Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Screen printing... and robot love

I've wanted to try screen printing for a long time.  I've been ogling this book for ages.  And I've checked this one out of the library too many times to count.  Both books feature several types of DIY printing (with rubber stamps, linoleum blocks, even with potatoes) for fabric and paper.  For some reason, though, it's the screen printing technique that got me.  I've held myself back from buying supplies on several occasions.  Not until I know how to do it, or have time to learn, I told myself.  I already have too much fabric and crafty stuff and not enough space to store it!!

Then I (finally!) signed up for a Saturday workshop at the Needle Shop.  It was an exhilarating four hours of printing, printing, and more printing!!  Our instructor taught us the photo-emulsion method of screen printing, which involves burning an image onto a screen treated with a light sensitive coating.  While we were waiting around for our screens to dry, and then the emulsion to dry, and then for the image to transfer... we created stencils with plain ol' masking tape.  Below are two t-shirts I made using the robot design I (literally) masked on a screen.  I also have some tote bags with this print for sale in my shop.  This masking tape process is so cool because it's instantly rewarding.  And inexpensive.  The only drawback is that the stencil doesn't last through repeated printing and washing.  And I love my little robot so much that I'm in the process now of making a new, more permanent, screen with this same robot image.

I think what I love about screen printing is the mass production factor, with a caveat.  Yeah, you can spend several hours drawing a design and preparing the screen.  But, then you can print almost forever (unless you've used masking tape to make your stencil).  Yet, because the ink is applied by hand and not machine, each print is ever so slightly different.  So, it's mass production in a cool, crafty, artsy sort of way.