Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cross Sectioned Crafts: Anatomy of a Screen Print

When I made up my most recent batch of prints, I thought here's an opportunity to lay out my process for you. Although I made three prints, I'm just showing you the one I designed on the fly - the others were drawn earlier, and therefore were disqualified.

1. sketching

I bought some bird fabrics, to go with a few other bird fabrics I had lying around, then I thought, I must have a bird print. I've actually been messing with the idea for a few weeks, but failed to come up with a design I was happy with. The final design was actually a combination of the two taller birds here, but is not actually pictured.

I like to sketch in crayon, because it gives a nice thick line, which is important for doing screen prints the way I do... primitively. ;)

The final drawing was scanned and then messed about with in PhotoShop. The end product:

retouched sketch
is quite a bit shorter than the original

The trouble is that for many applications I can't employ a screen print much taller than 5", so when I got the bird the right width, it needed to be compressed to be a usable length. Thank goodness for PhotoShop!

Then the picture was printed out at the proper size, and made into a screen print using the method outlined in this tutorial.

Once it was dry (over night is best!) I printed it (I use fabric paint - and a piece of cardboard on the inside to keep the paint from leaking onto the back) on a spare old onesie to check for mistakes:

test print

Then washed the screen and let it dry - I love the plastic hoops! I have some metal and wood ones, but the plastic ones are so great, because you can wash and dry them in the screen, and that is so much less messy.

test print
and now we examine what we've printed

At this stage, I like to compare the printed out picture with the printed picture. Some things, like the fuzziness of the feet, are just a printing error, and not a screen problem. But there are a few things I have to clean up here: the tail has a blotch in it, and there are a lot of loose speckles. These are pretty common with this method - my suspicion is that they come from putting fresh glue next to mostly dried glue, but who knows?

Once the screen has dried, a bit of pigment remains on it from the first printing, and this can be a great help in finding and fixing loose speckles. The rest - adjusting the thickness of lines, etc, is up to one's own particular desire.

Once I was satisfied, and left time for the screen to dry again, I could print the panels I needed for my projects (on hand dyed cloth, of course!).

bird pouches
(the fabric to the right is what I used to line both pouches)
And... those panels went into these pouches.

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