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Monday, 17 January 2011

The ScreenPrinting experiment so far . . . .

So, as previously mentioned, I received a screenprinting kit for christmas, and have spent the last week or so getting to grips with it! And finally:
Ta Da!!

It might not be the best looking print, but it took me a while to reach this stage! Many an hour was spent scratching my head trying to figure certain parts out, and surfing the net trying to find guides or hints (of which there isnt actually many, so most of the help came from taking small parts from each site!). 
But now I think I have finally got the hang of it, and to help fellow people out have decided to put together this post to show how it went.

So this is the great set I received:

The great thing about this set is that its water based, unlike when at uni when everything is oil based (this made everything so much harder, such as cleaning, and in the long run more expensive I would guess). This means you can clean the screen with good ole' soap and water when you done (and PLENTY of elbow grease, its hard work!), and use normal acrylic paints, which is much easier at home. 
First up, to create your design on the screen you can use the drawing fluid which comes with the set. This can be diluted and painted straight onto the screen, I found it easier to print my idea on paper first and trace this from under the screen.

Please excuse the messy table!

Bare in mind that what you draw with the fluid is what the ink will print on the screen ie your pencil line if you were drawing.

The next step is to block out the rest of the screen so that only the fluid line will print. Once its dry, you use the screen block that is also with the kit, and cover the entire area of the screen that you do not want paint. This is the messy part!

To mention, the next few photos are from my first experiment run, where I realised I had put way too much screen block, it took over a day to dry, and was so thick it wouldnt wash away at the next stage, so when I tried to print it was coming off in flakes all over my paper, trying to scrape it off then affected my image as it left gaps in the block so my image looked more like a lino print!

So you only need a thin layer, just enough to cover the area without going through the other side of the screen.

Once this is dry, you wash out the screen fluid with COLD WATER ONLY. This way you end up being able to see through the areas of your drawing. 

Finally, once this is dry you can print!!

Firstly, its ideal to mask out the area around the block, makes it easier with the ink so that it doesnt over run the blocked area and leak onto your paper.

To make the ink, you mix your colour of acrylic with the screen medium in the kit (you also get a medium to use on fabrics as well, so the possibilities are endless!). 

The general rule is you mix more medium than paint, this way the paint doesnt dry on the screen which apparently is screen suicide, as once you let it dry it doesnt come off (although I did let one light colour dry on my screen before I read this, and managed to get it clean, maybe with a darker colour I might not have been so lucky?!), the medium makes sure it doesnt dry, as well as making it keep for a long time. This is great, as you can keep paint that you dont use for a while after, keep it in a pot is ideal. 

When it comes to printing, I had to remember all my uni tuition! Making sure the screen isnt touching the paper (ie lift it up slightly), put the ink at the top of the image, bring the squeegee down to bring the ink over all the image. 
  This is called 'flooding the image'.

This is a good photo to make a point about the screen fluid from the beginning steps. The photo is from my second round of experimenting, as you can see the screen block is alot smoother than the first photos, however on this occasion, you can see that my teapot hasnt come out too clean. I didnt make the line thick enough, so when I put the screen block on it faded out the fluid. 
So lesson learned: Make sure you screen fluid lines are thick!

When you've flooded the screen, place in down on the paper, and bring the squeegee down over the image again.

And hopefully your print should appear!

With this print you can see how the teapot didnt print properly. 

Once I had worked out the print part, I had to work out how I would add colour to my print. This was most difficult, as I couldnt find much information on the web. I decided to work with my skill of stenciling, as this seemed the most viable option.
In uni, we used newsprint to create stencils, not having any of this (or knowing where to get hold of any, does anyone know who sells it??) I had to experiment with different papers, which turned out a lot harder than I thought. Card wouldnt let the ink go through, and normal paper kept getting stuck to the paper I was printing on, so I was stumped.

I uni (and most print studios come to think about it), you have you screen fixed slightly above your paper, so that your hands are free to print. However at home this isnt a viable option for me (I suppose I could try B&Q for some kind of wench that I could attach to my kitchen table but thats for later!) so having to hold the screen, paper and print while attaching a stencil was too much.
HOWEVER while surfing the net for a solution, I came across one blog that was one of the few that seemed helpful, from a lady across the pond that used contact paper to create stencils. Trying to work out what the british equivalent was, I found STICKY BACK PLASTIC!!!
Do you remember this school nightmare?? 
Having to cover ALL our school books in this stuff, its such a nightmare to use, and by the end of school I can honestly say that I am an expert in covering books without the dreaded air bubbles!!

But it made for an excellent stencil, as it stuck to the underside of the screen, and let ink go through to the printed paper wonderfully (which is what I used to create the brown tea on the print).

Once you've finished the prints, its time to get the screen clean! I found you can only really get 1 decent round of printing from your screen, as the more you clean ink of the screen, the more you loose screen block from the screen, and ink seeps through, making a messy looking print! So make sure you do as many prints as you need first time round.
Cleaning the screen sounds easier than it is, I found warm water and soap did the trick, however I wasnt prepared for the scrubbing involved! I think this is where uni comes up trumps, as they had a high power hose, which cleans so quick, however I had to make do with my little shower hose! But 10-15 mins of scrubbing got the screen crystal clean, so it works!

All in all, I must say Im very impressed with this little kit. I think its amazing value for money, as having shopped around buying the contents individually would cost a bomb. A screen the same size is roughly £33, with the screen block, fluid, and medium ranging from £12-17 a bottle each. 

My mum brought this kit for £45 from Cass Art! 

Not only that, but you also get a set of paints (5 basic colours), the squeegee (also more expensive than I thought would be, a small one around £13!), an apron and a book about screen printing (although I found this quite hard going, so not very helpful!). Not a bad price! 

Did I mention you also get 2 mediums - one for paper printing and one for textile printing?! Brilliant!

If you are already very good at screenprinting, then this kit will be a good investment. However if you dont know how to screenprint, its quite easy to get the hang of it, with most things it is a case of trial and error, and you learn as you go on. It does come with basic instructions on the back of the box, which I found the most helpful. You get everything you need in the kit to get started, and although it is a very time consuming process, I feel once you get to grips with it, the outcome of being able to print will be worth it, with the quality very good. 

I hope this post has been helpful, rather than long winded! I know it would have helped me massively when I was unsure what I was doing! Another blog I found helpful was this one:
by Anna Laura, which gave a step by step guide actually using the products I have, which I couldnt really find. 
Also, again check out the brill Alanna Cavanagh who makes the best screen prints!

So here I go to work on my screenprinting skills, hopefully the next time I can show something brilliant!

1 comment:

  1. Really well done for the blog.these are so sweet and pretty!
    oil Painting