Our Radical Print Shop

Many of you have been asking why I haven’t written much recently. I won’t bore you with the details other than to say I’ve been insanely busy – Almost tearing my hair out kind of busy – I haven’t written or read anything significant in 3 whole months kind of busy – Exhausted, frustrated, you get the picture. (Do you think maybe I’ve just had a bad week?)

It is my hope that normal service will resume shortly but in the meantime it is with much gratitude and enthusiasm that I would like to introduce you to my friend Lobsters Are Cute Too.

Lobsters are cute

* Not an actual photograph of today’s guest blogger. Besides, don’t they only turn red after they’ve been cooked? Cooked lobsters cannot type, can they?

Lobsters (Is it rude to give someone a nickname without running it past them first?) is a fellow Mancunian (technically a Salfordian – Oooh so political!) who moved to Liverpool for several years (traitor) but has recently moved back to Sunny Salford. (Quick glance out of the window – yep, looks bright enough across the Irwell to call it that).

Lobsters (Tangents are quite distracting aren’t they? I should really try to cut down) has only recently starting blogging so check out her site and show some support. As an ex-full time creative practitioner / artist / arts industry employee, her blog is a conduit for releasing creativity so here is her guest blog reviewing a recent date with the Hot Bed Studio in Salford:


So in a pre Manchester Weekender type of mood I went off to try out Hotbed Press’s workshop: The Radical Print Shop, taking place in an old Victorian (maybe) building full of studio’s and interesting looking workshops. Tucked back from the cross-roads where Liverpool Street meets Oldfield Road, just over the river into Salford, Hotbed Press is a studio group of printers, who also run courses and workshops.

My date (an old old friend in town for the labour party conference) for the evening was late. When I arrived, a tiny bit tardy myself at 6:30 for a 6pm start, luckily the totally relaxed attitudes made that whole drop-in workshop thing work really well. I’d been worried it would be more like a taught class and my lateness would cause fuss.

I established on the phone that she was also a teensy weensy bit tipsy, out drinking with a trade unionist in the afternoon I reckon. I decided that I was brave and went in on my own. 

After paying my £10 pounds I was directed to talk to someone who explained what was going on: There was screen printing, letter press printing and starting in half an hour the risograph machine would be in action.

I was told to not stay still, not try and compose too much, to mix my media’s as much as possible – delightful I thought, and wandered off to talk to someone in the screen print section of this impressively set up creative space.

With maybe 9 large vacuum beds, huge sinks and beautiful drying racks (I have a thing about these, seriously, ever since I was little, the way they click and slide and the way you turn down the sheets to tuck your work safely in) it was heaven.

ISay No To’ve not printed since Uni, but was allowed to just crack on with it. Screens with a selection of text and images were already set up allowing you to move round the room overprinting in a deliciously casual manner. (Screenprinting is all too often precision and tears when screens don’t line up properly).

There were studio members on hand dishing out advice and technique when desired and I quickly had something to show. So leaving these to dry I trotted off to watch a letterpress printing mini demo, where I was mid 3min whiz through the history of printing words when my halfcut mate turned up. 

BookmarksWe giggled, we chatted (there were more people arriving and the large room was abuzz with noise in a very active kinda way so it all felt totally natural). After she had put her coat and bag down I dragged her over to play at printing. We made bookmarks with the letterbeds – a type of printing I’d never done before and most satisfyingly tying me into a history of selfprinting selfexpressing women.  

Had all sorts of interesting jargon explained, including the origin of minding your P’s & Q’s and Uppercase and Lowercase, most patiently by the studio member / workshop leader. I cut up some of my screen prints and printed letters onto those, we did some more screenprinting, we shared some interesting opinions on men my friend may know.

Finally we came to the Risograph machine, looking like a photocopier but producing printed images in coloured ink more akin to a screenprint or etch, the endlessly patient Hotbedpressite manning it was patiently explaining how it worked and producing prints from collages people were making of their prints and drawings, mixed with newspapers and magazines. I got to be printed just as she’s swapped the colour from red to green and was more than delighted with the way my not so amazing collage looked when it had been run through the machine. 

Perhaps the most radical bit of my evening was the re-engaging with creativity and producing rather than just purely consuming. The text and images used all had a loose connection to ‘radical or ‘protest’ and though it was tempting to go with the purely decorative aspects of printing my final risograph print had a vague message relating to a couple of the ongoing questions in my personal life (personal is political, for me anyhow).

Anyhow I’m not going to make any claims for the quality or aesthetic value of my work, but I had the best time and my scientist politician friend enjoyed herself too and was amazed at what she produced.

Part of the reason I was there on Thursday night was that since moving back to Salford I haven’t been part of a studio group and I really wanted to test the water here. Decision made, as soon as I have the pennies I’ll be joining if they’ll have me.Print Workshop

Hot Bed Press run loads of amazing workshops. I’m pretty much saving up to go to one of their more expensive but amazing sounding courses, and will definitely be going along to any future evening masterclasses they run, which tend to be cheaper.


The Radical Printshop is taking place again today as part of the Manchester Weekender at The Peoples History Museum and John Ryland’s library.

All comments are welcome 🙂 


Charitable Valentine

I don’t celebrate Valentines Day. I don’t have a problem with the commercial aspect of it – I don’t mind the big red love hearts everywhere and the fact everything is coloured red or pink. I don’t mind the soppy cards or big balloons – Not that I’ve ever bought any. I don’t mind the discounted chocolates or discounted flowers. It’s as good an excuse as any to treat myself or my loved ones, or to get them to treat me instead. The only thing I object to is the price of restaurants.


Food is well and truly the way to my heart, as my other half will testify. For our second date I insisted we went to my then favourite restaurant for a 43 course banquet. This wonderful restaurant was where my closest friends and I celebrated each and every payday, by turning ourselves temporarily into Weebles. Sadly the restaurant is no more, much to my waists relief no doubt.


The thing that irritates me about Valentine’s Day is when restaurants use it as an excuse to charge extortionate prices. Many of them will be full to capacity, with increased profits to boot, so why push the prices through the roof as well? That’s just greedy, isn’t it?

Some restaurants change their menus specifically for ‘the big day’, serving six courses or more, but there’s really only so much you can eat. I don’t think stuffing your face more than usual is truly romantic. (I could be wrong). Personally I’d rather have a normal size meal for a normal price.

(Evidently my opinion has changed since the days of wobbling out through the banquet door…)

With all that in mind you won’t be surprised that I usually stay in on Valentine’s Day. I love eating out at restaurants and do so as often as possible, just not on February 14th.

This year I’m making an exception.


You’ll remember I eagerly anticipated the reopening of The Black Lion on Chapel Street with its own upstairs cinema. Well they’ve come up with a unique fundraising idea for Valentine’s Day: The Black Lion is hosting a one-off Pop Up & Pay What You Think food night.

The deal is you book a table (£1 per person), enjoy a delicious 3 course ’Valentine’s meal with a twist’ from 7.30pm (suitable for vegetarians and meat eaters alike). Then when the bill arrives, you pay what you think for the food.


Future Artists LogoThe Black Lion reopened in September last year, after being taken over by a creative co-op called Future Artists. Over the past four months Future Artists have created an ‘arts space’ in the upstairs of the pub: developing a studio suitable for film screenings, theatre, meetings and ‘art happenings’, but the beautiful 130 year old venue isn’t accessible for everyone.

Love Food at the Black LionBy paying what we think the food is worth (don’t be stingy now!) we will be contributing towards funding a stair-lift in the venue, so disabled artists can enjoy the array of new artistic programming across cinema and theatre too.

(Future Artists at The Black Lion is NOT funded by any government, arts council or artistic grant).

Additionally, Valentine’s diners will be the first sponsors of ‘Love your art space’ – We’ll get our names on the board!

(I don’t even know what ‘Love your art space’ is, but as there’s a board I want my name on it…!)

It’s an opportunity to be romantic and altruistic at the same time, or to simply enjoy a meal with friends or family. I think it’s a good excuse to go out on Valentine’s Day. Who’s with me?!

All comments are welcome 🙂