Last month I had the pleasure and privilege to meet a wonderful clothing designer and maker named Amy Laws. For those of you unfamiliar with her work, take a look at her etsy store, Theres Only One Amy Laws, here which is full of her gorgeous hand-made, hand-printed clothing. She’s also a regular at the markets in and around her hometown of Bath.
I’ve been intrigued about screen printing for a long time now, having tried it many years ago on my Art Foundation course. Meeting Amy was particularly inspiring since she has developed her entire business from home, turning her bathroom into a dark room and her lounge into a sewing studio!
Here’s a little behind-the-scenes of how Amy creates her beautiful prints…
First she takes some silk mesh (32 or 48T) and some wood to make the frame. The wood is cut to size and the mesh pulled tightly across it and secured in place with a staple gun to make the ‘screen.’
She covers the screen with PHOTO EMULSION, which is a light-sensitive liquid that is applied in the dark using a squeegee. She makes sure the liquid is spread evenly, leaving a thin film on the mesh and then it’s left to dry in the dark for about 8 hours – nothing quick about this part!
Amy creates her designs using Adobe Illustrator and then prints them off from her computer onto acetate. When the screen is ready to expose, Amy puts it onto some black fabric and lays her design across the mesh, with some glass on top to hold it flush against it. The image is always black and goes on the outside of the screen, (which is the part which will eventually make contact with the fabric). She shines a 400 watt light directly onto the screen for about 20 mins (times do vary) but the black design protects the photo emulsion beneath from the light.
When it’s exposed, she rinses it with cold water and a sponge to remove the photo emulsion and leaves to dry in the natural light. As if by magic, the area which was covered by the black image has now had the design transferred to the mesh and is ready to print with!
Amy prepares her fabric and gets her (water-based) inks ready. She tapes around the edges on both sides with parcel tape to stop any ink leaking out the sides. She takes a squeegee and does one, preliminary drag of the ink down the screen without the fabric underneath. She often sticks the fabric to the work surface to stop it moving (and sometimes G-clamps to hold the screen in place). Then, with the screen laid onto the fabric, she drags the ink across to complete the first print.
Finally, here’s a preview of one of Amy’s latest designs, ready for Spring/Summer 15!
(buy the dress now by clicking here)
Good luck Amy and wishing you every success with your gorgeous new designs!