Making Screen-Printed Lampshades: Part 1

Screen-printed bee lampshade on linen

Back in the spring I discovered two new crafts: screen-printing and lampshade making. In a moment of inspiration I thought, why not combine the two? And so, my bespoke bee lampshade was born!

In July I made my first prototype, and make these lampshades to order in various sizes, up to 45 cm in diameter, and in the fabric of the customer’s choice. (edit: I closed my shop in early 2016 but I can still make you one if you get in contact)

Here’s an insight into what goes into making the bee lampshades. I like to use ethically made fabrics, so have chosen a lovely lightweight handloom linen made in India and imported by The Organic Cotton Company, who are a fabulous source of ethically made, organic fabrics.

The Design

I get a lot of inspiration for my art projects from nature — plants and animals — and the bee design is a sketch I did one afternoon at the end of my screen-printing course at my local art college. The tutor kindly transferred my sketch onto a silk screen I had bought using the photoemulsion technique.

bee_card

Marking Up

To work out where to place the bee print on the lampshade, I used the discarded backing paper from a plastic lampshade lining to make a template. Now, every time I make a lampshade, I use the template to mark up a bar of wood clamped to my work surface so I can easily and quickly line up the screen when printing.

I also use a pencil to mark the centre of the design at each end and the edges and corners as this makes making up the lampshade afterwards much easier.

Screen-printing template

Printing

I’m still mastering the technique of screen-printing — it’s much harder than it looks! But the basic idea is to drag the ink (I use water-based inks) across the screen using a rubber squeegee held at just the right angle to get a nice crisp, complete print on the fabric underneath. You have to work quite quickly as the ink begins to dry, and you  don’t want it to clog up your screen. I always hold my breath when lifting the screen — has it printed ok?

New designs

As well as the bee, I put together a fish design using a vintage fish image available from The Graphics Fairy (a great resource for copyright-free images for all sorts of projects). I used it a lot while experimenting during my screen-printing classes. But would it work for a lampshade? Find out in Part 2!

Fish screenprint for lampshade

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