With Leah Higgins
Last week I had a wonderful time in Manchester, UK, taking breakdown printing course with Leah Higgins. Leah Higgins is a well know textile artist and a wonderful teacher. I’ve been wanting to learn this technique since I bought Leah’s book but actually I didn’t know where and how to start. Leah opened my eyes, thank you, Leah!
It all started about six months ago when Anne Bellas came up with the idea of taking this class. I won’t go into details, but I have to tell you that our little company was amazing, we got along very well. There were 6 of us, two Germans, two French and two Americans (not real Americans actually). One of the French was Ukrainian by birth, Hungarian by growing up and French by marriage. I was one of the fake Americans( in a good way),another American was German by birth, and one of the Germans I believe was French by birth. It was such a mixture of languages that we talked, always switching to English finally.
We stayed together in an old English house with five bedrooms on three floors. I had my bedroom for myself. I don’t make a good company for sleeping because I snore. There was only one bathroom and also on the second floor but we were able to manage that.
We cooked our food. Even if we wanted to go out, at the end of the day we were usually too tired.
We had a taxi pick us up at 7:15 and take us to the studio, then back to the house at 5pm every day. Leah Higgins. She has a studio at her home. She can teach six students at a time. What she teaches requires a large space for every student. Our class was about breakdown printing on fabric. Leah prepared all the dyes, printing paste, had plenty of screens, all kinds of containers, everything that was needed for the workshop. Most of us brought some soda ashed fabrics but when we needed more, we bought it from Leah. I had 20 pieces of my own and bought 6 more from Leah.
Leah would give demonstrations and then we would do our own pieces in that technique. The last day there were no more demonstrations and we did whatever we liked. Imagine standing at the work table all day long, squeezing the dye paste through the screen, running in and out of the studio to check if screens are dried, to wash used screens, to hang printed fabric on the line for drying. We had stools, but mostly were standing and running around. The weather was very hot but it helped with the drying so we could do more than if the weather was rainy.
Some of my screens prepared for printing:
Every afternoon we would sit down with Leah, look at the printed fabrics and discuss possible improvements:
I learned what I always wanted to learn. The class was breakdown printing but now I also understand simple screen printing, using thermofax screens and some new techniques of discharging. As I look at my fabrics, I see that they are not my cup of tea, and right now I have no idea what I am going to do with them but the time will tell.
We really enjoyed our company and are making plans to meet again, first of all, some of us are coming to the European Patchwork Meeting in France in September. We also look forward to meeting next year, maybe in Lithuania. I have an idea that I have to explore.
Some of my favorite fabrics: