Some more ways to make interesting screen prints.
A few weeks ago I wrote about screen printing using stencils. This week is about producing painted mono-screenprints.
The process is very similar to the stenciled screenprints but let me recap here.
The first thing to do is tape up the edges of the screen. Using parcel tape, make sure that there is a strip of tape all around the inside edge of the screen to stop paint from collecting between the frame and the mesh which stops the paint from coming through the other side, which could damage your prints.
Next decide what size print you want to produce. If you have a large screen it becomes more flexible in terms of size selection for your print. Now turn the screen over and using painters’ tape or masking tape, tape off the area to leave an aperture the size you want your print to be. Put your screen into the clamps, making sure that they are tight, ready for inking.
Produce your design on a piece of paper slightly larger than the aperture and using a sheet of acetate and using a Sharpie or permanent marker, trace the design. I also flip the acetate over and re-trace the lines just in case they get rubbed off from the front side. If you are planning to produce a single layer mono-print you could skip this step but it is worth getting into the habit of following the whole process so that it makes it easy for you to add more layers and in turn will make your print more interesting.
I have used my students design and outcome to show how easy it is to produce some great results. My students are 11 & 12 years old.
You will need to have the different colours you want to use prepared ready in pots with added print medium. You will also need to have a pot of print medium in a pot ready to use, and there will need to be a paint brush in each pot of colour too. Have a large bucket of water by the side of your working area plus a large sponge and an old towel.
Once this is all prepared get your paper ready. This process of screen printing is pretty quick and you don’t want to be scrabbling around looking for paper with wet printing ink drying on your screen.
Using the acetate sheet and/or marking tape guides, position your first sheet of printing paper under the screen.
Put something small under the edge of the screen to lift it away from the acetate and using the dark lines from your acetate drawing start painting the picture you have produced. You need to work fairly quickly. For the areas of your design where you don’t want colour to appear you will need to apply print medium to stop the colour from dragging though. If you work quickly you may be able to paint a few versions before needing to stop and clean off your screen.
Do remember to flip the acetate sheet out of the way before you pull your first layer of ink through. If you forget you can place a piece of paper over the acetate and either using your hand or a roller, you will be able to pull a print directly from the acetate. You will need to clean the screen in between every mono-print as the paint will dry, clogging the mesh. Using a plastic scraper, scrape the excess paint off the screen and put it in a separate bowl. Don’t mix it up or throw it away; I have one final fun tip to share with you on how and what you can do with this.
Now using your sponge and just a little water wash the paint off the screen and then dry it with the towel. If you use too much water you will struggle to dry the screen and have to wait for it to dry, wasting valuable creative time.
Up until now the acetate has been used as a guide to the image you are printing. Once the first set of prints is dry the acetate performs two functions. Firstly, as a registration device, as with the stencil method, but secondly you will need the acetate image to help you to produce the second and subsequent layers of your prints.
Set everything up as before and, think about what you would like to achieve and decide where you would like to add more layers. Are there areas you are not happy with? These could be covered by using an opaque colour to hide that area. You can use transparent colours to give interesting depth through your second layer and using a combination of both methods is likely to give a very satisfactory outcome.
As with the stencil method, I use ‘System 3’ paints although there are other inks which give a lot more vibrancy, so I would encourage you to try different products until you find the one that works best for you. System 3 produces a print medium which increases the translucency of the paint, which is particularly useful if you want to produce glaze-type effects in your prints. If you are looking to do this it is important to use yellow first, then oranges, reds, greens, blues and finally black.
The beauty of using System 3 is that you can, if you prefer, use opaque colours such as white over the top of any of the print if that is a look you aim to achieve.
When using print medium, do not use a ratio of more than 50:50 as the paint can suffer and always place the medium in a cup first and add the paint to it. You don’t need to mix up a huge amount of paint for this method of printmaking but make sure that you have enough to complete your project.
This method of printmaking can also be used on cloth. You can also buy fabric medium, and some print-makers I know only use fabric medium, which works on both cloth and paper. If you want to print on fabric you will need to either iron it on the reverse side when dry or use a heat gun to dry it from the front so that it won’t wash off.
You may lose a little colour on the first wash if you are printing T-shirts but the heat from the iron will fix it in place if you have done it for long enough. You will also see that when you pull the fabric underneath the print, the ink will move and not crack if you have fixed or cured it properly with the heat.
Now to that paint which you saved between each painted print and placed in the separate container?
Remember, do not mix it. Gently pour the paint onto the screen and then pull a print. You will only need enough paint to pull one print through. If you have lots of paint left over, you will be able to make a number of these interesting prints. These can be used as a first layer for the next set of prints you want to produce. I don’t like to throw paint away and this is a fun way to use it up.
These and the following prints are produced by me and not the students. However in their next classes I hope that they will be producing work with interesting backgrounds like this too.
Having made the foundation piece out of left over paint, you can then, when dry, add other layers to it such as the pieces below.