Today was a day. Many things went wrong, I knew what I wanted to while not really knowing what I wanted to do, and I spend a lot of time with wet leggings thanks to the jet wash.
I came prepared with five different design to print that I’d whipped up so I would have something to experiment with, and hopefully as a way of honing my ideas somewhat.
First thing to go wrong, well not wrong, just more prolonged than I would have wanted was the cleaning of my screen after exposing it. I had to get Steve to turn the normal jet into a super jet and blast the scene to the point where I was sure the water was going to rip through the mesh. One of my designs didn’t work at all because the lines where too thin, and another didn’t wash out fully, I’m not quite sure why, but already things were looking difficult, not that I let that stop me, I was determined to spend the whole day in the studio even if it killed me! (Not literally ..)
I’d brought with me an array of different substrates to print on, silver embossing foil, black cotton organdie, white cotton organdie, photo paper, cloudy acetate and clear acetate sheets. I’d also brought my own screen printing ink so that I would be able to print in white ink, super exciting right? I experimented with using my different designs on the different surfaces, using a selections of colours and foils, all with the background idea that most of the designs should be able to layers and create new possibilities, or stand alone.
I really like the idea of having multiple layered designs, and not just multiple layer on one piece of paper or fabric, but using sheer and see-through layers of materials so that these could be layered up, which I was what I have been experimenting with this past week, and what I especially tried to experiment with today. I’m not going lie, a lot of the combinations of materials and foils I didn’t particularly like, but I’m still continuing to look at them and see how I could layer them up, or decide wether the design is strong enough, and cohesive enough with the direction of my collection, to stand on it own.
I had a few happy accidents throughout the day, one was learning that I could foil onto embossing foil, (even if I didn’t occur to me that it would be really hot coming out the heat press) the other was when I was trying to foil onto photo paper. Now I’d had reservations about foiling onto photo paper cause I was pretty sure that what made it shiny was that the paper was coated in plastic, turns out I was right; while in the press the plastic on the photo paper go so hot that the foil started to stick to the paper where there as no glue, but … it ended up looking really cool. I really liked the effect that it turned up, not that I would ever be able to recreate that, but I really love it. It felt more edgy that if the design had worked properly, like the paper had gone against what design I wanted and decided that it wanted to like this way instead. (I’m not crazy, I know paper can’t do that, by they way).
Im finding it quite difficult to work with colour. I’d much prefer to be working in wholly black white and grey, but for this collection I’m trying to experiment with colour; I’m just finding it really difficult to like how it looks. I really like using orange foil, but when I used orange ink I was getting a real halloween vibe which I really didn’t want. I’ve been mixing dark blue with hot pink and while I like the two separately, I can’t say I’m overly fond of them together. I also keep inadvertently finding myself using black, white and greys when I’d meant to be reaching for colours instead. I think I’m just going to have to keep trying to use the colours in my scheme as much as I can, which will hopefully result in my getting a greater feel for them so that I can work happily and easily with them within my designs. Which is what Mondays are for I suppose.
Another day in the print studio means another day experimenting. With my handy acetate in tow, I began my day by coating and exposing my screen before getting to the good stuff.
In my arsenal I had cloudy acetate, clear acetate and black acrylic; printing inks, glue and foils. impressive huh?
First things first, I started printing my background block colours onto my different surfaces, then moved onto the the parts that I wanted to foil. Checking with Steve first because I didn’t want to accidentally burn down the building, I started to foil onto my different types of acetate. Its safe to say that a 170 degree heat press is not the best place to put plastic sheeting. Don’t get me wrong, the foiling worked and I was really impressed with the results, but there was a downside, the plastic became too hot and was then too malleable. By the time the plastic had cooled down, it wasn’t flat anymore which kind of distorted the effect that I was after. Never the less, I continued on with my samples, and printed the top layers, onto my other substrates as well as the bumpy plastic. The result wasn’t exactly what I wanted but once I had cut my samples down, I found that I still quite liked how they looked.
Another sample that I wanted to test was foiling onto acrylic. The acrylic I was using was a few millimetres thick so I thought it might stand a better chance in the heat press, which it did. The plastic was only slight curved from the heat, but the result was total shine fest! Super shiny black acrylic tipped with really shiny silver foil. IN. LOVE.
I was really impressed with my samples, and considering plastic was a material that was pretty much everywhere in the 80s, I really feel like my choice of materials complements my theme. From here I had a little chat with Steve about how I might be able to get foil onto plastic without melting it and he suggesting that I try printing onto a really fine silk and then spray mounting it onto a background of my choosing, thus I would have the see through effect but none of the bumpy plastic. I was excited to try out this idea, although not with silk (my pesky vegetarianism forbids it), so me and Steven went exploring for some lovely sheer synthetic fabrics. I came back with a really nice black sheer organza, I believe, and promptly started to foil onto the fabric. It wasn’t until today however, that I started to the hand embroider into the sample.
I saw an image while I was looking through the Digital Wave trend on WGSN that had some really badass hand embroidery, like Do-It-Yourself Punk style. I really liked the effect and it must have been really interesting for me to remember it still a week later. So I started to embroider into one of my fabric samples and I have to say, I love the result. It really brings an added dimension to the print and makes is much more punk 80s than power 80s. I know that IG are looking for texture and I was not worried as much, but really aware of this because I think of myself much more as a printer; but I think that by using these layers and fabrics, as well as the embroidery, I’m coming closer into what they’re wanting, which is really heartening.
Ideas abounding, what to do next? Get stuck in I suppose. Thursday workshop came and went and what did I do? I started experimenting with my ideas. I wanted hand cut woodblocks with cool glitchy, sans serif typefaces so I went and made exactly that.
I’ve made printing blocks before, but all had been made using different type of Lino, this was the first time I had ever carved wood, and I have to say, it was much simpler than I though. I’d imaged using hammers and chisels and hours of labour … that didn’t happen at all (not the hammer and chisel anyway). The wood block I used was made from ply which is an extremely soft wood, add in some super sharp gouges and you know we’re cooking on gas.
I’d had this idea of experimenting with glitchy font, so that it looks like my typeface has been subjected to a digital mishap, like on a old TV screen with the off centered lines cutting through the picture. I wasn’t completely sure how I was going to achieve this but I just let myself work. Carving takes a lot of time. I haven’t done hand printing in a while and I always forget just how much I love it. Yes it takes a hella long time to get to the end result, but once you do there something so unique and expressive about what you’ve created that can be replicated through digital means; and this is what I want for my collection. I want designs that symbolise the transformation from analogue into digital, and all the mistakes that comes along with that.
These first few week are all about experimenting, and thats what I plan to do. My first idea was that I wanted to woodblock foil and then print over the top, and oh boy did I do that! I asked Steve if I could use the printing glue on a linocut hoping that he would tell me that it’s doable and that it looks great, instead he tells me that he’s never seen anyone do this! Can you believe that?! I couldn’t, but that wasn’t going to stop me from trying it out; and I’m so thrilled that I did because the result was just !!! I have no words!
This result is pretty much exactly what I was after. The glitchy appreance of the top line of font compared to the perfectly straight lines of the bottom. Foil overlayed with ink! – I wanted to experiment with the foil, it’s only ever used as a addition, something added into of an existing designs to bring life, why not use it under a design? And see what the results are!
It’s safe to say that now I have my colour and font boards completed – which will inspire me to no end! – I’m going to experimenting like crazy woman.