Well after months of planning and preparation, we were finally ready for the very first Printed By us screen printing workshop. It's quite surreal when something you've been thinking about and imagining for such a long time is actually happening. I'd spent most of the previous night dreaming about all the various ways in which it could go wrong but hopefully everything would go to plan on the day.
The wonderful David Gasi from Sheffield Print Club was leading the workshop and introducing Danielle, James and Hugo to the craft of hand screen printing. David taught me how to screen print a few weeks ago and so I was on hand to help out.
David with his disarming Aussie twang was a really friendly and engaging teacher which gave everyone the confidence to get stuck-in and give it a go.
"I thought I'd be rubbish at [printing] because I'm terrible at DIY – don't ask me to put up a shelf for you...But I actually picked it up really quickly and it's really fun to do" said James as he was pulling some immaculate prints.
I was amazed at how quickly and naturally everyone seemed grasp the technique and after a few test prints on scrap paper we quickly got into printing onto the high quality card and the prints were coming out beautifully.
It was great to take a step back and just watch Danielle, Hugo and James all really working as a team; taking turns, helping each other get the paper correctly aligned, printing, quality checking and then placing the print to dry on the drying racks. In a way, it was like a mini production line, but the room was filled with laughter and positive words – everyone was taking joy in seeing the work of their hands producing the beautiful prints.
It was a long, exhausting day but an incredible first workshop. Everyone enjoyed themselves, learned a new skill and was proud of what they had achieved – which is the real value of the workshops. On top of that, we now have a short run of superb prints ready for the people of Sheffield and beyond to buy and support future workshops.
"This morning I was trying to think of an excuse not to come today because I don't like new things. But I'm so glad I turned up – I've learned so much" saidJames as we were all cleaning the screens and tidying up. For me this sums up everything I hoped that Printed By us would be – something that is fun, encouraging and life-giving to everyone involved.
David also had a few words to say about the day:
“The tentative initial steps we sought to take with Mark and the Printed By Us project quickly turned into giant strides. Seeing the confidence in Danielle, Hugo and James lift throughout the day was a real joy. Apart from producing top quality prints, they were brilliant students, full of questions, good humour and eager to learn. We’re just so pleased to be involved with such a wonderful project and can’t wait for the next workshop."
Exclusive prints from the first Printed By us workshop are now available from our website Shop.
So there you have it: Printed By us workshop number one. The first of many I hope.
Mark Musgrave – freelance designer and doer