Last week I did some screen printing at Factory 4 in Leeds. I turned this drawing of a big mans forlorn looking face into a screen and made lots of prints.
If you haven’t done any screen printing before, it’s all a rather magical process that continues to excite me. I have nearly no idea at all about how the chemicals and lights and stuff do what they do, but the results are ace and since there’s some waiting time you can stand around, drink coffee and enjoy a chinwag with other printing people. I was pleased to be accompanied by the lovely Owen of or8 Design.
You may not have noticed, but the original big face man has no cheeks (specifically no pink/ red cheeks) and I decided I would like his printed doppelgangers to have cheeks. In the pic above you can see the man on one page and his cheeks hanging out next to him. I used half the screen for each image, as it’s entirely possible to print one part at a time, as long as you get tape happy to protect the side you don’t want to print yet.
To make the screen, you coat it with a light sensitive emulsion paint, then you let it dry. The next step is to expose it to an intensive light that would be too powerful for even the most committed sunbed worshipper. You put the images onto the lightbox and the screen on top of them, then you close the lid, creating a strong vacuum and you put it on a timer.
When the lightbox process is finished, you wash off the emulsion, let the screen dry and Bob’s your uncle – you’re ready to print!
Mix your ink with the stuff that makes it stick, called the medium (not the psychic kind). I think the mix is about 70:30 ink to medium. In my small experience you don’t have to be too precise about the mix, you can always add more of either component if you need to.
Here’s the screen I made. I printed the cheeks first.
To pull the ink across your screen you use a tool that sounds like what it does – a Squeegee (officially a good word).
Once I had printed the cheeks, I washed and dried the screen while I waited for all the cheek sheets to dry, before setting the screen up again to print the dudes big face.
“Just some cheeks, looking for a face..”
And down here is one of the finished fellas!