I first wanted to call this blog “Try Anything Once”. However, after some digging, I found out someone beat me to the punch (and someone else is currently “squatting” on TryAnythingOnce.com and probably wants a million dollars for it) – so Some Places I’m Moderately Excited About was born. Regardless, you’ll notice that about me – I rarely ever go to the same place twice, whether travel, food or experience related. That’s why when I discovered Dabble – and this neato screen printing workshop – I felt like I had met my soul mate of brands.
The other thing about me that you’ll quickly come to know is that I’m a huge nerd (geek chic, I like to say) and I LOVE learning new things. Continued education is so important (hello improv at Second City!) and something everyone should take seriously.
I’m Just a Dabbler
The beauty of Dabble is that you can try a bunch of new things without having to commit to a lengthy or pricy 8-week session, semester program or what have you. The premise is simple – get regular people who are subject matter experts to teach one-time or short-term classes or workshops to other regular people. The result is a goldmine of learning opportunity – I’ve taken everything from a user experience class to an improv workshop to a spring roll cooking class and even screen printing, which I’m going to share with you in this post.
I have a background in design and have always loved making things. I recently discovered a high-end fashion line and a dress of theirs caught my eye – it had a giant t-rex skeleton on it. Around the same time, I was feeling artsy and was on the Dabble website, and a screen printing workshop at the Spudnik Press co-op sparked my curiosity.
For a Grant (why does no one refer to fifty dollar bills like “Benjamins”? Making this a thing!) I could walk away with 5 custom screen printed items and knowledge of the process. Sold!
Screen Printing Shenanigans
Fast-forward to the workshop itself. It was a half-day, 5-hour class (I believe there were about 15-20 people) and all I had to bring with me was a single color design file on a jump drive and 5 plain items to print on. This was probably the hardest part – I chose a canvas tote bag (from Amazon – it has an interior pocket AND it zips closed!), a super-soft, flowy grey tank top (from Bella & Canvas on Amazon), a white t-shirt, gray t-shirt, and a nice quality white 3-quarter length top. The last 3 things I got at Target because I liked the feeling of the fabric and they weren’t too expensive.
The class started out with a quick talk about the background of the Spudnik Press co-op, history of screen printing, a demo of the process and an overview of what we’d be doing during the workshop. In short: creating a print-ready image on a sheet of transparent plastic, exposing the image onto the screen using their dark room (COOL), mixing our own colors, screen printing the pieces and then curing them for use.
So What’s So Cool About It?
One of the things I enjoyed most about this class is that we actually got to partake in the ENTIRE screen printing process, image exposure and all. I’m not super experienced in other workshops, but I imagine it is probably tough to walk everyone through this process – so huge props to Spudnik for letting us do it!
Essentially what happens is that an emulsifier is painted on a screen, the image transparency is applied to the screen and exposed in a photography-like dark room so that the area surrounding the image you want to show up emulsifies, the screen is rinsed and you’re left with a stencil of sorts that you can use to print your designs onto fabric. I was freaking out the whole time because I hadn’t been in a dark room since college and it brought back a lot of great memories!
After that, we went through the process of mixing our colors (shortcut: use black like I did), and actually screen printing. Because I’m very precise and type A, I was pretty worried about messing up. They’ll let you practice a few times on extra scrap pieces of fabric – which I highly recommend! It helps a lot.
After all our pieces were done, we hung them up to dry, cleaned up and eventually used the kiln to “set” the ink so that they’d be washable. All in all, a really cool class with some pretty neat takeaways!
What’s your favorite class you’ve ever taken? Have you ever tried a Dabble class? Let me know in the comments!!