged friend.  I'm feeling very guilty at the moment because I can't remember the names of either the gentleman or his dog even though I can picture them in my mind.  But hopefully they're happy that they still live on in our memories as I know my son still remembers them too.

Sorry that this post isn't a craft related one - unless you count the fact that I took these photos out of the same window I was stargazing through tonight.  They were taken a couple of years ago on the night of a "super moon" which was so bright it cast shadows distinct enough to see clearly.  Believe it or not but the photo below was taken of my bedroom wall opposite the window I took the top photo through on the same night!  You can see the silhouette of my cat who was sitting on the window ledge, the pile of books I rested my camera on, and you can almost see the colours of the stained glass panel, I made years ago, that hangs in my window.

I'm sorry too, that it's been so long since I last wrote a blog post.  I've been struggling with my health, have been finding it hard to do any crafting and also coming to terms with not going back to finish my university studies this year.  I didn't want to walk away from my course and in fact I still have the option of going back if I want to, once I feel well enough.  I think maybe I've been letting it all get me down lately so even on the days when my hands haven't been as painful, I haven't been able to persuade myself to pick up my needle and thread, or other crafting tools and get on with something creative unless its been at craft club, or more recently, a couple of printing workshops I've attended - but I'll blog about those another day (with the emphasis on day!).

Crafting is something that does generally make me feel better about myself and those workshops have thankfully given me some much needed inspiration.  I've been catching up on a few of the blogs I usually follow recently too and I really like the idea that some of them follow - 52 weeks of happy - this means that they do one blog a week where they write about 3 things that have made them happy over the past 7 days and I think its something I'd like to try too.  I had planned to start my 52 weeks with the start of 2014 but I don't suppose you really need to wait, its something you can do at anytime, so I'm thinking that I might just start looking for my 3 happy things from now.

But for moment, I think the most sensible thing I could do would be to go back to bed and try to get some sleep, so I wish you all a good night, a great weekend and fingers crossed that the hurricane thats been forecast for Sunday night/Monday morning, blows itself out before it reaches land!