Monday, August 17, 2009

Not a thing, but fun nonetheless

Saturday morning I headed off into town to learn how to do screen printing at Arts@Trinity. Holy Trinity is, well, a church. Consecrated and everything. It has a crypt, and odd gantries, and space where you wouldn't expect space, and a cafe. And because all the buildings around it have been knocked down to build an enormous shopping centre it's standing by itself in the middle of town for the first time in decades. So I wandered in, found the group (who were in the vestry, the only room that could be blacked out) and the tutor (Louise) who were mixing emulsion.

Ok, this is how the process goes:
  • Mix some gloppy stuff with a silver halide to make it photosensitive.
  • spread a thin, thin layer of gloppy stuff onto some mesh that's glued into a frame.
  • let everything dry.
  • print off your image onto transparency. (I used the T&C logo, and because there was space for two I did a Seal of Rassilon, just for geek points.)
  • Put the image onto the photosensitive mesh, and turn a light on. Leave to expose for 15 minutes.

So at this point the wheels sort of fell off the day. We had one exposure unit so were doing screens one at a time, and the first person to expose his screen went into the vestry after the 15 minutes to discover the bulb had blown. We had no way of knowing when the bulb had blown, but one thing was for sure: we had no spare. So while Peter (his name was Peter) was washing his screen (the next step; scrub the screen, and the emulsion that was exposed remains on the screen, and the blacked out stuff washes out) I was deemed the most capable person in the group, so went with the organiser to find a new bulb.

The organiser was from Wakey, a nice lady called Helen, who didn't know the Leeds one-way system so I was giving directions to Maplin - which was hilarious, and involved me shouting "no! not that way!" as we were driving into incoming traffic a bit. Maplin didn't have the 1KW bulbs we needed, so we went to B&Q, which was quite a bit further away. Alas! No bulbs there either. Then I had a brainwave; Ring, the factory lighting shop, carries all sorts of whizzy kit that you never find anywhere else, so I directed Helen there, and joy! They had a bulb (we bought two) and even fitted it for us. Back to Trinity, having been out doing this for 45 minutes.

We got the exposure unit back to normal, put my screen on and exposed my images. Peter's, unfortunately, hadn't worked properly because they'd not exposed for long enough. But, mine did work. Here's my screen:
My screen
And everybody elses worked too, more or less.

So, when your screen has been washed and dried, you have lunch. Lunch was lovely, provided by Helen and eaten on trestle tables in front of the altar. The only space big enough to set out the tables we needed was up on the dais, and so we were sat there, munching tasty pie, looking at the stained glass and plasterwork. It was a somewhat surreal moment; thanks to my Catholicism I have a "churches should be quiet, contemplative places" thing, and this was anything but.

Once lunch was over we tidied up, and started printing. First, tape up any clear bits on the screen that you don't want ink to go through. Next, mix your colours. We were using System 3 inks, which are basically acrylic paints mixed with more gloopy stuff labelled "screen printing medium".
Inks & stuff
Mix the colour you want in a paper cup, then guestimate how much ink is in there and add the same quantity of medium, so if you're mixing a purple and have four squidges of crimson and one of cobalt blue, add five squidges of medium. This stuff dries quite quickly once it's spread thin, but in the cup it'll last for a while. Put whatever you're printing on underneat the screen, put some ink onto the bottom of the image, and using a squeegee spread the ink over the image. Then force the squeegee back over the image to scrape as much ink as you can off, then shift the screen out of the way as quick as you can, to stop the ink bleeding through your nice crisp edges. Voila! done.

We had some quite complex images from other people; one chap printed line drawings of a 1980s supercar, and a quite complex lion image. Another chap had a high-contrast monotone selfportrait, there were some self-penned works, and someone had a book of ancient greek designs that other people took images from (an owl was quite popular). We practised on some paper first.


Then we moved onto T-shirts if we had them. I only brough three t-shirts with me, so ran out quite quickly. Thankfully there was plenty of time so I ran out to get more, which I also ran through in no time at all. The problem then was drying them sufficiently to be able to take them home. We ended up using the pews as clothes horses.
Screens & shirts
The screens obviously had to be washed between different colours being applied, but also had to be washed if left for a couple of minutes without having ink applied, as ink would dry on the screen and cause splotches on the material. I was very impressed at the resilience of the screen; it stood up to quite a bit of scrubbing as we tried to get ink out that had set hard. There were buckets of water for washing stuff up in, and it was a good job there was tarpaulin on the floor!

Eventually, we were done. A quick tidy up, wrapping the still damp shirts in paper, and putting the tables away, it was like we'd never been there. Because I mentioned pinholes and matchboxes during the day, as well as Photocamp and Exposure Leeds (which is where I originally heard of the workshop) I've been invited to run a similar session sometime after September, and I'm looking forwards to that already.

I have to say; the organisation was perfectly fine, we had plenty of time and didn't feel rushed, and Louise, the tutor, did a fine job and was endlessly patient with us all. As part of an arts project called Trans=Send the unused prints were going to be used as envelopes and sent to a similar church in Sunderland; a great use of resources, I feel.

Results? Oh, I'm happy. I've learned a new technique, I have another thing I want to stuff into a studio (I might just bite the bullet and ask for space at Temple Mill), I met some fun people and I came away with whizzy t-shirts.
t&c t-shirt

Monday, August 10, 2009

Day 159, 100809 Wordle

Whoops! I miscounted and thought that 120+30 was 160. Foolish boy, can't perform basic arithmetic. So, have a Wordle that's 9 days late. Next one will be on Day 180.

From Screen Captures

Day 159, 100809

Before I talk about this weekend, I just want to mention walkies from last Sunday (the 2nd) a bit. That particular Sunday I was up bright and early to go walking with Matt, Cathy and Mavis in the North Yorkshire Moors.

We met Matt at the Moorcock in Langdale End, possibly the most peculiar pub I've ever been in, and set off up a hill. Unfortunately Matt had to turn back about a third of the way in, and Mavis went back with him; Cathy and I carried on. It was a bit muddy, there were a lot of flying bitey things (I was bitten on the shoulder; it looks like I'm growing a second head), and at the turn-around point we had to ford a river and navigate through a whopping collection of of trail bikes all screaming around us; we couldn't find the path amongst all the routes the bikes had carved out of the ground and nearly lost a footbridge. Still, it was a pleasant walk and we made fairly decent time, picking Mavis up back at the pub (where I had a very tasty treacle sponge & custard).

This is the route:
The colour of the track refers to my heartrate at the time; the redder it gets, the more I was exercising. As you can see, there weren't many points where my bpm were particularly high, partially because it was ridiculously muddy and impossible to move very quickly. But, the views were nice:
and there was that really odd interface where two rivers, one clear but peaty, the other murky because of bikes churning up silt, met and mingled:
A good walk, overall, but probably not one to repeat.

So, this weekend saw a somewhat different walk. I had to be up at stupid o'clock on Saturday, S had to be up at less-stupid-but-still-very-early-o'clock, because we had trains to catch; S to London (to watch Phedre), me to Horton-in-Ribblesdale. Train departing at 6:19. Getting the train to Horton is really, really nice; it takes slightly less time than driving there, it's much more relaxing, a return costs about the same as petrol+parking for one (if there's two or more it's cheaper to drive, but what the hey) and it takes you through some fab countryside that normally you can't see because there's a bloody lorry ahead that's taking all your concentration. Plus lovely little towns that make you think "ooh! Can I jump off here and have a look around?".

Anyway, I got to Horton a mere 15 minutes late (points failure at Skipton) and once I'd sorted out my footwear and GPS, I started walking. As far as footwear went, I was in KSB trainers and lightweight hiking socks. Those socks are the most comfortable items of foot clothing I've ever worn; just putting them on felt fantastic. The trainers were because this was all about as fast a time as I could get, and they have better grip than my boots. Well, that may not be true, but I trust the grip on my trainers more than the boots, and I like to feel the rocks under my toes. Coming down P-y-G a couple of weeks ago was a bit hairy, not least because I didn't trust my boots enough, couldn't be sure of my stability and couldn't flex my feet enough, and was thinking "wish I had my trainers" all the way down the horrible rock scrambly bit on the south-western face.

Yes, I was going to Pen-Y-Ghent again, this time on my tod. When we - Mavis, Cathy, Matt and myself, the usual walking bunch - did it last our time was 3h 33m, and I reckoned I could knock the 33m off if I was sure of my footing and felt like running in places. Here's my trip:
See the red bits? Serious exercise moments. There's three bits on the downhill where I really was running flat out and keeping my footing, with a HR over 168bpm. I'm quite pleased with that. This time, rather than go up the steady face and down the startling bit, I decided to go up the startling face (which is a killer on the legs and lungs) and down the steady bit. I was passed by four people on the initial climb, two of which were fell runners, one was a 3-peaker (don't forget, it was only 8am) and one was a bit of a pikey kid carrying nought but a bottle of Buxton water[1]. On the rocky startling bit I started passing people who were having trouble (thanks to my trainers I was actually having fun), and got a few nice snaps on the way.

(yes, the summit is in cloud. That was very changeable).


And on the summit? Were the views better than last time?

But on the downhill, the cloud started lifting in a really pleasant way:
Clouds forming patterns on the fields. Lovely.

So I made it down, running for quite a lot of the way, and stopped the clock. My time? 2h 14m. I'd knocked an hour and twenty minutes off. Now, I'm very pleased with this; I would have been happy with under 3 hours, but this was excellent. However, now I know I can do it that quickly I want to knock the time down further; I want to get back to Horton under two hours; if the trains are running to time I can get off the train at 7:24 and get back on a train to Leeds at 9:21 if I'm quick enough, and be back in Leeds for 10:30. What sort of morning constitutional is that? "Just off to climb a mountain, dear. I'll be back for elevenses." As a heartstarter, I can't think of many things finer, or more civilised.

Saying that, though: when I got back home I was shattered. The rest of the day was spent snoozing, reading GPTF[2] and fussing the cat who was wondering where the other twolegs had gone. And filling the 'fridge. And on Sunday my thighs were aching something rotten.

Anyway; I'm going to count task #96 as being complete, although I'm certainly going to be doing that route again to try getting my time down. 2hrs 14m is a good start, but I can certainly do better. I can add one to my walking with Matt total, too, despite his having to turn back.

1: On the downhill I found that bottle, screwed up and on the path, picked it up and nearly caught up to the kid (but missed him by maybe a quarter of a mile) where I would have presented it to him.
2: Guilty Pleasure Trashy Fiction, in my case Chris Brookmyre.

Currently running habitual tasks: #3 (94+/365, stalling, not sure where I am with this), #13, #26, #37 (4/<34), #60 (11/50), #66 (72/250), #67 (1/>1), #81 (6/250) #85 (5/4) #87, #88, #97 (2/8), #100 (3/>3)
Currently running exploratory tasks: #38 (1/18), #17 (1/54+), #57 (1/9+), #96 (2/>1)
Currently running growing tasks: #41, #52
Completed: 10
Remaining: 91