Last week I spent quite a lot of time wondering what on earth I was thinking telling my mother-in-law we should screen print 75 bags for hotel guests coming to my brother-in-law’s wedding. It wasn’t so much the 75 bags as it was designing the image. I can do words. Yes, words I can do. But bags for wedding guests need more than words. And draw well I do not. I do not draw well!

Screen Printed Bags

Early on I decided I’d try my best to draw my brother- and new sister-in-law as peas in a pod. Because they complement each other so beautifully. They’re a fabulous and wonderful couple. But they aren’t cheesy and neither am I and so I was very concerned about falling into some wedding cliché or another. Because ohmyword people, the wedding industry is so awfully full of clichés. And as we all know, whether we want to or not, clichés are utterly meaningless. And I wanted this small contribution to the occasion to be meaningful. Handmade with love. You know the drill.

So I sat with my iPad for hours. Same as last time, I started in Adobe Ideas* [iTunes link]. I sketched and undid and sketched and undid until finally I couldn’t do it anymore. So I emailed myself two final options (file transfer from the iPad is still a little rudimentary – you can get files onto it via something like Dropbox, but only a select few apps allow you to move files via wifi or sync, so email is pretty much the way to go).

Then I fired up a nifty little app called TypeDrawing [iTunes link] that lets you enter text, pick a font and size, and have that text appear wherever you draw with your finger. I wanted to have the bride and groom’s names on a curve, and I didn’t want to take the time to remember how to do that in some or another graphics program I have on my computer. So I drew curves until I ended up with one that looked fairly even, and I emailed it to myself.

Then I went back to Adobe Ideas and wrote out the city where the wedding is. In my own handwriting, to offset the script of the names. Then, say it with me now, I emailed it to myself.

On my computer, I pulled the three images into Acorn, my favourite simple graphics program (I had to convert the Ideas image from a PDF for Acorn to use it. My one major complaint about Ideas is that it only saves images as PDF. Silly Adobe, not always very good at playing nice with others). I arranged and arranged until I thought things looked good, then decided it would all look better if I put a circle border around it, and oh it would probably look best if I made that circle a solid colour so the design would come out in the negative. And of course we’d have to use green, because dude, I’m still not convinced my pea pod looks much like a pea pod and I want to give people all they help I can in figuring that one out.

Screen Printed Bags

The screen took on a green stain in one place, even after cleaning. It doesn't seem to affect printing, but do you know if this is normal?

I’m very pleased with my last-minute idea to do the design in the negative, because it meant that in preparing the screen I could just paint on the design in the resist, instead of painting around the design. With those skinny letters, this was made of WIN.

It ended up only taking us a couple of hours to print the bags, and we had a lot of fun doing it. Messy hands, mild panics and all.

I hope people enjoy them, and above all I can’t wait to wish Alana and Eric a very happy life together.

Requisit wedding-y wine-glass shot

Ok, fine. For you lovers of cliché I took one with wine glasses to be all weddingy for you.

Lessons learned:

  • However clever I thought it was, and not to mention convenient, I’m not actually entirely pleased with the big sections of green paint. Though it covered well, many of the prints have visible texture, like the screen left its mark. I’m not appalled by it, and I’m confident there’s not much we could have done to prevent it, but I’ll certainly keep this in mind in the future.
  • I’m fully, 100%, completely in love with screen printing.
  • It was superduper fun to do this project with my mother-in-law. Though I had a sore arm the next day from all the pressured squeegeeing.
  • I’m fully, 100%, completely in love with my iPad. I’m now convinced I’ll be using it a lot for creative work, not just as a travel companion so I can keep up with work when I’m not at home, and for reading books. If I had to draw screen ideas on paper, I’d never get them done what with the erasing and the cursing and the throwing up of my arms in the air. The iPad not only provides me the illusion of having about 10% more drawing ability than I actually have, the ease of undo keeps me calm and sane.

* Something super cool about being a relatively early adopter is that the people who make the products one adopts early are still able to pay attention to how those products are being used. Imagine my surprise last week when I received an email from someone on the Adobe Ideas team praising my use of the app to design my first screen, and asking for my feedback. We’ve since had a proper exchange. And let me tell you how much enthusiasm that’s created in me – and I started out enthusiastic. It’s nice to be praised, but it’s even nicer to be listened to. Thanks, Adobe.