Tag Archives: Screen printing

Exploring Screen-printing

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 … Continue reading

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Assignment 2 – Review

There are no review questions at the end of this assignment so I’ll just make a few notes to keep as a reference for the future. What were the main differences between using fabric paints and dyes as a print … Continue reading

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Assignment 2 – Application of design ideas

Here we are required to explore our assignment sketchbook work to produce design ideas in a small format before choosing one to develop further. Most of my designs were done in Photoshop.  I found this gave me a lot of … Continue reading

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Assignment 2: Reading Material & Reference

I’ve read extensively throughout this section as my screen printing knowledge was scant at best.  Even now I realise that I’ve only scratched the surface.  The notes provided in the course were excellent and provided a good start point.  An … Continue reading

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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.

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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.

http://www.dynamiccoatings.com.au – Aquatex fabric paints and mediums
www.printscharming.com.au 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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Assignment 2 – Screen printing with wax resists

Printing ink samples using cold wax resists

One of the techniques the course manual suggests is to either spray paint or hand paint a design onto the screen mesh using acrylic paints and let it dry as a resist. The advantage is that the design will be permanent and it can be used over and over. As a beginner to screen printing I’m not sure about going down this route and possibly ruining a screen which will then have to be replaced for further sampling techniques. What design should I choose? What am I likely to want long-term? At this stage I don’t wish to commit to this idea. The cost of new screens and the lack of availability of screen printing supplies in my local area play a large part in my decision.

However, applying a design to the mesh itself instead of taping on a stencil or using cut-out resists appeals to me. So I have bought some liquid cold wax which can be painted directly on the mesh and should achieve a similar result to the paint resist except it is able to be removed later with hot water if required. Alternatively it can stay on the screen long term. At this stage of my development this technique has advantages over the acrylic paint option, in my view, for this very reason.

Print 7

Print7aI started with a piece of calico I had previously dyed. During the dyeing process a skewer was used with deep purple dye to create random swirls.

Using a stencil I cut for some colour sampling back in A Creative Approach last year I painted the cold wax onto the screen mesh. I then free hand filled in some other areas to create an interesting print area. The wax dries quite quickly but I was unsure when it was ready because it continued to feel quite tacky. In the end I left it overnight to ensure it was properly set on the screen.

Print7c blackI didn’t want the print to be solid but I did want the colour difference to be dramatic, so I used black paint and put the bulk of the paint bead towards the centre top of the screen. This gave me a more solid centre, where the flowers are, with a lighter surround. It should be noted that the picture has been rotated anti-clockwise 90 degrees.

I felt the black was very harsh against the red and purple, so I did another print, without cleaning the screen, using purple. I also rotated the screen to get another design view. Again I kept the paint to a minimum so it would fade towards the edges.

Print7d purpleI prefer the purple, it isn’t quite so stark but I don’t see, on either sample, whether the printed area or the fabric is coming to the fore. Both prints look quite one dimensional and I think that is because the value of both print and fabric are equally as strong.

Print 8

Print8aHere I used a previously dyed cloth. It is white cotton with a busy design created using multiple folding and 2 dyeing processes. The aim is to see how further patterning over this will result.

I went back to my prison bars/piano wire design from earlier in this assignment (here) and printed it out the same size as my screen print area. A folded towel with the picture on top sat inside the screen so I could follow the design outline when painting the wax onto the mesh. It’s surprisingly difficult to draw straight lines and keep within the pattern outline. I waxed in the negative space and left the bars so they would print.

Print8cI’ve cropped the photo because the design is not enhanced with the excess unprinted material surround. Once I had the print down it looked so small so I rotated the screen and did another print adjoining the first. The saturated red really stands forward with the soft edges of the background fabric colours receding into the distance. There is some real depth to this piece and I feel I’m looking through the bars to what is behind.

Print 9


Using an old Indian woodblock as my template I applied orange wax crayon to the screen mesh in a similar manner to making a brass rubbing. I was hopeful that the crayon would provide enough of a resist to create a few prints before breaking down.

The woodblock has numerous flaws with small sections broken off so the initial rubbing reflected this. The print will of course come out in reverse.

I used my own dyed fabric, an orange muslin with a fairly open weave and a green/yellow dyed cotton similar to sheeting.

Print9bcLeft: I started with a solid print which has come out quite well but there are a couple of small areas where the paint is a little light. When doing the initial wax rubbing some areas around the design picked up a light coating of wax and whilst this has not stopped the paint coming through but it has pushed the wax through the mesh with it. You can see slight amounts of orange crayon in parts. Right: Having reviewed the first print I felt it was a waste of my hand-dyed cloth to cover it completely with fabric paint so I applied some powder to the screen to break down the image a little.

Dark olive paint was used for these prints – golden yellow and black.Print9d

Without cleaning the screen I changed paint to the lovely brown I had left over from previous prints and tried that over the orange base. Not quite enough paint for a good coverage at the base but I like the effect. With the incomplete flower design and the lack of paint it has an aged, worn out appearance.

The pattern is much more prominent on this orange fabric using the brown rather than the previous one using the dark green.

I then decided to try a colour mix and added some orange to my brown bead puddle.

Print9efLeft: I first printed on the orange fabric and I think the result has come out very well. The brown/red/orange mix of paint and fabric integrates into a warm and unified piece. There is less definition in the design and the crayon is already starting to disappear. Right: An experiment to see how the brown and orange paint looks on the green background. By this stage the wax crayon is really breaking down and the image is much less defined. However enough can be seen to gauge the colour effect, and I’m not keen on this sample. I think the dark green on the light green background is more effective.

So after all this sampling with the printing inks I feel that I have learned a lot. As I’ve progressed I’ve become better at assessing how much paint I need to use, my clean up routine is very orderly meaning I can get screens and squeegees back into action quickly, my fabric preparation (sizing, cutting, ironing and pinning in place) is now quite accurate which improves the results and my eye for colour is improving. My colour preferences are for either analogous colours or colours which are created from a similar base. This seems to give the prints more unification and less like paint that has just been plonked on to the surface of a fabric with no considered outcome.

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Assignment 2 – Screenprinting with paper & powder resists

Paper & powder resist techniques using printing inks.

I tried a range of samples on different fabrics and have detailed each below with progress photos. Most pictures were taken whilst the fabrics were still on the work surface, hence the slightly skewed shapes.

Print 1

Print1bcPlain white cotton fabric. Paper strips – from the shredder – as a resist on the screen. From top left: 1. first yellow print – 2. second yellow print – 3. new arrangement of shredded paper overprinting the first layer in pink – 4. the same as 3 but with an additional red print over the previous two layers.

At this stage I hadn’t learned how to reposition the screen for further print layers very well. I understand this is called the registration.

Print 2

Print 2acPlain white cotton fabric. Left: Mid blue ink with white to lighten. Although all the inks were bought at the same time the white has thickened a lot and it was difficult to mix. On each sample it was very hard to print a solid colour as the white had a drying effect on the blue it was mixed with so it dragged and left tiny, tiny flecks of paint at the front edge. The more I tried the worse it got so I cut my losses and stopped. Right: Cut photocopy paper stencils (positive image) used as a resist when applying a second layer of colour.

Print 2efLeft: the negative image of the previous stencil, i.e. the remainder of the paper once the image has been removed, was taped to the base of the screen to add the purple layer. This was repositioned to create the partial prints on the edge of the piece. To soften this surface image, to integrate them into the background more, I pressed a textured paper hand towel over the surface which lightened the print and gave the purple images a less solid appearance with ‘bobbles’. It can just be seen in the photo. This negative image was created using a type of plastic paper, similar to freezer paper, which can be washed and reused as opposed to the paper cutouts above which had to be discarded. Right: only two printed layers but with the addition of purple as my first trial in colour mixing. Here I’m starting to get the hang of the quantity of paint and the pull position as I’ve achieved a much crisper image and the registration is quite accurate.

Purple was created with mid blue and brilliant pink.

Print 3

Print3aCalico. A solid yellow base was printed. Powder was shaken on to paper, the screen placed on top and an orange print was taken. The powder adhered to the screen forming a resist and this was then printed over the yellow. I did not add more paint for the second fabric print so as to see the orange fading out with more of the under layer showing. It was a good experiment to see how far paint goes and what effects can be produced. You can see the whole effect is lighter than the sample on the left.

Orange was created with bright yellow and brilliant pink.


Commercial punches were used to create paper flower shapes. These were used as a resist when painting the green layer. The green was thinned using Extender so some aspects of the orange/yellow would come through.

Green was created with golden yellow, a smidge of black and mid blue.

Print3cA Contact (sticky back plastic) template was stuck to the underside of the screen and further paper flowers were used as resists for this final deep green layer.

Print3dRight: close up showing all layers and how the Extender has allowed the two undercoats to show through the lighter green.

The dark green was created with golden yellow and black.

The registration of the piece is quite good considering there are four layers and I’m happy with the overall result.

Print 4

Print4bcReverse side of white cotton fabric with a white on white embossed flower design. I started here with golden yellow and red in alternating bead puddles at the head of the screen which was turned portrait orientation.

For the first pull I didn’t get the squeegee neatly across the screen and didn’t have an even pressure, as you can see on the left.

The second pull was more successful. The print has a more uniform solidity (the first attempt has more paint in some areas than others) and the blending is quite lovely.

Print4deMasking tape was torn and attached in strips to the screen as a resist.

The first sample to the right is of the more blended piece overlaid with brown.

The second sample (using the less blended base) has the same overlaid brown print then the screen was rotated 180 degrees and another brown layer was printed.

The brown was created with brilliant pink and mid blue, to give purple, then bright red was added which changed the colour to a gorgeous warm brown.

Print 5

Print5abThe aim was to create a ‘holey’ design on a reusable resist. I free machined an old Tyvek envelope, taped it down and zapped it with the heat gun to create holes. It stayed very flat due to the stitching. The stitching was then removed and the stencil taped to the screen.

Print5cdBright red was mixed with Extender and a solid print was taken. As the base fabric was a beige counted-threadwork canvas (very thick) the paint sat heavily on the surface so I took some kitchen hand towel, placed it over the top and pressed it into the paint. This gave me an additional print and a slight patterning on the fabric paint surface whilst having pressed the paint into the fabric.


Print5fI tried printing the Tyvek resist several times, both on the painted background and also onto the plain fabric. It didn’t work well. It looks like this type of stencil is too thick. The picture, right, is my trial on paper and the build-up of paint can be clearly seen. The patterning is wonderful and I can probably use this stencil in the future with a stencil brush.

So I’m still trying to work out a way to produce a re-usable resist with serendipitous random holes for screen printing.

Print 6

Lightweight silk was used as a base. A solid black print was laid down. Plastic paper (like freezer paper) feet shapes were cut by hand and a grey print applied over the black.

Print6bcA powder resist was applied and the deep purple was screenprinted over the surface.

This sample was done twice due to the difficulties of working on the silk. As soon as the fabric paint hits the silk the fabric starts to stretch and distort. This can clearly be seen in the left hand photo where it’s hard to appreciate just how many pins are holding the fabric in place. I considered unpinning and repinning the fabric more tightly but then the image would be a different size and shape to the screen for further layering. On the right you can see a small shadow around some of the feet where the screen slipped very slightly when printing – another problem with a silky slick surface fabric.

Even though I waited until it was completely dry before the final layer I can see where the powder resist has produced a very light coating over the grey and black prints. I’m sure that this will come off once it is washed and I’ll get back the crisp black foot-prints. However, my current problem is that although I have heat-set the paints as per the manufacturers instructions when I test a small area for durability the paints continue to bleed out. I’m not sure where to go with that other than to continue to try to heat-set until it works.

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Assignment 2 Preparation

Setting up the work area

Printing areaAfter consideration I’ve set up a dedicated print space in our outbuilding. It is the most suitable area because:

  • Drips and spillages are easily cleaned off or absorbed by the concrete floor and the area can be hosed if need be. No danger of damaging any floor coverings in the house.
  • Large concrete drying area outside the shed.
  • Huge laundry sink within 4 metres.
  • Hose and garden area to clean screens.
  • Sunny aspect outside to dry items including washing line to hang prints.
  • Electrical outlets for hairdryer (if it’s a wet day and things won’t dry).
  • Undercover but still open air.
  • Large enough space to move around the print table.
  • Cupboard space and worktop to keep supplies.

My print pad/surface is plyboard covered with 2 layers of acrylic felt and a plastic backed drop cloth – all stapled as a permanent surface. This is finally overlaid with a double layer of flannelette sheet (removable and washable). The plyboard measures 120 x 90cm giving me enough space to pin out 6 fabric pieces at a time, all around A3 size.

I have a mix of frames, two wood and one aluminium, each prepared with duct tape (fully covered for the wooden ones, partially covered for the aluminium one) and with a well. All have polyester mesh 43T. I have three squeegees: one Speedball plastic ‘paddle’ style and two with a wooden handle.

My experimentation starts by using Derivan Screen Printing Inks. Continue reading

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Screen Printing Workshop

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:

Printing 1Powder 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.

Printing 2Foliage & 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.

Printing 3Multiple resists – Left: paper, foliage & lace motif resists. Right: various wax resists.

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.

Other points:

  • 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.

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