23/07/20 BLOG 7: HOME PRINTING
Hello! Shannon (CLiCK Resource and Information Officer) here for my final blog on Alice’s masterclasses. In this blog, I’m going to be having a go at transferring my doodles and motifs from the previous masterclasses onto my blank tote bag using a bit of home printing.
You can tell us what you think of Alice’s masterclasses – and share your own designs – by getting in touch with us HERE.
Last week, I had a go at Alice’s second masterclass which was all about motif making. I felt like I really started to find my flow and I enjoyed the challenge of taking something quite complicated and detailed – a sunflower – and making it more abstract. This week, I’m going to be transferring my final design onto my blank tote bag using some home printing techniques. Home printing is all about finding the most simple and basic items around your house (that you don’t mind getting paint or dye on!) and experimenting with them to create different patterns, shapes, and textures. Remember, we have Together, Alone packs that we can post out to you that contain everything you would need to design your own tote bag. You can request a pack HERE.
So, here’s a wee reminder of what my final design was. My thinking was that one side of the bag would be an abstract representation of a sunflower and the other would be a more realistic representation. Whilst this final masterclass is all about printing, I also wanted to have a go at some free-hand painting. So, I decided to design my tote bag using these two techniques.
Final design: One side of my tote bag would be an abstract representation of a sunflower. The other side would be a more realistic representation.
Over the weekend, I got my materials together – tote bag, fabric paint, paint brushes, a sharpie, some mesh, a sponge, and a load of old cardboard boxes – and stuck on a comedy podcast. I kept my sketch of my final design beside me for reference. I decided to start off with the more abstract side of the bag. Instead of leaping into an inspired flurry of painting and printing, I sat there feeling overwhelmed. I was nervous to put the first stroke of paint onto the bag. What if I messed it up? I only had one bag! I felt like I was back to square one. I felt like I had lost my creative flow that I worked hard to find and build. As time went on, I was starting to annoy myself with how much I was agonising over taking the first step. I wanted my tote bag to be exactly like my sketch. I was out of practice – I hadn’t painted onto fabric in years – yet I still wanted to somehow produce something perfect. Eventually, I bit the bullet and dunked my paint brush into some coral paint and made the first mark on the fabric. A squiggly line.
First mark: After agonising for ages – I finally put paintbrush to fabric
It felt good to finally make a mark, even if it was just one squiggly line. It gave me a little confidence boost. So, next, I decided to try and create a grid-style pattern inside of the squiggly line using some mesh I had cut off from a bag of tangerines. I dipped the mesh into some ochre paint and succeeded in getting more on my fingers than on the mesh. I didn’t really know what I was trying to do. I pressed the paint-covered mesh onto the bag…
First mistake: I tried to create a grid pattern using some mesh…this was the result.
It did not go to plan. I didn’t feel confident enough to draw or paint a grid free hand, so I decided to fill this section of the bag with circles instead. I painted the circles using a section of cardboard with holes punched in as a guide. Then, I outlined my first squiggly line using the ochre paint and a sharpie. I had painted my first motif!
We have a motif!: I finally painted my first – albeit messy – motif onto my tote bag.
At this point, noticing how unsure I still felt, I chose to make my life simpler by just focusing on designing one side of my tote bag – blending the abstract and more realistic aspects of the sunflower together. I decided to paint an abstract sunflower and use pieces of cardboard to print the leaves.
Printing leaves: I cut out leaf shapes from a bunch of old carboard boxes and then used a sharpie to add some detail to the printed shape.
Since I had now well and truly diverted from my original design, I decided to just mess around a bit with the printing. I used a sponge to print on some abstract lines of coral and ochre and had a go at layering lines to create a bit of texture. I also painted on some more circles and had a go at overlapping them.
Lines and circles: I used a sponge to play about with printing and overlapping lines. I also painted some circles using a stencil I made from a cardboard box.
After printing lines and painting circles for a bit, this was the finished result. This is clearly very different from what I set out to do, but I got a lot from saying “ah, whatever” and randomly playing about with painting different shapes and creating different textures. I feel like I put way too much pressure on myself to create quite a complicated design, even though I haven’t done anything artistic in years. Letting go of the design I had planned actually allowed me to be more creative by giving me room to make mistakes without feeling like I had ruined my design.
Final design: My final design was pretty different from what I planned but it allowed me to play around and make mistakes!
Even though my tote bag didn’t end up looking the way I wanted it to, I still really enjoyed doing these masterclasses. I’m someone who really needs structure, and so the idea of just opening up a sketchbook or picking up a paintbrush without a plan is difficult for me to get my head around. The step-by-step format of Alice’s masterclasses have helped me to explore my creativity – digging it up from somewhere in the back of my brain after all these years – in a way that was accessible but still challenging in an enjoyable way. I’ve learned about the benefits of letting go of the high expectations I put on myself to produce things that are perfect or “right” and that there is just as much value in the creative process – where you’re learning, building knowledge, finding your flow, and making mistakes – as there is in a lovely finished product.
If you’re considering trying Alice’s masterclasses, all I can say is just jump in and give it a go. You don’t need to be good at drawing. You don’t need to be good at painting. You don’t need to even see yourself as a “creative person”. It’s something a wee bit different that can help give you some time to yourself where you can switch your mind off from everything else, learn a new skill, and maybe produce something brilliant at the end of it!
We’d absolutely love to see your doodles, motifs, and prints so please share them with us HERE. I really enjoyed sharing my progress with you – mistakes and all! Thanks so much for following along with me. Now, I’m off to have a think about what my next creative project might be…