Friday, 23 March 2012

Screen Printing at The Make Lounge - The Teacher in Me

Screenprinting - A Saturday Hen do. It all begins with paper: drawing, cutting, champagne and chat!
I started teaching at The Make Lounge back in August 2010, after responding to a Twitter request from top lady, Jennifer Pirtle, looking for 'anyone local who could do freehand machine embroidery'. They had also just moved into their second venue and Jennifer was about to expand on their popular craft workshops. I was keen to jump in!  Stanley was about to start school, so it was a slightly daunting but exciting time for me to go back to my studio on a more regular basis. Being self employed and having my own space is fantastic but can also be quite an isolating experience, especially after all the busyness of preschool stuff.
Teaching was my stepping stone into the new (to me anyway!) crafting community, to meet lots of people who are eager to learn a new craft and have fun along the way. So my first class was Machine Embroidery, quickly followed by Screen Printing and then the lovely Lampshade Making (which I now share with fellow teacher Suzanne Cowan as it was and is so popular). All three classes are completely different and I enjoy them all for different reasons.
Eyes down!
My teaching days started with nursery children from 3 upwards (thanks to Stanley and his time at the wonderful Bath House Children's Community Centre) to their holiday club for 5-11 year old's and now here I am in the adult world!  Since I've already documented a few of my kid's workshops, I thought I'd finally write a post or three based on my experience at The Make Lounge. The WOW factor you get with screen printing never fails to make me smile and I hope my students go away fully inspired. They certainly manage to pack in some fine prints, so this is where I'll begin.
Taking photos is not easy when you are the teacher, as it's an incredibly busy workshop! So here is a taster from a few classes only, but hopefully it will give you a good idea of what it's all about:

A happy stencil ready to go
Preparing and cutting - positive and negative prints.
A mini production line.
Prepping the screen and away we go.
Every last bit of ink goes back in the pot.

Wash and Dry.
Always a good chance for a natter.
Something for the kids.

and weddings galore!
The happy bride to be, on dry time.

A simple block print of colour can be just as good.
From Tea Towel to Tote
There's an endless variety of prints! Students come with or without ideas, some inspired by others, some completely of their own making, some thinking they won't be very good and some jumping straight into two, even three colour prints. Slow paced, super speedy, each class takes on a life of it's own and the results are always great - maybe a few ink splots here and there, but it's all part of the experience.  Each class begins quite calmly as I talk them through the session, do a quick demo and set them off creating stencils.  Just as the ink hits the screens, it soon turns into a printing, washing, drying whirl.  My aim is to get as much done in the time we have and juggling 10 people all working at their own pace is quite a challenge. I learn something new at every workshop and I have to say it's one of the most rewarding things I've done, in work life anyway. It's certainly made me realise how lucky I am to have my studio space and has boosted my confidence no end.  Maybe I've got my Grandma Nellie and Grandad Ralph to thank (teacher and head teacher) for the teacher in me that I never thought I had!

The next class for screen printing is this Monday - you can see all upcoming dates for my workshops and many others on offer at The Make Lounge right here

Phew! That was an epic task and blogger drives me a bit crazy with photo placements!
Lampshades and Machine Embroidery moments coming soon, once I've recovered.

Thanks to my past students and all their lovely comments, some of whom have written kind words on their own blogs and with great pics too:

confessions of a design geek
- A total design enthusiast - Kate has a great blog all about design, with in-depth interviews and reviews.
- The lovely Becky who now also works at The Make Lounge - top assistant!
I must mention that I wouldn't be able to do the class without my super assistants buzzing around and helping me out.
Thirtyfive Flowers
- Louise does a great line in vintage and mid-mod print cushions (I have one!) and now her very own print line - go girl!
A Drop of Whimsy
- Loved the cat!
and this one really got me! The Make Lounge Blog - Oh Baby!


  1. oh wow, that looks so fun! I loved screen printing when I did a session at uni, but I haven't done it since. Will have to look into the courses. It's so interesting to see all the designs come to life!

    1. Thanks Charmaine, it's a great setting and worth checking out.

  2. Wow, what fun! I've just been given the opportunity to teach a screen printing workshop myself but was feeling quite daunted by the prospect, but you've inspired me to give it a go, thanks Helen!

  3. Hi Alex, go for it - I'm sure you'll do just fine.



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