Last week I attended a 4 day screen-printing course with tutor Julie Ryder. Not only is she a very good practitioner, extremely well versed in the technicalities of the craft, but is also an excellent designer and tutor. Not all craftspeople have the ability to pass on knowledge thoughtfully and cohesively to others but in this case anyone attending her workshops should be able to return home, set-up their own workspace and commence screen-printing. Whether they have her design expertise is another question!
I’ve done a tiny bit of screen-printing before, way back in 2013, and have looked back at my samples. Wow, seriously appalling! OK, maybe the odd (marginally) reasonable piece but overall not good. This previous course was by correspondence and with certain practical applications you really do need face-to-face tuition to get you started before leaping into the world of on-line lessons.
A large proportion of time was spent learning about screens, meshes, squeegees, pigments and pastes, before setting up our individual work stations.
We covered colour theory to a reasonable degree – warm and cool primaries, secondary & tertiary colours, colour mixing, translucency, opacity and layering. I’m au fait with all of this but it was interesting to see how the colours played out using concentrated pigments in Permaset Aqua medium as opposed to my usual oil-based printing inks.
We printed small blocks of primary colours and overlaid others to test combinations and we ‘diluted’ from full strength colours in increments down as far as 1/32 strength.
Stencilling and stamping were covered, both with and without using screens. We looked at screens with photo-emulsion designs on them, enabling multiple prints to be taken of the same image quickly. Think t-shirts, tea towels, napkins and the like here. This method allows you to create very complex designs which would be impossible to cut into a stencil; excellent if you’re in the world of repetitive printing. Using these screens with stencils, designed to block out areas, opens up other options.
Above left: acetate stencil cut by hand, taped to screen and printed.
Above centre: silkscreen with photo emulsion design.
Above right: photo emulsion design on silkscreen with paper stencil cut to the pear shape, so blocking out the negative space. Acetate stencils for leaves and stem, colour dabbed directly onto the surface without screen use.
A drawback was the length of time for layers to dry as each one must be bone dry before overprinting. With pouring rain and humidity throughout the course this was a definite problem. However, I managed a simple 6 layer screenprinted and stencilled design, repeated 4 times.
The course focused on printing on fabric and we didn’t venture into paper-based work as products used were all tailored towards fabric.
It was an interesting course, a good reintroduction to this print method, which has confirmed it’s not a route I wish to go down in the future. I’m too much in thrall to my oil-based inks, collagraphs and other print forms.