Thomas Lynch, of Artisan Screen Prints in New Zealand, produced this print of the iconic Hilda Ogden from Coronation Street in the style of the best-selling Vladimir Tretchikoff painting called Chinese Girl, popularly known as the Blue or Green Lady. Thomas, who grew up watching Coronation Street, worked in UK print shops, including Fresh Air and Photo Fit, from 1991-2002 before opening his own business back in his home town of Wellington.
(1) The inks were all Permaset Aqua Supercover water-based ink. The red and white inks were straight from the pot, but the yellow and blue were custom mixes. I use the Permaset inks because they are the most sustainable, commercially practical inks I have found.
(2) Last summer I did a range of tees for my label Workshy that were all inspired by New Zealand songs. Some of the designs were taken literally from the songs and some had more esoteric backgrounds. I used the title of the song Blue Lady, by Graham Brazier, because it fitted in with a design I had long wanted to do… The art prints of Vladimir Tretchikoff are highly prized by collectors and hipsters the world over nowadays, but I heard that he only came to prominence because a set dresser on [long-running UK] soap opera Coronation Street was looking for the tackiest piece of art he could find to put on the wall of the Ogdens’ terrace house. I loved the idea that the in-crowd buying up these prints were inadvertently aping hair-netted battle-axe Hilda O, and thought of superimposing Hilda’s face in one of Tretchikoff’s more well-known pieces, Chinese Girl, aka The Blue Lady.
(3) It was hand-printed on an M&R Sidewinder six- colour carousel.
(4) I did the separation in Photoshop and deliberately used a pretty rough separation and a very big halftone dot (35lpi) to get a 60s, dare I say Warholian, look.
(5) I air dried the tees on poster racks before running them through a 40-year-old AH Candy dryer that is perfect for water-based inks as it has banks of ceramic elements at each end of a long tunnel and an air-circulation system between the elements. We air dry nearly all the tees here and run them through the dryer at the end of the day as that means we don’t have the dryer running all day, which saves electricity and keeps our ambient temperature low, which is good when using water-based inks. Sometimes, however, on bigger jobs we need to put shirts directly from press to belt.
(6) I used Dirasol 916 emulsion and exposed the screens for 15 minutes with a 500w grow lamp. I have a Nuarc exposure unit that is much quicker, but it was out of commission so I had to use my slower back-up.
(7) We run the dryer at 160C and the tees have a two-minute trip through the belt.
(8) I used 77T mesh (190) for the red, yellow and blue inks, and a 63T (155) for the white to get the eyes to pop a little.
(9) All the Workshy designs are printed on certified Fairtrade organic cotton tees by Prairie Traders because we are committed to organics and Fairtrade and they have the best colour range of the Fairtrade brands I have seen.
(10) The print order was white, red, blue and yellow, with flashing between each colour, but only one layer of each colour.