A day in the studio

/ By Jacqui Ma

Last week i dragged myself away from my laptop and spent a day in a screen printing studio with my pal Mark from Planet Patrol Studio, he offered to volunteer his time to make some tote bags for a charity fundraiser to raise money for the Hackney Food bank and also thank the hardworking, superhuman folk at the NHS at the same time. 

I designed the bags based on the iconic THANKYOU disposable plastic bag used all around the world, particularly in New York. These bags have become urban artefacts. You can read about them in this article in the New York Times. They are on the verge of being banned due to environmental reasons but their design lives on in the shape of reuseable tote bags. 

Iconic plastic bags of new york - thankyou plastic bag

The first job was to create the artwork which i did on my computer. I used adobe illustrator to do this and i resized the artwork and saved it as a tif so that it could be photocopied onto a transparency ready for getting onto the screen. 

Artwork for NHS thankyou tote bag

I ad a bunch of tote bags hanging around in my storage area and thought i would put them to good use and learn a new skill at the same time.

the transparency on the tote bag

Once the transparency was prepared we laid it out on the tote bag to position it. Becuase the artwork only consisted of one single colour, it wasn't really super duper important that it lined up with anything, as long as it looked good and relatively centred on the bag. 

Mixing paint

Next we mixed the paint - or as screen printers call it, 'ink' (it looks just like paint to me 😊) Although you can mix fancy colours by adding different colours together, we decided to go for a standard blue colour straight out of the pot. Given that this was my first time screen printing, probably a wise choice. I wasn't sure why we tipped the ink into the bucket, but as time went on throughout the day i realised why. 

The little white bottle (with the white lid) is the medium which you mix together (in the bucket) which helps the ink not to dry too fast, which i later realised is important. 

burning the transparency onto the screen

This shows the image being "burnt" onto the screen or in screen printers lingo, "exposing the screen" i call it the giant photocopier. It a pretty serious piece of equipment which i stayed well away from.

the screenAfter the screen has been exposed, you need to go to a wet room to wash out the screen with water so you are left with the negative image. Screen printers call this "blasting out the screen". It takes quite a bit of water and patience and once you are done you are ready to rock and roll... well sort of.

holding the screen 
The studio needs to be well lit and have plenty of space to spread things out on, we worked at this long bench shown below which was covered with fabric and paints splodges.

Screen printing studio east london

And here below is the final product, which i was so happy with. The Goodordering x Planet Patrol Thankyou tote bag. We did a limited run of 33 and all £10 is being donated straight over to the Hackney Food bank as soon as they are all sold. 

Goodordering x planet patrol thankyou NHS tote bags

Drying the bags
After printing the 33 bags that we had with us, we had to turn them inside out and press them to fix the ink onto the bag. This is done for t shirts and things like that too that need to go through the wash.

I'm wearing my Goodordering limited edition work smock which you can buy HERE. 




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