My partner, Ayanah, and I have been hard at work and having tons of fun getting our first ever Queer & Brown in Steeltown products ready! We aimed to have a select number of items ready for this year’s Allied Media Conference and, thankfully, we met our deadline. The conference is this weekend, June 20-23.
Going into this project we both agreed on a few things:
1) We wanted the products to look hand made so we would make them by hand as much as possible
2) We wanted to make silk-screened products but also hold off on jumping straight into t-shirts
3) We did not want to invest a huge amount of money in the materials
I am really happy and excited with what we made!
I was mostly responsible for the designs, but we collaborated throughout in figuring out the imagery and concepts. I drew out the designs freehand then Ayanah drew them onto the screens. We did switch a couple of times, with Ayanah taking over design and me trying my hand at drawing and prepping the screens. Since we both wanted to keep our hands present in the work we purposely avoided digitizing and “cleaning up” the initial drawings and then using those images to burn the screens. Ayanah suggested we use drawing fluid to work directly on the screens, essentially tracing the initial drawings.
Once the screens were ready to go we printed on our material. The paper for the posters is re-used from past projects. The handkerchiefs are made from shirts and clothing that we were going to donate – and one red skirt we bought at the thrift store just for this project. We did visit our local art store to buy one sheet of chipboard for the postcards. The investment in material was kept to a minimum. Since we were trying this out for the first time we didn’t feel the need to buy extensive amounts of paper or board or clothe. Let’s just try to use what we already have so we aren’t spending money or stressing out from trying to hand print 200 t-shirts in a couple of days.
In addition to hand printing we did a lot of other things ourselves. I cut the postcards by hand and we both hand colored them with markers that we already owned. The handkerchiefs were cut by hand and sewn up using my sewing machine – and the occasional needle-and-thread adjustment. Overall, the final products came out looking great.
While this was my first real exposure to the silk screen process, Ayanah’s extensive printmaking experience was invaluable in completing this project on time. It would’ve taken me a looonnng time to print on my own. The time we had to invest was another significant factor in keeping the run pretty small. If we are able to sell what we made, great! We can invest some of that in future creations. We like this idea better than starting off with a big financial investment and the pressure that can come with that.