A Guide to Screen Printing As a Supremely Accessible Art Form
Presenting full-blown serigraphing done anywhere without expensive equipment
Recognizing the importance for large bodies of people to communicate freely amongst themselves, I’ve assembled this tutorial. A community’s health and survival relies on the ability of its individuals to communicate with each other in unhindered andunfiltered fashions. Screen printing is a simple artform, capable of easily reaching a large audience and therefore ideal for the individual who wants to captivate their community. Finding creative ways to convey information to each other, will prove vital to the future of our local and global neighborhoods. This guide should leave the individual feeling prepared, inspired, and fully capable of sendingout their own message without requiring the support or approval of any large institution or sum of money. Communicating is easy and should happen frequently. That being said, let’s start at the beginning. Screen printing is a process wherein ink is pushed through a stencil in a silk or polyester screen and onto a material. Actually, it doesn’t have to be ink, it could be any material in a viscous,liquid form. And it doesn’t have to be silk or polyester, it could be any mesh like material able to be stretched on a frame. Basically, there are many different approaches to screen printing and any number of interesting ways to go about it. Do you want to print posters or t-shirts or use screen printed elements in combination with other media? Do you have access to a lot of equipment or are youworking with a few spare dollars? Do you enjoy being meticulous and particular or do you like to just feel your way through? I can’t cover all the possibilities, so in this guide I’ve tried to boil it all down to a single process that provides the best mixture of simplicity and effectiveness for the widest range of needs. Here’s a brief overview of the approach we’ll be taking: An image is createdin opaque black on a transparent vellum or plastic. That transparency is then used to expose the image into a photo emulsion layer spread onto a polyester or silk screen. The screen is then used to swipe ink through in the shape of the image onto many pieces of paper or fabric. Different layers can be prepared on different screens, and there is almost unlimited room for experimentation. On to stepone.
Unless the goal is simply to experiment with the process of screen printing, it is usually a good idea to have your image prepared beforehand. For the sake of simplicity, I will be explaining how to print one single color image. Additional colors and layers are added by simply preparing that layer as another image on another screen and printing over top the previouslayer. Before you start, decide if you’re going to prepare your image entirely by hand, or scan your artwork and prepare it in Photoshop, or create it digitally and get it printed on a black and white transparency. When you have a good idea of the how, gather the appropriate materials from the following list. Black paint pens - If you’re doing this by hand you need pens or something that will make anopaque (not see-through) mark. Mylar or Vellum - If doing it by hand these substrates will allow plenty of light through. Vellum may buckle a bit with the moisture of ink. Scanner - Useful if any or all of your image will be done on paper or something and then simply bumped into the digital world to send to transparency. Adobe Photoshop - or any program you can prepare your image in, if you want towork digitally. Copy or print shop - Any place that will do black and white transparencies if you’re working from a digital file. Almost all will do 8.5x11, but few will do larger. When preparing your image it is important to understand that you are making a stencil. Whatever the image is, it needs to end up in very opaque black on a clear piece of transparency paper, vellum or mylar (Fig. 1)....
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