Monday, September 25, 2006

The desire to create and clarifying my own thoughts...

Have you felt like you NEED to create something or all the inspiraiton and ideas that are floating around in that pretty little head of yours would explode with all the possibilities? Well, that pretty sums up what's going on with me today!

I am envisioning all these things that I can screenprint, but there's only one problem, LOL! I've never done this before.... Ok, certainly I have the information required to start, I mean come on how hard is to use a degreaser like Simple Green and soft nylon scrubby to clean a silk screen. From what I've read so far, that is the first step. It done to remove any sizing from the silk because if left in, your ink just may not flow through the screen in places and this prevents that and is supposed to assist with obtaining a clearer image. Then, the screen needs to dry completely. I've read that you can use a hair dryer on low heat to accomplish this. Okay! I can do this.

Next, is finding an image you desire to use. Of course, if you are real good you could draw your own but in my case I've several in my mind and drawing them onto the screen is a completely 'nother story. So, I spent some time online looking for copy-right free images... you know, B&W bold and solid and outline dingbat style of images. From what I am seeing, bold, solid images are excellent for screenprinting. I found some that I desire to use, the only problem is that the grey-scale in the images is going to be hard for me to achieve. Within the screenprinting kit I purchased there are two 4 oz. bottles - one is a screen filler the other is a drawing fluid. {There are two others however they are for use with the photo emulsion style of screenprinting and requires a lot more items than I have available to me at the moment. It is an entirely different method of screenprinting which actually burns the image onto the silkscreen.}

I am planning to do the basic pulling the ink through the squeegee {aka... "ghetto" method, LOL!} From what I am understanding is... once the silk screen is cleaned to remove the sizing, dried, you are ready to begin. Draw your image onto the screen using a pencil. After the drawing is complete, you will have two areas {they are called a positive and a negitive} in the image and it confuses the be-jesus out of me which one is which, LOL! I'm certain that I'll learn that as I get going. For now, I know enough that if I am desiring ink to flow through the screen and onto the paper or fabric to form the image I've drawn on the screen, I place the drawing fluid there. For the areas of the image that I desire not to print, I use the screen filler. The drawing fluid draws the ink into the screen, while the screen filler masks areas. Got it!

I mentioned before, I am a beginnner at all this, and you have to realize that your talking to a paper arts mixed media artist here so my mind interpretes things in a way that I can understand them. Therefore, it would seem to me, that once the screen has the image drawn on it, if I marked a small "X" inside the image in the areas that the screen filler is to be used, it would assist me greatly. I also believe it would be easier, for me anyways --- the beginner, LOL! to fill the screen with the screen filler first. From what I read in the instructional manual, the screen filler is used full strength and is applied to the screen using a paintbrushto both sides of the screen. Check. {a paintbrush was included in my Speedball kit. It is a long bristle round brush --- other than that info you are on your own, sorry. That is all the information there is. No type of brush, although it appears to be nylon... and no size given.} I believe that I'll start on the inside of the screen within the image, then move to applying it to the outside surrounding areas of the image and wait for that to dry. Once that is done, you flip the screen over and apply the screen filler to the reverse side. Okay.

Now comes some more info.... when you working on the silk screen within the screen frame, the screen frame and the silk screen contain within the center of the frame has to be raised on all four corners or tilted when applying the screen filler and during the drying process. Kinda makes sense since if it is laying flat wouldn't the screen filler absorb throught the screen and onto whatever surface your working on? and wouldn't that result in the possibility of some areas of the screen not being filled? Kind of defeats the purpose of the screen filler... to fill the screen, huh?! {grin! Hey, I learned something!}

Moving on....... once the inside area of the screen frame is sealed in all the desired areas, {this is known as "the printing area" says Don}, the screen is flipped over the process repeated on the reverse side of the screen. I've also read and Don has mentioned that you can hold the screen up to the light and see any areas that you desired to be filled that didn't fill with the screen filler. Anyways, apply the screen filler to the reverse side and allow it to dry. Once dry, you are on your way to creating your first print!!!! {At least, when I get to this step, I will be anyways!}

My screen is prepared. {Not in reality, bu in my thought processes...} From here, I have mixed my extender base with the water-soluble black screenprinting ink in the 1:1 ratio {meaning one ounce each}. I read this makes the fabric ink suitable for printing on to paper. {I'll discuss the types of paper to use later and share some of my experiments here, probably in another post.} After this step is completed, my ink is set to go.

Are you still with me? LOL! Okay, my silk screen in the frame is ready, my ink is ready, and now, finally, I'm ready to create my first print. {Remember, I am clarifying this in my mind... so I can sort of figure this all out, LOL!} I apply the ink, Don says it doesn't take much... {Hmmm, what does that really mean? A half teaspoon... teaspoon... a half a tablespoon? He will be assisting me here. I'll let you know when I have that answer!} Anyways, whatever the amount of ink is, it is applied to the edge nearest to me. I take the squeegee and position it at an angle {30 degrees? 45 degrees?} away from me, with the screen raise --- elavated --- up off of the paper I'm intending to print upon, and puch the ink up over my design and into the screen filled areas. This step is known as a "Flood" or "Flood print or a Flood Stroke". It applies the ink into the screen opening of the design you are desiring to print. The next step is the actual "Print" or "Print Stroke". The screen is now lowered, level onto the paper, the squeegee is repositioned to the opposite side of the ink by lifting it up and over the ink you just moved in the flood stoke and again angled and ready to be pulled towards you. Once completed, the ink moves back over the ink in the silk screen, it adds to the ink previously added to the silk screen during the flood stoke, and pushes it out onto your paper. {At least in my mind anyways!} The screen frame is then lifted, the printed paper removed and hung to dry. TA. DA.

What is the purpose of all of this? The main thing that attracts me to this entire process, is that once a design is imprinted/designed within the screen frame, it is usable over and over as long as you check the screen to be certain that the screen is filled where it needs to be filled. This process allows you to reuse and reuse the screen over and over and over again! Now that is what attracts me! It is like a stamp..... only a printmaking technique! It is usuable on both paper and fabric. My mind races with all the possibilities of it! Cards, bookmarks, stationery and fabrics! T-shirts, tote bags, blue jeans....... Mixing , blending LOL! Okay, maybe not as cool as owning your own letterpress, but Hey! it isn't as expensive either!

Paper Types:

From what I have read, most papers can be used with this process. Okay. Now come on, as I paper arts artist, my common sense says, "Yeah right!" So, let me clarify this a little bit. "The Speedball Instructional Manual" says, #20 weight cardstock is acceptable and anything above. I would suggest avoiding any coated cardstock and glossy papers. My mind tells me the ink should be absorbed into the fibers of the paper and allow to dry. Therefore, I will be experimenting using a variety of papers... hmmm, cardstock and watercolored. {I looked at Dick Blick's and somehow missed seeing any printmaking types of paper and by then my art budget was already screaming so I left without it; although I am certain that the Arches and Rives would be a pefect paper to play upon.}

So, there you have, my thoughts, my comprehension, my understanding....... and all that from a beginninger. {Keep in mind, I have yet to do this....} but when I do, I'll be more than happy to share my results with you!

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