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Today’s screenprinting adventures

dyed fabric hanging on washing line

I’ve got a bit behind with talking about my screenprinting here – I’ve taken photos but just been getting on with it instead of documenting it!  These are a few different shaped pieces drying on the line.  I used these as test pieces, play pieces really.  I bought several bundles of small pieces of fabric from Empress Mills at the Knitting and Stitching Show a week ago (well, actually 4 kilos of Egyptian cotton fabric pieces for £5 which I thought was pretty good until I had been carrying it around for a couple of hours!  I didn’t really register that 4 kilos weighs a lot.. well, 4 kilos!).  I wanted to check that I had scoured them enough because it is sheeting fabric.  The black dye here had also been made about 5 weeks ago and I wanted to check it was still viable.

mark making fabric

I have been making a lot of thin lines with my parallel pens and I like the effect they make.

blurry writing fabric 

I painted this first of all with very dilute yellow-brown dye and then ‘wrote’ with it, an actual sort of diary entry  whatever came into my head.  It is purposely blurry and illegible.  I just wanted to get the effect of writing, of the marks made by writing.

strips of line fabric

These long thin strips were some of the fabric bits from Empress Mills.   They took the dye well too, and as you can see, the black dye doesn’t seem to have lost much, if any, of its potency yet.  I’m glad about that because I hate throwing anything out! 

autumn leaves colours printed with abstract thermofax screen

This is what I did today.  It’s a thermofax screen made from one of the pages of mark making with my parallel pens.  I really like the effect.  I printed the yellow dye first, then waited until it was dry enough not to bleed when the red-brown dye was screened, did the same with that and then with the darker brown.  Now it is batching.

red/purple fabric  

This is some fabric I painted with the same screen, but with this one I deliberately kept printing while the dye was wet so it all blurred into each other.  I think this will be a very useful screen.  I’ve also printed one piece with just very light grey which I’m going to overprint.  I think I’ll discharge this one next.

leaf fabric

And this is a detail of the fabric printed with the ‘leaf’ screen (the one I photographed with its shadow a few posts back).  I really like this and can see me using it a lot too.  Not sure yet where this fabric is going next.  I printed it in a few different colours and values between red and black and then I painted in some of the white areas with a very pale grey-blue colour.

Screenprinting results – first layers

Here are some of the results of my first lot of screenprinting.  The sessions have been a bit here and there because I’ve been busy with other things and have had to pop in and out of my studio a lot, doing preparation and then leaving and popping back later to do the actual printing.  So at present I’ve only actually rinsed out the following green and blue fabric, the rest is waiting its turn!  But DS1 goes off to university in Warwick on Saturday and so hopefully next week I’ll have a bit more time.

I printed this piece using a screen which had thin masking tape stuck to it in parallel lines.  I heavily overprinted it in yellows, blues and greens and I like the effect.  It might just turn into a reeds piece eventually.  I’m definitely going to do more to these pieces of fabric.

green screenprinted fabric

This is a detail of a bit of it.

green screenprinted fabric - detail

The sun was shining when I took the next piece so there’s a shadow across it!  I used two thermofax screens.  The first, with the smaller prints, was originally a rubber (eraser) which I carved into a grid design.  I then used the stamp repeatedly on a piece of paper, scanned it into the computer and made a screen from it.  Then I enlarged a section  of the single stamped design (actually enlarged several), made another screen from my favourite, and the larger overprint is that one.  Now it’s hanging up on my design wall while I decide what to do with it next.

blue screenprinted fabric

This piece of fabric hasn’t been rinsed out yet and has been batching for about 5 days now just because I haven’t got round to it!  Slow fabric…  I ‘wrote’ a random design on a blank screen with thickened black dye and let it dry (this is breakdown printing) and then printed the screen with blue dye paint and clear print paste in a variety of values.  It broke down to the dotty design and then broke down completely and I filled up the remaining white areas with the empty screen using blue dye paint to which I gradually added black.  It’ll be interesting to see what it is like when it is rinsed.

blue screenprinted fabric before rinsing

This is another piece that hasn’t been rinsed yet.  I was trying to make a design which would reflect the diagonals of the reeds in the last couple of months’ reeds photos but our laser printer had broken so I had to do it using charcoal and gocco pens.  But for some reason the screen only partly imaged so the lines were very fine.  Maybe I need to run it through at a lower speed.  Anyway, I overprinted and overprinted this in a variety of shades of yellow and green and almost to brown so I’ll see how it turns out when it is rinsed.  It looks as though it’ll make a great background design anyway.  We’ve now bought a new laser printer so I will try again and photograph my drawings and print them out.  The fabric is very stiff at the moment with the print paste as you can see from the photo but this will wash out.

green fabric before rinsing

I painted this reeds design (which is vaguely what the above screen was meant to look like but without the dots) using screen filler and screen drawing fluid and haven’t tried it yet but I thought the shadow cast when it was standing upright looked very effective.  I may use it to overprint the above fabric or discharge it.

reeds screen shadowed

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FOQ purchases

FOQ seems rather a long time ago now but I was away last weekend and I’m only just getting on top of things again.  And I did promise pics of my purchases so here they are!

goodies from FOQ 

There were some new-to-me threads by Wonderfil so I bought a special show pack of five to try out.  These are cotton threads – I love the red bag they came in!  The large cream coloured spool and the black one are thick linen threads for book binding which I bought from Empress Mills.  I also got a couple of free sample silk threads just for going on their mailing list.   I bought the skeins from Crafty Notions – one is nettle thread, the other is hemp.  I thought they would make great texture for printing.  I also bought that red stuff that looks like a washing up scourer for printing, or perhaps to photograph to make into a thermofax screen.  Great texture, again!    I bought some essential though boring dyeing supplies too – replacement fume filters for my respirator from Art Van Go and some alum for natural dyeing.

books by Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan 

My main purchases, though, are these books on Screen Printing and Thermofax Printing by Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan.  I’m hoping to use these in the next few weeks – I made the most of the last few sunny days (now sadly disappeared) by soda soaking lots of fabric and drying it in readiness.

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