Category Archives: Assignment 2: Screen Printing

Assignment 2 – Printing with discharge paste: Part 2

The results.

It didn’t take long for the discharge paste to dry so I was soon ready to steam my samples. My TUD instructions tell me to hover the iron over the fabric and I should see the colour fade. Once it is at the stage I like I should stop and then wash the remainder of the product out.

DP 5In complete shock I watched it start to work on the home dyed fabric quite quickly. The smell was pretty awful but the effect was fantastic, until……

For some inexplicable reason – other than it was one of those days when nothing was going to go right first time – the iron decided to spit water onto my piece just as I was about finished.

DP 8Whilst this wasn’t what I wanted at all it did give me some interesting water stains which you can see on the close-up picture. So now I’m thinking about how I can exploit that technique in the future. Meantime, I swapped to another iron for the next pieces.

DP 6The dark grey cotton, commercially dyed, was much harder to activate and took longer to discharge than the green piece above. I didn’t go so far with this one and I wish I had done a bit more so the effect is stronger. On the green the powder resist is quite evident around the outer edges of the pattern but I’ve lost it completely on the grey.DP 7 On the second grey sample I slowly swung the iron from side to side so the steam holes – aligned along the outer edges of the iron – moved laterally across the piece. Hence the discharge pattern.

It actually looks much more effective in real life than here.

So, not bad considering the TUD never really dissolved properly. I’ve still got some of it mixed up and will use it over the next day or two. Continue reading

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Assignment 2 – Printing with discharge paste: Part 1

An angst ridden day.

I started the day confidently, ready to mix up my discharge paste for use this afternoon.

The product available to me is called TUD, which is short for Thiourea Dioxide, and comes in powder form. The instructions say:

Dissolve 2 tablespoons of TUD in 200nl of boiling water. Stir well and add cold water to make a total of 500ml. Allow to cool. In a separate container, dissolve 2 teaspoons DR33 (thickening paste powder)with a little methylated spirits. Add the first solution to this, stirring well, and leave to thicken for around an hour.

I stumbled at the very first part. The TUD simply wouldn’t dissolve. I stirred it for 20 minutes with zero effect so I shot off an email to the supplier asking for advice. She came back with TUD isn’t the most co-operative powder when dissolving, but it does dissolve, just add more hot water. Hmm….. If it dissolves in boiling water and I’ve been stirring for 20 minutes so it is now stone cold what is the point of adding more hot water to the mix as I can’t get it to boiling point again? I decided to stick it in the microwave and heat up the original solution and see what happened. Well it got very hot and still wouldn’t dissolve.

What next? Rather than waste it (as I get it mail order and don’t have very much to play with) I decided to stir it into some of my ready prepared thickened paste and see what happened. It only occurred to me afterwards that the thickened paste is made up with chemical water containing Urea whereas the instructions for the TUD say to use it as the wetting agent for the DR33 to make up the paste – but I didn’t want to waste the ready mixed paste. Anyway, what harm can extra Urea make? Frankly, I’ve got no idea. It’s a wetting agent, isn’t it?

What on earth am I doing? Eventually I ended up with thickened paste containing gazillions of minute specks of TUD suspended in it. Is that OK? Can I use it? Don’t know, so let’s try it anyway.DP 1

The piece of fabric to the right was dyed by a friend of mine and is a medium weight cotton with this lovely variegated green. I am trying to work on the more coloured area.DP 2 The grey is a commercial patchwork fabric that has been washed to remove size.

I prepared my screen, going back to my plastic-paper feet from previous work and some powder resist so I don’t get a fully solid discharge.

DP 3Here they are straight after the paste has been applied through the screen.DP 4

Quite a lot of the powder has remained on the fabric but I’m sure that will either wash or wipe off after the process is complete. I’m doing no more until they are dry and I can try the steaming to activate the discharge because if it doesn’t work, due to the undissolved TUD, I’ll have to start again from scratch. Continue reading

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Assignment 2 – Dri-K: Previous sample after batching

Stage 3 – A Larger Piece (finished)

TD 16 rotatedThis picture (rotated from the previous post so it matches my new picture today) shows the depth of colour applied to the soda ashed fabric to create the layering effect of the colours.

Having lost a lot of colour out of samples prior to this I wondered whether I hadn’t kept them warm enough whilst batching and the soda ash hadn’t really activated properly. So I took a tip from a friend regarding a (hopefully) better batching method. Having covered the surface with cling film I folded it carefully then rolled it into a circular sausage, finishing with it swaddled in an outer coat of cling film. I was careful not to squash it and ensured no wet dye could touch another area and transfer or blur the design. This was then placed inside a padded electric heat pack similar to a mini electric blanket. The heat was on a low level for around 8-9 hours.

The base colour of this design was turquoise and I was shocked to see how much ran out when rinsing. The fabric went into the synthrapol, was rinsed again and finally had a short cool rinse and spin in the washing machine. Here is the result:

TD 16bQuite a bit of colour was lost but I like the result. It still has a difference in tone throughout which maintains some depth to the piece. The red based motifs have brightened and added some life to it. To my eye it isn’t a fully resolved piece but as a sample for the purpose of the course it has demonstrated various techniques: mixing, strengthening and diluting colours from a single base colour, adding motifs and assessing suitability of precise shapes when using dyes, repositioning of screen for multiple overprints and working wet-on-wet with a design goal in mind. Continue reading

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Assignment 2 – Dri-K dyes using paper resists.

Stage 3 – A Larger Piece

Moving on from the wax resist and Vilene prints, today I worked on producing a larger piece of fabric with a repeat pattern using my plastic paper motif previously explored with the fabric paints. It will be good to compare the results of the two techniques.

Firstly a bit of an issue with the combined dye / print paste mixture. Obviously I had some left over from my previous printing so I expected to be able to pick them straight up again today and use them – keeping in mind that I thought they may have been slightly thick last time. They had solidified a little more in the tubs so I used some spare (clear) thickened paste – which for some reason had not thickened any more (wonder whether there is some kind of a reaction once the dyes have been added?) to dilute the colour and make it more useable. The first one looked pretty good and ready to go but as I went on down this route not all of them were working. With some colours, mainly the darker ones, I managed one partial pull before the thick dyes sort of rolled up into jelly strings and wouldn’t push through the mesh. They rolled along the surface of the screen like big globules. I could even pick them up with my fingers and not get any dye on me as they seemed to have a dryish skin / surface. Very, very odd. What should I do next?

I put a little dye paste in a tub and added chemical water to liquify it more, mixing very firmly as lumps were already forming. Once smooth I added more of the dye paste until I had got it the right consistency and colour. Then I tried printing again and it worked. The dyes were as good as first time round, in fact better because they flowed across the surface more easily than last time. I’m not sure what was happening but adding more chemical water and a bit of fresh paste to my premixed thickened dyes seemed to work. I’m sure there is some whizz out there who can explain the chemical reactions to me but at this stage I’m just glad I finally managed to print something.

TD 16Today the aim was not only to use my stencils and to cover a larger fabric piece but also to try strengthening and diluting my colours to achieve a bigger range of options.

Once my mixing problems were resolved I started with turquoise and reduced the ratio to print paste to get a lovely light colour to start laying down my background. Leaving the screen dirty I added more of this mix + a little more stronger turquoise. This gave me the couple of streaky areas you can see above. Didn’t like that so, from this point, I premixed every colour to get an even colour change without the streaks. Then I went a little darker again. To the original pale turquoise I added a smidge of red to get the light purple, then this was darkened. All up, the background consists of six colour mixes, all starting from turquoise.

The motifs used two different colour mixes – bright red with a tiny touch of black and ultramarine blue with a touch of black. I’m really looking forward to seeing the colours once the batching is complete.

The whole piece is around 1.5m x 70cm and was obviously worked damp on damp. This caused some ghosting as the screen was constantly being placed back down on top of other colours and picked up some of the dyes. Here I tried to minimise that effect but actually I think working in this manner almost guarantees you are going to get some of this happening. For my own interest and pleasure I’m going to do another piece and allow the screen to pick up whatever it wants and transfer it all over the cloth – not quite breakdown printing but still a more random effect that I’ve been trying for so far.

TD 16aHere is a close up of one of the motifs and it is easy to see that it’s impossible to create sharp edges as the layers bleed into each other.

I’m learning that this seems to be the point when screen printing with dyes. If I continue down this route I’m going to get some lovely shapes happening but they are going to be a little fuzzy. However, what I love about the dyes is that they really do sink into the fabric and not just look like they are on the surface like the paints. Both methods have their place. Maybe I should dye print a base and overprint it with paints to get a design that seems to be an integral part of the fabric but with a sharp motif on top. Continue reading

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Assignment 2 – Drimarine K dye screen printing

Over the last week I’ve been preparing my TD 1chemicals & fabrics for screen printing with thickened dyes. The first challenge was the thickened dye paste. I mixed the DR33 to a paste with methylated spirits as recommended and then started adding the chemical water. Oops, a nasty curdled mess happened very quickly. Note: I might add that I was top of my year in school for making cheese sauce from a roux base and I’m pretty good at mayonnaise as well.

So the whole lot got thrown into the blender and whizzed until smooth. Actually no, it wasn’t smooth. It had turned into twice its volume and was pure white foam. I had to wait 24 hours until it settled which was about when this photo was taken. Just a few surface bubbles remained. It was then measured out into takeaway containers and dye was added. TD 2

I then started working out a couple of designs on Vilene interfacing as stencils.TD 3 One just has some areas cut away whilst the second has some acrylic painted areas as a resist, plus some cut out areas (photo done before areas have been cut out).

I also made some repairs to the two cold wax screens I used previously. When washing them some areas of wax had come away so I re-applied it so I could compare a print using this method with my other samples.TD 4 5

This was my initial colour trial to see how the thickened dye travelled across the screen. On the left is the wet dye, photo immediately after application whilst still wet, and on the right is after batching. A lot of colour loss.

TD 6 7
I did multiple prints using the bars wax resist. I overlaid it several times and didn’t worry about any ghosting effect that might happen.

Again there has been quite significant colour loss resulting in the deep red turning more pink. With this method it is difficult to maintain crisp lines because I was working wet on wet – or damp on damp at least. My base yellow had to remain wet/damp so the soda ash would activate so you can see that the red lines have blurred and spread. After batching the thick calico I can see a huge difference between this and the fabric paint screen printing. The dyeing method is fully absorbed into the cloth and the colour has bled out a little. Quite a different result to the printing inks/paints.TD 8

I left the screen with the remainder of the red on it and overprinted a damp cool-yellow base in black.

Hmmm….OK. Interesting, I guess. The faint red ghosting has given a little depth to the piece I suppose. I’m not thrilled with it but that’s because my whole nature screams neat and precise so it’s not really my type of thing.

From here I moved to my cut Vilene stencil. The idea is to use a light colour first, reposition the screen and use a slightly darker or deeper colour and to keep on this way. Gradually the dyes saturate the Vilene and more colour comes through giving a variegated look to the print where the multiple colours have gradually worked their way into the fibre and finally out onto the cloth. Obviously the colour currently being worked with will fully fill the cut out motif area. The progressive results are below in the order the colours were applied. I didn’t get good coverage until right at the end and I think this was because my dyes were a little too thick so saturation took some time. I’m going to dilute the thickened paste for my next work.

TD 14 close upFor these samples I used a white cotton with a tiny all-over white flower design.

I was interested to see if the design would disappear, be more lightly coloured or remain white (as I’m not sure how they colour an embossed design like this, so it may not take the dye). I feel that the pattern has enhanced the dyeing results and further down this post you can see where I have photographed the front and back of the final two prints to give an indication of the difference in effect.

The first piece, below left, was so boring that I repositioned the screen a little and overprinted with a tiny amount of orange hoping to cause a yellow shadow effect.

TD 9 10TD 11 12TD 13 13aTD 14 14aTD 15Finally I laid out a cool-yellow base and overprinted it with turquoise to make a variegated green. TD 15aThis one lost the most colour when washing out after batching and, just because I felt like it, I took a scourer and rubbed it to death to see just how much dye I could remove. Why? Purely for my own interest.

So far this has been a big learning experience, a lot of work and slightly unexpected results.

  Continue reading

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Prints Charming – Screen Printing Workshop

All week I’ve been making chemical water, thickened paste, mixing dye colours and trialling my dye screen-printing. Today I took a time out from that while my prints are batching and attended another screen printing workshop.

Prints Charming 1This one day event, run by Cath Derksema of Prints Charming, was a delight after my not-so-great experience a month ago elsewhere. Prints Charming 2Cath is an experienced printer and designer with a long history in the textiles industry. In the early ’90s she developed “Art Park” a multifaceted design studio designing prints for manufacturers including Seafolly, Billabong, Carla Zampatti, Table 8, Target and Woolworths (the Australian one, not UK). Prints Charming 3In 2002 she created “Prints Charming” selling into America and now locally through Spotlight.

Prints Charming 4A few of her currently available designs are featured here. Most of the samples she showed us were large crisp uncluttered images printed onto predyed fabric bases. I was particularly interested in looking at the same design printed in different colourways as per the two pictures above on the left.

The day was aimed at paper stencil cutting and overprinting. We were given white cotton, medium weight, around 1 x 1.5 metre to work on with several small sample pieces for us to use for initial trials.PC 7

Cath uses Aquatex fabric colours which come in concentrate form and are mixed with a clear bonder, or you could call it an extender, before use. This picture shows a few of the colours we could use because we had already made our initial choices and taken them to our workstations. There was certainly no shortage and we mixed other variations as we went.

PC 6Cath cut a simple stencil and showed us how to apply it to fabric, how to correctly hold the squeegee, how much paint to use, how to get a good clear print and finally how to clean up. Her sample is to the left. I’ve not cropped it so you can see the wonderful array of prints she has happening on her drop cloth. Frankly there were enough ideas on that just to get us going!!

I had taken along some of the images I have been developing in my sketchbook for my assignment. They are fairly straight forward and easy to cut, not too involved for paper stencils and easily repeatable when they are saturated. However, if I were to do this again I would use my plastic paper instead of photocopy paper then I could wash my stencils for reuse because I quite liked them but they are now in the bin of course. Here is the piece I came home with:

PC 8I’m extremely happy with what I learned today and the result I got. The print registration was done by eye alone, there was no measuring and I’ve done a set of 6 full repeats plus some partials. The only random part are the pink motifs which have been placed haphazardly where I felt so inclined to put them. This now needs to be heat set before using and I’m thinking of tea dyeing the whole thing afterwards as it seems a bit stark, but we’ll see.

Positives from the day:

  • The chance to use yet another type of fabric paint and I’ve found I much prefer this brand to my Derivan ones. They are less ‘plastic’ looking and alter the hand of the fabric to a much lesser degree. I’m told that once they are heat set that reduces even further.
  • Still on paint – it was terrific to see how easy it is to mix and ‘dilute’ colours to achieve very different effects.
  • An opportunity to see how a professional prints, explore her method and see how that fits with the way I work.
  • I learned that this process can be quite quick and fun and less laborious than I have currently been doing. So a change in my own practice will now be made.
  • I was delighted to see the different stencil designs from each participant and how they built their surfaces. This has given me food for thought regarding my future work.

Negatives from the day:

  • It’s over.

Resources: – Aquatex fabric paints and mediums Continue reading

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Assignment 2 – Screen printing on paper

Each of the samples in the previous 2 posts were started by trials on paper. Much of the paper, depending on the thickness and quality, became distorted and the prints weren’t perfect. Some of this texture transferred to the base of the screen and came through on the fabric prints. It was easily erased by performing a second pull of paint over the surface but on print sample 2 (the blue pine cone shapes) I left the texture as I felt it added to the piece.

Here are some of the more interesting paper results.

Print paper 1Print paper 2Print paper 3Print paper 4Print paper 5Print5ePrint paper 6 Continue reading

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