Tuesday, July 14, 2009

more silkscreen tutorial

I made a new silkscreen last weekend, for the tiki design and it came to me that I should add some notes on this process. I used regular embroidery stretcher bars a few inches larger than my design, flat thumb tacks, shipping tape and chiffon from the bridal aisle at J0-Ann's. Be sure to cut your chiffon large enough--this stuff frays like mad and you want a good grip with the tacks.

I stretched this the same way I do any fabric or canvas. Square your frame. (I usually place it in the upper corner of a door frame and whack it to match the right angle, turn it and whack again if it needs it--even if your house is older and not too square a door frame tends to stay fairly on the square and they're handy--no tools to find.)

Lay your fabric over the frame so it's even and pin the center top. Normally for embroidery I pin on the top of the frame. For this, however, I want the frame to lay flat when I put it face down on the fabric to be printed, so I pinned the tacks along the outside edge of the frame.

Check the grain and keeping it aligned along the inner edge of the top stretcher bar, pull the fabric taut and pin the center bottom. (This is more important for embroidery than this project.)
Then pin each center side. Now go back to the top and place a tack on each side of the center tack--maybe 1/2" apart. Pull the fabric taut each time. Keep going around, moving to the corners. Pin the corners last, folding the fabric (like putting on a bed sheet) and pinning it. Then I covered the tacks with tape, which helped corral some of the frayed chiffon edges.

I laid the frame fabric down on my printed design, centered it and traced the design with a fine Sharpie marker. This isn't going to affect your final design, just give you something to go by as you paint the screen.

I used Modge-Podge by Plaid for painting the design. I painted from both sides, but mostly from the front, holding the frame in my hand to make sure the wet-painted fabric side didn't touch anything.

Modge-Podge has always seemed to me to be an acrylic medium, but it dries a little harder than most. I had read somewhere it was good for this because it's more waterproof.

I used a small paint brush for details and a slightly larger one for background--just brushes I had on hand. I painted around the edges of the frame, working a bit to adhere the chiffon with this "glue" to the stretcher frame and to provide an edge for me to work with when spreading the paint.

Then I painted in the design areas I wished to block from the paint. (In this case the flower petals.) As I painted, I could see areas where the stuff covered, some areas I missed (hold it up to the light to check), and areas where the stuff pushed through to the back of the fabric (I turned it over and smoothed that out a bit). I wanted complete coverage but also fairly smooth coverage to allow the screen to lie really flat for printing.

Once I had it all painted, I set it fabric side up to dry for at least 48 hours before printing. I found a flexible squeegee (like an old credit card, a piece of flexible plastic or, if you have one, a squeegee) works best for spreading the paint for printing.

My designs for this project are fairly organic and I didn't worry about being terribly precise (which is good because I'm not good at that). I'd love to see what you do if you try this.

1 comment:

WhatKathyDid said...

I don't know how you have to time to do so much good stuff!