I was taught how to make screen prints by a fellow inmate as a teenager when I was incarcerated at Sexey's School in Bruton in the late 1970s. It is a time-consuming and fiddly process but boarding with scant supervision and few extra-curricular activities time was one thing we had plenty of; so I was able to master the basic techniques. Somewhat to my surprise I have kept my hand in ever since. There must be something therapeutic about messing around with silk screens, gloss paint fabric and dyes and there is definite job satisfaction in the end result. Creating a silk screen requires patience and close attention to detail and, as there is very little margin for error, mistakes cannot be rectified. It is an object lesson in delayed gratification.
I was delighted last weekend when my 15 year-old son Will expressed an interest in making up a screen and impressed when he came up with a bold design inspired by another relic from the 1970s – an old 'Sex Pistols' badge that had miraculously survived numerous relocations over the ensuing decades.
It is one thing to come up with a design but quite another to have the tenacity to apply gloss paint to silk for the hours and hours required to make the impermeable 'negative' that will only let ink penetrate where desired.
Happily he struck at it and, to my relief, when we finally had a crack at a test print it was an unmitigated success. I was doubly-satisfied – not only seeing a successful outcome from hours of planning and preparation but also from passing on skills that I had acquired at a similar age.
I'm terribly biased but I think the end result looks terrific and there is nothing like sporting a T-shirt that wouldn't exist if you hadn't been prepared to put in some hard graft. Commissions may be available on request!