#The Itinerant Blogger # 1 Fabric Screen Printing – A Beginner’s experience
Hello and welcome to a new series on Mumbai On A High.
Every month, I will be featuring an article from The Itinerant Blogger, a yummy, mummy who will share her experiences as a working mother.
The first in this series recounts her experience at a fabric screen printing class. As mothers, especially new mothers, coping with this unfamiliar aspect of our lives need to keep in touch with our creativity.
Why Fabric Screen Printing?
After sitting in a cubicle for 10-12 hours a day, speaking into a phone for hours, crunching numbers and occasionally looking at Pantone colors, I was itching to do something creative. It started when I got out my child hood Duplo set to play with my 13 month old. Five minutes into building a tower, I realized that I was more into the Duplo then her! It then struck me – I had not done anything fun or creative in the last 15 months (picking out baby’s outfits does not count!) An immediate Google search for reasonably priced and interesting creative classes led me to “Fictive Fingers”, a fabric screen printing studio in Singapore. And this is how I spent 3 hours last Saturday, learning how to screen print.
Choosing a design is hard
The class was simply structured – Aisah, the teacher, gave us a brief history about the art’s origins in China, and the tools needed to screen print: a wooden frame, the mesh screen, fabric inks, and a squeegee. The end goal was to draw up our own design vs. blindly copying from an existing pattern, and then screen print that image onto a linen fabric square. Sounds deceptively simple right? Well it wasn’t!
For starters, designing a pattern was hard! I wanted a floral motif as I’m very inspired by the gorgeous flora in Singapore – the tall winding barks of the Tembusu tree at the Singapore Botanic gardens are my all time favorites. Similarly, the humble bougainvilla, which grows abundantly in India but is so often overlooked, looks fantastic in Singapore as it blooms in fuschia, coffee, orange, and other shades of peach and pink. I wanted to draw a flower that embodied the lush Singapore tropics, and I failed miserably.
After doodling on my sketch pad and using an eraser (I had not used one in 15 years I think – we just type nowadays right?) multiple times, I finally asked the teacher if I could leverage (thank you MBA!) an existing design? Luckily for me she said yes, but urged me to spend time at home drawing my own designs and looking for inspiration from daily life – it could be a leaf, a stylistic representation of an animal, even a spoon! She also taught us about negative and positive spaces, and how design helps create an illusion. Finally, she said that in design it was important to visualize the end result we wanted, and I quickly realized that by cutting out patterns/inserting color, my original vision for a pattern quickly morphed.
Getting down to the actual printing
After choosing my design, I had to cut it out from the special UPO paper.
We used an art knife, and my fingers actually hurt as I was not used to holding something and cutting it, (I normally just Control + F things!) I then had to choose my color palette – this was the most interesting part of the class.
Colors evoke moods, and I wanted mine to be soothing yet inspiring, so I went with a teal and grey.
Each color gets its own print, therefore planning is critical – again a lesson I thought that was so useful for our daily lives. We also had to plan the layout before executing – did we want it to be random or have an order?
Again, visualization was our friend. After deciding on the layout and colors, I finally printed my patterns, and used a blow dryer to prevent smudging.
In summary, this was a fantastic class experience and I highly recommend it. Art not only soothes the mind and trains our errant minds to focus; it also forces us to use different mental (visualization, spatial planning) and physical muscles (finger coordination, body weight to print) that are sadly decaying. Finally, it provides life lessons; yes, I’m going to be bold enough and say that.
[Tweet “I really believe planning before execution, visualization before locking down an end goal are lessons valuable in screen printing and also in life”]
Are you inspired to take up something new in your life?