A day of design with Laura Spring

Today I was lucky enough to tag along to a print screening workshop at designer Laura Spring’s studio in Glasgow.

To give a bit of context, I work for Young Scot who are the national youth information and citizenship charity for 11 – 25 year olds. (I may, or may not have had to look on the website for that). Within Young Scot, I work in the Rewards team, where young people can collect points for participating in positive activities be it volunteering, reading an information article or completing a survey. They can then use their points to enter competitions, apply for unique experiences or claim rewards. Learning the basics of print screening with Laura Spring was an apply experience and a great example of how diverse and inspiring the opportunities can be.

You’ve got to take your work perks when you get them so I went along to capture the experience! Bea and Mhairi were selected for the experience, it was lovely to meet them and hear what they think about Young Scot and the Rewards program. Laura was so lovely and before we started the workshop we all sat down with a cup of tea so was a lovely ice breaker. I know I’m saying lovely a lot but the whole day was quite lovely.

Hive of creativity

Laura had asked us to bring along a design that we would want to print onto our tote bag. Bea and Mhairi (and Bea’s mum) produced some fantastic designs, so I was a little sheepish when I pulled out my quite amateur sheep design. Laura went round all of us giving us some advice on how our designs would work on print, what pens/paint to use etc. We then each went through the pre-press process of scraping emulsion over the screen in a very dark room and leaving it there for a while. This was followed by sticking our two designs to Laura’s homemade exposing machine, putting the emulsioned screen on top and then covering with carpet underlay and plonking some bricks on top to keep it secure. I beleive there are other techniques available but this is what works best for Laura. We left the screens for around half an hour and let the florescent lights work their magic.

Sheep design

Next stop was picking the colours. My design was quite simple so I opted for black and a nice grass green colour. There were a lot of colours to chose from, all nicely shelved in soup containers, and you could also make your own shades by adding different pigments. The grass green I was looking for was already made up but the others opted for different colours and mixed their way to the perfect shade! Colours picked, we headed for a lunch break. Some soup, with more containers coming Laura’s way for all her paint! After lunch we headed back up to the studio to pin our tote bags onto the table. She said this would be the worst part of the day and I am not shy in saying that I really struggled! Luckily, Bea was on hand to help me get my bags pinned down.

Finding the perfect shade

We had to line the screens up against the bags for printing and used masking tape to mark down on the table, ensuring that you’d print the screen in the right place. Next we got the paint out and put a generous amount on the screen, ready to move the squeegee across the board to print. I have to say it was a very satisfying process and applying the right amount of pressure left a bold colour. This process was repeated for the next three totes and then the screen and tools were pressure hosed until an inch of their lives. Again, a very satisfying process! You repeat this process for your second layer, after the first layer is dry.

Getting ready to print

It was a lovely day and kind of inspired me to get involved with things I wouldn’t normally. Which I guess is what the Rewards platform tries to offer young people. The screen printing workshop was fab and caters for all skills sets, you really do not have to have any experience, you don’t even have to be particularly arty (like me!). It was great to hear about Laura’s experiences of starting out and how she got to where she was which was excellent and encouraging for Bea and Mhairi who are planning on pursing careers in the industry.

Thanks again to Laura Spring, Craft Scotland and of course Young Scot for organising the opportunity!

The finished product





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