Friday, 9 February 2018

More about Printing Banners

VAD nurses in Ely.   A while ago I read  Vera Brittain's 
book about being a Voluntary Nurse in WW1.  It was such a  moving acount, I really wanted to do something which acknowledged the nurses who worked in the auxillary hospital in Ely.

Once again the excellent website  Ely and WW1  provided a wealth of information.  There are some photographs of nurses on the website but unfortunately they were too indistinct for me to be able to work from so I have created a sort of composite image of a nurse for this banner.

The names, however are real.  These women worked at the Ely hospital and by the time it closed in 1919 they had treated 1,117 patients.


I printed a few of these banners just in case one of the layers went wrong.

As I was printing I started saving scraps of stencils and printing them down on a piece of sheeting in a more expressive way.  This is the resulting cloth.  I have called it 'Remnant' because it is made from remnants of design from the very graphic banners and because the list of names we have of the nurses are traces or remnants of the information we have of these women's lives.  


Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Printing Banners WW1

I've been screen printing for almost 30 years and I thought I'd conquered every problem that could ever occur.  But, just as I was getting smug, a whole new problem raised it's head.

Suddenly my printing inks started bleeding beyond their boundaries. And to make things worse, I was getting patchy coverage.

I thought, perhaps, I was  mixing too much pigment into the binder.  So I mixed a very timid charcoal rather than a strong black.  It made no difference. 

I changed my stencil paper, I changed my padding, I checked my fabrics were cotton, I prewashed. Nothing seemed to solve the problem.   I wondered if the manufacturers had changed the binder formula..........I wondered if this was the END of screen printing for me! And that would be a very sad state of affairs, indeed.

I kept printing though and all of a sudden I had a thought: 

There was one thing that had changed - I was pre-ironing my fabrics with my new super duper steam iron!  My fabric was wet. I couldn't really tell  it was wet but as soon as I went back to my old iron press and dry ironed the fabrics, the prints came out beautifully crisp and graphic - which is exactly how I wanted them for this project.  Now that I know that, it seems so obvious - why did it take me so long to figure it out???

Here is Herbet James Holiday.  He was an assisitant shepherd working with his father in Stuntney before he joined up. He was killed in action at the age of 19. 



His employer petitioned to have him exempted from service but this was not granted. 

On 30 Dec 1917 the SS Aragon was in the harbour of Alexandria when she was torpedoed by a German submarine. Herbet Holiday was on board the fleet auxillary craft HMS Osmanieh which was searching for survivors. This was hit by a mine and went down with 149 soldiers and nurses.

Here is an fascinating website is where I found Herbet's story and that of many other Ely people who were killed in action: From Fenland farms to Flanders Fields,  Ely and World War 1.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

To End all Wars - Ely Cathedral

Our installation is up!!!
Please come and see it. 

This is a group show by members of   Ouse Life Drawing Group  to commemorate 100 years since the end of World War 1. The artists have painted, drawn, printed (in my case) and stitched into fabric to create 100 banners.

'The war to end all wars' - if only that were true.

Anyway, it's in the South West trancept of Ely cathedral which is the bit on you right when you enter and it's before the desk where you pay, so there's no excuse not to go!


Thursday, 1 February 2018

Mad Hatters - part 2

A quick post to show some of the gorgeous hats made by students on Saturday.....


A couple of them need a little pleating and shaping to finish them off, but I think you'll agree that they are fabulous!

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Mad Hats - Wet Felting Workshop

New year.... well almost the end of January and we have a 'Mad Hats' felting workshop on Saturday. 

I always think of felting as being creativity combined with excercise  - my two most favourite things (after chocolate).  That makes felting an ideal New Year's 'resolutiony' kind of a thing to do.

The 'Mad Hatter'  - In the old days when felt hats were made from rabbit fur, mercury was used in the felting process. And over time, many Hatters did indeed develop a neurological condition from exposure to these mercury fumes. According to Wikipedia  "It is commonly characterized through behavioral changes such as irritability, low self-confidence, depression, apathy, shyness and timidity, and in some extreme cases with prolonged exposure to mercury vapors, delirium, personality changes and memory loss occur as a result"  Hmmmmm - I don't need the mercury , I already have most of these.

Well, I am pleased to say that we no longer use rabbit fur and we no longer use mercury.  In fact, I think that making felt is a highly therapeutic activity. All that soap, warm water, rubbing and rolling- it's all very sensory.

And hats are fun!  Hats can be silly, they can be elegant, they can be a statement of your individuality, they can be cute, or they can be a cosy head warmer for walking the dog.   And on the subject of cosy, if your hat is too mad to wear, just pop it on the teapot.

Thanks to Kate for being a very beautiful teapot!

Anyway,  Saturday 27 Jan at Cottenham Village College - here's the link:    Saturday Schools 
If you scroll down to 'Mad Hatters'  and click on the right hand box it will take you to a pdf with more details.

Or go directly to contact to book a place.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Alternative Christmas Tree

Call me a grump, but I've never felt comfortable with traditional Christmas trees.  Too Scandinavian, too spikey, too kitsch  - I can't quite put my finger on what it is that I don't like.  So, I was really pleased when Katherine from 20twentyproductions asked me to run a couple of workshops to make a 'Tree of Positivity' with a  group of young people from Cromwell Community College.

I love the idea of a Tree of Positivity because it feels so non denomonational and inclusive.

So we did lots of expressive painting, some random printmaking and then cut and collaged our positive words on labels.  It was fun to do and I think the results are great!


Have a great winter holiday, whatever your beliefs!



 An angel has landed on the Prickwillow phone box!

A collaboration by Cary Outis  (the steel part) and Magenta Kang (the wings)

As you can see it's well tethered and it's staying for Christmas.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Screen Printing on Cloth

Impington Village College
Saturday 25 November
10.00am – 3.00pm

This is a new teaching venue for me.  As it's a building with a great design legacy,  I think this should bode well. (see here) 

I wonder if  Walter Gropius would approve of the spirit of experimental creativity or would he be turning in his grave to see such extravagant surface design?

Here is the class description:

Screen Printing on Fabric: The emphasis is on the experimental, creating simple paper stencils with small silk screens to create bold shapes and pattern on fabric. The day is aimed at those with some experience of screen printing as well as beginners and it is an opportunity to work in a studio atmosphere with tutor support.  An A5 screen and squeegee is provided for use during the day.

What you need to bring:
Apron & wear old clothes
Reference pictures to use as inspiration.
5/6 old newspapers
Notebook and pen
Paper cutting scissors / craft knife & board
Fading marker or dressmakers chalk (only if you already have one)
20 sheets computer / photocopy paper ( not recycled)
Cost of inks in included in course fee.

You will need to bring your own fabric to print on:  These must be 100% cotton. Polyesters and poly- cottons do not print well. I suggest you bring about two to three metres of white, 100% cotton fabric, preferably washed and ironed.  You may wish to pre-dye some of your fabric to create a background but make sure the colours are not too dark. If you are a non stitcher, you can bring pre-made items for printing on eg T-shirts, shopping bags, pillow slips - as long as they are, a light or bright colour and once again, 100% cotton. (T-shirts & shop bags do not need pre-washing)

Inline images 1

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Student Work - Screen Print Summer School

Cottenham Summer School - Spectacular Screen Printing. Why has it taken me so long to post this wonderful work by students on the course? 

Everyone makes SO much work during the week that any pictures I put up can never capture the sheer exuberance of printed fabric that's produced.

As always, what I love about teaching screen printing is that each person in the class brings their own personality to their prints. Some people like to do multi- layer, multi-colour prints, some like to be graphic, some textural.  Whatever style people work in it's always  done with a spirit of exploration and discovery.

Jean's screen

And the print
Betty's print

Nicola'a amazing multicolour print
David adding finishing touches to his cloth

One of sarah's many miles of fabric!!

It's quite difficult to get onto this course but I am teaching two Saturday day schools (not linked) before deep winter.  One is at Cottenham Village College on Saturday 14 October '17 (see post below) and the other at Impington Village College on 25 November '17.  

Monday, 9 October 2017

Screen Print Studio

There are still places left on Screen Print Studio at Cottenham Village College on Saturday 14 Oct 17, from 10 am to 4.00pm -  a lovely long day for getting immersed in a print project.  Cost is £35 / £26

This is an informal class for Adults.  There will be an introductory, hands on demo for beginners who will be taught about equipment, materials and basic techniques for screen printing. All techniques shown are ones that can be achieved at home on the kitchen table.

Anyone who has done screen printing with me before can skip this bit and work on their own projects.

A4 screens and printing inks are provided for use in the class (small materials fee) and you bring your own fabric to print on. It could be patches of cotton if you are a quilter, or textile artist; you can also print short lengths of fabric for sewing up into clothing / tablecloths etc;  or if you don't sew, bring light coloured T-shirts, shopping bags, pillow slips etc.  The college will give you a materials sheet which will explain exactly what to look  for in the fabrics you choose.

 Screen printing is magical and fast - come along with a pile of plain fabric and leave with a great pile of colourful prints.

If you are interested contact

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Handmade Book

A little handmade book from some of those coloured papers:

Front cover

Concertina pages for display

Little collage motif on corner of each page

And a rectangle of painted paper to frame picture or to write upon

The end...       

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Coloured Papers

Whenever I start a new project, I like to begin by making components.  And the components for my book making workshop are coloured papers.

You can buy all sorts of lovely papers from hobby shops but they are expensive and in the end, they're somebody else's work.  So I like to get messy and make my own.

Splashing, stencilling, printing

Wax rubbings and paint- I used a combination of brusho and food colouring.

So much fun!