House Portraits

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Why buy a screenprint?

Since I started printmaking (only a year and a half ago), I’ve explained to lots of people how screen prints are made. Having come across quite a few people who don’t know what they are, who can blame them for not seeing why they should pay more for a screen print over a digital print?

The super short version (in my case) is… they are handmade, limited edition, printed using archival inks and (usually) on acid free paper, so they are safe from discolouring or fading. I do like to experiment by printing on coloured/recycled papers too - these are not acid free and can discolour if placed in the sun, for example, so I price these prints much lower to reflect that. Whether on acid-free paper or not, a screen print should be looked after… You might be pushing your luck if you hang it above a radiator or in a damp room, for example, and a professional framer would use an acid free mount inside your frame, too.

Experimenting at printing on coloured paper

The digital prints I sell are printed on high quality, heavy weight board and are digitally press printed. You will get lots of joy out of them and they are a perfect choice if you want some purse friendly art to make your walls look beautiful! A screen print, however, would be more of a special purchase. Not only will it’s quality last for a lifetime, but it will be limited edition. Only so many have been made the same. It might be printed again in a different colour or variation, or brought out as a subsequent edition and marked clearly that it’s from an additional run. 

See the bottom left corner, usually, where the print is individually numbered out of how many prints were made. So if your print is marked 3/20, that means that only 20 were made of that variation. Prints can be numbered from 1/1 (a single print) to numbers in their hundreds or thousands. So the lower the out-of number, the more valuable it might be… especially if the artist makes it big! I keep my print runs short for now - I currently have no editions that are larger than twenty. Things can go wrong, too, so there is a number of prints that aren’t included in the edition because they’re not good enough.

An example of a print, numbered in the bottom left corner
(my signature goes over on the bottom right).

As well as its long lasting quality and limited edition; each print has, of course, been made by hand and has involved much more of the artists time and attention than you might realise… which leads me on to the juicy stuff… how a screen print is made! 

There is some labour and a lot of love that goes into a screen print. First of all we need the facilities. I make my prints at West Yorkshire Print Workshop in Mirfield. I choose a screen first - I hire it for the session, which means transferring my design to it first and then removing it at the end of the session. 

I coat the screen with a light sensitive fluid called Azocol, using a trough and a pulling action. You have to wear rubber gloves because it can be harmful to the skin, get the lid back on the tub as quick as you can so it’s not damaged by the light, then get the screen into the drying cupboard quick sharp before it’s exposed to too much light. Then you wait for about half an hour while it dries and you eat a sandwich or prepare your artwork.  

The first stage - the coated screen drying

Once the Azocol has dried, it’s then time to transfer the artwork to the screen, using a transparent overlay. There are different ways to create the overlay, but the way that suits my work best is to scan my drawings in and then print them on to transparent film. The screen is placed inside a large UV light exposure unit, with the artwork overlay underneath. A lid is closed and a vacuum is used to hold everything in place, while the screen is exposed to the UV light for a set amount of time. 

My artwork on acetate, ready to transfer to the screen
The screen inside the light exposure unit, note the vacuum action!

Once the screen is taken out of the exposure unit, it is then washed. The areas that were blocked from the UV light will wash away from the mesh, leaving a stencil behind, ready to print from. It needs to dry first, so time for another sandwich or cutting paper/mixing ink. Once the screen is dry, it’s ready to print from, hooray! 

Block colour stencil transferred to the silk screen
Linework layer on a separate screen (I printed both layers on different days)

The screen gets clamped into a frame to keep everything in the same place throughout printing. Paper is held in place using a vacuum bed. I mix my ink with a medium that will help it push through the mesh without drying too quick and then use a squeegee to push the ink through the screen on to the paper. This is the bit that feels amazing! 

The screen clamped in place


Multicolour squeegee action!
I swear not all my prints are in pink!

Using the squeegee to push the shiny, rolling pile of ink downwards feels lovely and it’s then so exciting to lift up the frame and screen to see how the print has come out. There can be some troubleshooting along the way, as they don’t always come out perfect. You have to work quick, so that the ink doesn’t dry into the mesh and block the stencil. It is meditative and I always have a moment when I think, ‘I haven’t been thinking about anything else since I got here!’ and my mind feels very clear. It’s a lovely, therapeutic process.

Lifting the screen to reveal the result

Happy prints, drying on the racks
After that comes the sad bit… cleaning the screen. Wearing rubber gloves and goggles, the screen has to be coated with a chemical called Pregasol and left to sit for a few minutes, while the pretty picture starts to fade. It feels like on Mary Poppins when it starts raining and the chalk picture land gets ruined. 

Sad screen about to be washed
Printing in the summer = sweaty brow.
I haven't been wearing these the whole time...
just for the Pregasol.

The screen is sprayed clean with a pressure washer, which removes all traces of Azocol (the chemical we used at the beginning) and the design. If you have your own screens and want to keep the design on for next time, you can just wash the paint off. I don’t have my own screens yet, but hopefully this year I will be getting some and that will save me some time.

Well, I’ve written a right proper essay. If you’re still reading, thankyou! I hope you learnt something and feel a bit more knowledgable next time you’re looking round a print fair.

For further geeking out, here are some links I’ve found helpful in the past… and of course, you can check out my range of both digital and screen prints here.

A good little explanation of acid-free paper:

Quick tips on signing prints:

Some further explanation of different print edition initials:

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Monday, 3 April 2017

The Cantastic Cookbook - a quirky little cookbook zine that celebrates the contents of your tin stash!

Hello boys and girls!

I'm sorry it's been a little while. I like to babble you see, so I seem to think I need time to babble if I'm going to sit and blog. But I know I should blog more and babble less so here's a quick hello and an update on one of my latest projects... The cantastic cookbook.

The Cantastic Cookbook on my etsy shop

I decided to make a cookbook zine when I was preparing for Sheffield Zine Festival in February. I was told by one of the organisers that my work would fit in well, even though I didn't have any zines exactly. Securing a place at the zine festival seemed like the perfect excuse to set myself the challenge of producing my first zine.




Some bits from my sketchbook


A lot of people have asked me what a zine is, so incase you don't know, it's basically a self made publication, often on a (sometimes very niche) topic or theme that the maker or writer is passionate about. And I'm passionate about food. Very! Food is my hobby and I love to think and talk about it as much as possible, as well as eat it. So a cookbook zine was the natural result of my brainstorming. I am also a very thrifty lady and I pride myself on my moneysaving weeks between food shops (struggling artist and all that), when I get creative with what's in my cupboards when all the fresh things have gone.


All the copies were hand folded and stapled,
with the covers printed on lovely multi-coloured sugar paper

I definitely want to make more food zines in future - there are so many cross referenced collections in my notebook of different things I make for different reasons... I'm a big believer in medicinal cookery and will tell anyone who will listen! Some people won't believe that there are foods that can help stop a cold in it's tracks for example. I'll save that for another day, anyway, or another zine...





I do feel like quite a healthy lady and there was a time when I couldn't imagine feeling like that. It's happened over a long time, but if you'd have told me five years ago that I would end up over four stone lighter (or that I would love mushrooms, or get a kick out of kidney beans), I wouldn't have believed you. Don't get me wrong, my love for food combines treaty things with lots of healthy food too. But I think it was still worth noting that I'm quite mindful with food and that the recipes are balanced, use lots of veg, don't involve any suspicious processed ingredients and are pretty low in fat and sugar.

That was the serious part! But rest assured my zine is actually quite silly and hopefully a bit funny. Producing it as a zine made me feel more comfortable in being myself and letting my quirky humour be free. Readers will hopefully get to know me a little and laugh a bit at the same time.

I shall leave it there and hope that people let me know what they think!

Here is the link if you want to get your mitts on a copy for just £3. It is also currently available to buy in my Artist Showcase in The Civic, Barnsley.

Thankyou for reading, have a fantastic or cantastic day (whichever suits). Guess I did have time to babble after all!

Friday, 10 February 2017

The Makery in Barugh Green, Barnsley

I have a new local stockist!

I recently discovered that The Makery in Barugh Green is run by the staff and students from Greenacre School, a school in Barnsley for children and young people aged 3-19 with severe and complex needs.



It is such a lovely space - half of the shop is stocked with high quality, crafted items made by both local makers and the learners at Greenacre. The other half is laid out as a vintage inspired cafe, serving homemade cakes and afternoon teas. With it's open plan layout, it's nice to see the table at the back, behind the counter area, where students learn together and where crafting sessions for children's birthday parties take place. It has a lovely, calm atmosphere and a perfect place to stock my work I thought.




The Makery has stocked a selection of my 
illustration prints, colouring books and mugs.

Shopping and eating at The Makery is a lovely way to support both the school and local makers - with donations from artists' sales going towards the school - the cafe and shop provides a place where students can learn in a vocational environment and get work experience. Locally crafted items include home decor and gifts, greetings cards, knitted delights and framed artwork.





To find out more about The Makery, you can visit their Facebook page here.

The Makery, Barugh Green Road, S75 1JT

Opening Hours:
Monday - Wednesday 9am-5pm
Thursday 10am-4pm
Friday 9am-5pm
Saturday 9am-4pm
Closed Sundays



Thursday, 26 January 2017

Bridlington Contemporary Art Gallery

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the opening of Bridlington Contemporary. Supported by East Street Arts, an old Cooperative supermarket has been converted to the new exhibition space and studio of contemporary artists, Nigel Folds and Vivien Stamford.

Lots of the supermarket features remain, including fridges and checkouts, used as stands for Nigel's canvases - they were my favourite bit! These quirky features and the sheer size of the space provide an exciting and inspirational backdrop for the artwork.

On show is 'Garden of Signs' by Nigel Folds and 'Sea Cloths and other pieces' by textile artist, Vivien Stamford, until the 14th March. A wonderful venture for the artists and community, it is well worth a visit for the curious, as well as art lovers. Plus, you can have lots of seaside fun while you're there, like I did... 2p machines, donuts, fish and chips, a haunted house, I crammed in all the novelty coastal delights and couldn't have wished for more!

Find out more about the gallery here, where you can view photos of the transformation progress, from it's original state as an supermarket to a contemporary and inspirational space.

Painted canvases propped up on checkouts

The big open space exciting lots of people

Artwork and supermarket fridges living joyfully beside eachother

The old stock room provides a separate space (and more to explore)

Nigel's materials and work in progress to be seen alongside finished artwork.






Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Etsy Made Local, Sheffield - December 2016

So my January has been a little less crazy than December, which means I am working through a few things I needed to catch up on, blogging being one of them! I've been mega busy lately and feel like I've got a really good momentum going now - having a day job plus running a double-sided business (being a freelance illustrator and having an online shop) does take some getting used to, but I now feel like I get enough chill time to savour as well as working like a beaver!

Etsy Made Local in December was my first full weekend fair and I felt so privileged to be there. Not only was Sheffield Town Hall a beautiful, festive and atmospheric venue, but the people were absolutely wonderful. The Etsy Sheffield team were brilliantly organised and the city centre location meant lots of footfall, feedback and sales too - hooray!

Visit my etsy shop here to see what you missed or what I've added to my shop since.

Here are some photos of my stall and the venue...






Though I spotted lots of gorgeous things to ask Santa for, I had to be strict not to buy for myself, for all my pennies and more had gone on expenses recently. But I instantly fell in love with this little guy and HAD to call him mine!



This gorgeous little bear is made by Holly Balfour of Holly Heartfelt. Since seeing her lovely characters at Etsy Made Local, I have followed her on instagram and love seeing her adorable quirky creations, many with endearing, smiling faces like my bear! 

I was also delighted when I found a basket of felted acorns (oh, I did buy more than one thing then) - they felt so delicate and all different from each other. I love saving real acorns when I find them on a walk, but unfortunately they do perish, so Holly's felt acorns had Josephine written allover them. I decided they made fabulous earrings for my Christmas reindeer:


One of the amazing organisers of Etsy Made Local was Sophie Cooke, a milliner and owner of Imogen's Imagination. Sophie makes beautifully vintage inspired hats and accessories, I loved her headbands with big bows on and most of all, gorgeous felt berets. Her lovely website is very inspirational to look at for style ideas for yourself as well as great gifts.

I have always been a beret fan (though I haven't had one I've been attached to for a while) and I saw a particular one I fancied on the website before the christmas market. When I saw that the navy beret with navy velvet ribbon wasn't at the market, but tried lots of other lovely ones on, I casually mentioned this to Santa (my boyfriend) and what a gem, he remembered! So this is me modelling my very special christmas present...






Friday, 6 January 2017

Happy New Year! A new work round up.

Hello and happy new year!

I hope you have all had a wonderful start to the year so far. I got so busy towards the end of the year, so I thought I'd do a quick round up and share some snaps of new work I've recently listed on my etsy shop. 

Regular blogging is not my strongest point, so do please follow me on twitter, instagram or Facebook for updates in between my more detailed blog posts :)




A 24 page colouring book full of busy streets, detailed houses,
quirky shops and lots of bricks to colour!


Printed in Leeds, Yorkshire. Dishwasher & microwave safe.


Printed in Leeds, Yorkshire. Dishwasher & microwave safe.




Sheffield Town Hall Screen Prints, £48-£50
Available in blue and pink, pink/purple tonal and single colours coming soon.
Limited edition, numbered and signed
Printed by myself in Mirfield, Yorkshire, using archival inks and acid free paper.




Available in blue, pink and yellow.
Limited edition, numbered and signed
Printed by myself in Mirfield, Yorkshire, using archival inks and acid free paper.