More screenprinting with shibori

Yesterday at Morley College I continued with some of the experiments I started at the end of last term, printing with an open screen on fabric that had been stitched, pleated, or folded in some way, based on shibori techniques. I wanted to try some different resist methods as well as experimenting with two colours.

First, I repeated the pleating method I used last term, but with two colours. I started with pale blue and when it had dried shifted the pleats a bit (I also restitched a couple of lines) before overprinting in red. The red wasn’t quite the colour I had in mind: I wanted a deep scarlet, but it turned out more of a claret. Great if you’re a fan of Aston Villa or West Ham, I suppose:

Next up was a piece of linen stitched with circles of different sizes, with the threads pulled tight and tied off. Some of the “puffs” were above the fabric; others were below:

Here’s the result after printing the first colour:

Then I stitched some more circles and printed with a second colour:

I also tried using a piece of cartridge paper as a resist, cutting slits and pulling sections of fabric through. It looked a bit like a mushroom farm:

I did this twice with different colours, but there were still huge gaps. I need to make the slits closer together, repeat it more times, or pull more fabric through:

Then I repeated the pleating experiment but with far more lines of stitching much closer together. I decided to use only one colour on this from the outset, so I chose the darker blue. I love the marks this has created, and I think the red thread I used for the stitching looks really effective, so I’ll probably leave it in rather than removing it:

Finally, as the indigo vat was charged up, I also did a more conventional piece of stitched shibori dyed with indigo:

Quite a busy day, then – no wonder I was completely exhausted when I got home!

Shibori and screen printing

Last week, my attempts to print with an open screen produced some interesting speckled effects, which I wanted to reproduce.

At first I thought they were caused by the paper template falling on the wet ink and removing it. But on closer inspection, my tutor Mark and I decided that they were caused by creases in the fabric (I hadn’t ironed it very well) preventing the ink from reaching certain parts.

So here are the results of this week’s experiments of printing on creased fabric.

Here I just washed and wrung out a piece of cotton calico and left it to dry. When I pinned it out, I didn’t try to stretch or flatten it. Then I did one pull with an open screen. The result is similar to last week, but over a much larger area:

In the two pieces below, I stitched along both vertical edges of the fabric and also two lines down the centre. Then I pulled them to create pleats – it felt very similar to shibori. You can still see some of the stitches in the photos below.

After pinning the fabric to the print table, I did three pulls with an open screen, which forced some of the ink through the pleated layers, resulting in a pleasing mottled effect. The shapes remind me of squid; someone else in the class thought they looked like bones and joints:

In the top photo I used translucent binder, which gave a greater range and depth of colour. The piece in the bottom photo was printed with opaque binder; the effect is much flatter and more matt.

Because so much ink was pushed through, I put a heavier piece of cotton drill underneath one of the pieces of  calico above – so getting two prints for the price of one:

Finally, I tried a similar technique using silver pearl binder on shiny transparent polyester. With only three lines of stitching, the pattern was less complex:

I love this effect, because it results in more texture. Previously, I’ve used stitch after printing to add texture, but this uses stitch to provide texture before/during printing. As Mark said, “It’s like shibori but more heavy handed”. And you know how much I like shibori!

As an added bonus,  it also means that I don’t have to go through the time-consuming process of coating and exposing a screen!

This was the final session of this term. After a very slow start, I feel that the printing sessions have finally come together and provided a base from which I can experiment further.

Two-tone turtle prints

At last I managed to expose two screens without incident this week, so was able to experiment with adding a second colour and different finishes to the first colour I’d already printed.

(Incidentally, rather than using the design on tracing paper to expose the screen, I photocopied it with higher contrast onto white paper, and then made two copies on acetate, which I taped together. This resulted in a much sharper design on the screen.)

As you will see, registration was a problem. I tried to line the screen up by marking the positions of the corners on the print table with masking tape, but it wasn’t entirely successful!

Anyway, here are some of the results.

Deep pink ink:

Copper foil:

Silver pearl binder without any pigment added. Ironically, though it is also shiny, it actually tones down the red foil that I printed last week:

White flock:

Puff binder with red pigment added. This binder is much thicker than normal binder. You pull it through the screen as normal, let it dry, then put it in the heat press – but without applying any pressure. The heat makes the binder puff up, producing a slightly rubbery embossed effect. Very interesting:

Finally, I had a bit of time to experiment with an open screen, so I cut out some “paper chains” and used them to make positive and negative prints on a bit of faintly-dyed pole-wrapped shibori calico:

As ever, it’s the bits that go slightly wrong that are the most interesting. Because I used newsprint, it got very soggy with the ink, and as I lifted the screen, the paper lifted up and sometimes dropped back onto the fabric.

You can see where this happened along some of the edges and in the corners, where the ink is speckled as it was disturbed. I actually like this effect – maybe something to develop next week!

Abstract turtle prints

I haven’t written much about screen printing recently, mostly because my progress remains painfully slow. This is partly down to problems with equipment and space, but also due to silly mistakes that I’ve made – of which more later.

To cut a long story short, I abandoned my first turtle design after printing just one colour. It wasn’t really working for me, and given the time it takes to make each screen, I didn’t want to waste time on something that didn’t inspire me.

So it was back to the drawing board (literally) to come up with some new artwork. This time I decided to go more abstract, based on the pattern of a Testudo radiata shell.

I made a couple of different separations, so I have a couple of different first layers:

I also experimented with foiling the first version, which is a bit overwhelming:

And I also printed the first version onto transparent polyester in a couple of different colours, which creates an interesting effect when overlaid on the cotton print:

This week I was supposed to print the second colour on top. But a problem with the exposure machine ruined one screen, and when exposing the other I managed to place the artwork the wrong way round, so it didn’t line up with the first layer. Aaaargh!

Our tutor, Mark, said I shouldn’t waste the screen, so I used it to experiment with foil and flock.

The foil one turned out quite well, but the flock was less successful because the fabric was synthetic, so the flock stuck to the binder on the first layer as well as the glue on the second. But I learnt that if this happens it can be brushed off with a dry toothbrush. I also learnt that it is much more difficult to line up the screen properly, even without ink or glue, if the fabric is dark rather than light!

Hopefully next week I will finally get round to printing a second colour on top. In the meantime, I tried adding a second colour with embroidery, using a bit of wadding to add extra texture and evoke a turtle form (not very easy to see in this photo).