December Silkscreen Workshops

I’m pleased to announce that I have two workshops coming up this month at the Bushwick Print Lab!


On Sunday, Dec 14th, 4-7pm, I’ll be running a 2-colour paper printing workshop. It will be a hands-on instructional class, accessible to beginner screen printers.  We will provide a minimum of 20: 5×7” blank folded note cards from lab stock and Jam Paper with festive envelopes so you can print an array of holiday cards that will be ready for you to sign and mail by the end of class! Assorted paper will also be available through the print lab’s stock or you may bring your own porous material to print on.

Film, screen rental, tools and an assortment of inks are included as well. You may also bring your own screen printing ink or additional paper for use. Instructions for setting up files for film will be mailed to you upon sign-up.

PRICE: $110

Class will be limited to 6 students on a first come first serve basis. Email to sign up!


Later that week, on Thursday, Dec 18th, 7-10pm I’ll be running a 2-colour textile printing workshop. We’ll have t-shirts and canvas tote bags available, and you

This class explores creating a print on t-shirts, tote bags or anything you want to bring in! By the end of the class, you will have learned how to register a one-colour image and print using water-based inks. BPL will provide (3) assorted coloured t-shirts in XS-XL or tote bags in natural canvas or black cotton. Additional stock available in house and you are welcome to bring your own t-shirts, tote bags, thrift store finds or handmade clothing item to print on. If you have any questions about the material you will bring in, please email us before class!

Film, screen rental, tools and an assortment of inks are included. Bring your own textile-based screen printing ink if desired. Instructions for setting up files will be mailed to you upon sign-up.

PRICE: $90

Class will be limited to 6 students on a first come first serve basis. Email to sign up!

4/12 – Nicolas Cage show in SF!


I’m pleased to announce that my newest silkscreen, “Meme-ento Mori” will be showing today, Saturday April 12th, at Balançoire, 2565 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. It’s part of the Nicolas Cage Art Show, which is an entire show dedicated to a celebration of our generation’s weirdest and greatest actor, Nicolas Cage. The festivities also include a number of visual and musical performers, so you really should not miss out!

I had a ton of fun going through his catalogue of works while I was working to find inspiration for this 6-colour silkscreen. The print includes both variegated metal leaf and 24k gold leaf. It’s entitled “Meme-ento Mori” as a play on both famous memento mori’s and the internet meme for photoshopping Nicolas Cage’s face onto other people, animals and inanimate objects. My camera really can’t capture it well enough to do it justice.

If you’re in SF this weekend I highly recommend checking it out!

Rumor has it that the show will also travel to Los Angeles later this spring, so if you’re on the West Coast you have two chances to check it out.

Meanwhile, I’ve put a couple pieces into my online shop if you’re interested in purchasing one of your very own:

Bonus: We got mentioned on the Jimmy Fallon show! Watch the video

Pigments Class


On Thursday, January 30th, I ran my first class of 2014 at the Bushwick Print Lab, teaching intermediate level silkscreening information.

I love sharing information here on the blog, but it was nice to run a 3 hour long class that allowed me to ramble on about what I have learned myself over the past few years of screenprinting, then have my students go on to print their own works. I’ve discussed pigment making in the past, with my April Silkscreen of the Month back in 2013 being my first foray into making my own utilizing ground graphite. I wanted to bring that back, plus show off what it’s like printing directly with squid ink, and then as a finale, I decided I wanted to try to make a pigment out of real blood. Please note that the following photos get a bit graphic.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find someone who can draw my blood and then give it back to me, so I opted to search all over NYC for pig’s blood. As a note, it’s very difficult to find in New York City, much less in most places. This is due to legality issues with transporting animal blood. Also, since blood puddings and soups aren’t common cuisines in America, most people will look at you weird for even asking.


But eventually we persevered & obtained an overly large bucket of pig’s blood. It came fully coagulated, like a gelatin. The way to re-liquify it was to run it through a blender with a tiny bit of the water it came in. Then it was ready for mixing.


When printing my first run, I went to try three different methods. The first, was to print straight with the blood. Second, was to mix the blood directly into transparent base ink, then print. Third, and most succesful, was to dry into a fine powder & mix into base, as though it were any dry pigment. This allowed me to make it more dense in colour if I so chose.


First, you spread it on a pane of glass. I obtained this from a picture frame, and made sure to cover the stool I set it on in saran wrap, to prevent any mess.


It should be a thin layer, so it dries quickly & you don’t end up “cooking” it. Cold, the blood has almost no scent. Dried, it was a little musky (but I didn’t get too close).


Here you can see the difference in how quick a thin layer vs a thick layer dries.



I used the edge of a (clean) knife to scrape it all up. Any metal edge would be fine.


I should have been wearing gloves for this. Don’t be like me. But I did like how it glittered in the light.


After which, I produced my image to be printed. It reads “Everything can be Printed with a Silkscreen”, which is kind of my motto. I’ve been interested in learning hand lettering, so this was my first attempt.


At the print lab, the inks can get very very messy if you’re not careful. While I added it straight to base (skipping thinners and thickening additives), as a pure liquid, it’s way too thin to print with. I made sure to clean up after with a harsh, bleach-based cleaner.

To break it down to the most basic of for making your own inks: a paint is nothing more than a colour vehicle and a binder. So you can print with blood, graphite, dirt, crushed semi-precious stones (lapis lazuli and malachite are some fancy ones) or any of the powdered pigments you can find in a store. It needs to be added to a binder, such as transparent base for silkscreen inks, linseed oil for oil painting, egg yolk for tempera paints or gum arabic for watercolours. Some items don’t react well with different binders and additives, as a woman in class brought ground walnut to print with, but it formed into tight balls and nothing could turn it into a liquid. There are detergents and thickeners to help wet the pigment, solidify the paint if it’s too runny or ammonia to thin the paint. That is when you’ll run into issues with bad chemical reactions and requires background information on the two items you’re using.

The Guerra Pigment company has a great selection of dry and wet pigments, as well as a FAQ that explains how to use them to make an ink. I highly recommend browsing it!

And always always wear a mask and gloves when using dry pigments! Many of the can be hazardous to your health if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.



And the finished pigs blood prints!

I printed another version in straight squid ink, which was completely uneventful save for smelling really, really bad, but most were given away to my students.

Speaking of, one of them sent me their finished piece:



By Lorenzo Sanjuan

Three-colour print in pig’s blood, graphite and metallic green. Lorenzo printed them in two parts, so it’s technically 6 prints onto one piece of paper. Click through to see it big!

And that was my very first intermediate pigments class! I had a lot of fun and hope to continue teaching how to create your own ink.

2014 Fortune cookies & crowns

I rang in the new year at Molly Crabapple’s studio and I wanted to make something fun to celebrate. Bringing out my best Martha Stewart, I decided to craft up some party favours.

First up utilized a recipe from the lady herself: Fortune Cookies!

I wanted to create custom message fortune cookies, based on good fortunes in the voice of Molly, written by the wonderful and amazing Chelsea G. Summers, and bad fortunes, based on horrible internet comments Molly has received (mostly from her CNN Occupy Wall St article).

I opted for alternative cookies, such as green tea, chocolate coffee & red velvet. To create the chocolate coffee cookies, I used instant coffee mixed with Bailey’s Irish cream (and a touch of hot water to help mix them). It replaced the amount of liquid in the almond extract. The hardest was mastering how to fold the cookies, as there were very bad descriptions. But I’ve put together overly specific photos for your help!


First, put a small amount into a non-stick pan. Make sure it’s heavy enough to lay flat. A non-stick cookie sheet kept warping in the heat, lifting one edge and not allowing the cookie to cook evenly. We used a deep cake pan.

photo 4a


I made double-sided fortunes, one side with the message, the back with a tiny version of Molly’s logo. When your cookie is done, it’ll be very thin and pliable, almost like a pancake.

photo 5a


With your fortune placed in the center, fold up in half, making sure to have one side longer than the other. *This was key to making it fold over properly.

photo 4

Make sure you have a cup (or in my case, a small candle holder) and place the bottom against the rim of the cup.

photo 2a

Press down on the sides, so the long edge folds over the top of the shorter edge.


Put inside a muffin/cupcake tin, so they don’t unfold back into the original shape.



Once cooled, stack high! I purchased black glossy takeout boxes and damask plastic sleeves to store them.

Next up was creating really cute crowns out of pipe cleaners. I loved the simplicity of the design, since it looks like someone drew a child-like gold crown in every photo.. Taking two to form a circle for around the head.




Then fold one in half.


And fold again, making sure the ends are just a little bit longer.



Pop out.



Place the base pipes between the middle of the M.




Bend around and then twist tie the ends around the base .


It should take about four pipe cleaners to complete the full crown. Just weave the ends around each other to blend in.


Then rock out.


My personal hat was a cake hat. I made a secondary strawberry shortcake one, but it was gifted away before I could snap a shot of it. They were made out of cardboard circular lids from Michaels, hot glued together, painted white, then covered in ribbon and glittery flowers from Christmas decorations that were all on sale. I felt like fireworks






And as a parting shot, I’ve taken to morning-after photos for the new year:


1/30 – Pigments Workshop at the Bushwick Print Lab

I’m please to announce my first intermediate silkscreen class of 2014 at the Bushwick Print Lab! I will give an introduction to the use of dry and wet pigments in printing, showing original works I’ve created utilizing my own handmade inks, explaining how to use anything from powdered colour pigments to using organic materials such as squid ink, chocolate syrup or crushed graphite to produce unique screenprints. After the introduction, you will have time to print your own edition utilizing one of the pigments provided or I can help you create your own.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 30th; 7 – 10pm

This hands-on instructional class, accessible to both beginner and advanced screen printers, explores the use of wet and dry pigments as well as printing with foods and other organic liquid material. Participants will be introduced to various applications and techniques before being given the opportunity to print their choice of a 1 color image onto paper (ed. of 6) Assorted paper will be provided or you may bring your own porous material to print on. Film, Screen Rental, tools and an assortment of pigments are included as well. You may also bring your own (non-biohazardous) material for evaluation, and if it’s liquid, we should be able to get it through a screen!

Melissa Dowell is known for exploring traditional and nontraditional methods of screenprinting, incorporating handmade inks and gilding into her multi-colour prints on paper, fabric and more. She has been collaborating on editions for the past five years with clients such as Molly Crabapple, Kim Boekbinder, Amanda Palmer, Coilhouse, Glass Houses Press, and Makerbot for Maker Faire. Her work was recently purchased by the Museum of Modern Art for their permanent collection and has given talks at NYU’s ITP program and the Future of Storytelling conference in NYC. You can find her work online at

Bushwick Print Lab
17-17 Troutman St #204
Ridgewood, NY 11385

*All those who wish to register:
Please email your Image/File at Final Print Size (300dpi)
by Tuesday, January 28th so we can prepare your film and send you an Invoice.
Advance payment of $80 secures your space and covers film, screen rental, paper, inks, and necessary tools.
Learn more at


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