Handcross Primary School

Windows to History

Handcross Primary School

When Melony Rocque-Hewitt took occupation of her new schoolroom, she knew that window graphics would help to create just the right ambience for her class.

“One of the most exciting aspects of becoming a newly qualified teacher and taking up your first post is preparing your classroom space for the children before they arrive in September,” says Melony Rocque-Hewitt, Year 3 teacher at Handcross Primary School in West Sussex.

“For me it was even more special because I had been given a new classroom – part of a new several hundred thousand pound extension to the school. Large and bright, my classroom has a back wall that is basically all glass. You walk into my room and the first thing you notice are the windows and glass door on the opposite side.  As I have a background in large-format graphics and printing, I knew that window graphics would not only make my classroom unusually striking, but the images would also provide a perfect backdrop to the learning experience.”

The Egyptian Experience

Luckily for Melony ancient Egypt was the topic for the autumn term. “I couldn’t have asked for a better project. The images from ancient Egypt are very arresting and powerful. I knew that the images I had chosen would not only add colour and depth to the classroom but would really inspire the children to want to learn about this fascinating subject.”

Melony purchased images for her classroom online. She had thought of printing them out on A3 acetate and then placing these decoratively on the windows and glass door. “Although they would probably look OK for a while, it really felt like a massive compromise. I’ve seen what great window graphics can do to a space. I wanted to make the new classroom look very special and I wanted to create a real wow factor for my children and their parents. Also, as I have external windows it would only be a matter of time before the acetate came unstuck and the images faded due to temperature changes and UV light.”

Before teaching Melony had been involved in the large format digital print industry, writing about it for 15 or so years. “I know a number of people in the industry and I decided to approach Epson who I know very well to ask them for help. They were fantastic. Epson not only created five window graphics for my classroom but also three extra images for the other junior classes so that they could have some great window art too.”

The Technology

The window graphics were printed onto high-performance self-adhesive vinyl using Epson’s 64-inch SureColor SC-S70600 wide-format printer. The combination of Epson’s UltraChrome GSX ink-set and proven Micro Piezo TFP printhead ensured that the vivid colours, solid whites and metallic effects were of the highest quality and clarity and long lasting. Besides featuring CMYK, light magenta, light cyan, light black and orange, the 10-colour SC-S70600 supports white and metallic ink simultaneously - perfect for the colourful, highly-detailed, eye-catching designs that Melony had selected. Additionally, the GSX inks are hard wearing, odourless and nickel-free - perfectly suited to the application within the classroom.

The Science of Applying

Epson sent the images in time for the start of term but it was Melony’s responsibility to apply them to the windows and doors. The four window images each measured 53 cm square. Melony applied the graphics using a damp cloth to wipe down the film from left to right as she pulled back the backing paper. “It was a little bit tricky peeling away the backing paper and making sure I had stuck the film square to the window, but once I had repositioned the film from the top, it was easy to apply. There didn’t seem to be many bubbles at all.”

However, applying the 1.5m long film to the door was slightly more difficult. “I was worried about applying the film to the glass door because of its size.” Melony watched a master class on YouTube, and then with the help of a fellow teacher applied the graphic.

“We managed it between the two of us and I was pleased with the end result, although there was one big bubble in the middle of the image. I tried to push it out with the squeegee but it didn’t work. I didn’t want to peel away the film from the glass, so I got a very fine pin and just pricked the bubble. I then applied squeegee pressure to flatten it and it worked!”

The Overall Effect

Children, parents and visitors have all commented on the window graphics, especially the way the light works with them. Images can be seen from the playground and so there is no mistaking what topic the children are learning about this term.

Says Melony: “The window graphics form a great backdrop to the children’s mummified cats, their scarab beetles and their papyrus paper which they have made. They also complement the other displays that the children have created on the other walls of the classroom. The window graphics will be up until the New Year when we change our topic to the Stone Age. I’ve already got an idea of what I want my glass display to look like, it’s just a case of making it happen!”