Tonal screenprinting, monoprinting – whatever goes

Experiment, if you hadn’t guessed by now, is one of my favourite words, along with the phrase “What happens if…?”

This week at Morley College I built on some of the work I did last week, trying to blend colours in screenprinting without getting regimented stripes, adding new items under the fabric to produce different textures, doing “clean pulls” across the screen to make a kind of monoprint, transferring whatever pigment was left onto a clean piece of fabric (or overprinting it onto another piece).

Because I didn’t have time to stitch any pleated fabric this week, I simply used whatever came to hand – it was much quicker, and I produced an awful lot of prints! So there’s not a lot of commentary on the pics below – just brief explanations in the captions.

The first set of prints was based on the texture of this unknown plastic object I found in a drawer. I have no idea what the original function of this thing was, but it does produce some lovely printed textures!

Various monoprints made from the screen afterwards
On this one I deliberately creased the fabric when I pinned it out (honest!)
Time to try some different colours – but the front of this piece felt rather “heavy”, with a lot of binder
I actually preferred the reverse side of the print
Monoprint in second colour over first monoprint
Here I actually put the original print face down on top of the blue monoprint and ran the squeegee over them before peeling them apart

Next I tried printing over some strips of loosely interwoven cartridge paper.

Then on bits of jute and string, sometimes with creased fabric.

Again, I preferred the back of this print

Monoprints from these:

Finally, I did some more pulls on the previous pieces I pleated by ironing last week.

So what have I learned from all this experimental fun?

1. For the colours to blend properly, you need to put them really close together (or even in two rows touching each other). It also helps to move the squeegee from side to side before pulling to start the blending. Even then, the first couple of pulls are likely to result in discrete stripes – the colours don’t really start blending until later.

2. If you like what’s left on the screen, do a clean pull onto a blank piece of fabric or overprint – you can get some interesting effects. You can even use the print you’ve just made, if there’s a lot of binder on it, to produce another print.

3. Turn your pieces over – sometimes they look better from behind!