Meet the Maker: Ian Phillips

We are lucky to have relief printmaker Ian Phillips joining us in July for a two day Reduction Lino Workshop! We spoke to him about his incredible work:



I am a relief printmaker based in Mid wales. I studied Illustration at Leicester and then worked as a Freelance Illustrator in London for a number of years.
I came to my senses in the new millennium and moved to Wales to live in the hills and concentrate on printing the landscape. I work full time as an
artist and also teach, give talks and take workshops on the joys of lino.

Describe your processes.

Until very recently I worked solely with reduction linocut print making. A relief process. After a day spent collecting drawings I return to the studio.
The drawing is then transferred to a sheet of lino and the consecutive layers are cut and printed from the same lino sheet. Starting with the lightest
and finishing with the darkest colour. You have to print the whole edition at a time. All that is left is the sheet of lino with the areas of the final
colour remaining so you cannot go back and print any more. This is also known as the waste or suicide method.

I am now also experimenting with multi-block lino prints and,with Pine Feroda on large
woodblock prints. (Pine Feroda is the collective name used by five artists working together on one print. The artists are Ian Phillips, Merlyn Chesterman,
Rod Nelson, Julia Manning and Judith Westcott). 


How and where did you learn printmaking?

I actually taught myself. I studied Illustration and lino was one of the techniques we were introduced to. I enjoyed it but didn’t follow it up. It was
only later, weeks before my degree show, that I decided to use lino, badly, for my final show. After graduating I worked exclusively in lino and kept
looking for my own solutions to improve my mistakes and achieve what I wanted in a picture. I gradually became obsessed by it. Until very recently
I wouldn’t have described myself as a printmaker. Now I do.

Why lino?

I don’t know. I just love it. After twenty years I still get completely involved in the process. I love the inherent contradictions in the medium. The
complete control in transferring a sketch accurately to lino then the spontaneous quality of cutting pattern freehand within the confines of the drawing.
Then the painterly freedom of mixing and rolling up the ink. Of course after all that there is the magic moment when you peel back the paper to see
what you have created and it is always a surprise, so all that control was just an illusion.

Where do you work?

I have a studio in the Old College in Aberystwyth, Mid Wales which is an amazing building. A cross between Harlech Castle and Hogwarts. Although when I’m
drawing I could be anywhere in Wales or the UK, walking up a mountain or sitting on a beach, with my sketchbook. I’m also working a lot down in Hartland,
North Devon, at the moment with Pine Feroda.

Describe a typical day at work.

Luckily I don’t have one. There is, unfortunately, always admin to do and emails to answer but there is a lot of variation; I might be driving down to
Bognor Regis for a printmaking workshop at Handprinted;
clambering over moorland in the rain to get a good view for a drawing; framing and delivering work; Ideally if it’s in the studio I’m losing myself
for a week or more in the cutting and printing of a new picture. My favourite type of day is when I’m kitted up and, having driven to a deserted laybay
somewhere, stroll off for a day’s drawing in the hills. It’s all worth while then.

What inspires you?

Spending all day outside in the countryside, walking, looking and drawing. The weather doesn’t matter and the further I walk the more excited I get to
see what’s just around that bend or over the ridge. Once I think I’ve spotted a great composition for a drawing I really get a bit giddy. It’s all
there for the looking and I’ll never see it all or ever get bored of it.

What is your favourite printmaking product?

My favourite product is currently a Ball Bearing Baren, that a fellow printmaking friend, Laura Boswell, brought back from Japan. It really helps when hand printing large prints on heavy paper, and it makes a really cool
swooshing noise when you use it. Everyone I’ve shown it to wants one, until they hear the price..

I’m also currently testing a new Tabs form of registration which seems pretty neat, so I could become quite taken with them and they’ll become the next best

What have you made that you are most proud of?

This was a hard question to answer. However I have literally just finished a new print with the print collaboration, Pine Feroda, in which I pushed my cutting and inking abilities further than I have before and painted with the roller as well as

Really though I’m actually most proud of my nine year old daughter Lily for working so hard to do her first reduction print in a day (pictured below).
It’s lovely and she was very insistent on doing most of it herself. She mixed colours, cut and used the Baren. Brilliant.

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

I sell from my studio, in Aberystwyth, through my website,, and in various
galleries in the UK.

What will we be seeing from Ian Phillips next?

I’ve got a new series of new multi blocks prints I’m currently working on which, hopefully, will be quite exciting. In terms of showing work I have two
exhibitions coming up with the print collaboration Pine Feroda. We are showing
at the Rebecca Hossack Gallery, 2a Conway Street, London (4th May – 28th May) and the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, The Riverside
Gallery, Bovey Tracey. (21st May – 3rd July)

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

That’s a hard one. Everyone’s situation, motivation and circumstances are so different. What I know applies to what I do and how I got here which might
not always be relevant or interesting to others. I would say though that your art should excite you somewhere in the process. Conversely it’s okay
for some bits to be boring too. It IS work, after all, and should be respected and treated as such by yourself and by others. Also, when you can, take
a risk with stuff like colour and technique and always, always be honest in what you do. ( Except when you can’t ). Finally remember when it comes
down to it, it’s not brain surgery and no-ones going to die if you get that blue wrong so relax.

See more of Ian’s work on his website, or book a place on his Reduction Lino Workshop.

Transfer Printing

Transfer printing is a fantastic way of getting colour and designs onto synthetic fabric. You’ll need hardly any equipment and materials to get started – you can just use an iron at home! Here’s our simple method:

You can use Transfer Dyes (disperse dyes). The dyes come in powdered form and need to be mixed with water. To mix up a transfer dye, sprinkle 2tsp of Transfer Dye onto 100ml of water (please wear a mask for this part). Mix and leave for five minutes. Mix up all the colours that you want to use – you can combine dye colours to make your own shades too! These will keep for a long time in a lidded pot.

Paint your dyes onto paper. Standard 80gsm copy paper works perfectly but you can try others if you like.

You can create different marks and textures on your papers, or paint full designs and patterns.

Transfer dyes appear dull when painted onto paper but become very vibrant when heat transferred onto fabric. If you want more subdued colours, mix up more muddy looking shades. Paler shades can be achieved by adding less dye to the water when mixing them up. Leave your papers to dry. These will keep for a very long time so you can keep these to use another day.

Assemble a collection of objects. Feathers, seed heads and leaves work really well. These objects need to be able to be pressed completely flat to the fabric. Thick stems won’t work. The materials need to be dry too – plants with water content will make a wet steamy mess when heated!

You will need to use synthetic fabrics for transfer dyeing for the best results. Polyester works perfectly. In order to use natural fibres, Transfix can be painted onto the surface and left to dry before use.

Lay your objects over the fabric. Place a sheet of dry painted transfer paper face down on top of your assemblage. Cover with baking paper and iron on a hot setting. You can also use a heat press or a trouser press. After a minute or two (less with a heat press or trouser press), the dye will have transferred to the fabric with the objects acting as a mask. This fuchsia pink appeared as a dusty mauve on the painted paper. The print is dry and heat set immediately, making this technique pretty instant and mess free!

Create layered designs by placing different papers onto the fabric and ironing over the top. You can layer the designs as much as you like.

This blue layer was added next, using the same leaves to mask areas. You can cut shapes from the transfer papers and place them face down before covering and ironing again.

Your design will build up as you add more layers.

The design below was created using a dried hydrangea flower between the dark green paper and the fabric. Pink stripes of paper were placed down before the green paper.

After being pressed against the transfer papers, your objects will pick up colour of their own. Turn them over and iron them onto the fabric.

You can use paper masks and stencils between your paper and fabric.

You can see that the vibrancy of the transfer dye intensifies when it is heat pressed onto the fabric. Each piece of painted paper can be used several times. The intensity of the colour will decrease each time until very little dye will be transferred.

The hydrangea print below was heat pressed onto cotton that had been painted with Transfix and left to dry. First the fabric was pressed with a hydrangea and pink paper, then the flower was moved slightly and pressed with green paper. Both the pink and green papers had been used several times before this print was made, giving subtler shades. The Transfix treated cotton produces paler shades than a synthetic fabric would.

To create transfer dyed fabrics of your own you will need:

  • Transfer Dyes
  • Measuring jug and measuring spoons if using transfer dyes
  • Paper – 80gsm copy paper is perfect
  • Paintbrushes
  • Synthetic fabric such as polyester (or natural fabrics painted with Transfix)
  • Objects to print with such as leaves, seed heads and feathers
  • Scissors
  • Baking Paper
  • Iron (or heat press or trouser press)
  • Ironing board or padded surface

Meet the Maker: Sarah Waterhouse

Hi, I’m Sarah Waterhouse and I’m a Sheffield based fabric designer and screen printer. I specialise in hand printed sustainable fabrics, printing my original
designs on to hemp and organic cotton fabrics with water based eco friendly inks.

(Photo by Nigel Barker) 

How and where did you learn to screen print?

I studied Art & Design at college and immediately fell in love with lino printing, unfortunately I never got a chance to screen print whilst I
was there, but the idea fascinated me so I decided to teach myself some years later. I couldn’t find any classes any where near where I lived so
I taught myself with videos and books instead. It was a great learning experience as I learnt the hard way, making a lot of mistakes along the
way, which helped me to troubleshoot issues from early on. Also I built most of my equipment (screens and exposure unit) so that was a great way
to learn. In 2007, a year after I taught myself to screen print I launched my business selling hand printed accessories and small craft items.

Why screen printing?

I had already tried other methods of printing which had given me the printing bug, I especially enjoyed lino printing but the ability to create patterns
and repeat them with screen printing really appealed to me. Also, the kind of designs I found myself drawing were more suited to screen printing,
especially the photo emulsion method which allowed me to keep the nice clean lines in my drawings.

(Photo by Nigel Barker)

Where do you work?

I work from my studio in Sheffield, it’s in a building called Yorkshire Artspace which houses over 70 artists and craftspeople. I share my studio with
my husband, who is also a designer, and we have our rescue pug Etty in work with us every day. I’ve had a studio here for nearly 6 years and it’s
such a lovely place to work, the best thing is being surrounded by so many talented artists and makers.

Describe a typical day in your studio.

A typical day starts for me at 7am, usually with something creative like sketching or painting. I used to always get in the studio and turn the computer
on first thing to catch up with my admin, but I found that by swapping this to after lunch, I got so much more done in the morning! At the end
of the previous day I set out any orders, sewing and printing that needs doing so I usually start that work around 9am and work the rest of the
morning on those jobs. After lunch I spend some time doing admin and answering emails then it’s back to more printing and putting orders together
so that by 3pm I can start to pack up things that need posting out that day. By 4pm I’m ready for home.

How long have you been printmaking? For how long has your business been going?

I’ve been printing for 18 years but only screen printing for 10 of those. My business is celebrating 8 years in business this year.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by so many things around me, from the buildings and street furniture on the streets of Sheffield to the mesmerising patterns in the natural
world. I take my camera everywhere with me and record everything I see that catches my eye. At the moment I’m particularly obsessed with worn and
distressed things so I’ve been taking lots of pictures of random rusty gates and weathered bark on trees, I’m not sure if this will lead to a new
collection but it’s definitely creating some interesting drawings.

What is your favourite printmaking product?

My favourite item is definitely my squeegee, I get really excited when I get a new squeegee made up, especially if it’s one of my super large squeegees
that are around 80cm wide, those are wonderful to see with a shiny new blade.

What have you made that you are most proud of?

I think I’m probably most proud of the furniture pieces where I’ve used my fabric. I love seeing the fabric come alive on a piece and also choosing
just the right fabric for the style of the furniture. All of my furniture pieces are vintage pieces and so I’ve already fallen in love with them
when I choose them, and tend to have a fabric already in mind that would work well. It’s great to see it all come together when the piece is finished.

(Photo by Nigel Barker)

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

I sell a variety of homeware pieces and furniture alongside my fabric by the metre, all of these are sold online through my own website and I also still keep my Etsy shop open where I sell smaller pieces of fabric and remnants. I also sell at galleries and shops around the country and have a number of fabric shops
who hold my fabric books where customers can come in and choose fabric for a project.

What will we be seeing from you next?

I’m due to go on maternity leave soon so I’ll be taking a few months off work, but I’ve been busy preparing for a new collection and wallpaper launch
which will be ready for when I return to work so that’s really exciting. I also have plans for more products to add to the collection, including
some more small furniture pieces.

Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

Doing what you love is an amazingly rewarding career and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but it’s definitely hard work. If you’re thinking of running
your own business then it’s a labour of love and one that takes over your life so you have to be prepared for that. But whether you’re making and
printing as a hobby or running your own business then my best advice would be to just enjoy what you do, don’t worry about what you create, also
try to do something creative every day.

You can see more of Sarah’s beautiful work on her website and in her Etsy Shop.