I recently had the great pleasure to spend an evening at The Make Lounge on their Screen Printed Textiles workshop. I first tried my hand at screenprinting at the Print Block in Whitstable, during the Oyster Festival and I’m starting to think I might have caught the bug!
We started with a demonstration from the lovely Helen Rawlinson who led the class. (Forgive me if this post is a little repetitive of my previous screenprinting post; I felt I’d learnt more, so I thought this was worth sharing.)
Screenprinting is based on the premise of ink passing through (a screen and) a stencil to print on the fabric or paper below, so the stencil is always where you start. We were working with the simplest form of screenprinting, using paper stencils. Helen placed her stencil onto the canvas tote bag and positioned in according to where she wanted the final image to appear.
She placed the screen over the area to be printed, screen-side up and taped off the area that was to be printed, creating a frame for the stencil.
She placed the screen (carefully because the paper stencils stick to the screen through static, so once it’s put down, that’s where it will be when you print) screen-side down over the stencil and tote bag and taped the inside of the screen to match the tape on the outside. The outside is the side that creates the outer printing edges, so on the inside the tape should be slightly further out than on the outside.
Helen then liberally applied screenprinting ink to one end of the screen using a spatula.
With a glamorous assistant(!) to hold the screen in place, she dunked the squeegee in the ink to ensure it was covered, placed it behind the ink and at an angle of 45 degrees, leaning onto it, she pulled it down across the screen, flooding the screen with ink, creating a pleasing ‘squee’ noise that explained the onomatopoeic “squeegee”.
The process was repeated before Helen used the spatula to scrape the excess ink back into its pot.
She then showed us how to carefully lift the screen off the print “opening it like a book” from right to left. The stencil clings to the screen and so comes off too.
And then everything is cleaned with soapy water, the stencil going into the bin. If you want multiple prints, you have to do them from the same screen.
Sadly, I was too excited about getting cracking with my own prints to get a picture of Helen’s finished tote bag – sorry Helen!
We’d been asked to bring along pictures that we might want to make prints from, so I’d brought this lovely ISOTYPE design by Gerd Arntz.
To create my stencil I carefully cut out the image with a scalpel, removing the sections I wanted to be printed and keeping the sections I wanted to stay white.
I then inserted a piece of lino into the bag, to make sure the ink didn’t seep through to the other side. If you’re printing onto a single sheet of material or paper, you just place this underneath to protect the work surface.
Then I positioned the stencil on the bag where I wanted it to go, and put the screen, screen-side up, over the top, so I could see where to tape it.
I taped off the printing area on both sides of the screen. In this case, because I was printing a negative image, the taping was particularly important because the ink would print right up to the edges of the tape, so the tape was forming the shape of the printed area.
I flooded the screen with ink as Helen had shown us (unfortunately there are no photos because I couldn’t print and shoot at the same time!) and carefully removed the screen to reveal…
… my finished bag! I hung it up to dry, finishing it off with a hairdryer and then just had to iron it on a low heat for a couple of minutes to fix the ink when I got home.
I also tried another design – this time a positive image.
I started with a fairly classic silhouette of birds on a wire, and again carefully cut out the image with a scalpel.
This time, because I wanted to print a positive image, the positive image was the bit I discarded; keeping the white spaces around the birds and the wires.
I went through the same process, choosing this lovely vibrant blue colour.
And here is my finished bag, pinned up above my desk at home for inspiration…
You may also be interested in:
- the print block
- here’s one I made earlier :: the joy of stamps
- here’s one I made earlier :: cyanotype
- out and about :: isotype