First rule of Print Club...
I have recently got myself set up with my own screen printing tools and reminded myself how the process works!
Over the years I have tried a number of different forms of printing, from monoprints, lino cut, to collagraph and etching. Each form naturally has it's own style and I love the crisp, poster-like style that comes with screen printing. I also deeply appreciate a low-tech craft.
I have learnt mostly under the tutelage of the ever cheerful and patient Ian Scott Massie who is also a friend and great support.
There is, as with most forms of print, a lot of work in the set up and preparation. A lot more than in the printing itself.
Once I had a board set up with hinge screws, which hold the screen in place and hinge to allow it to lift up, while you put paper in and out, I started on the image.
I scoured a collection of sketches saved from life drawing sessions, where I really liked the shape of the pose. Once I chose one I started to redraw the image to simplify it. It takes a little editing to go from a complex painted image to a simplified one where I can work out the printing layers.
In screen printing each colour is printed in a separate layer, starting with the lightest and finishing with the darkest over the top. It is also important to work out what sections are to be left white, and what to print.
In the example above, "Queenie", I printed the whole image first in gold with all the white areas blocked out with blocking medium. This fills all the holes in the mesh that let the ink through so you have to be super careful to not leave any pinprick holes. The blue area was printed over the gold and the parts to remain gold were blocked out for this.
Running a few test prints helps you to work out where the paper needs to line up to register the print in the same place (although I like the look of a tiny overlap too). With the paper in the right place and held down with some light tape, I lower the screen over the page, blob on a reservoir of ink across the top of the screen. Pulling this across the screen with a squeegee for the first time floods the screen with a thin layer of ink, so I then make sure there is plenty of ink at the top of the screen and print by pulling the squeegee in one firm, continuous stroke across the screen.
After carefully setting the inky squeegee aside, I lift the screen for the big reveal moment and untape the print from the board and set it aside to dry.
I use water-based screen printing inks from Hunt the Moon, so they dry pretty quickly. I can spend a full day in the studio working on the printing map, painting the stencil from the map onto the screen in blocking medium, printing the first layer, clean the screen, block out and print the second and then third layers (if I go to three colours) on a set of 12 or so prints and get everything cleaned up after! It's a full but very satisfying day, which I plan to do each month.
Which brings me to Print Club! I am toying with the idea of setting up a simple membership for those of you who love a print and would like to amass a small collection, with out spending much money. A years membership would give you 12 beautiful little screen and etching prints, for the price of 10, forming a stunning collection. All would be upto A4 size so cheap and easy to frame if you wish or to hang on an arty washing line with mini pegs, or a changing display hung on clipboards! Come on the journey with me, though a year of prints, with behind the scenes images and chat too....who's up for Print Club?