ACHICA About Town: Clarissa Hulse and her screen-printing workshop

Every now and again I get asked along to a workshop and as I’m always on the lookout for a new crafting obsession I jumped at the chance! Last week, myself and fellow ACHICA Living blogger Katie Treggiden, had the pleasure of spending time in the studio of the talented and super lovely illustrator, screen print artist and textile designer Clarissa Hulse.

[Above: Clarissa Hulse and me, Emma Morton Turner, in Clarissa's studio]

I love to meet the faces behind the brands I have photographed and written about. Designers are always so passionate and inspirational. They make you want to get up and be creative and do the things that they do because they make it sound so amazing. Clarissa is just like that.

Her Islington workshop is a place of wonder. It’s bursting with roll upon roll of the most beautiful and vibrant silks, wallpaper samples, screen-printing frames, cushions galore and tons of illustrations and pictures for Clarissa’s ‘in progress / next designs’. The work surface where the screen printing is done has the traces of designs gone by. Layer upon layer. It looks like a piece of art in itself. The workshop roof is all glass and on the sunny day we were there, the atmosphere was creative and relaxing.

I’d never done screen printing before. I kind of had an idea of how it worked but didn’t really get the process behind it. Clarissa demonstrated for us as we watched, fingers at the ready to grab those fabrics!
First you cut out your silk to size. We were screen printing onto fabrics that were to be made into cushions. We had to think about colours and designs. Clarissa is big on colour. There was a lot of talk about electric blue and fluorescent pink, which some people went for.
Then you mix up the pigments (very strong fabric paints to you and me). I went for a dark charcoal grey with just a touch of shimmer. There’s something very satisfying about mixing up paint colours – latex gloves at the ready!
You then position the frame over the silk – with the help of Clarissa’s team, making sure it was straight.
Now for the paint. You gloop it along the top edge, just above your fabric, which you can just see through the design in the frame.
Using a squeegy you pull the paint towards you in one firm sweeping motion. Then you do the same thing in reverse.
Lift up the frame to reveal your masterpiece, then leave it to dry on the line for all to see.
To say Clarissa Hulse made this look easy would be an understatement. It’s a messy job (who’d want to clean up all those paint pots, squeegies and the very large screen printing frames? But it’s so, so satisfying! Of the 10 of the interiors editors doing the workshop, every one of us chose a look that was completely different, but they all had that ‘Clarissa Hulse’ touch.
So, now I get it. I don’t think I can look at any of Clarissa’s designs again in the same way. I know exactly what it takes to make those layers. I know that she spends weeks and weeks designing each pattern. And I know that I like them more than ever now. I can’t wait for my cushion to be delivered.

Look out for Clarissa Hulse cushions and bedding at ACHICA.com

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Emma Morton Turner, Guest Editor

View all posts by Emma Morton Turner, Guest Editor