Ocelot's Monthly Ocelot Spotlight: Melissa Dettloff

During the slow-for-printing months of winter, each of the four Ocelot co-owners takes a turn at a weeklong residency in the shop to work on a personal project. Melissa's residency was in late February, and here is her report:

During my residency week, I took the opportunity to play around with some things I had been thinking about. I also completed a project I had been wanting to work on for a long time.

The project I completed was printing and assembling a Scream Pillow in two sizes: regular and extra-large. I screen printed "scream" on one side of a canvas-like fabric and "cry" on the other side, and made yarn pom poms to decorate the edges.

 Preparing to print

Preparing to print

 Making the pom poms with yarn and a pom pom maker

Making the pom poms with yarn and a pom pom maker

 Assembling the pillow for sewing

Assembling the pillow for sewing

 Finished pillow (regular size)

Finished pillow (regular size)

When I completed the pillow, I used the same screen to try printing puff ink onto paper, which is something I'd wanted to try for a while. Puff plastisol ink is typically used on garments, and puffs up when heat is applied to it. I wanted to see what would happen if I printed it on paper, and so I printed the image repeatedly (10 or so times), running it through the dryer each time, which built a raised texture. This would be a fun technique to use to print images of the moon or cheese or something like that.

 Puff plastisol ink on paper

Puff plastisol ink on paper

 One of the many ancient buckets of puff ink we have at the shop

One of the many ancient buckets of puff ink we have at the shop

The last project I worked on during my residency week was a more free form experiment to play around with layers and texture and to make things up as I went along. Screen printing can be a rigid process and I wanted to loosen up, and I was feeling inspired by a workshop I had taken with Jay Ryan in Chicago a few weeks earlier.

I had been thinking about the cars my family had when I was younger and settled on the '65 Impala my mom had when I was born to use as base imagery. I made a couple of versions of the art in different halftones and cut rubylith for shapes, so I had a set of screens to work with. I started with some split fountain floods filling the sheets of paper and began layering and experimenting, and ended with a set of monoprints where no two are alike.

 Films and rubylith for burning screens

Films and rubylith for burning screens

 Background split fountain floods

Background split fountain floods

 Final prints

Final prints

Overall I was happy with what I accomplished with my residency week. At first I was disappointed going into it that I didn't have a grand, ambitious project to work on, but the playtime ended up being good and productive, and something that is difficult to make time for during the regular times.