Wachiay studio opening

Check out one of the Comox Valley's newest businesses, a social enterprise operated by the Wachiay Friendship Centre in expanded premises.

Check out one of the Valley’s newest businesses, a social enterprise operated by the Wachiay Friendship Centre in its expanded premises at 1625 McPhee.

A 5,000 square foot expansion of the centre includes a high-end screen printing operation in the back of the old Goat FM. What is interesting is this print studio is in the old Comox Valley Free Press building. Where one of the Island’s largest and oldest printers used to be, a new printing operation has been created.

Featuring textile, graphic and industrial screen presses, the studio will be offering exploratory classes aimed at elementary school children, youth and adult workshops, and advanced training opportunities for First Nations youth interested in art, printing and other aspects of graphic trades. It will also produce limited edition art prints for regional and international artists.

Managing director Andy MacDougall, a Royston resident known internationally for his work in screen printing, is excited about the opportunity the new studio brings to Valley and to the youth.

“Screen printing is an amazing technology,” said MacDougall, elected to the international Academy of Screen and Digital Printing Technology. “Most people know it as the process used in the making of T-shirts, art prints and posters, but it is also one of the most advanced manufacturing processes in use today, in a sector called functional print. Products include cell phones, solar cells, RFID tags, membrane switches for most consumer electronics, beverage containers, most of the graphic surfaces and interfaces of cars, the inside cabin skins of jetliners, even the new diabetes testers. Estimates put the value of goods produced worldwide that use screen printing in their manufacture at $nine trillion annually. If we ever expect to get back in the manufacturing game in North America, trained screen printers along with others who can operate automated equipment are key. Besides, it’s fun to create — the school kids who come through and get to print their own shirt are getting a taste of making their own things — a novel concept in the day of the chain retail outlet.”

With an array of manual and semi-automatic equipment, including the first UV drying line on Vancouver Island, Wachiay Studio is looking forward to becoming one of the premier screen print centres in Canada and the U.S.

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