zombie hat in-progress

I've been taking my sweet time with this one, so I thought I'd post an in-progress shot. This, however, is the backside, which I find just as interesting as the front. Definitely messier and more haphazard.



Yeah, that's right. I did it. Love me or hate me for it, I don't care.


nose goes

I just couldn't stop! The poo was just a little too fun (although my mother was not amused by it), and I had a second round frame, so I decided to make a partner for the poo. So, a nose it was! I probably should have done this on the same fabric as the poo if I wanted to really make them a pair, but oh well. Too late.




Well, I'm kind of thinking about changing this blog from being more specifically about screen printing to something broader.. maybe just artsy crafts things I've been doing lately. Or, at least, I really need to share this fine piece of work.

I felt a huge need to embroider the other day, after seeing some cool ones at the Des Moines Arts Festival in June and on a couple blogs, so I dug around my house to see what I could find. I ended up digging up this little green frame, which was the perfect size for a quick little piece (about 2" diameter in the opening), and this is what resulted. I have to admit, I'm rather proud of it and would like to do more! Maybe not poo, though.




a change of pace

I decided to play with my lead type this time, oh boy!

bundle of punctuation, held together by masking tape

Since I don't have a press, I figured the best way to use it would be to bundle some sorts together and treat it similarly to block printing. Since I have a limiting selection of letters and I couldn't think of anything exciting to write at the time, I used larger pieces of punctuation with the intention of eventually doing some photoshopping and making a pattern out of it.

brayer wrapped in waxed paper

I used a brayer to ink the pieces, so I wouldn't get too much ink in places I didn't want it. It's my mother's brayer (how cute), and I have no idea what she uses it for, so I wrapped it in waxed paper so it would be easy for me to clean.

I used my screen printing ink since that's all I really had that's thick and water soluble, although ideally, I would have liked to use a little bit thicker ink.



Since I was just pressing with my hands instead of a press, I wasn't quite sure what the best way to do it was. If I stamped it down, I couldn't get enough pressure for great coverage, but if I treated it like a rubbing, the paper wrinkled and there was more ink build up around the edges.

newspaper spacer

After a while, I decided to add a bit more on to my block since there wasn't much there. Newspaper was a great makeshift spacer to help hold it tight!

some printed pieces

When I scanned these guys, I ended up putting together good parts from a couple different little prints since I didn't really get any great ones.

Then, photoshop fun! It was actually more difficult to make this little guy into a pattern than I thought it would be, but it made a nice floral-looking pattern, below. They are sized for a desktop background (at least they're sized for my screen), click them if you want the full size.



Next, I wanted to try acetate (remember overhead projector slides? ha.) for a stencil since it's thick enough to be pretty stiff, so therefore hopefully easier to place where I want it without it moving around on me. Also, since it resists water, I would be able to use it again as many times as I want without the risk of ink eventually seeping through.

I dug up a stencil I made last summer, from a sketch.

[ sketch and stencil ]

To make the stencil, I just traced my drawing onto the acetate with a permanent marker, then cut each piece out with a sharp exacto blade. Since I've used the stencil before, it's a little dirty, but that's unimportant.

[ stencil detail ]

My first thought with the acetate stencil is that I may have to spray mount it down since there are so many little connections that ink could easily squeeze through, but I didn't want to ruin a brand new screen with spray mount. I figured I'd try taping it down first, since that would be a lot easier if it did work.

[ stencil taped down, screen ready to go! ]

Well, as it turns out, simply taping the sheet of acetate down worked just fine! I think this is the print that I am the most happy with so far. It was easy just to tape the acetate in its place, and the edge quality was pretty good for the most part.

[ print using acetate stencil ]

Once again, my biggest problem was ink coverage, which is a result of my shortcomings, not of the method of blocking the ink. On to keep practicing!

[ poor ink coverage again... ]


Planning Ahead

Catching up on some blogs today, and found this article on For Print Only:

The comments from the designer are classically me: he was too focused on the end result and didn't take the time to plan everything out, which in turn caused the process of printing this poster to be more frustrating than rewarding and had to try again once he had planned properly.

I personally, tend to do this, as usually when I decide to print, I decide I want to do it right then and there, and often lose interest if I wait too long. Maybe learning to screen print is a good test for my patience and planning abilities. It's odd because as far as the rest of my life goes, I like to have a plan. I'm more of a person that schedules than a person that flies by the seat of her pants, but apparently not when it comes to creative urges..

Off to go practice my patience and planning...


Waxed Paper Part II

I was curious about how the waxed paper would hold up if i decided I wanted to use the same screen again, like if I needed to pick up printing again later or if I decided to change colors.

Washing the screen out was fine, as long as I made sure to only wash on the side of the screen that did not have the waxed paper, since some of the waxed paper started to come off if I did that.

Once I had all the ink washed off, however, there were a couple issues (since the fabric stretches a little bit when it's wet). First of all, there were new wrinkles in the waxed paper.

[ wrinkles ]

Secondly, the waxed paper cracked and tore a couple places along the edges.

[ tears ]

Once the screen was dry again and tightened up again, the wrinkles mostly went away. Getting rid of the cracks was a quick fix, since they were away from the design — I just put some masking tape over them.

[ repairs ]

Doing a second run with the same waxed paper on the screen worked just about as well as the first time. I didn't bother finding new pieces of paper or trying to register these since it's just a test.

[ red layer ]

For the most part, the biggest issue I had was with ink coverage, like below. That issue is entirely on me, though, since I'm still trying to figure out how much ink and pressure I need to get good coverage. Although I'm getting better, it's still hard for me to judge.

[ bad coverage ]

I did also have some problems with the ink squeezing out some of the wrinkles in the waxed paper. I feel like there was a little bit more of that this time around, but it could be because the red is more visible than the yellow.

[ edge fail ]

The biggest disadvantage I discovered about spray mounting the waxed paper onto my screen is that a lot of the spray mount did not wash out of my screen with just water. I tried scrubbing it with a stiff brush, but I was not making a lot of progress. Since it is just a piece of organdy stretched over a frame and it's not all that expensive to get more, I decided it wasn't worth it to try super hard to get the spray mount out. Although it has been nice that I've used the same screen for everything I've done so far, it's not that big of a deal to change it. Something like turpentine might be able to get the adhesive residue off (since that's what you're supposed to use to clean the can's nozzle), but I don't have any around and don't really want to mess with a lot of chemicals.

[ spray mount residue ]

I think that I would use spray mount to tack down my stencil again if I was okay throwing away that screen when I was done, and if I used some thicker material that would be easier to tack down.


Waxed Paper and Spray Mount

Since the thinner black ink didn't work out so well with the newspaper, and I'm looking for a better way to stick down the stencil before the first pass of ink, I decided to try spray mounting waxed paper to my screen.

Since I just wanted to see if it worked, I just cut a quick design, with both larger and smaller pieces of wax paper:

[ waxed paper stencil ]

I then went to work on spray mounting the waxed paper onto the screen.

[ spray mount! ]

Since the waxed paper is pretty thin, it was actually fairly difficult to manage. With the adhesive on the waxed paper, the extra weight pulled areas unsupported by my hands down to the screen before I was ready to place it. It's not normally a big deal for me to pull things up and replace them with the spray mount, but the waxed paper ripped easily. Something sturdier would definitely make a big difference (acetate maybe?).

[ largest piece mounted on screen ]

The biggest piece of waxed paper definitely ended up quite wrinkly, and I was worried about ink maybe squeezing into some of the wrinkles (didn't really happen, though). I figured I should let the spray mount set up completely before trying to use my screen. I was just going to wait overnight, but it was a few days before I got around to actually printing. I am sure waiting a day would be enough time, though.

[ printed design ]

I decided to just print on extra newspaper since I was just testing the method and I didn't care about the design anyway. I was actually surprised at how well this worked. I may also be getting better at judging the amount of ink I need and am getting much better at covering the area in one pass.

I did have a couple problems, the first of which has happened before, and could probably happen anytime, no matter what I do. I accidentally got some extra ink on the underside of the ink, or there was a glob and it squeezed out underneath my stencil.

[ squeezed out! ]

The second problem was that there was an area of the screen where the ink would not pass through, since it was blocked by some extra spray mount from a heavy coating and repositioning. I was able to rub some of it off, but it was dried and stuck to the screen.

[ blocked by dried spray mount ]

So, I'd say the waxed paper and spray mount was only a partial success. Yes, the waxed paper held up well, but it was really hard to lay down where I wanted to, which was part of the idea of spray mounting it in the first place. The spray paint worked well, but became troublesome if I got some in areas I wanted the ink to pass through.


Punched Newsprint

I wanted to give the newspaper stencils another go, and this time doing something with finer details. I forgot to take pictures of my stencil before I used it, but I punched small holes in a piece of newsprint from a quick sketch I did. Here is the stencil after being inked (the small holes worked like perforation and made it hard to pull the stencil away intact, especially since the newsprint was soggy as well).

[ stencil after being used ]

My regular black ink is definitely thinner and runnier than the inks I had used before. This was good because it was easier to push around and easier to coat the screen in only one pass. The first print, just on some blank newspaper, turned out alright. The ink passed through the small holes just fine, but my stencil was short at the bottom and I didn't have it blocked, so ink got squeezed out the bottom.

[ print one ]

The second print, however, was a bit of a surprise. Since the ink was thinner, a lot more ended up squeezing through the screen. I actually like the effect of it on this print, though.

[ print two ]

I moved onto some different paper that I had colored with watercolor pencils. This third print also had a lot of extra ink squeezing out, but these areas of black just kept growing.

[ print three ]

I started adding new chunks of newspaper underneath to try to help some of the leaks, but they really didn't work. Also by this point, the ink started to sink through my stencil, since the ink was much runnier and wetter than the previous inks I used and since newsprint is thin. This made kind of a gray effect, such as in the area under the mouth in this fourth print.

[ print four, with ink soaking through stencil ]

By this time, I'm not really liking the effect that's happening. By the time I got to this last print (maybe six prints?), the stencil was really weak, with ink soaking through everywhere, and plenty squeezing out in unwanted areas as well.

[ last print ]

Overall, this experiment was not a success, although I do like the second print on plain newsprint. I think it was a combination of the newsprint being thin for a stencil and the ink being less viscous than would be ideal for screen printing. I think for the future, if I want to use this black ink, I'll have to figure out a way to thicken it or find a better way to block the screen.



Cheap and dirty screen printing: take one.

I decided I HAD to try using newspaper to block the ink.. it seemed so easy and so perfect for the times that I didn't really feel like planning ahead too much, but just jumping in instead. So, I just cut some large block letters out of newspaper and gave it a go! I'm sorry I don't have any photos from the process, I didn't think about starting this blog and recording all my thoughts/process until after the fact.


Doing the large, chunky graphics actually worked fairly well.. the edges are decently crisp, and the newspaper was actually pretty successful in blocking the ink, and held up really well through my very short run (6, I think?).

The downfall to the newspaper was that I just used the first coat of ink to stick the newspaper to the screen.. therefore, the placement wasn't super accurate, as the paper moved slightly when I lowered the screen. Since the newspaper wasn't flush against the surface when I started, some ink did get underneath the surface and onto the paper where I didn't necessarily want it. I wonder if spray mounting it to the screen first would make a difference? I guess that's an experiment for another day.

I also tried adding a second color, to see how a little bit finer details would work with the newspaper, and to see what overprinting would look like.

[two colors, oh boy!]

Cutting the newspaper into finer pieces made it harder to handle itself, but it still worked to block ink just as well, although I still had the same issue with getting ink underneath before I started.


The overprinting? Not so hot.. the ink is more opaque (and on thicker) than I had envisioned it to be. I don't really like it, but it was worth a shot.

I definitely need to work on judging the amount of ink I need to coat the area with one pass, if possible... I seem to have to do a few, in all kinds of different directions in order to cover all the area with ink.

I also need to work on keeping my hands clean, because I kept getting little fingerprints everywhere.. that's probably the most avoidable problem I've had so far, though!

Overall, though, this method could work for short runs, if I can figure out a way to stick it to the screen better in the first place...