Monday, May 30, 2011

Silk-Screen Printing

Today Joan and I enjoyed a terrific "play day", even though it was a "work day". On the weekend, our friend Eileen Neill came up to Comox, and gave us some excellent instruction in silk screening. She'd made the screens from the drawings of African animals I had done, using a Thermofax machine. (The lino prints we used to be able to import from South Africa are no longer available to us, so we thought it was time we started to make our own.) Today we put her instruction into practice, and made somewhere between 80 and 90 prints.

The first thing you have to do, is to mix up the base with the pigment - in this case black. You position the fabric right side up on a slightly padded print surface, and then you spoon the black goop - it's consistency reminded me of honey - onto one end of the screen but inside the frame, using just enough to cover the screen area.

Then, using a bowl scraper or any other suitable spreader, you carefully pull the paint mixture across the screen at a bit of an angle. The trick is to exert equal pressure at all points on the screen so that the print comes out with even printing. (We got better at this bit as the day progressed.)

The screen is carefully lifted and then voila - the print is visible. After lying it flat and letting it dry, it is heat-set with an iron, and ready to trim and to use in any way your imagination suggests.

This shows you just a portion of the prints we made today, lying out on the cutting table to dry. The ironing and trimming will happen tomorrow. We were thrilled with how smoothly the printing went, and are already imagining ways that we can incorporate the prints into our work. At the end of this week some of them will be travelling with me to Czar, Alberta, where I'll be teaching my African Collage workshop. The weekend after that we'll be in Whistler for their quilt show, where Kitambaa will be a vendor, and have sets of all 7 animals for sale. Of course, they'll be available by mail too. Just send me an email if you'd like more information.

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