I’ve been reading up on screen printing and collecting materials for my current assignment. I did a two day course about 4 years ago but have forgotten pretty much most of what we did so thought I would do a one day refresher. It was certainly an eye-opener. Some aspects were very interesting and informative whilst other parts were pretty abysmal, but they clearly demonstrated some of the dos and don’ts of the process.
- A bound folder of comprehensive notes detailing 17 different resist and pattern making techniques.
- The opportunity to see and try some of the above techniques with a tutor advising.
- Each participant wanted to print for different reasons and on different surfaces so a wide variety of questions were asked and answered, a lot of which would not have occurred to me working alone at home.
- An explanation of the slightly padded printing board/surface – even though we weren’t allowed to use the one there and worked on folded towels.
- Disorganised, unprepared and products not readily to hand.
- Old and unprepared wooden frames. These had not been either varnished or protected by any tape so the main one we were using had slightly warped. Insufficient frames for one per person (there were 7 of us) so we all used the same one in rotation for each technique.
- Tutor admitted frames were not routinely cleaned in a timely manner so the meshes were stained making it difficult to see through for accurate placement. There were also a couple of small holes/tears in one of the meshes.
- Fabric paints were old, end of tubs, and tutor commented that she wished to use up old stock. Paints had separated and were ‘moussy’ indicating they were coming to the end of their usable life (tutor’s words). Colour palette limited to green, red, blue and a smidge of old globular yellow.
- No layering process covered.
- No information re blended colour or using multiple colours together.
- Fabrics were not pinned or secured in place during printing so multiple people had to help out for each print.
Whilst this sounds pretty poor it did provide a lot of knowledge concerning what can be done better and I’ve prepared my equipment and set my work space up accordingly. Here are my results from the day:
Powder resist – Left: on paper with the only bit of yellow we had. Right: on thick textural cotton fabric. Due to the speckled appearance I think this technique has a lot of scope for layering on top of other prints.
Foliage & masking tape resist – Left: plant foliage used over calico fabric. Right: masking tape adhered to screen with overlay of plant resist print. I tried the green print twice as it simply wouldn’t work. There was speculation that the paint had dried on the screen.
And that’s it for a 3 hour car journey in each direction and 6 hours tuition!!!!!
What I’ve learned:
- Preparing frames correctly will increase their usable life-span and paint cleans off duct tape much easier than off porous wood.
- Clean frames immediately after use.
- Stir/mix paints well before use and ensure they are still usable.
- Prepare a large print work surface where either multiple small pieces of fabric can be pinned out or a larger piece can be worked on.
- Have a water source nearby and a hose if possible.
- Have a hanging or drying area nearby as each piece needs space to dry out, preferably flat initially.
- This workshop used block printing ink. My local art shop tells me that this is designed for paper and dries out too quickly for screen printing. They suggest using screen printing inks (sounds logical to me) as they have a slight retardant in them to avoid this problem. The workshop tutor didn’t know the difference between these two products. I wonder if this is the reason my prints are so poor or was the folded towel base too soft?
I’m starting my own experimentation with Derivan screen printing inks before moving to thickened Drimarine K dyes.
I have another one day screen printing workshop at the end of May and I’m looking forward to seeing how it differs from this experience.