Screen Printing Tests

Although I think that digital printing on mesh/silk may be the most effective method in my prints for degree show, it can be extremely expensive and it’s also not something I can feasibly do in college. I’m also apprehensive on outsourcing a digital print because I won’t be there throughout the process and the finished product may not be exactly what I want. If possible I would like to be involved in the process myself and conduct tests so I know what the larger scale finished product will look like.

I decided screen printing may be a possible option in being something I could do myself and would be more cost efficient. I hadn’t actually done screen printing before however, so I had to invest time into learning a new skill and I did two A4 test screens. I’m not 100% sold on using this medium at this present moment, but it is most definitely a possibility.

I purchased White silk polyester, white cotton organdie and black cotton organdie from a local fabric store for testing screen printing.

My first step was cleaning another student’s board and screen and placing it in the dryer for 15 minutes. I then coated the screen in photo sensitive emulsion and put it back in the dryer for another 15 minutes.

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After drying I placed my two images, which had been coated in oil to create transparency into the exposure unit.

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I then lined up the screens with my images and placed it on top with the bottom facing down and set the exposure settings to 25.0.

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After the screen was exposed I washed it off in the sink with a sponge and hot water from the hose which has high pressure settings. The screens then went back into the drying unit.

The next day I took my screens up to the print & dye room to test them out. I cut samples from my materials I had bought and pinned them onto the table and laid the screen down flatter top, ensuring the surface is even and flat. I placed a weight on the screen to hold it in place and then used a spoon to place the ink at the top of the screen and used a queegee to pull it down to the bottom of the screen.

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As it was my first attempt, I didn’t evenly distribute the ink on my first print so it came out patchy. This was just a test though and it gave me an idea about the effect it would have on the real thing. This was done on the cotton organdie.

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The silk material was much thinner and the ink would get blotchy in places. I’m also concerned that it’s too sheer and doesn’t have enough contrast, whereas the cotton is perhaps not translucent enough for the effect I want.

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I also attempted white on black, but didn’t use enough ink, so it also became patchy. I don’t think I want to use white on black material after this experiment anyway, it doesn’t create the translucent look that I want for my degree show piece.

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