Meet the Maker – Handprinted – Us!

Handprinted started in 2003. I (Shirley) was teaching printing and dyeing techniques in an Adult Ed College in South West London and to make a little extra
money I sold items I had printed and dyed at craft fairs. Alongside my more personal pieces I printed some simple items using customer’s
children’s hand and foot prints – the most popular items by far.

 Devore Scarf.


 One of the original Christmas cards from 2003.

So Handprinted was born. I built a clunky website – it was before the days of Etsy and Not on the High Street. I got a bit of publicity in magazines such
as glossy parenting magazine Junior.



I was teaching part time, looking after our three small kids and then printing into the early hours. I printed from a small room in our house without a
sink. I exposed screens using a lamp in a bucket and washed all my printing materials in the bathroom – trying not to drip ink
on the stair carpet! Printing with limited facilities myself has allowed me to understand the difficulties customers experience when they
are not working from a fully functioning studio.

 Discharge printed footprints cushion.


Handprinted’s naughty and nice T-shirts! 

Business was good and busy at Christmas when cards and cushions would be flying out the door, but slower the rest of the year. I was
buying printing and dyeing supplies for Handprinted and my students were beginning to buy bits and pieces from me. So the business evolved
from a site selling Handprinted items to supplies for artists and craftspeople. Our first online shop went live in 2005 – here it is! I’m
sure we must have made a loss selling the batik pot at that price!


So in the last ten years since has been around quite a lot has changed. The
website has been through three redesigns since the one above – we are liking the new one a lot – we hope you do too. We have moved out of the spare
room into a storage unit and then into premises that customers could come and visit in 201. We expanded into larger premises in
2014 with the added benefit of having a studio so we can teach classes and local people can come and use the studio as their own workspace.
In 2012 Holly joined me part time whilst she was studying a Fine Art degree and then came full time when she graduated in 2014.

So what is next for Handprinted? There are more classes happening in the studio – click here to see.
We are always on the lookout for guest tutors to come and give classes and have Ian Phillips and Laura Boswell coming in 2016 but hope to be adding
some more names to that list. We are also out an about more and will be exhibiting at a few shows. The first show of the year will be The West
Sussex Quilters Guild Regional Day on March 5th in Chichester, but we will also be at Art in Action in Oxfordshire, Patchings Festival in Nottingham,
Quilts UK in Worcester and Thread at the Maltings in Surrey. Keep a eye out to see if we are coming near you it is always lovely to meet our customers.
If you are local Holly and I will also be exhibiting as part of Chichester’s Art Trail in May 2016.

When we are extra busy we can also pull in a couple of extra hands (paws) from our occasionally resident dog Fletcher!






Printing a Christmas Star

 This is a very simple and easy Christmas project. Just whip out your screen, grab an old cardboard box and a squeegee and within half an hour you’ll have this handmade stunner for the top of your tree.

Start by drawing your star shape on a piece of leftover cardboard. Any size is fine, just make sure it’s even.

Draw the same star shape on a piece of plain paper. Draw your pattern onto the paper making sure that it will cover the surface of the star. This can be any pattern you want it to be! Cut out your shapes using a scalpel and a cutting mat.

Once you have cut out your stencil, place it on top of your cardboard, making sure the whole of the star is included.

Tape the edges of your 90T screen, leaving an opening that is slightly smaller than your paper. Place your screen on top of the cardboard and the stencil.

Spoon out a row of your favourite acrylic screen printing ink along the top of the screen. We chose Speedball’s gold. Pull your squeegee down the screen gently, holding the squeegee at a 45 degree angle. Remove the excess ink from the squeegee, bring it back to the top of the screen and pull down again, pressing hard this time. Your may need to use one hand to print and the other to hold the screen still.

Peel off your stencil and wash your screen. When your print has dried, use a straight edge and a scalpel to cut out your star.

On the front of your star, use the scalpel to score a straight line from the centre to each of the five points. Don’t press too hard or you’ll go through the other side! On the back, score from the centre to each of the inner corners of the star.

When you have scored five lines on each of the front and back, gently pinch each point so that the centre raises and the edges dip – like in the photo below.

When you have finished your star you can sellotape a tube of paper onto the back so that it can be placed on top of your tree, or make lots to place around the house!

To make your own star, you will need:

Meet the Maker: Mirta Tyrrell

Modern Botanics has an aesthetic that we can’t get enough of here at Handprinted. Meet the maker behind the lovely prints: Mirta Tyrrell. Her story is
truly inspirational. 


I’m Mirta, I’m an illustrator, print-maker and maker and I live on the banks of Lake Como (Italy) in a tiny village. I’m nearly 40 years old and I changed
my life recently moving from a big city and starting over.

Describe your process.

I do quite a lot of sketching for my art prints. I’m mainly inspired by natural little things like wild flowers or shapes I find in nature. I walk a lot
and during those walks I pick up lots of things (stones, driftwood, flowers, leaves, seeds and more) and then I draw them as whole or partially once
I get to my studio. When I work with textiles instead I’m planning less and experimenting more. Most of my patterns on linen and cotton are a bit more

How and where did you learn to print?

I created my little brand Modern Botanics a few years ago when I lost my job and I wanted to use the time at my hands in a good way. I started taking as
many courses I could in different printmaking techniques and illustration. I’ve discovered printmaking from one of my teachers in an illustration course
and fell in love. Especially with linocut and block printing.

Why printmaking?

I love I can reproduce something but at the same time each piece is unique. I love the fact that there are endless possibilities within it.

Where do you work?

I work mainly in my studio, it’s a room in my home. When I moved here last spring the studio was the first room I worked on. I need a space to keep all
my tools and where I could find myself at home. I’m really happy how it turned out, even if I could do with more space. When it’s warmer I sketch outside
sitting on the banks of the lake or on the beach.

Describe a typical day in your studio.

I don’t really have a typical day. It depends if I’m working on something new or filling orders, and what season is. I prefer to work on new stuff early
in the morning. In summer I work more in the evenings when is cooler. Something typical is folk music or a podcast in the background and a huge mug
of coffee on the desk. When I print fabric or I’m carving a new illustration I can spend ours in the studio without noticing the time going by. I often
forget to have lunch!

How long have you been printmaking?

I think it’s around 4 years now. I started with screen-printing before falling in love with block printing.

What inspires you?

The little things. The shapes, patterns and prints I see in nature. My work is very botanical based, but not all of it it’s immediately recognized as such.
I like to play with it and make things a bit more abstract and geometric sometimes. I’m also inspired by Japanese minimalist take on shapes, I like
clean lines and love using only a few colours.

What is your favourite printmaking product?

Linoleum without any doubts. I love it. I love sitting down for hours and carve it. I especially love the light grey version I found recently. It’s great
to draw on it and it carves beautifully. I also have a favorite tool, a small carving tool with the wooden handle made in Switzerland.

What have you made that you are most proud of?

Difficult question. Maybe my first block printed linen piece, an indigo blue scarf with black and copper pattern. I’m not sure, there are certain things
I get quite attached to, they have sentimental value because they take so long to be made.

Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?

I have an online shop and recently I’ve started to sell to independent shops (brick and mortars and online ones). I would love to sell in galleries.

What will we be seeing from Modern Botanics next?

I’m planning a full range of home textiles and a capsule of handmade block printed clothes for next summer. In the art print section of my work I’ve just
started working on bigger and more complex designs for my prints.

Do you have any advice for other printmakers, designers and creatives?

Find your voice. Work hard. Become part of a community and support other makers. Never stop learning and experimenting and have fun!


To find out more about Mirta visit Modern Botanics or Mirta’s shop, Instagram or Twitter.  


Day out to Caligo with Ian Phillips

Earlier this week I went on a day trip to Cranfield Colours the manufacturers of the lovely Caligo Safe Wash Ink. They are working on a new product and had asked Ian Phillips along for his input and I asked if I could tag along. Ian is a relief printmaker whose work can be seen here.

We were given a tour of the factory and explained the multiple processes that Cranfield go through to make an ink. Starting with dry pigments the inks  are mixed in giant food style mixers and then milled using traditional triple roll mills. Through the milling process the pigments are broken down so that the colours are dispersed into the ink medium resulting in rich colours and the smooth inks.

Cranfield has been making inks for three generations. Michael Craine is the current MD and overseas the entire business – Cranfield also make commercial printing inks and Spectrum Artists paints. Angela Brown works alongside Michael in development of products. Angela is an ink chemist with the benefit of having an MA in printmaking so is passionate about the ink manufacture and understands the processes and demands put on any ink.

Caligo Safe Wash has been in production for 10 years. It is a ground breaking product. An oil based ink that is water washable, allowing studios to use beautiful, rich, oil based inks with the benefit being able to clean up using just soap and water.