How to Silkscreen
I am often asked where my ideas come from
and how do they become a prints.
Here is some information on how I make my serigraph prints.
(Serigraph – limited edition art print, made using the silkscreen process)
Long ago, I was driving on the road to Noggin Cove and saw a lovely old home. It was well looked after and something about it drew me into its past. I could imagine life in the home over the years. I wanted to take those feelings home with me, so took a photograph. When I decided to make cloth calendars, the house came to mind, and it became my first calendar drawing.
2005 was the 25th anniversary of my calendars, and this first drawing came to mind. I decided it would make a wonderful print and allow me to create that first feeling I had for the house.
Making the Stencils
The watercolour became the basis for the print. I laid a clear plastic sheet (Mylar) over the watercolour, and drew in ink everything I thought should be dark green. I kept looking at the watercolour, deciding where the dark green should be. When I finished dark green, I added on top of this another sheet of Mylar, and drew medium green. I continued making drawings for each colour, on their own sheet. So when I was done I had a stack of sheets, one for each colour. These are called stencils.
Making the screen
I then stretched very fine polyester fabric over my silkscreen frame. It allows me to stretch it very tight. I then coated the screen with a product very like glue, called photo emulsion, and let it dry in the dark. Photo emulsion has a light sensitive chemical mixed in. It is the bright green liquid that is being spread on the screen.
Exposing the Screen
The dried screen is placed on a table, screen side facing up. I lay my stencil on top, and a sheet of glass on top of that, to push the stencil plastic tight against the screen. I turn on the sun lamp which hovers above the table. It shines UV rays down through the glass and clear plastic, this causes the emulsion to harden. Where the ink blocks out the UV light, it stays soft. When I wash it with water, the soft areas wash away, and I am left with an open area in the screen mesh.
Left is an open area in the screen. The dark area is solid, where the light is shining though, it is open.
When the screen is dry, I place it emulsion side down on the printing table. I place a piece of museum board under the screen. I then use a plastic squeegee to force ink down through the open holes in the screen.
I repeat this printing process on all of the pieces of board I hope will be in the edition. When I am done with that colour the photo emulsion is chemically removed from the screen. The process starts again for the next stencil for the next colour. The layers of colour are built up in this way to form the final picture.
Trivia: The blue touching the screen is the actual squeegee. You can see it is pushing before it a roll of green ink. This is being forced down on to the board.
Behind me to the left is my drying rack. The shelves flip up and down to allow flat storage.
The gismo I am holding on to is called, A One-Man Squeegee. I have a bad wrist and find this device the best way to keep my printing even.
You will probably have noticed there were some changes made in the image as it went from one process to another. The calendar drawing had chickens and an oil tank, these were removed in the watercolour. The watercolour has the gate closed. In drawing the stencils, I opened the gate and invited you into the yard.
In the Edition I removed the bushes on the left so you can see the water. These are all part of the growing process. Each step of the way I try to bring out the feeling I want for the picture. I hope you enjoy the finished print.