Monday, 14 October 2013

Little Valkyrie - screen print

I've completed a new screen-print..! It's inspired by fantasy, the love of books, and Norse legend. :) It features the sun, moon and stars, ravens, the branches of the legendary ash-tree Yggdrasil, a book featuring a serpent on the back cover, and a little Valkyrie with a fantastic hat.

(click thumbnails for larger/higher quality pics)

If you'd like your own Valkyrie to hang on your wall, take a quick look at the Whirlygig folksy shop. :)

Next up: making more books and probably some Christmas cards! If you haven't already, try following my twitter account for more updates.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Update - fairs I'll be attending..!

After much preparation (fingers ache from trimming books, argh - see picture above for only a fraction of the huge heap of offcuts!), I'm off to Edinburgh. :) Looking forward to a few days' fun and relaxation before Stripped Mini Comic Fair.

I'll take this opportunity to post the current list of some upcoming events:

24th-25th August, 11:00am - 18:00pm
Stripped Mini Comic Fair
(part of Edinburgh International Book Festival)

5 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, EH2 4DR
Twitter: @StrippedFest

7th September, 11am to to 5pm (open at 9.30am for Advance ticket holders)
MCM Scotland Comic Con (exhibiting in Comic Village)
The SECC, Glasgow, G3 8YW
Twitter: @MCMExpo

23th-24th November
Thought Bubble Festival (Allied London Hall)
Armouries Drive, Leeds, LS10 1LT
Twitter: @thoughtbubbleuk

6th-7th December
Volume: Birmingham's Art, Book and Print Fair
The Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square, Birmingham, B1

If you should come to any of these events, do come and say hello. :) I'm excited about all of them and looking forward to meeting people..! I just need to carry on working on new things to bring to them... in the meantime, wish me a safe trip up to the Festival city. :D

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

New Book: Twa Corbies

After having it in my mind for ages whilst juggling other projects and commissions, I've had a little chunk of time recently to complete my latest personal project, Twa Corbies, which I posted initial doodles for back in February. It's based on a folk song from the Scottish Borders and takes a wry look at mortality, with the narrator in my own adaptation arriving in the form of a hare. I've more copies to stitch together in the next week, but here are the first few, fresh from being bound, trimmed and pressed. :)

Twa Corbies will, appropriately, be making its debut in Scotland at the Edinburgh International Book Festival "Stripped" mini comic fair on 24/25 August. :) Expect an update in the next day or so about more summer/autumn 2013 events I'll be attending!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Summer bloggin' ... Part One: Indietracks

Hello all! A bit of a life-y blog-post, this, but why not?

As it happens, my birthday occurred this year right before Indietracks festival in Derbyshire; after going for the first time last year I definitely wanted to go again; the fact it was over my birthday weekend this year made it extra good! :) It's a smallish festival, and as it's indiepop even the headliners are bands many people haven't heard of. But it is so relaxed and I left feeling tired but happy - and having heard lots of amazing music, some familiar and a lot that was completely new to me. I miss it already - can't wait for next year.

Because I want to clutch onto the memories that feel like both yesterday and months ago (but were actually a week ago now), I thought I'd post a few of my pics here - I didn't take many, but here's a few just for a taste (maybe I should post a few from last year?). And a few sketches of Indietracks-goers, too!

Did I mention one arrives at the festival via steam train? :)

...and what other festival has an eagle owl propping up the bar? :) Bet he went for one of the fancy real ales... the "Poet's Pippin" cider was my choice. Wonderfully tangy and appley.

Aaaaand some sketches! The top one's actually from a train journey back from London (to catch up with the lovely Lou), but the rest are a few scribbles done whilst reclining on a picnic blanket at Indietracks and watching people go by. :)

Lastly -  although I didn't spend much time in Derby, this has to be my favourite thing that I saw in the city. Who doesn't love Henry?

Anyway, thanks for reading this far. A busy rest-of-the-summer (and probably autumn) is planned...! Had MCM Expo in Manchester on the 20th, which was wild and wonderful and very, very busy. More events lined up... keep an eye on my Twitter if you can, and I will post updates soon. :)

Friday, 12 July 2013

Pastel Safari - more animals sighted!

After my first three Pastel Safari screen prints, I was asked to create three more - a lion, tiger and a giraffe - to decorate the nursery of a new little arrival due in September. :) Here are the results! 

Just quick pics for now as I'm sending these ones unframed - unfortunately my camera argued with some of them; "Tiger stripes? No thank you!" **blurring & weird colouring-- activate** Did the best I could to fix 'em up. :) Will take some pictures in frames etc in due course.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Commission: 35% Canadian

This post features another commission for Old Maiden Aunt Yarns' yearly yarn subscription club! Lilith's theme this year was "35% Canadian" - named after the ratio of home-grown music that Canadian radio stations are obliged to play, with each new yarn colour inspired by the music of a Canadian artist. :) So, as the yarn club extra gift, a tote bag featuring typically Canadian animals rocking old-fashioned headphones was a great idea that I was happy to do! As all the club parcels have been sent out I can now freely post the finished work here, so I shouldn't be spoiling anybody's surprise...

Pictures below, including a sample of the finished article, which I was very excited to receive. :)

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Sleep - screen print

If you saw my last post, you'll have had a peek at this already! 

"Sleep" is a three-colour screen print, inspired by that hazy, floating feeling one gets just at the edges of sleep, a few minutes before dropping off or waking up. The image size is roughly A4, and it's screen-printed onto A3 good-quality, thick watercolour paper. Due to a personal shortage of said good-quality watercolour paper, it comes in a limited edition of only twelve numbered and initialed prints. :) 

The prints will appear up in the Whirlygig Shop just as soon as the appropriate envelopes to safely post them in are safely posted to me. :)

Screen printing fun

I've had friends enquire about the screen-printing process, so while I am by no means the most expert person around to do so, I thought I'd do a little blog on the subject. :) To many people reading this it will probably all be well-known and obvious, but not to everyone, so why not?

Screen-printing bonanza! The first thing you need to do is design your print and separate it into a series of layers. Each layer corresponds to a different layer of ink, usually one different colour for each layer (including lineart). If a print has more than one colour, it's basically three different images printed on top of one another. 

Depending on what sort of print you're doing, it can a good idea to take a reference, e.g. one coloured in Photoshop - gives you an image to work to and helps you get your colours right. Below is a pic of my photoshop mock-up, before I slathered a load of paint on it to check the colours...

In order to get all the layers onto the screen, you first print or photocopy them onto acetate, all in black (ideally as true-black as possible).

You then get your screen, go into the darkroom and coat it in green, photosensitive goo. Below is a picture of my screen before it's had the emulsion applied.

When the darkroom light is on, don't leave the door open! The whole basis of the photoemulsion is that you use light to define your image, so letting light in could mean the emulsion doesn't set properly. :)

The time while you're waiting for the emulsion to dry is a good opportunity to mix up any colours of ink that you need. :) For this you use either specific screen-printing colours, or you can use decent-quality acrylic paints and mix them with a special gloopy screen-printing medium.

 When the emulsion has dried, you take your images on acetate and your screen and use the UV box (the giant machine thing in the pic below) to "burn" the image onto the mesh; that is, the light passes through the black areas and removes the emulsion accordingly; the area of mesh where your photoemulsion has been removed is your stencil.

 You then take the hose and give your screen a bath, washing off the burned-off emulsion until your stencil appears! :) That hose on the right is a pressure washer, and is like a hardcore water gun. You don't need it all the time but when there is cause for using it you feel like Arnold Schwarzenegger (or the Simpsons parody of him at least). Take that, last traces of stubborn emulsion that won't come off!

This is where the pictures become less informative since I actually had to get to work printing. :) Once your screen has dried (there's a lot of waiting for screens to dry) you grab a squeegee (pictured below!), tape up bits of your screen that need taping up and fix it into the screen bed. The bed/table has a vacuum function that holds the paper underneath in place.

You then smear on some ink, pull it across the screen using the squeegee and back again, making sure enough ink is distributed on the screen (i.e. that it's "flooded"). This ensures even coverage and helps stop it drying out.

These pics are actually of my second/middle layer, that is the darker purple swirls. This is what my prints looked like after the first layer - the ones on wonky paper are test prints:

It's important to "register" your print to make sure the ink goes down where you want it. This is important for the first layer too, but it's especially important when you're doing an image with multiple layers; if you mess up, your lineart could be halfway across the page from your shading! So, first you print onto a largeish sheet of acetate taped to the screen bed. This means you can check exactly where your ink's going to go and position your sheet of paper accordingly.

When you've done a second layer out of three, chances are you'll have something like this! You then leave the prints to dry on a drying rack and go and thoroughly wash the ink off your screen.

If your third layer isn't already burned onto your screen, and you don't have it on another screen sitting ready to go, you'll need to remove all the emulsion from your screen using a chemical spray stuff (and, sometimes, the pressure washer), re-coat it with emulsion and burn your last stencil onto it. More waiting-to-dry/mixing colours/lunch/making tea time...!

Then you go through the whole printing process again with the final layer, hopefully not messing up too much, and you get your finished result. Voila! :)

 While it may seem a long and convoluted process to print by hand, what can never come across fully in my amateur photos reproduced online is the visible difference in quality between my initial mock-up image and the finished print. My home printer is pretty good, but without some serious industrial/giclee technology it's incredibly hard to get something that looks as vivid and strong as a hand-pulled print. :) It's a quite physical and time-consuming process but it's enjoyable and very much worth it, and with every hand-pulled print you get something that is real and unique. :)

Hope this wee blogging session has been informative for at least a few readers..! Expect another post with my finished print soon....

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Pastel Safari - screen prints

To my delight, I've joined Birmingham Printmakers! This has enabled me to get back into a screen-printing studio for the first time since leaving uni. I'm hoping to make good use of it in coming months; as a starting project to refresh my printing memory, I've made these small animal prints. :) I thought they would look good in nurseries or children's rooms so have placed them in cute, simple white frames.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Twa Corbies - initial scribblings

The beginning of a new sketchbook and a new book project! Another folk song this time, from the Borders I believe. "Twa Corbies", or "The Two Ravens", is about - to put it in a way that sounds nice - the Circle of Life. Brilliant song. :)