Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tour of Chicago Silk Screen

Yesterday, the employees of Chicago Silk Screen were nice enough to give some Lill St students a tour of their facilities. One of the oldest screen printing business in the city, Chicago Silk Screen is downright fascinating. Did you know that practically everything is silk screened? Plastic buckets, glass bottles, and a lot of those giant vinyl banners! And each of these objects requires it's own special screen.

Alan Shust, CSS production manager and our wonderful tour guide, took us through their process.

This is a room-sized camera englarger used to create the films needed to burn the screen. Before digital printing became popular, this is how all films were created. CSS has two of these devices which can make films 4' x 6' and larger!

Stretching a giant aluminum screen! That little device is a "tense-ometer" so that they know that the screen is stretched properly.

The team at CSS coats their screens a little differently than we do at Lill St: because they are preparing screens that will be used to make thousands and thousands of prints, the screens need extra emulsion. It was fun to talk shop with the pros! Here, Fransisco is coating screens used to print styrofoam coffee cups!

The screens are then burns on this beautiful Vacuum UV light table! (Swoooon...)

And rinsed in the washout station (we should BE so lucky!)

CSS also has a department that takes the used mesh out of old screens restretches them.

Stretching wood screen must be SOO much easier with that pneumatic staple gun!

The basement... where silk screens go to be reborn!

All in all the tour was FASCINATING. Thanks so much for the employees of Chicago Silk Screen for being so hospitable and thanks again to Alan Shust for being such a fantastic tour guide! If you have any printing needs, we highly recommend these guys! (Check out more photos from the tour at my flickr!)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Printing Wallpaper with Jennifer Angus

In just under a month I will be headed to Maine to take another class at Haystack Mountain School of Craft! This is the second class I have been lucky enough to take at Haystack; the first was a totally amazing knitting class with Janet Morten. Haystack is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen- practically hanging off Maine's coast, the weathered wooden classrooms and dormitories create an artistic haven that fosters community, creativity and inventiveness. I am SOOOO excited to be going back! The class I will be taking this summer is a Screen Printed Wallpaper class taught by artist Jennifer Angus.

Screen printing wallpaper is an idea that I have toyed around with for a number of years. Note: I said an idea. Although I've wanted to try it for a while, I've never managed to make it happen. I feel like wallpaper and textiles are very much related to one another. Both are decorative emblems of domesticity. Historically and contemporarily, wall paper and textiles have helped shape the individuals relationship to the home. I think that textiles and walls are both able to create a certain sense of coziness- you wrap or enclose yourself in them, you embellish them, you make them part of yourself.

It is these feelings of comfort that Jennifer Angus challenges.
"In her work, bugs are pinned directly to museum and gallery walls in patterns that reference both textiles and wallpapers. A common theme runs through this work: the interplay of the feelings of comfort experienced when viewing familiar patterns and the realization on closer inspection that the comforting familiar is actually made up of insects, something most people feel apprehension for. " (FiberArts Magazine)

Through her many installations, Angus explored themes ranging from the odd sensation of Victorian bug collecting, to colorful Kimono fabrics, to oriental carpets: all with the aim of creating conflict between beauty and uncomfort while also drawing the viewers attention to social and ecological truths.


I have already started brainstorming what kinds of wallpaper I'd like to print while I'm in Maine. Have I already said I'm excited?? I AM SO EXCITED. (Click on the links for more information about Jennifer Angus!)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Happy Basting Day!

Here's another blog post I did for!

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Last week was basting day in my Traditional American Block Quilting Class!

Basting Day!

Because basting- the temporary stitches that hold together your quilt top, the batting and your backing fabric so you can quilt through all the layers- is one of the last steps, it is also one of the most exciting. Really, it's kind of like a holiday. It's the first time you get a real sense of what your quilt is going to look and feel like and you can see the warm, cozy light at the end of the tunnel.

Monkey Wrench Basting Demo
Or, in this case, a warm and cozy potholder. (My demo sample.)

Everyone is working on separate project and they are all coming out lovely!

Jessica Stapp
Jessica basting her sampler.

Tracy Kremer
Tracy's making a set of potholders that look like a picnic! Doesn't that green cordouroy remind you of astroturf?

Katie Brown
Making a cat bed. Best night sleep that cat'll ever have

Dawn Dorsey
Basting her sampler lap-quilt. Ooh pretty!

Check out more photos at my flickr! And be sure to stop by this weekend's festivities to see some more quilt blocks on display in the textiles department. I'm hoping to be able to teach this class again in the fall or winter- anyone interested?

Hope you see you there!