Screen Printing Process
I have been using the screen printing process in a crude way for a couple of years to put designs onto my tile work but up until now I had very little understanding of how the actual process worked. I have been getting my screens made and developed by subcontracting, and my knowledge of the screen printing process has been gleaned from both textbooks and online demonstrations and examples. I have got to the point where I really need to understand the process from beginning to end so that I can experiment further and eventually develop a new body of work.
With my knowledge of ceramics I have managed to develop my own specialist ceramic screen inks but my inexperience of the screen making and printing process has hampered my efforts to develop much further.
I attended the Mandy Tolley ‘Reduction Screenprint‘ course in early April which taught me the basics of how to prepare the screen, develop the image, register, and to print onto paper. The course centred around the method of reduction printing – starting with only one photo stencil and one screen, over the course of the weekend the original image is altered directly on the screen using screen filler. This produces a run of unique limited edition prints which cannot reproduced again.
The process was interesting in that I started off with two quite different images; an original medieval design one which I had scanned in and manipulated (Rose Window), the other created digitally (Kirkos). After the first print run, screen filler was then applied by brush directly onto the screen which introduced a more random element into the mix. With the ‘rose window’ design I was quite free with the brush strokes, however with the ‘Kirkos’ print I had to have a steady hand to create the inner grey circles as accurately as possible.
The use of screen filler in the reduction screen print method is definitely more conducive for more free flowing artwork. If I am seeking more accuracy in the process, then I would create the design digitally and work with a multiple of developed screens.
The next course I will be attending is ‘The Screenprinted Poster‘ run by Nick Rhodes. This course will concentrate on how to work with 2 – 3 screens, building up an image with layers of colour and also using text within the design.
The final course will be the ‘Straight to Screen‘ workshop run by Mandy Tolley. This workshop will concentrate on working directly onto the screen using various tools, to draw and stamp designs.
Once back in my own studio, I put to use my new found understanding of screen printing with an instant increase in quality and control over my ceramic screen printing – mainly to do with flooding the screen between each print, and how to correctly hold the squeegee. I am already thinking about how to develop designs and surface patterns which can be screen printed.