By the power of Speedball (I have the power)

I’ve had this post in my draft box for two years. It was going to be a critique and comparison about Do It Yourself crafting, fine art and where the two overlap.

Where’s my Venn diagram?

Instead, let’s talk about making art approachable and accessible to beginners in terms of technique and expense by using the following example.

This was a screen printing project; a gift for my bestie’s husband. He is a fan of placemats. And who isn’t a fan of dinosaurs?

Completed carnivore dino placemat

There are a number of ways to go about a screen print. A kit at Dick Blick will run a person anywhere from $25.00 to $472.00, depending on how serious you are about it. The basics are going to include a frame/screen, a squeegee, screen filler, drawing fluid, a brush and, hopefully, an instruction manual. Other materials include photo emulsion, photo emulsion remover, sensitizer, lighting, transparencies, tape and solvent. Whew!

So what if we break it down to five items that can get the job done? A screen, a roll of tape, a shower curtain liner, a defunct gift card and ink. It’s a little less intimidating than photo emulsion and if it turns out you hate screen printing, you haven’t invested too much in supplies.

You can use a piece of shower curtain to create a stencil. The plastic is thick enough to withstand multiple printings, easy to cut with a blade and disposable enough that you’re not going to feel too guilty when you mess up. Tape off your screen. This helps with clean up later. I like to tape my stencil to the back of my screen to ensure it will not slide, but usually it will stay put with ink/pressure. Put some ink at the top of your image and use your gift card to pull the ink through the screen.

Stencils can be as simple, or complicated as you want to make them and the printed results are indistinguishable from a more professional setup.

You might have noticed this post is not a step by step process. There are a lot of tutorials already out there. Check out this one by Catspit Productions:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ND1AUJhdUZc

And while there are other parts of the screen printing process like prepping your screen and registering your image, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Throw that stencil on your screen and have at it. Making art does not have to be cost prohibitive and creating¬†¬† beautiful/crafty/functional prints is within your power.

Advertisements

Christmas Quandry

This past Christmas a good friend subtly hinted at what she might like for the holidays by emailing me a template for a handmade Kitchenaid cover. The step-by-step instructions made an already easy project a breeze. Thank you, Debbie!

But let’s back up a minute. Although I received this hint well before December, it wasn’t completed and sent until February. Wait a moment, you say, didn’t you just claim this project was a breeze? Weeelllll, the sewing part was. The picking out the perfect fabric part took me over a month. In the end, I decided to create my own textile design. I cut a small rose stencil from quilter’s template plastic and chose medium weight unbleached cotton to print on. Using a mixture of acrylic and screen printing ink, I sponged paint through my stencil in a somewhat random (yet intentional) pattern. Once it was dry I applied the leaves in the same manner. Then I heat set it with the iron.

Hand stenciled roses

I liked the result, but it still looked too unfinished and country-kitchen for my taste. I decided to outline the flowers in black to make it feel more contemporary. Since the initial goal was quick and easy, I picked up a few fine tipped fabric pens and just to be on the safe side, some Sharpies. I proceeded to outline the stenciled flowers. And do you know what? It looked horrible! As if someone had taken the time to hand stamp a pattern and then just markered the edges. Sigh. That meant I had to outline them using a paintbrush. It took hours. Hours. I had hand, neck and shoulder cramps for days afterward. The results, however, were spectacular.

 Hand stenciled roses with outlines

Once the fabric was painted, the rest came together quickly. I quilted the pieces to encourage structure and stability. Then, a little sewing magic, some piping for purty and bias tape to finish it off. And suddenly, one completed Christmas present.

Kitchenaid cover, front view

Kitchenaid cover, side view

My friend loved it. She couldn’t believe that I found a fabric that fit her tastes so perfectly.