Media of the Week: Printmaking 6

Screen printing

I am nearly totally in the dark on this one as I have only done it once before a long time ago at school. Today screen printing, or silk screen printing is usually referring to a process used to print textiles whereby a fine mesh is used to deliver ink, using a squeegee which squeezes the ink through the mesh onto the surface you want to print.

The key thing to remember are that you do need to use specialist ink and your squeegee needs to be kept at a 45° angle as you pull the ink across the mesh as evenly as you can. I hope it will prove ideal for stencils, shop bought or otherwise, but if not I’m sure homemade stencils will be fine.

The kit you see above I bought about a year ago but still haven’t tried it as life events and other interests got in the way. I picked printing for my first Media of the Week specially to dedicate at least one day to using this kit and now the day has come at last to try it. I would be interested to hear if you’ve tried or are trying alternatives to the ink or if you’ve made do with the squeegee you used for cleaning windows.

While some motifs are used to make posters in this medium it seems most artworks are made from plates using a photograph for their designs, that’s not to say they’re not interesting, especially in the case of collage type montages, merely that it’s not all you can do.

Photos are used as they can be made into CMYK plates which the artist can then alter to change both the composition and or the colours used. Printed circuit boards use screen printing too among many other things.

I wanted to encourage people to use their own drawings to make stencils, not just for jazzing up some plain fabric but so people can make their own posters for special occasions and events from village fetes, fundraising events, a family celebration to a school sports day or even as notices about a lost pet. You’re not working with mirror images with screen printing, making it ideal for lettering, logos and much more besides. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if local independent craft shops or all local shops and small businesses hand printed all their own posters? It’s likely to happen, but I like the thought.

Some stencils I’m using.

All you need to do is tape a sheet of paper to the frame on the side of the screen. Insert your masks and stencils between the paper and the mesh. Turn it over and Kay it on a pile of newspaper on a flat smooth table or worktop. You then lift the mesh frame to arrange your design for your first colour. Pour some ink at one end of the frame and using the squeegee drag the ink across the mesh just once.

Things to watch out for are that there is nothing shape that can damage your mesh at any point. The only thing to master is how much pressure you need for an even coat of ink across the whole page and how much ink to use. You then carefully lift the frame and remove your stencils and you’re ready to go again.

If you want to do a print run of the same design then stick your mask to the frame, not the paper you’re printing on and for registration, just ensure your print page is slightly larger that the frame so you can mark exactly where the frames corners sit on you page. Then you are free to swap it for a new piece of paper to repeat the process.

I’m currently having a late lunch after doing 30 prints with my foam board plate but while that’s drying I am to start screen printing, after clearing the last of this morning’s work away.

Published by SketchSocial

Amateur artist trying to complete my challenge of an artwork for each day of this year. Along the way I'm sharing techniques, favourite artists for anyone interested.

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