I’m just back from my first screen printing session at Sheffield Print Club. Unfortunately the light sensitive emulsion shipment was damaged so we weren’t able to complete the screen coating process. However I had watched a comical YouTube video so understood the principals of the process.
I prepared black and white images to print from, using photo software.
The first image I chose was a glue gun Collograph print that I created. I like taking artworks through a number of mediums. The artwork was printed onto regular paper before I was tasked with rubbing vegetable oil into it and then putting
it to dry.
Once dry the paper was overlaid over the prepared screen and exposed to light for three minutes that the emulsion would set, but wouldn’t set where the image overlay was.
After gently washing off the emulsion with water and a sponge, drying and choosing ink colours, I was ready to print. The inks were acrylic paint mixed with acrylic print medium. Great, less messy, less staining and possibly less harmful than inks used for Lino print and intaglio etching.
The screen print frame was put into hinged clamps and inked ready. The technique for printing and flooding takes a little getting the hang off, but practice means the process is committed to memory.
The first print was into hinged acetate in order to determine where the papers needed to be positioned. Guide tabs were then added so that each sheet could be lined up.
I then started the print, remove paper, flood, add paper, print, remove paper, flood, add paper cycle, which almost started to feel like a dance, back and forth, lift and lower. Never one for the simple life I had chosen a two colour design to demonstrate the male and female subjects of the artwork and the mingling of the colours where the inspiration conversation is taking place.
The prints were in turn put to dry, then when the printing was completed the remaining ink was scraped back into the container, the screen washed down with a wide spray jet wash and the squidgy and spatula cleaned.
I then began on the second print which was a two part, two colour, layered design. The preparation of the image was more involved and required the part of the design which would overlap to be removed so that the colours did not overlap and give a third colour. This was then printed onto two sheets, and the same process of oiling, drying, light exposure, washing, drying. Both sheets were applied to the same screen but opposite ways up and the positioning as mirrored as possible.
The second time I used a much larger press with a vacuum bed. I first created the underlay of the yellow circle shape on each of the papers and then took each sheet in turn and very carefully lined up and printed the text graphic second layer on each.
I’m pleased with the outcomes, although it seemed complex at the time, after stepping back the process is quite straightforward. I preferred the inks to Lino printing, less liked the use of the PC than in Lino printing, found the alignment trickier than Lino printing and due to the scale found it trickier to hand the screens than other print mediums I have tried.
I’m keen to let the process sink in now and think about how I might like to use it next. I’m really pleased with the outcomes, they are striking and I love that you can feel the ink on the paper.