As part of my relaxing semester break from academics, I’m taking a screen printing class at Saddleback College. It’s been a really fun experience, the teacher’s great, and it’s really ignited my creative interests. So, after a rather long delay, I’m finally sharing the first two prints I did for class.
The first, “No Robots” is from a paper stencil. I started doodling a robot, and realized he looked kinda wary, so I added the text. I originally thought of using him in a replication of the Ghostbusters logo, but I couldn’t get it to work. Besides, cutting this lil’ guy out with an x-acto knife was going to be tricky enough ;). Precision cutting was really tough, but I managed to get a decent enough stencil for my efforts. Of course, when I was adhering it to the screen in class, I taped it too high. See, the screen is hooked onto a board at the top with a hinge, and I placed my robot stencil too close to those hinges, so when I dragged the ink down across the screen, I couldn’t get a good, clean pass… which resulted in issues like this:
Note the smear of the antenna and the lack of thickness of the paint. After our teacher explained why I was having the issues that I was, I did my best to make the rest of the prints as clean as possible, and chalked it up to a lesson learned :). Besides, working with paper stencils for intricate designs can be tough to do.
Project #2, “Face Fear”, was a MUCH better process – in every way :). We were no longer using paper stencils, but rather photo transparencies. For this assignment, we used a special red vellum paper, which has sort of a fruit roll-up effect: there are two pieces stuck together, and by cutting through the red layer, you are able to remove it and leave the clear backing behind. This enabled us to have details in our image that would’ve otherwise fallen out if we’d used a paper stencil. After cutting my image out onto the special paper, I exposed it onto a screen coated in a special photo emulsion, and after giving it a quick rinse, I had a perfect cut out of my image ready to print with! It’s sort of a tricky process to explain without a lot of detail, so just understand that I created a negative through a photographic process and the rest of the screen was covered up.
So, having learned my lesson from the first project, my image was placed low on the screen and I printed up a storm. When I saw my first print come out clean and crisp, I was pretty darn happy :). The first assignment, while interesting, was a bit of a bummer because I messed it up from the beginning. Project 2, however, was a smashing success! I did two passes on each print, instead of the one I did last time, which probably wasn’t completely necessary, but it gave me a great look. The black is completely opaque, and I didn’t lose any detail or have any printing issues. I laughed, though, because I could’ve printed this out on my printer and it would’ve been nicer. See, I sketched this image out with a pencil, but then needed to enlarge it, so I just scanned it into my computer and traced it off of my screen. As you can see in the image below, the only difference between the screen print and what would’ve printed from my computer is the rough curves of my x-acto knife cutting:
This project was the last time we had to worry about cutting anything out, though, so I’m glad for that. The rest of the semester should be pretty varied, and while this may not be a process I have much use for, it’s been really fun to play around with. Besides, it’s all experience, and who knows.. right? I think there’s going to be enough interesting stuff in this class to share my progress as I go through the rest of the semester, so look forward to posts peppered here and there. If you’d really like to know more about the printing process, let me know, and I’ll write about it in more detail; this post was more focused on the art and my lessons learned.
As for what Project #3 is? Well, we’re in the midst of it right now, but I’ll give you a little teaser…
P.S. – I put this under the Sketchy Sketches category, as I now see it as a place for ALL of my artistic practice – not just drawings. Also, if you didn’t notice, you can click on the first image in this post for a larger version.. not something I usually do around here, but I’m glad to have the easy option for when it might be beneficial :).