Wednesday 13 July 2022

Printing on textiles - summer course at NCAD part 1

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Introduction to Printing on Textiles week-long summer course at the National College of Art & Design (NCAD) in Dublin. The experienced, patient, wonderful and lovely tutor was artist Mel Bradley. On the first day she introduced the small class to heat press printing on synthetic fabrics so that we could gain some understanding of the possibilities of this process. The day was one of experimentation and fun!

On the second day Mel gave some demonstrations of silk-screening on fabric and how to create our own stencil designs using newsprint and/or Yupo paper (a more robust synthetic paper).

Mel's demonstrations, of course, made everything look so easy, but she was also using very simple techniques and basic shapes to prove that designs did not need to be complicated to be beautiful.

When I got to the class on Tuesday morning, Mel and her assistant, TrĂ­ona, were preparing workboards for everyone, which was soft on one side and covered with wipeable oilcloth, and hard wood on the other side for cutting. This is my workboard in my workspace before I started working!

I cut out a basic wild rose stencil from Yupo paper to be my basic screen image. I had brought in six linen napkins that I wanted to refresh with textile design and I also brought in four tiny silkscreens of archaeological goddess images from different cultures (for instance, an image of the Venus of Willendorf and  an image of an ancient Egyptian Venus) that I had prepared many years ago.

This is the wild rose silkscreened onto the first linen napkin. As you can see, the cloth must be taped down to the soft part of the workboard before screening.

Here are two napkins with both the image of wild rose and goddesses screened on them, hanging on the wall to dry completely before I do anything else to them.

Midweek I brought a few acetate rose leaf stencils into the class thinking I might use them. My husband had made these stencils when he was painting his suit jacket for our wedding in 1995. Here I used a hard round brush to stipple ink onto the linen through the stencil, but decided this process took too long and it wasn't actually what I had in mind for the napkins. Though I knew already that the heat press process and inks would not be as intense on natural fibres (such as linen) I decided that it was this process that I was most interested in and planned to spend the last two days with working on foliage to get all six napkins completed by the end of the course. I'll continue with the results on the next blog!

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