9 December 2012

Screen printing at The Make Lounge

Let me start by saying: I have a habit of biting off more than I can chew. This class was no exception. However, this is not in any way due to it being too complex or anything like that. Sadly, it seems I just like to set myself one hell of a task.

Screen printing in its most basic form involves a simple stencil, some fabric (or paper), printing inks and some silk screen equipment - a frame and a squeegee. Having done a fair bit of screen printing at university, I clearly had much bigger ideas. However, an advanced course, this isn't. It is back to basics and brilliantly so. Helen, our teacher for the evening, explained how it works and how you created both negative and positive images. We then set about designing our stencils. Having been advised to have an idea in mind, I brought in a pair fully mocked up designs. Not so much ideas as "I want this please":

These were the simpler of my original ideas too - I was originally going to do a Dia De Los Muertes sugar skull design, but that would have been impossibly fiddly.I settled for the four bird design once I realised that lining up the overlaps on the six bird design was going to be a rather large bird-shaped headache. As screen printing is quite time-consuming (and as my printing partner had also gone for a rather complex design) I decided to go from three colours to two.

The process itself is fun and messy - you set up your frame, sealing off any areas you don't want ink to seap through, then add the ink and pull the squeegee across the image. The result though, is a simple and very eye-catching design.

the finished result

The Make Lounge will provide you with a tote bag (large or small), a tea towel or a pencil case (of which you get to pick two items). If you want any more, you have to buy them or you can do what I did and bring your own items to print. I wanted to make cushion covers, so I ordered them from here a few days ahead of the class.

The screen printing class at The Make Lounge costs £57 and includes two items to screen print, snacks and wine.

The Make Lounge

5 December 2012

Hidden London - Aldwych Station

I've always been a bit of a London Underground geek - from the history of the lines themselves and the disused stations to the iconic logo, maps and typography, it's proved to be a minor obsession. So when the London Transport Museum announced that they were throwing open the doors of Aldwych station for a number of days over the Christmas period, I leapt at the chance. I've always thought Leslie Green's Underground stations with their distinctive red glazed brickwork, Edwardian styling and bottle green tilework were beautiful, so couldn't wait for a snoop around.

Which is how I came to find myself shivering in a queue in a quiet side street of London near the Thames. We had our bags checked by a museum volunteer, who also checked that our shoes were both flat and practical should we need to be evacuated down the tracks to Holborn. After a 15 minute wait, my husband and I found ourselves inside and I couldn't resist but photograph everything in sight, and this was before the tour had even started.

Aldwych station facade

entrance to booking hall


 book here

We were given a potted history of Aldwych station  (you can read more here if you're interested) before being taken below ground to see the platforms. The westbound platform is the one most people are familiar with - Aldwych only had one "functional" platform for the vast majority of its working life as the Eastbound one was closed in 1917. The westbound platform is the one that was open up until 1994 and has been used as a film set for films like Atonement, V for Vendetta, 28 Weeks Later and various music videos alongside of being an air raid shelter in both world wars. The posters on this platform tend to change with each filming project and as such are reproduction posters.

 tunnel to the westbound platform

posters on the westbound platform - the two on the right are reproductions

train on the westbound platform

front of train - actually a 1970's Northern Line train!


The eastbound platform in some ways is far more interesting - it ceased to be used after WW1 and was used to store treasures from the V&A and British Museum during the second world war. The posters here are original as this platform was often used as a test platform - from testing the glue to put up posters (still going strong after 40 years in some cases -it must be good!) to experimental tiles eventually used at Piccadilly Circus.

original posters on the eastbound platform

experimental tiles eventually used at Piccadilly Circus

more posters - all dating from around the 1970's

and a view of the Eastbound platform

When we finally returned to the surface, we were greeted up glasses of mulled wine and the TfL choir serenading us with a combination of old-time popular songs (Daisy Bell and Let's All Go Down To The Strand) and well known Christmas carols.

 R humoured me as I wanted to recreate the Anton Corbin Joy Division photograph. Also, a mysterion Bakerloo Line sign...

This current run of Aldwych visits is sold out, but LTM seem to open its doors about once or twice a year, so it's well worth keeping your eyes peeled for another set of visits.

way out

London Transport Museum