Screen printing workshop

Wed 9th Nov & Fri 11th Nov

This week I had a 2-part workshop on how to screen print using stencils and UV light. I did a bit of screen printing school and college so I was looking forward to getting back into the workshop. I used to photo I had used the photo I first edited in the workshop a couple weeks ago.

On the Wednesday we printed out stencils. We used the stencils as a background; I chose to cut out squares as it quite an easy shape to cut out. You can only print stencils once so unless I was creating a really complex image as part of a project, it seemed unnecessary to spend loads of time cutting out a complex shape just for a workshop – so I stuck to simple squares.

The next thing we did was expose an image onto a screen using UV light. The first we had to do was coat the screen with emulsion and then put them to dry. To expose an image onto a screen, you have to have it on acetate or tracing paper (transparent material) and in dark black image. One way you can do it is photocopy an image onto the transparent paper on the photocopier, making sure the black ink on the paper is dense enough so that it doesn’t let any light through – which is what I have done before. During this workshop, we used black marker pen and indian ink and traced the image by hand onto the paper. My image was quite complex so instead of tracing it, I just drew parts of it in a messy way by repeating the line strokes and being quite loose with the shapes.

Once having the image on the tracing paper, in pairs we exposed the image onto the screen. After exposing it, you had to use the power hose to wash off the excess ink that had been exposed. I was worried that because of the way mine was drawn it wasn’t going to work but it came out really well.

 

On the Friday it came to printing using the exposed screens. Again, I was apprehensive with how it was going to print and whether it would show all the detail in it but it worked really well. The first few prints didn’t come out great, they were a bit fuzzy as I did press down hard enough when I was printing but the more times I did it the better the print came out.

The step I thought about how I could add to the prints. They weren’t the greatest quality as some of them hadn’t been printed probably but printing something else on top could ‘fix’ them. My ideas were, to print the image on top again with another colour and cut out another stencil to print. The thing I did was print the black exposed screen onto the same piece of paper twice but in different positions. I liked how it overlaid and it made it so that there was loads of different components to it to look at. I printed it a lot better than the previous prints too so it looks more like an illustration that an actual print.

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I cut out another stencil (a pattern of shapes, so another simple stencil) to see what it would be like to print more shapes over the prints I’ve already done. The ink used was acrylic paint so the good thing about acrylic for printing is that it dries quickly so you’re able to print on top of a piece you’ve just done after a few minutes. Since I’d used dark colours, I chose a bright orange-yellow colour which I thought would contrast well with the green that was previously printing.

With the print set up, there was a clear sheet placed on top of the wooden bench. Instead of just printing blind on the paper and guessing how it would look, by printing on the clear sheet before you could position the paper in the right place so that when it came to printing on it, it would be in the right place to get the effect you wanted. This was really useful because when it came to doing the next set of printing, I was able to choose how I wanted to position the new pattern over the previous prints I’d already done.

The yellow worked well over the green, it was an odd combination of colour but I think I like the transition between a dark green background and a bright yellow pattern on top with the black separating it.

The next thing I wanted to try was printing the exposed screen on top of my prints but in a different colours. I chose to do this in red as again, it’s a strong, contrasting colour so would sit well against both red and yellow.

 

Overall I’m really pleased with the outcome of all my prints. The layering of colours and patterns work well and I like how it gives it a different dimension with several things to look at. One of guys in the workshop say that the style of the image was like how the illustrations of Quentin Blake in Roald Dahl’s novels – I’m glad my prints are comparable to illustrations.

My favourite prints are the more minimalist ones: the red print on the yellow background; the red and black image print and the combination of red and black image print with the yellow pattern. Yellow and red are colours that work really well together anyway so think that’s got to be a main factor as to why these prints work so well and I think that they’ve been executed the best. The print with everything I had experiment on it (so red, yellow, green and black print), I like but it’s not my favourite because there’s so much going on. It was good to experiment to see what it looked like but because the image on the exposed screen had detail in it with the scratchiness of how it’d been drawn, I think it definitely worked just having more of a simple print so that you could see that detail – so in this case less was more.

I’m glad I tried several combinations of colours and prints because in the end I was printing a lot better and producing better executed outcomes. I really enjoyed this process and it is definitely a process I will be using a lot more in the future. One thing I was suggest to do by the tech dem which I’m definitely going to try, is to work back into the prints with a different material by hand. So I could paint over it, draw or cuts parts out. I enjoy having layers in my work so it’s an idea I’ll try doing with at least one of my prints – probably the worse one incase it goes wrong.

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Author: ellenreiddesign

First year Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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