Yesterday we had a screen printing workshop where we were shown how to screen print and how to use all the equipment. I found it really useful because I have never done or even seen screen printing. Everything was new for me, so I tried to write everything down so that I could remember how to do it when I need to. The idea is that we could possibly use screenprinting as a production method in our individual responses for the Anthology brief.
Before starting to go through the process, we briefly talked about what the point of it all is. I had thought about it too on my own. It is so much effort to screen print when you can get the same result from digital printing (+then you don’t have to do anything). By screen printing you get the physical experience of printing, material and ink and it is easier to see how different materials react with the ink. Also easier to understand why that happens. And also the texture of screenprinting ink in completely different on paper that ink from normal printers.
The process of preparation, printing and finishing
1) -select a screen (in the studio screens marked with a G are for graphics students to use), check the list to make sure it is not anybody else’s screen, and write your name under the screen you’re going to use
2) check if the screen is clean or blocked: look though it in front of a light to see how it looks
3) cleaning a screen: wear gloves, pour a little bit of stencil remover onto the sponge and wipe the screen with it, wash both sides, rinse the screen with power washer (use soft setting), wear hear defenders while using power washer
4) put the wet screen on the bottom shelf of the dryer to dry
5) coating: only use a completely dry screen and tools, take a piece of card, don’t leave the lid off the light sensitive photo-emulsion for too long, start from the bottom of the screen and swipe photo-emulsion on the screen, with the card fill in any gaps that don’t have photo-emulsion yet
6) take the coated screen to the top shelf of the dryer to dry for about 10-15 mins, and pour any left over photo-emulsion back into the container
7) making a positive: place image face up in the exposure machine, place screen on top of it face down, change the setting to high power, for photocopies set the exposure time to 18, close the hooks, turn vacuum on, when vacuum is ready press start button, when the machine has finished turn vacuum off, open hooks and take your screen out
8) go and wash photo-emulsion off the screen with power washer (using the softest setting), put the screen into the dryer for 10-15 mins
9) printing: tighten the front bar, place the screen on the table horizontally, tighten the screws so that the screen can’t move, attach the squeegee to the handle, place your paper on the table under the screen, tape registration marks on the table (to know where the next paper will be placed), add ink on the bottom of the screen, pull the handle lift the screen up and pull the handle back
10) cleaning up: clean the ink off the tools with water, rinse the screen with power washer and sponge, put your screen into the dryer or leave in the room to dry
- for screen printing use paper that is about 220 g and which can absorb ink well but still stays flat
- work from light colors to dark (yellow –> purple)
- for printing on paper use a sharp edge rubber squeegee
- for printing on textile use a rounded edge squeegee
- for printing by hand use softer squeegee
- for printing with the machine use harder squeegee
- convert your digital images that you want to use for positives first into grey scale image (shades of black and white) and from that into bit map (only black and white information, no shades)
That was a lot of info for one day! Interesting, but a lot of it. I’m glad that I took notes because there is no way I can remember everything if I need to go through the process on my own.