Deconstructed screenprinting

This week at Morley we did some experiments with deconstructed screenprinting.

Chrissie Day has some beautiful examples of this technique in the book on Nuno Felting she wrote with Nicola Brown, but our tutor Mark had never tried it before, so we were all experimenting together!

We started by watching the video of Kerr Grabowski, below.

Then we arranged some items on paper under an open screen – I used leaves, Mark used feathers, and another student Jane used bits of jute and nylon netting.

Mark had mixed two different coloured Procion dyes with Manutex (sodium alginate, a thickener) – blue and a rusty golden colour – though the paste seemed thinner than in the video. He said that his first attempt at mixing the Manutex resulted in a solid lump that he couldn’t remove from the tub, so maybe he overcompensated a bit. 😉

I opted for the rust colour, as a change from blue, and spread the paste over the screen, then left it to dry. I’d used two types of leaves  – real ones and plastic ones that Jane gave me, as the veins seemed to stand out more. As the paste dried, the plastic ones dropped off the screen but the real ones remained stuck and looked very effective.

However, when the screen was dry and I peeled the leaves off, there didn’t seem to be much dye left on the screen. It was tricky to tell, but I was worried that I would only get a faint print out of it.

But the proof of the pudding is in the pulling, as we printers like to say. 😉 To compare properly at this stage I should really have done several pulls on the same fabric, so that there was only one variable. But I didn’t have enough of one type of fabric, and I also wanted to see the effect on different fabrics. So yet again I failed on scientific principles!

The first two pulls were surprisingly colourful, given how faint the screen seemed to be. But after that the colour did drop off very quickly.

First pull on calico
Second pull on cotton drill
Third pull on shiny (and unironed!) polyester
Fourth pull on calico
Fifth pull on muslin

I like the second and third pulls best. The polyester is a hideous fabric, but the sepia effect is rather charming.

Interestingly, although the veins on the plastic leaves were much more prominent than those on the real leaves, their imprint was much fainter – perhaps because the leaves didn’t stick to the screen as it dried, so didn’t create such a strong impression.

We agreed that the dye-Manutex mixture probably needs to be thicker so that more of it sticks to the screen and we can get more prints from it. But it was fun for a first go – and clearly there are lots of potentially interesting effects!

PS Thanks to everyone for your lovely comments on the shibori scarf giveaway. I’m not going to respond individually because that could upset the random draw for the winner. 😉

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