step 1: concept drawings
Recently I’ve been toying with the idea of creating a pattern that I could print onto fabric so I decided I’d try my hand at making some soft furnishings.
The inspiration for this pattern comes from an illustration by Saul Bass, which can be seen in the book ‘Henri’s Walk to Paris’.
After having the initial idea for a piece of work I tend to scribble it on whatever paper is on hand. Some times these rough sketches are scanned in to the computer and used in the finished work.
Other times, such as in the making of this pattern, the sketch is too rough to be used so I re-draw or paint it again.
step 2: digital editing
Once I have a sketch I can be used I scan it into Photoshop where I convert it to vectors so that I can monkey about with it in Illustrator. Much as I’d like to remedy this, I very rarely make any work that doesn’t involve using illustrator in some way.
Although already sketched once or twice I often reject a sketch at this stage and re-draw again within Illustrator. This is more to do with a lack of confidence I have in my drawing than anything else.
After making the image again I repeated the process so that I had four variations of the same image and once I had all four images I then arranged them (including reflecting two of the planes) so that they could be easily repeated.
Once I was happy with the pattern the next step was to make the screen for printing and this is where it gets decidedly lo-fi so professional printers may want to look away now.
step 3: build a screen
I make the frame for my screens using pretty cheap un-planed timber that is simply nailed together.
The next step is to stretch the screen mesh over the frame. I do this using a staple gun in much the same way as stretching a canvas. This method is far from ideal though, especially when printing two colours because the mesh will move as you pull the ink through, making registration very difficult.
That said it can also throw up some happy accidents too.
step 4: transfer image to screen
Next coat the screen in light sensitive emulsion and leave to dry in the dark over night and for this I use an old trunk.
24 hours later and the screen is ready to be developed using an inkjet printed acetate positive of the pattern.
Again the developing is done by very meager means, using a 250w bulb and the darkest place in my house, the pantry. To develop the screen (and I'm not entirely sure of the reason why) I put a piece of black card under the screen (flat side down), the acetate on the surface of the screen and then a sheet of glass on top of the acetate, which I think is to keep the image flat against the screen and stop light seeping under causing the image to blur...maybe?
step 5: prep screen for printing
Developing the screen takes about an hour and twenty minutes (unless I forget what time I started and get sucked into an episode of Columbo). Luckily my methods allow me a little grace and after washing out the undeveloped emulsion in the screen I only had a small amount of touching up with screen filler to do.
In order to have two colours in the pattern I first masked off one of the aerplanes. Using the acetate I then roughly marked out with tape where to place the screen on the material.
The screen I made wouldn’t print the whole piece of material with one single print so in order to cover the material I had to print once and then quickly dry the ink using a hair dryer before printing again.
step 6: pulling ink
Once I’d printed the material with the first colour I washed out the screen, waited for it to dry and then masked off the screen leaving one aeroplane to be printed with the second colour.
step 7: sew it all up
In the same way that I’m not really a printer I also don’t know my way around a sewing machine.
Luckily for me though I have a very beautiful and talented teacher called Jenny who gave me a crash course by sewing this cushion.
see more work by ben javens