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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Screenprinting Heaven

I wasn't all that excited for my final Open Studio course because I didn't really think there was any chance it would inspire me to pursue any further work in the medium. Boy, was I wrong. The class was INCREDIBLE and, to my great surprise, I'm now considering signing up for the 8 week screenprinting course instead of the etching one.

My surprise was partly rooted in the fact that I seriously misunderstood how the process worked. I had the old school, stencil-style process in mind when I headed to class, but when our instructor explained the process of using light-sensitive emulsions to perfectly transfer black and white images I had a mini artistic flip out. I also immediately regretted not bringing photocopies of my own drawings into the class because I would have loved to practice with those images instead of a photograph.

The photograph I ended up using is this family classic. I worked with a photocopied enlargement of the whole image and it's a good thing I made the copy because step one involved soaking the paper in vegetable oil to make the white areas of the image translucent enough to let the light reach the emulsion on the screen.

Open Studio's step up for this process is pretty high tech. We exposed our screens in a special room using a large glass and vacuum enclosure and very bright, industrial-sized light. Apparently, this process can also be done on a much smaller scale at home, but I think I need to do a bit more research before I start squeegeeing large quantities of emulsion onto screens over my bathtub.

Once the screens had been exposed to the light long enough for the emulsion to capture the image, we washed out the excess emulsion and started printing. We worked in teams of two (although, we each printed our own image), and my partner and I chose a brilliant, golden yellow and a slate grey to use for a two-layer print.

I really wish I had pictures of the first, yellow print of the image because it looked so interesting. However, I have four perfect copies of the final print to play with as I mull over my printmaking future.

Etching or screenprinting?


  1. I'm definitely leaning that way.

    I highly recommend the course, by the way. Although, you seem to have a lot of amazing things on the go already!