Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Deconstructed screen printing - the results!

Our experiments with deconstructed screen printing and breakdown printing ended up spreading out over several sessions, as people came and went, and even gave us some homework! Nola still has a screen to print, so there'll be photos from that one soon, too.
Some of the information we had suggested that the first print from the screen might be a bit ordinary, as it takes time to break down the medium on the screen, so Nola did her first pull onto a piece of scrap fabric. The results were much better and more intense than expected.
These are later prints from the same screen, by Nola and Helen. We found it amazing to see how long there continues to be texture on the screen, and how much colour variation is possible by varying the colour of the printing medium, or using clear medium. By the time Nola was printing the third sample above, the dye paint was drying quickly on the screen in the heat, so less of the pattern was being printed.

This third one was later over dyed in the waste bucket from the second printing session. We were rinsing tools and screens in a single bucket of water, which resulted in a fairly strong dye solution at the end. The first time we did this, the dye bucket was, unsurprisingly, brown, but we had good results dyeing a mixture of cloths. As these fabrics hadn't been prepared with soda ash, we added soda ash to the bucket, with good results. The second time we did this, the prepared turquoise dye paint was becoming stringy from the heat, so we tipped it into the waste bucket. The resulting bucket gave us a good turquoise dye solution. Here's the third one after dyeing:
I think the message here is that the most unprepossessing prints can look much better, if you persevere with them!

Nola hates to waste dye so she spritzed the dry screen with water and printed again.
By this stage, we really only had magenta dye paint left, on the screen and to print with. A lot of texture still printed on the fabric, though, and by the end of printing, there was little left on the screen to be rinsed away. By itself, this is nothing to get excited about but, overprinted, it could be quite something.

Here's another series of screens Nola and Helen printed:
This is the primary set of prints.
Again, the dye paint began drying in the screen quickly, because of the temperature, so little of the dye was being released in later prints.
Here is the same piece of fabric, overprinted with another screen in a later session. It looks a lot more interesting!
Once again, the dry screen was spritzed with water and printed onto cream fabric. The water tends to make the dye paint very runny, so it's more like guided dyeing than printing, but echoes of the original printing remain.

Tricia's printing was rather less successful. She used borrowed soda ash, and it seems not to have been as effective as the soda ash the others used. Her prints were intensely coloured like Nola and Bev's, and were batched under the same sort of conditions by the same method, but a lot more colour washed out at the end. None of us used Synthrapol in the rinsing stage.
This is Tricia's first set of prints. As you can see, the dye washed out badly and she lost all her lovely texture. It's so frustrating, because she had some absolutely fabulous patterns and colour combinations after printing!
This is the best of her prints. And to add insult to injury, here is Nola's end print from her screen once she'd finished, onto fabric she'd dyed turquoise in the second session waste bucket.
The remaining patterns from the spritzed screen have actually come out clearer in these prints than the original printing. I guess that reminds us that dyeing always has that surprise factor, and not all the surprises are good!

Bev's prints had no such trouble. She produced lovely complex patterns from her screen.
These prints were done on a very soft, semi-sheer fabric. They'll look fantastic mounted against a backing and stitched.
These prints were done on cotton cloth, like Nola and Tricia's. I like the way she's moved away from the side-by-side structure that we automatically tend to do.
These prints exhausted the screen, with very little dye paint left to wash out. Bev was working on a cooler day than the earlier sessions, and she had less trouble with the screen drying prematurely. Drying screens aren't a huge problem, since the dye in the screens can be released with more of the thickener or, if the screen is almost exhausted,by spritzing with water, but it can be frustrating when you have a wonderful pattern happening!

We haven't seen the results from Maz's screen yet, and Nola has another screen to print. I think we all found it a very interesting process, and something some of us will probably incorporate into our creative practice. We particularly liked the way it produces a whole series of same-but-different images, with wonderful texture and depth.