The dozen silk screens I ordered from Lynn Krawczyk arrived last night and I've spent the whole morning playing with them.
I know that silk screening is "nothing new" to a lot of people, but being able to work so easily and effectively with perfect renditions of my own images is a new thrill to me.
Let me first say that Lynn was absolutely awesome through this process. When I started talking to her about Thermofax screens, I knew very little about how to create clear, crisp imagery to burn onto the screens, and knew only a little more about how to actually use the finished screens.
She took a huge amount of time in educating and guiding me and now that I've had a chance to play with these beauties, I am even more grateful to her for being so meticulous.
To give myself plenty of time to practice, I started with paper that had previously been painted.
Back in my painting days, I off-loaded a lot of paint from my brushes, palette knives, stencil materials and stamps onto many sheets of paper.
I saved all those "neutral" background papers, knowing that one day more could be done to them to make them interesting and useable.
While these prints are hardly art, I can see many of them being used in my collage work.
I used both the Tulip Screen Printing Paints Lynn sent along (thank you, Lynn!) and some of my own Versatex screen printing ink.
I was particularly fond of the fine-tipped squeeze top on the Tulip paints... they made it very easy to squeeze the paint out into the duct tape well (thoughtfully provided by Lynn) in small, controllable amounts.
I used a large palette knife from the hardware store to pull the prints.
One of the things I found really important to keep in mind was something Lynn had told me about using screens that contain a lot of very fine lines: use a gentle touch! She was absolutely right.
I also found it really important to not only keep tight control of the angle at which I held my palette knife as I pulled the print, but also to watch the bead of ink rolling under the knife to make sure I didn't lay the ink down too quickly.
I needed to be sure I didn't smoosh too much paint down into those fine lines, or the whole image would have blurred.
While I didn't dawdle too long (thereby not allowing the ink to dry on the screen), I didn't rush the process either.
Next to my elbow, I kept a shallow, flat container of water about two inches deep. When I was done with a screen, I laid it flat in the water and swished it around a little to make sure it was fully submerged.
This kept the inks and paints that remained in the screens from drying out until I could take them all to the sink at once and wash them.
Never let ink or paint to dry in a screen because it will clog the mesh of the screen, making it impossible to use again.
When I was finished with my printing session, I took all the screens to the sink and washed them very gently with a soft sponge, some dish detergent and cold water.
I'm totally hooked, and I can see myself using these again and again for years to come, as well as spending a lot more time, effort (and money) to create and use even more screens in the future.