Projects: Popfuelled Up and Ready to Go

Another newsflash: I like textiles! Also, I am developing a serious addiction to learning thoroughly excellent things that have no absolutely practical application in my life. In the spirit of these two things, I rolled out of bed bright and early on a Saturday morning in early August (managing to get one of my hands stuck in my bedframe in the process, but don't even bother asking about that) and trundled my way into Downtown Crazyville to visit Popfuel for a screenprinting lesson. In case you don't already know, Popfuel is a t-shirt and poster screenprinting studio headed up by the effervescently bunnylike Fantasygoat, and it is rife with awesome. Rife.

However, I somehow managed to fail to capture the entire studio in a single photograph, so you'll have to try and figure out how it looks from the random shots contained herein.

(Fig. 1: Popfuel: Not just bulldog clips anymore!)

From what I gathered within fifteen minutes of my arrival, 95% of the ingredients involved in a typical screenprinting-oriented day are either incredibly poisonous or satisfyingly messy. One of the first things to which Herr Fantasygoat introduced my two fellow initiates and I was emulsion remover, which is corrosive, poisonous, and known to cause cancer (of the screen, if not the brain). For some reason, probably related to artistic dedication, I was the only person who wanted to wear gloves. Our first task was to clean up a few screens still coated in the emulsion from their last use, assisted by a kitchen sprayer and a power washer that splashed off of the wooden frames in a spectacular fashion. (I was pleased to emerge from this stage looking like I'd been competing in a wet t-shirt contest. All art should begin thus.)

Initial concerns about my longevity and a brief bout of shyness having passed, things started getting really interesting. When I took a look around the studio, I realized that the people who print here are both talented and very, very weird:

(Fig. 2: I don't know quite what it is, but I want to meet the person who designed it.)

I wished I'd finished the design I'd been working on for the past few days, but I'd had neither the patience nor the steadiness of hand to get it to look right in time. My compatriots both brought in images to screen, but I ended up finding something appropriate on the People's Republic of Internet instead, as you will soon see. (If it looks somewhat less than professional, bear this fact in mind.) We printed off our images and transfered them to our screens:

(Fig. 3: This is a vacuum-sealed thingy with blacklights inside. It is a rave in a box! Also, I accidentally operated it with my ass at once point.)

Screens thus treated came out of the magic box looking exactly the same as when they went in, but when hit with water, huzzah! The image appeared, ready to have ink forced through it! I found this exciting, because I am simple.

Then some other neat stuff happened, but I'm not going to tell you about it in detail, because it's 10 PM and I have a novel to read before bed. Needless to say, I tried to buy something weird from the Vending Machine of Mystery, but only ended up with Canada Dry and Coke, which are useful but much less intriguing than canned duck soup. Following that, inks were prepared -

(Fig. 4: Squids have much love to give.)

- and then we got to the payoff! The actual act of screenprinting a t-shirt was remarkably like playing around with colourful goo and little tools like a five-year-old, complete with the wonder and glee involved in lifting up the screen and discovering that something mystical had occurred. However, unlike playing around like a five-year-old, it also has the potential to lead to the creation of something that people other than my mom might enjoy. It had taken us hours of cleaning, screen-baking, and Photoshop-fiddling to get to this point, but as soon as the process ended in an object that had previously existed only in theory, I was hooked. My advice to you is this: if you like making things, give this a try at some point. Then you too can be this cool:

(Fig. 5: ...Space Coyote?)

(Fig. 6: Space Coyote!)

All in all, it was an excellent day, and now I'm full of wacky t-shirt ideas. My only regret is that I met a woman there, but she just didn't dig me. Obsidian-skinned goddess, archetypal woman of my dreams, why must you look away so coldly?

Oh... I see how it is.

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. At least I now know how to express my dismay in a stylish, t-shirt-related form! A rowdy, Space Coyote-esque thank-you to Herr Fantasygoat, for being awesome, even if he steals all the hotties. :D