Last weekend, in my pursuit of new and exciting mediums (and my top secret project) I watched a few Youtube videos on screen printing—a seemingly simple medium one could actually try at home. So I did try this at home, I mean how hard could it be?
On Sunday, after two afternoon spent looking for supplies, getting lost, eating, finding said supplies and eating again I was ready. I had purchased a Speedball tools kit, some dark blue ink, another screen, some fancy paper, some fancy cards, some photo emulsion and transparencies and it seemed like an easy and fun weekend project-but then don’t all weekend projects seem that way?
My problems began when I openned my tools box on Saturday afternoon—Why is my emulsion bottle all blue-ish?? That would be because it spilled inside the box. Excellent. I debated whether or not the screen that came in the tool kit was still useable for a while and tried to recall what I’d read about photo emulsion online—when I realized ‘oh! Good news this can’t be exposed yet—the sensitizer has to be mixed into it…hmm…I think I should have another bottle…damn!’ That’s right they forgot to include the sensitizer in my kit—but no worries—brilliant as I always am, I purchased a second set of emulsion, problem solved!…or so I thought…
I woke up bright and early Sunday morning (well since it was day-light savings time it was already afternoon) and set up to print.
Image on a transparency—check!
Bathroom Dark room set up—check!
Coffee brewing—double check!
I mixed and coated my screen with photo emulsion in my new darkroom (complete with red light) no problems there and left it to dry in the dark. And thought to myself—’wow this IS easy!’
I waited impatiently for 2 hours as the emulsion dried then transformed my dark room into an exposure room and here is where I
began to learn—FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS! I had read that you needed a 150 watt lamp, the desk lamps at target were only 40 watts, I figured it would just take a little longer and if it was still emulsing I could let it set up outside—well it rained, a lot, and my screen was still in my bathroom 4 hours later…emulsing. When it finally came out I think I accidentally wiped off too much emulsion from the back (not to self, do not try to speed but the drying process by wiping with a towel). Some more waiting went by and I tried my first print—I mean how bad could it be the the burn looked like my stencil—sort of…
Bad, it oculd be bad….I both my prints came out fuzzy with streaks in places where the emulsion didn’t stick, I tried several using different ‘flooding’ techniques, different amounts of pressure on the squeegee and different paper—all with the same result–‘Hey! That’s not what I pictured in my head!’ Frustrated I cleaned up—this screen had just taken-over my bathroom for over 5 hours, covered me in ink and made my kitchen a disaster and only to yield no prints…I went to bed grouchy and impatient to find a way to fix that stupid screen.
Luckily with a clear head, some more coffee, and a bottle of screen filler I managed to salvage my prints—I painted all the parts the emulsion missed with a very small brush and when it dried the screen actually worked great! There will be more prints up soon, I plan to do a larger—better aligned print run this weekend :).