Berkshire Printmakers are husband and wife – Sarah and Cipriano Martinez, who work together teaching silkscreen printing workshops and courses for anyone from 5 years upwards to 95, in schools, colleges, art centres and even festivals.
They print on both paper and textiles, and there most popular workshops are t-shirt printing, even running Print and Sip events giving people the opportunity to print, and be creative.
How and where did you learn to print?
Cipriano studied printmaking as part of his Fine Art degree in Venezuela. After returning from studying his master at Chelsea College of Art, he went on to teach screen printing to Fine Art degree students at the Reveron Institute and the architecture students at the UCV in Caracas, Venezuela.
I studied Art Textiles GCSE at school and was introduced to screen printing then. Our school had strong history of printing and had a vacuum print table, this is where I learnt how to screen print lengths of fabric with my own repeating patterns, our teacher Miss Drown was an inspiration. In the holidays I would print t-shirt commissions from friends inspired by their favourite album covers.
Why Screen Printing?
Screen printing runs in our blood, both of us had printmakers in the family, my Aunt studied textile design at Loughborough Polytechnic and the RCA in the 1960s, Cipriano’s uncle in Venezuela ran a print business and he remembers him hand printing the posters for the bull fights.
It was this strong love of silkscreen printing between the both of us made us want to pursue it further and to deliver workshops
Where do you work from?
Cipriano has a studio where we develop our own printmaking practice and plan the workshops. During lockdown our back garden was our studio. We have run our workshops in fields, halls, under gazebos in the grounds of Winchester cathedral, a long as we have access to water we can print.
Why did you start Berkshire Printmakers?
When our boys were small, we were gifted a large batch of wooden screens, and squeegees. We started running workshops in the boys’ primary and subsequently other local schools. We were then asked to set up the screen print studio at our local secondary school. In 2010 I studied for a PGCE in Art, during this year on my placements, I saw how little screen printing was being taught in schools. Leading on from the workshops and after spending most of Covid in the garden printing, Cipriano and I formally set up Berkshire Printmakers .
We decided it wasn’t enough to teach primary and secondary school students, we wanted to make screen printing accessible to more people by taking it in to the community. Now we teach in art centres and run workshops for Diwali parties, birthdays, youth and church groups and print with adults, disabled people and families .
What is your favourite printmaking product?
We love using aluminium screens from Crafty Screen. We used to use wooden screens and they were a nightmare to dry and held ink and water in the corners, aluminium screens don’t do this. We have been using the re-stretching service through Crafty Screens, this means rather than using nasty chemicals to clean the screens, we get the heavily blocked screen stretched instead.
The development of water based inks has been fantastic. They are safe for school environment; in primary school we chose the low odour inks too, as younger children don’t like strong smells.
What have you made that you are most proud of?
For both of us it is our teaching – students get really excited about the physical act of creating through making They love the immediacy of the process, and we never get bored of seeing people’s faces when their print is revealed upon lifting the screen.
The big moments – selling out 15 t-shirt printing workshops and printing over 150 t-shirts at Carfest 2023.
Small moments – I caught our 90 year old workshop participant at Marlborough Summer school WhatsApping photos of her prints to her son in Texas.
What will we be seeing from you next?
By the end of the year we will have a secondary school’s print studio set up and ready for the new GCSE and A level fine art and photography students. All the equipment was bought from Crafty Screen. We are looking forward to seeing the students results.
In 2024 we are returning to my roots and we will be running dyeing and fabric printing workshops.
Environmental issue – I have joined the NSEAD Art Education for the Environment & Climate Emergency group, and this has made us look at our own practice. The group has prompted us to offer workshops around environmental issues and let the students use second-hand clothing within workshop. Additionally, we have started working with the local Swap Shop, dyeing, and printing clothes which would otherwise be thrown away.
This year Screen printing was listed as a Heritage Craft, this feels like validation for all the education and workshops we are running. We have joined the list of artists and we are interested where this will lead us next.
And of course we will be looking for more opportunities to work with Crafty Screen
Too book one of these courses you can find the Berkshire printmakers using the links below.