How to screen print a cushion with Thornback & Peel

You can see gorgeous examples of it everywhere at the moment – from the bright bed linen of Clarissa Hulse to the edgy scarves and bags of Studio Harlen – screen printing is a technique that seems to be all over both the interior design and the fashion worlds. So when ACHICA Living was invited to Thornback & Peel’s studios try out screen printing for ourselves, we jumped at the chance…

Juliet Thornback and Delia Peel set up their studio in London in 2006 and a year later they established Thornback & Peel to create beautiful, intricate screen-printed pieces for the home. The brand’s signature style is a combination of modernist geometric patterns with 19th-Century wood engravings. The duo draws inspiration from an eclectic mix of sources including Victoriana, Mrs Beeton’s household management, Mr McGregor’s garden, 17th-Century microscope imagery of the natural world, and the counties of Norfolk and Devon.

We started off our screen-printing experience small, by creating a greetings card with the design of two little beetles. Using one of Thornback & Peel’s pre-made screens, we started by lining up the card and the screen – to ensure the beetles would be creeping exactly where we wanted them! We then used a spoon to place a generous dollop of ink above the stencil. Holding on to the screen firmly with the left hand, we then placed the squeegee in the ink and confidently swept it down across the screen. Keeping hold of the screen with the left hand on the left side, all that’s left to do is pull it with the right hand and reveal the beautiful design.

Then when we’d made a couple of those and mastered the squeegee-pulling technique, we moved on to the more challenging task of a cushion. Here we chose Thornback & Peel’s Seabream design and paired it with its turquoise silk fabric with a subtle seaweed pattern.

And voila – even if we do say so ourselves, we think it turned out rather well! What do you think?

Screen-printing is easier than you might first think, and you can even do it at home with the right materials. There are lots of resources online to help you get started (just Google ‘how to screen print’) and your local craft shop should have everything you need. The most challenging part is creating the screen itself, which requires a little imagination and a long process using photo emulsion, UV light, a dark room and water.

Nevertheless, intricate prints, such as those of Thornback & Peel, take a lot of experience and talent to match. So if you’d just rather have the lovely finished product, the brand’s website and boutique in Bloomsbury, London, showcases a beautiful range of screen- printed homewares, including cushions, aprons, lampshades, tea towels and cards – each intricately filled with British quirkiness and charm.

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Miranda Mazzarella, ACHICA Writer

View all posts by Miranda Mazzarella, ACHICA Writer