Aug 20, 2011

Making a Screen with Drawing Fluid

My screen printing press is still sitting unused in my garage, and I've been just too busy to get wholeheartedly into making prints. Well, that's what I've been saying to myself. Actually, it's intimidating as heck to make a screen print. Not only is there the design to consider, but making the screen is technical, with lots of room for error.
I knew I had to get going on doing something screen print related, so I thought I'd start with baby steps, and use drawing fluid and screen filler on my screen. Little did I know this would be more problematic than the emulsion/exposure method.

First, I got my screen and traced my design; based on my little clay house with a bird on top, this is just a collection of little houses.

Then, I started painting the design on the screen using the drawing fluid. You can't get a very thin line with this method. I tried to make sure I used plenty of drawing fluid with each line. It's thick like honey and even using a thin liner brush, it was very challenging to get a uniform line.
After all the lines were painted, I let it dry overnight. When I got up, the drawing fluid had hardened even where thick. Then I began taping it off, as the drawing fluid instructions said. This was different than the screenprinting shop where I used to work did it. They washed out the screens and then taped it off. Oh well, I went with the package instructions.
Unfortunately, I did not get a photo of the screen being coated with filler. It was awkward and I was juggling the screen filler, a squeegee, and the screen. Let me tell you first, that the filler must be VERY well mixed. A few gentle stirs almost did me in. It was way too watery when I poured it on the bottom of the screen to begin coating. I should have stopped, poured it back in the bottle and started again, but I got lazy and knew it was't right, but did it anyway. My first attempt had me pouring the filler and using the squeegee to spread it. Not successful, and puddley areas on the screen made the drawing fluid start to dissolve. I just let it dry and did a second pass with the filler in a screen coater. That worked very well.
After the filler dried, I washed it out with the faucet sprayer in my kitchen sink. Easy peasy!
Then last photo is the finished screen. It was a great learning experience, but some lessons learned; keep your design to thick lines and little detail, use plenty of drawing fluid, and if it looks thin after drying, go back and add a second coat, use a screen coater to apply the screen filler, make sure filler is thoroughly mixed until it's thick and creamy.
Ok, that was my project for today. I hope you learned something. I sure did!

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