In March 2017 I decided to set up in business selling screen prints. This was during a trip to Poland with my husband who helped me come up with the name (more on this in a previous post here!). Here's my studio (and joint office!) space as it looks today - but it hasn't always looked like that!
During the week I work in a 9-5 job which isn't traditionally 'creative' so this is the perfect opportunity to keep my creative side going! With the closure of Leeds College of Art's short courses I needed to get thinking about how I could carry on printing regularly. I love being around other printmakers but I also really enjoy printing on my own. I was really inspired by Hello DODO's home studio on Instagram so got int touch with Ali, co-owner of Hello DODO who gave me some top tips (thanks Ali!).
After this I started to think about how I could set up at home on a budget...
We have a spare room at the top of the house that has been a little neglected... mostly because we had a damp problem. Here is the room below in various states of repair! We decided to get this fixed so we could take the studio from what it looked like below, to what it looks like now! This post talks through how I made the space into a studio space on a tight budget.
I started off researching what equipment I'd need - in the college studio we had fancy vacuum beds to keep prints straight and I was worried I'd need one of these! Turns out an old bench from eBay for £50 and some clamp hinges for £13 (also from EBay!) did the job very well! I painted the bench in white to match my studio - here's a shot of the set up. We made a curtain to cover the front (that's where I keep a lot of equipment and packing stuff!).
Next up was buying equipment and screens - I've found Handprinted.co.uk a great place to buy screens. The aluminium frames they sell are brilliant. I opted to buy 5 screens but I definitely don't need that many at once! The great thing about screen printing is the ability to strip the screens and replace it with another design. My top tip would be always buy aluminium frames - they dry quicker and they don't warp. I bought a wooden frame (from a different seller) and it fell apart once I'd used it a few times! I've stored the screen to the side of my printing table and they just rest against each other (when I was at the college I was worried I'd need a wooden holder than separated them out, but this isn't the case).
I bought the consumable items from Seawhite and am really impressed by the quality. I bought all my paper/card, printing medium and acrylic paints from Seawhite. Seawhite's paper is great quality - I love thick paper/card to print on (around 300gsm for any paper fans out there!) as I think it gives prints a higher quality look and feel.
I mix all my own colours from acrylic paint mixed with printing medium (that's the big tub below) - I love doing it this way as it means I can mix lots of different tones!
For squeegees I headed to Hunt the Moon who do great aluminium and wooden squeegees. It's best to have a few in different sizes to match the size of your design. I opted for a mini one (look at how small it is!), a medium one and a large one.
All other bits and pieces I needed I bought from eBay sellers - these include parcel tape for masking off the screens whilst printing, bags in different sizes for protecting and selling the prints, envelopes and masking tape for guiding where prints should be on the print bed.
Preparing the screens
This is the hardest part of setting up and one I still haven't mastered at home, but it doesn't worry me too much as I get to go to the lovely Leeds Print Workshop to expose my screens! Creating a stencil on the screen to print through involves quite a lot of equipment so I'm very lucky to have them based a 10 minute walk away from work in Leeds City Centre. More on this at a later date when I'm going to post up about how you can get screens ready for printing.
The expensive bit!
Every other part of the process has been relatively affordable but the parts that need some investment are screens and a guillotine. I opted for a Dahle guillotine and it makes things a lot easier to cut up than having to take prints into the college studio to use their industrial one!
I've used this set up plenty of times now and I'm really impressed with being able to print when I like and in my own house! I'm still a big fan of going into a shared studio space as you get to talk to other people who are doing similar work. If you're interested in asking any questions about setting up at home get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org - I had lots of questions when setting up and no question is too small if you want some advice in setting up!