Friday, February 12, 2010

Deconstructed Screen Printing

I really put the new wet studio through its paces this week with a lengthy session of DSP. This is a process that takes me a long time to prepare for, execute and complete. I'm hoping that with practice I can streamline the whole operation but in the meantime, it's still a week-long event. (This post isn't going to be a tutorial on this process, but for really excellent information on DSP and how to achieve it, I recommend watching any videos by Kerr Grabowski, the Mother of DSP, or reading Rayna Gillman's book, Create Your Own Hand-Printed Cloth.)

On Monday morning, I began my prep work. I cut, pre-washed, soda-soaked, drip-dried and ironed the cotton muslin I'd be using, including some extra scraps of muslin. The scraps would catch monoprints of the materials I use to give texture and character to the screens (more on those in a minute).

I mixed and thickened my dye colors...

... prepared my screens and the items I'd be using to create the texture on them...

... laid out extra soda-soaked scraps to catch monoprints...

... and used my favorite trick for making more horizontal working space: I covered over one of my husband's giant lawn and leaf garbage cans with a huge piece of three-ply cardboard covered in plastic. (In this photo, it's also covered with my dying drop cloth- previously soaked in soda ask, of course)...


(When I need even more space, I place a second piece of cardboard, cut to size, on top of the laundry sink.)

In the past, I've had difficulty setting the dyes on my DSP work because they dry too quickly, so this time in addition to pre-soda soaking my fabrics, I also borrowed a tip that artist Rayna Gillman offered over on the Dyer's List: I used water already mixed with soda ash to make my clear print paste.

Finally, I flooded my screens with thickened dyes, and upended them on plastic cups to let them dry overnight.

After I've used the bubble wrap, craft paper and other items to flood my screens with dyes, I turn them over onto prepared fabric and gently rub until the dye on them has been transferred to the fabric below.


Bright and early Tuesday morning, I was back at it and worked throughout the day to discharge all four screens onto my prepared fabric. 


I'm trying to work larger than I used to, so two of the fabric pieces were quite large, measuring about 39" x  54". The other four pieces were half that size.

A couple of the screens had enough interest left in them before scrubbing them out, that I screen printed with the last of my thickened dyes onto a couple of large sheets of white paper.


These were so much fun that suddenly, I can see myself doing a series on JUST paper soon.

As I mentioned, I've had a lot of difficulty getting the dyes to set when I DSP and it's frustrating to watch all my time and effort wash down the drain in the first rinse. As well as taking the double precaution of adding soda ash to both the fabric and the print paste, I also let the fabrics both batch over night and get a good, long steaming on the stove. 

My results were not bad and I've learned as much this session about improving this process for myself as I did the first few times I tried it. 

After several weeks of non-stop work, it's time to take a small break. This weekend my husband and I have a 4-day staycation planned during which we will sleep in, watch the Olympics and eat more than we should. We'll also be keeping warm and dry.

Hope you are doing the same. Happy creating!
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