Craft writer Clare Kelly heads to east London to try out a beginner’s screenprinting workshop with Sam Wingate aka Mr Wingate.
Sam Wingate’s hand printed homewares collection includes cushions and wallpaper featuring iconic London landmarks which make the perfect gift for those who love the Big Smoke.
Looking at the detail on them, I knew I wouldn’t be able to create anything quite as stunning but could not wait to get messy on his ‘learn to screen print’ course.
Held in his studio just a stone’s throw from the Olympic Park, the course was an intimate affair with just four students – perfect for getting the level of attention needed when you’re learning something new.
The day began with a cup of tea and a chat. A couple of students had already worked up some designs and once Sam has shown us his own intricate work (much oohing and ahhing) we set to work with pencils and paper drawing out our designs to create a stencil.
Perhaps inspired by our proximity to the Olympic Village, I began to doodle and created a motif that looked almost sporty. I was quite pleased with it and then with a knife, began cutting it out. I took care not to cut away the parts I’d need and was careful to keep my fingers well away from the sharp blade.
Making stencils is a great way to start screen printing as it gives you more control over the final result. We were going to be printing onto fabric and I chose a plain cotton shopping bag to showcase my design, after a few trial runs at printing the design first onto paper. The atmosphere was relaxed and we were all excited and inspired by what each other were doing.
Choosing which ink to use was difficult as Sam had so many colours to choose from. I opted for lead pencil grey and hot pink, a combination I particularly like. Screen printing is all about getting the right pressure, as you have to ‘pull’ the ink down the screen with a squeegee.
The angle is also important and it’s a good idea to have someone hold the screen for you in case it moves. Sam helped us all with this and soon we were knocking out prints like a small cottage industry!
The effect created by using two colours was an unexpected delight with some areas overlapping. I loved the one-off nature of this technique as each print turns out slightly different and is all the better for it. Though more experienced printers will be able to achieve a very consistent result each time.
At lunchtime Sam took us over to Stour Space next to the River Lea, overlooking the Olympic Park itself. A cross between an arts centre and a café, it is a community affair serving up delicious homemade food including pies and cake. Both of which I sampled for you, all in the name of research of course.
In the afternoon, we hung our prints to dry on a line and set to work creating more. In between prints, it’s important to clean your screen properly and for this, a bath and a power hose in the studio’s basement was essential. It gets quite messy at times, so old clothes are a sensible choice for this workshop.
This is the perfect course for anyone who likes the idea of printing onto fabric but doesn’t want to get paint all over their house. Sam’s easygoing manner also means that you can have as much or as little direction as you want.
If like me, you’ve always wanted to try out screenprinting but didn’t know where to start, I would highly recommend booking onto one of Sam Wingate’s Learn To Screenprint courses to get the basics under your belt.
The very next day I was wearing my screenprinted bag with pride and even received a compliment. Nothing quite beats the pleasure of being able to reply ‘I made it myself’.
To find out more about Sam Wingate’s work or to book your place on a course, visit www.wingateprint.com
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