Screen printing 2/2

Yesterday we had the second day of our screen printing workshop. This time we had to bring in a design to experiment for the individual anthology response or that we would like to use just to practise the printing process with. I did my design in Adobe Illustrator to practise also using the software. I have barely ever even touched it and i thought that this could be a good opportunity to try to use it a bit. Also I found the pattern exercise that I had to do for CIP class last week really enjoyable so I tried to use what I learned from that in this task too. (Read about the pattern exercise here.)


I made an abstract design for screenprinting practice use only. It consists of shapes and lines that I created in Illustrator. I also created a dot pattern that I used to fill some of the shapes. First the design was quite simple, but I kept adding more and more stuff to it to make it more interesting. I was quite happy with the final design and I was excited to see how it would look in screen print. I struggled a bit trying to change the image into bitmap format but in the end I managed to do it.

my design for screen printing, done in Illustrator 02/2016

Because we only had limited amount of time we were paired up so that two designs were exposed on one screen. That gave everyone more time to print. My pair was Hussein. We had similar ideas about the colors we wanted to use which was excellent. but first we had to prepare the screen. We happened to choose an old screen which was really hard to wash. We spent ages trying to scrub it and power wash it without any result. The teacher told us that old screens are more likely to get blocked and they may be more difficult to wash. So eventually we gave up and took a newer screen which was SO much easier to wash.

Next we moved on to coat the screen with photo-emulsion. It didn’t turn out that well… First we tried to coat it having it lean against the wall in portrait. The scoop coater was too wide for that and we didn’t manage to get an even layer of the emulsion on the screen. Some parts didn’t catch any and some parts did. We thought that if we do it quickly we could turn the screen in landscape and try again. But that didn’t work either. We still experienced the exact same problem. So at this point I went to the teacher to ask for help. He came and he did one more layer in landscape. He got it right right away, but now some parts had three layers of photo-emulsion, some had two layers and some parts only one layer. He said the problem might have been that the scoop coater was probably wet. We were worried that the exposure won’t work because of that but the teacher said that it might still be fine, we will have to wait and see.

We exposed our designs onto the screen and took it to the dark dryer to dry. When it was dry we went to wash the emulsion off with the power washer. We were supposed to use the soft setting for this but we didn’t realize to check the setting, which almost resulted to the next disaster. We almost washed the image off the screen with the hardest setting!! Luckily John came in and told us to stop before the screen was in too bad shape. We did wash some of the image off but it wasn’t completely destroyed yet.

See the color variations in the brown color. Dark parts had more layers of photo-emulsion than the light parts.
Damaged part of Hussein’s image on the screen after too rough power washer treatment.


When the screen was dry again we started printing. For the first prints we used golden ink. We tried printing gold on white paper first and then on some nice black and dark red papers. We thought that the golden ink would show better on the red paper than on black but, for our surprise, actually it was the opposite.


Next we tried a combination of pink and black. Instead of doing a layer of each, we put blobs of both colors on the screen at the same time (black-pink-black-pink) to create stripes. It was quite interesting really to see how every print using this method was a bit different because the pink and black kept blending more and more into each other at every swipe. The first prints had really clear lines between the stripes and in the last ones they were blurred, almost like a gradient. We tried printing on white, green, and blue papers.

Lime green

To finish with we tried one more color, lime green which we mixed by ourselves. We printed some plain lime green prints and some on top of the golden prints done earlier in the day. We also tried printing my design on top of one of Hussein’s and his on top of one of mine. For the last print we tried adding some pink blobs to the lime green but it didn’t really come out well because the screen already had green in it.


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