‘Screenprinting on Textiles: The Complete Guide’ by Sue Westergaard reviewed
It’s not every day you get to review a book by your sister, so naturally I’m proud and a little biased, but I’ve also had the privilege of watching the years of work that have gone into it – visiting studios across the UK, writing detailed explanations, creating step-by-steps, recording dye recipes, photographing printmakers at work, and figuring out how best to compile decades of knowledge and experience into a guide that’s both inspiring and immensely practical.
Sisterly bonds acknowledged, I wanted to share it with you all here, as I’ve read a lot of craft books and this is, hands-down, one of the most comprehensive I’ve seen. The video below gives you an idea of how every page is filled to the brim with instructions, photos, recipes and examples – from how to store, prepare and clean your screens, right through to finishing techniques and even career options within the textile industry. I imagine it could easily become the essential guide for anyone interested in screenprinting on fabric – newcomers and practising printmakers alike.
Click the play button to watch our review of Screenprinting on Textiles by Sue Westergaard – or if it doesn’t play, click here to watch it on to YouTube.
There are chapters on design, stencil making, the printing process, colours and inks, adding texture, embellishing, scaling up, experimenting, and more. These include a particularly useful, in-depth section on how to create repeat patterns and placement prints on Photoshop, including different layout options, so if you’ve ever wondered how to create a half-drop or two-way tessellations, or how to register your prints, this book has the answer. Alongside digitals ways to design, there’s a entire chapter dedicated to lo-fi screenprinting techniques, such as freezer paper stencils, using masking tape or drawing with crayons to create patterns directly on the screen.
One of the most interesting inclusions is the last chapter called ‘What Next’, which covers ways you can earn a living from printmaking. This is content you don’t normally find in practical craft books, but as Sue says: “It’s all very well learning how to design and screenprint on fabric but then what? How can it be used? Can you earn money from it? How can your creative ambition be made to marry with having a roof over your head.” There is some great advice on different paths into the textile industry, the public arts sector and theatre design, as well as tips on how to earn a living as a designer/maker, with case studies for various professions.
Throughout the book there are reflections from Sue’s many years of printing and teaching that would be useful for any artist or craftsperson – not just printmakers – who might feel stuck or be looking for ways to develop their creative practice. One example is at the beginning of the book, in the ‘Designing for Print’ chapter, when Sue talks about the importance of observing, sketching and collecting your own visual encyclopaedia of doodles, colours, fabrics, found objects, words and thoughts that inspire you, and notes: “In many ways, this is the most important step. Without personal visual research, your work is likely to feel derivative and predictable.” Wise words – and ones complemented, fittingly, later on in the book with a section on how to deal with copyright theft.
As I said at the beginning, I am very probably biased, but I think this book deserves a place on every aspiring or experienced printmaker’s shelf – even if simply for the beautiful endpapers alone.