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Tools of the Trade - Screen Printing at Home

Hello everyone, I'm Sian. I'm an artist and print maker based in Manchester, UK. Our yougest has just started pre school so I am now able to devote more time to my work. I'm really enjoying Skillshare as it gives me a chance to experiment and develop some new skills, this is the first time I've uploaded a project. 

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I decided to take this course as I wanted to learn how to combine digital and physical imagery more effectively. I make screen prints in a studio in our garage so my 'tools of the trade' will be for screen printing at home. I listened to Tom's intro and took a few notes, made a list of potential objects (on the left) and then sketched them. I wanted to include an object that wasn't essential to the screen printing process but that I used regularly in the studio, my options for this were a cup of tea and a radio. I use a vacuum cleaner to make my vacuum table and I thought this would be a fun addition and would emphasise the Heath Robinson-ish nature of my studio set up. 

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I started sketching out compositions for the postcard. I don't use the attachment for the vacuum when I'm printing but removing it makes the end of the hose unrecognisable so I decided to include the body of the vacuum cleaner. I like the look of the electric plug and cable.

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I played around, trying to get a dense, balanced composition. I liked the vacuum hose snaking around the objects and out of the frame but this made it very long (second image) so I decided to adjust the layout to make it a more realistic length. I tried replacing the screen with a bucket and sponge but the screen is such a crucial 'tool of the trade' I ultimately chose to keep it . I reuse old jam (I believe you call it jelly over there) jars to store my ink, I thought it would be nice to include the different types of jars (third image) but with a limited colour palette I'm not sure this would work.

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I selected the second composition from the previous sketchbook spread to develop further. I like the wisp of steam above the cup of tea, it is a motif I have used a lot in my work, not sure it will work with the limited colour palette? I made the cable of the vacuum more cursive as I felt there were too many straight lines in the composition. When the vacuum cleaner was next to the edge of the composition the hose wasn't visible and I wasn't sure people would make the connection between the hose and the vacuum if they couldn't see it coming out of the machine. I added the sponge (a sixth object - breaking the rules!) because there was some empty space created by moving the vacuum cleaner across, not sure it works now I look at this smaller version tho'. The last page shows some sketches of the objects and ways I could approach drawing them. 

So that's where I'm up to so far. Any comments and feedback would be much appreciated, thank you in advance.

So, I've made quite a few changes to the composition in light of Tom and Alicia's helpful comments. Now i'm melting my brain trying to do the PhotoShop stuff (normally I only use PS to prep my screen prints, quite simple stuff). Anyway, this is what I've managed so far, using my own 'special' ways of doing things (as outlined in my comment below) ... 

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Here's where I'm up to with the illustration now. Still can't get the fil/adjustment layer to work without doing a bit of faffing about turning the path into a selection and then inverting the selection. Same with placing the texture into a shape, I've been doing it by pasting into. I'm quite pleased with how it's coming along, except the bucket, which is too flat and dominates the composition. 

 

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My back! Too long sat at the computer today! First I tried out a jam jar instead of the difficult to recognise ink pot. 

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I thought the hand drawn jar looked odd alongside all the less linear shapes so I traced something using the pen tool.

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I used a comb (back to art college 'expressive mark making days!) to make thinner, less wobbly lines for the radio 'grill'. I also changed the mug shape and the colur of the stripes. I like the naive 'flat based' cylindrical objects that kids draw. I also wanted to use the orange to suggest the tea inside the mug. I thought a small additional object would help balance the composition so I added a spoon (I have ruined many tea spoons this way).

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The spoon got inky. I also slimmed down the line work on the jar. I made the texture on the sponge blue like the background.  

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I added texture to the squeegee handle and bucket and put a few ink splatters on the rim of the bucket as well. I think this is now finished but I welcome any comments or thoughts you have, Tom and my virtual classmates. This has been really fun to do and I've learned a lot about PhotoShop, thanks for your help and patience Tom. 

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