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Screen Printing part 3 - the final part

The fabric leaves were over screened in black and the results were ok. I used fabric paints so have ironed them and will probably make a cushion.  

I did some tester runs before tackling the larger piece and found I preferred it when the prints were a bit messy rather than exact. Such is life!

The messy ones were done with acetate sheet and the more exacting ones below with a paper stencil.

Then, as all the equipment was out and ready to use, I wanted to spend a little time experimenting with screening a portrait. I cut a paper mask and used the positive and the negative shapes as a stencil under the screen. I wanted to see just how much of you needed to be in an image to identify it before descending into anonymity.

Self Portrait

Screen Printing part 2 - printing onto cloth

Yesterday's stencil for my screen printing was made from paper, and wasn't strong enough for the job as I did a lot of printing! It also wasn't washable so I was unable to remove any stray traces of paint on the bottom of the stencil.*

So I made another stencil in thin plastic - acetate. Mark the outside shape of the stencil with a Sharpie (you can just about see this through the mesh which helps no end with positioning).

Here's the fabric paint that I'm using - a mix of yellow and red.

Here's the paint pulled across the screen onto the fabric below.

Here's the results of the screening onto own-dyed cloth. I now need to tackling the veining and leaf markings for step 3!

* Now here's a thought. I don't have a water supply in my studio and so keep a supply of baby wipes the clean up little spills and wipe my fingers etc. They work extremely well and save a lot of traipsing back and forth to the kitchen. The last lot were a jumbo sized pack from Poundland and they are amazing at cleaning, and cut there way through most things - but the thing is, when I looked at the ingredients I was a bit taken aback and although they must be safe surely, I certainly wouldn't want to use them on a little baby's tender butt. Just absolutely fine and dandy for me though!!

Screen Printing Part 1 - Making a repeating pattern

I want to make some printed papers for various things, and thought I'd do a bit of screen printing onto paper and also fabric.

A little while ago I tried some screen printing onto paper along with some lino printing. This was an experiment, and worked well but was a little messy.

I recently bought some screens in bulk and if you've never screen printed before, this is what they look like when they arrive.

I like to use duct tape to put a waterproof edge around the inside of the screen. This acts as a well for excess paint.

Having prepared my screens, I now need to make a mask to print through. If you're doing this as a repeating pattern, then here's how you do that.

On a large piece of paper mark out the shape of your printing area. (You can do this by putting the paper under the screen and adding a dot of marker pen through the screen in all 4 corners).

Remove the paper and mark out your printing area and cut out. Fill the paper inside these marks with pattern. Keep the pattern away from the edges of the paper.

You can see here (above) that the pattern is concentrated in the middle. I'm using leaves but of course it could be anything you like.

Measure and cut carefully in 2 vertically. It needs to be as clean a cut as you can.

Turn the halves around so the outsides meet in the middle.

Can you see the spaces that were on the outside, are now in the middle.

You'll need to turn over and tape along the whole length of the paper to join these 2 halves. If you don't do the length of the paper, your printing ink will be able to get through the gaps.

Turn the paper back to the drawn on side.

This time cut horizontally through the paper to make 2 halves again.

Do exactly the same as the first time - turn the halves around so that the outsides are towards the middle. Turn over and tape along the length of the paper.

This will leave you with a piece of paper which may look like this, with space in the middle and cut shapes at the edges.

I've used my template (pictured) to simply draw round and make more shapes to fill the middle of the paper. It's important not to go over the outside edges at any point.

Here's the finished pattern.  When this is printed it will repeat over whatever size I choose.

Because I want to use my paper pattern as a screen mask to print through, I'm cutting out the leaf shapes

Here you can see the cut out paper in place at the bottom of the screen. I have gently taped the mask to the screen in a couple of places just to keep it still when I take the first print.

My mask has been cut to the printing size of my screen right at the start. If yours is larger, either place on a table and lower the screen into position - you'll be able to see through the mesh to align it properly, and tape. If you prefer you can simply place it over whatever you've chosen to print on (paper or fabric) and then add the screen on top loaded with paint. The first run through of the paint will "stick" the screen to the mask.

I'll explain that more with pictures in part 2!

Some more pears.

It's been a little quiet on the blog as I've had to go off and give my attention to other projects for a while. Here I am washing little wooden train (as you do) for part of Leamington in Bloom. These carriages will be filled with orange and red marigolds and geraniums, that local school children grow on.

Here's a thousand small plug plants that have to be divided up and sent with pots and compost to the schools taking part. All great fun but quite time consuming! I've had to fill my studio with all the growing packs so haven't had much room or time to work on large things.

I have however done a pear or two on the edge of the table! Here's a few of the ones I've done - great practice for me and I enjoyed the looser style.

Large scale monotype with a bin bag!

I like to work large so this was something I enjoyed doing! (Monotype - single print taken from glass or metal using printing ink or oil paint)

In this photo I'm laying out a black bin bag onto a sheet of thick acrylic plastic (the stuff you make splash backs or greenhouse windows out of)

I'm taping down the edges with masking tape, allowing lots of billowing in the bin bag.

Rolling out the ink on a messy mat. I'm using water soluble printing ink (Caligo) Not sure it would work with textile paint as it might be too wet, but do try and let me know how you get on!

Rolling the ink onto the bin bag

When the bag is covered with ink, I've rolled down a piece of thick paper (fabriano) to cover.

Rubbing the back of the paper with clean hands to create a print.

Lifting the paper to reveal the monotype.

It's about 45 inches by 23 inches.

Below: close ups of the print

Adding a spot of red to the plate, and inking up the brayer.

After inking again, I added another edging of masking tape so that the print would have clean edges. I forgot to do that to the first print.

Using 2 pieces of paper to make small prints. (See below)

Double Gelli plate printing - with stencils and open acrylics

A simple print using a gelli plate and the cut out beetle left over from the screenprinting warm up last week and a couple of stencils. I recommend you use open acrylics - suitable for paper or for textiles, although if you prefer a soft hand with the latter, use textile paints.

A gelli plate (it looks a mess because I've left the dirty plastic backing on the non printing side)

I've stuck two pieces of thick paper onto the table top using masking tape. These bits of paper can now flip over the gelli plate to take a print. (see next photo below)

Both pieces of paper flip over the plate so that I can take 2 prints - each will be different.

I've inked the plate with golden open acrylic in yellow ochre. I've used a brayer to apply the paint so that I get an even surface. I've then dropped a stencil on top of the paint (no need to push down)

Fold over one piece of paper and press lightly all over the paper to make sure there's an even print. If you have a clean brayer or a barron that would be even better.

Remove the stencil.

Fold over the other piece of paper and press the paper lightly but firmly.

The second print - a ghost print.

Add a second colour, and roller to cover the plate lightly. I used alizarin crimson

Add a different stencil (I used an alphabet and numbers one available commercially). Fold over the first piece of paper again and press.

Remove the stencil.

Fold over the second piece of paper and press.

You now have 2 x 2 coloured prints.

Time to add a 3rd colour. This time a nice mid tone blue.  I don't wash the brayer in between paint layers or clean the gelli plate - I like the slight mix of colour I get.

I had a beetle print that I'd cut out left over from a previous project, but you could use another stencil, or a cut out flower - anything you like. I put it onto the blue and also used a stamp I'd made to add some texture. (Just press onto the wet paint)

Press the first piece of paper on the plate to take a print, and remove the stencil before taking the next print.

Here's the 2 finished prints. You could just add more and more if you want of course, but 3 colours was enough for me today!

Left hand side piece of paper.

Right hand side piece of paper.