Forget me not - a pretty poignant weed
Updated: Nov 9, 2022
Back in December I began writing about the process of printing my forget me not print. This little flower is so connected to remembrance of those we love, and may possibly have lost. I began printing this in December and shortly afterwards discovered that my mum didn't have long left to live. She ended her battle with Alzheimers in early January this year, and I finished this print shortly afterwards. So it was a poignant thing for me.
Here I want to talk a little bit about the print itself and the process behind creating this pretty blue floral artwork.
As I showed in the December's blog, the starting point of all my prints is an original drawing. From a little sketch in pencil of various stems of flowers, I chose what I thought were the nicest ones to make the best composition. Then it was a case of tracing with a thicker pen - this line will become the white line between each colour in the print - and then cutting out a stencil for each individual colour.
The next stage after drawing and cutting stencils is the print itself.
Above you can see the flower stencil cut out, and around it I have cut an aperture out of a larger piece of paper. The white flower stencil and the white border will block the ink, but the ink will go through the spaces where there is no paper.
Next its mixing the ink by hand. The paints I used come in a good range, but for the colours I want I cannot get these off the shelf and have to mix them myself. The background blue of my flower prints is therefore always very slightly different, but the sky is never the same blue either so I feel that this works 🙂. I add a screen printing medium to the paint to make it into ink that suitable for printing through the screen.
After that I assemble my tools - the ink, the squeegee to pull the ink through the screen, a spatula for applying and moving the ink around the screen, some tape for blocking out the screen, and the all important cup of tea.
With my stencil under the screen, and making sure there are no gaps for the ink to come through onto my print where I don't want it, I pull the ink through the screen and over the stencil, printing onto the paper below. After lifting the print carefully out, I 'flood' the screen, which means pulling ink back all over the screen to stop it from drying out and clogging. Then the process is repeated for however many prints I want in my edition.
There are always mis-prints which is very frustrating but these are generally a part of the process, so I have to over-print to account for some wastage on each edition. During printing the ink can leak under the blocking tape, or can seep under the stencil, meaning that that print becomes void. Sometimes the ink just doesn't come through the screen clearly enough and there will be gaps in the print. The mistakes won't be part of the final edition, but are sometimes sold as seconds.
Then the whole process above is repeated for the next colour. Once the first colour is done, the following prints have to be registered exactly over the original colour so that they are in just the right place. This often takes some time to get right, and again there are often mistakes with alignment - my nemesis!
The forget me not is a 4-colour print comprising pale blue, mid blue, yellow and green. And when all the colours have been printed the image is complete.
I'm really pleased with how this little print has turned out. They are such delicate and pretty little flowers and I wanted to capture some of this without making the print too heavy; making it large enough to get some of the detail - the white star shape around the little yellow centre, and the gentle point of the petals - but not so large as to get away from the delicacy of these small flowers.
One of the things I love about flowers is that they have different associations for each of us. A simple little forget me not will conjure up one memory for one of us, and another association for someone else. For me these remind me of childhood and playing in the garden, when I would be in among the borders and close enough up to these blue flowers to be able to see them. The common name 'forget me not' is so romantic and sentimental, and I think it's a name that children can latch on to and remember.
Because I completed this print just after my mothers death, and because of my associations with this flower and my childhood home it makes it very poignant for me. The forget me not is also the flower of the Alzheimers Society - an appropriate choice, urging us as it does to remember those who have lost their memories and hold them in our own. I would be interested to know other peoples associations with this pretty weed, which self-seeds freely in our English gardens.
My limited edition Forget-me-not print is available to buy through my website, subject to availability.
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