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Learning to screen print at home

Portable Print Studio is a creative project spreading the art of screen printing far and wide. Founded by artist Sarah Simmonds, the studio pops up at schools, festivals, offices, museums and galleries, using a mobile model to bring craft to a wider audience. Over the weekend Sarah showed us how to screen print, by hosting a nature-themed print art workshop at The Collective Old Oak! To mark the event, we asked her to share some insights into her colourful world. Dive in below.

1. Berlin, where it all began

“This final shot is taken way back in 2007! After graduating from my BA in Printmaking from Brighton, I decided to move to Berlin. I set off alone with my bike and my desktop computer on the Eurolines bus from Victoria Station. This studio, BBK Druckwerkstatt in Kreuzberg, became my home for a year – and has set the bar for print studios since.”

2. Paints in action

“Process action shot – painting of the screen on one of our mono-print workshops.”

3. Pulling the print

“All hands on the squeegee – team work! This was taken at a workshop we ran in Camden last year. It was organised by the charity KIDS, which provides a wide range of support services to disabled children, young people and their families.”

4. Ink haul

“New concentrated colour pigments and medium/binder fresh from my supplier. I only use water-based ink – mostly for health and environmental reasons ,but I also believe they are just as good as their solvent counterparts. I mix all my inks by hand. The smaller bottles at the front are liquid colour pigments – they would make up about 10% of the final ink, while the bulk of the ink (the remaining 90%) is the medium/binder, in the large white tub you can see underneath. The medium/binder has a retarder in it, to stop the ink from drying in the screen whilst printing. Going forward, I hope to experiment more with natural pigments and plant based materials.”

5. Paint pots

“These are freshly mixed ink pots ready for a mono-print workshop. Fluoro-pink, sky blue, turquoise, brilliant red, purple, green, cyan & yellow. I usually add black too, as it helps the bright colours – particularly the fluorescents – pop. The photo was taken at the mixing ink area of Sonsoles Print Studio.”

6. Workshopping

“This is one of our signature shots taken before a workshop. The screens are fresh from the exposure unit, and ink-free. This design was for a workshop in the Horniman Museum & Garden, inspired by their collection. A paper cut-out of the popular Monstera leaf. The artwork is identical on both screens – the only difference is the colour of the synthetic mesh that is stretched across the aluminium frame. On the left, the mesh is yellow, indicating that it’s a mesh for printing onto paper, and on the right the mesh is white, indicating that it’s a mesh for printing onto textiles.”

7. Dead ink

“This is dead ink. It’s essentially a pot of combined leftover ink from our mono-print workshop. It always looks pretty spectacular, until someone gives it a stir and it inevitably turns grey or brown. I add concentrated black pigment to these once they’re full and reuse or upcycle them – otherwise it’s pretty wasteful.”

8. The end result

“Workshop photographs taken after a beginner’s course that we held at St Margaret House in Bethnal Green.”

9. And finally…

“10 postcard-sized screen prints that I made in response to the artist Candida Powell-Williams show, ‘The Vernacular History of the Golden Rhubarb’ at Bosse & Baum in Peckham last year.”