Saturday, March 31, 2012

How doilies are made: silkscreen

A shot from the setup.  See how the gray doilies underneath came to be below.

Yes, yes, we all know doilies are most commonly produced through crochet.  But for this particular styling setup (it's a bridal one), I figured to mass-produce them the silkscreened way.  :-)

First, I settled on a generic doily design, and tweaked it a bit.  I then went over to the good folks at Hocus Manila to have the design worked out on a screen.  Andrei and Sheina of Hocus are awesome--they put together custom bikes (you can also get spare bike parts), as well as produce silkscreens and serigraphs.  Lex and I are working with them in rolling out workshops, as well as bike-related merchandise.  Well, that's another story I'll share sometime else.

Just to give you an idea of why I decided to silkscreen the doilies--I met up with the bride-to-be at her reception venue, and she lamented the state the chairs were in--they were brown, and some were a bit worn.  They were the bulkier, padded chairs.  I then offered to drape the chairbacks with a bit of design (with a bit of a beaded tassel on the end), and in order to maximize this particular design, I figured to produce a modular, multipurpose piece, to use as a table-runner as well.

Well, hopping back into the process, I then proceeded to prepare the cloth to be silkscreened.  I went with katcha--a type of cheesecloth that's light and fine, but a mesh that is loose enough to be viewed as having a rustic appeal.

Putting my trusty sewing machine to work, I hemmed the edges.  The doily design is about 18 inches across, so I put in a small allowance for that.

So when those were done, I prepared the silkscreen area.  Taking the screen, I attached it to a swinging table (fashioned after the one Andrei and Sheina have) with C-clamps, and poked around the textile paint I was so generously given.

I had to mix the lighter shade of gray I wanted, which took a bit of time.  The paint was a bit thick too, and I didn't have the thinner prescribed.  But the setup was a few days away at the time, and I had to make do with what I had.

I lined the table with newspaper (which I had to struggle with later on, as the screened fabric stuck to it), took my mixed light gray, and went to work.  After priming the screen, I made a test one on paper.  When it seemed safe to proceed, I tried one, which had some inconsistencies.  The others had their bits of inconsistency as well, and I guess I'll have to find the textile paint thinner for when I mass produce these (for about 120 seats and 12 tables).  To spread the paint, I used a huge squeegee Hocus lent me (I'll give it back soon, guys!).  And after each doily was printed, I'd lay it to dry on the outdoor bar counter at home (which Creamy the cat promptly stepped all over, leaving light cat prints on the counter top).

Midway the short print run though, I ran out of mixed gray!  I hastily mixed another batch (as the screen was drying already) which ended up darker then the first, but better executed.  Lesson learned.

The doily print was fun to make, and I'm really excited to do the rest (also so that I can return Hocus' squeegee already).  I just need a better place to dry the prints.

Will post more on the preps for the said setup later on.  Things have been busy and brewing!  Lex and I have been fixing up the Craft MNL workshop space.  We had a special guest yesterday, and a crafty confluence of events will produce something wonderful in May.  Stay tuned for that.

'Til the next handmade adventure.  :-)

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