Category Archives: screenprinting

customers

For me, one of the best things about selling my wares directly at markets is that you can build up a nice relationship with customers, who sometimes come back more than once and/or tell their friends about you.

I received these photos via WhatsApp from two repeat customers this morning, both of whom collected their goodies yesterday at the Country Craft Market in Somerset West.

The round patchwork cushion joins a few other patchworky things made by me on Martina’s bed, but I think it looks cute on the chair, too. The gold butterflies were a special request, on king-size pillow cases, and I need to print more – Christine says she needs duplicates for when these two are in the wash!

It’s a slow slow Sunday here: the sun is shining and there’s a nice breeze, and I was going to get some sewing and some writing done – but I woke up with a bad headache and a sore throat, so decided to embrace the chance to rest up. I went back to bed with coffee and biscuits and my book (Josephine Tey, just to mix things up a bit!) and am shortly going to pop some ingredients into the slow cooker to make this recipe from a wonderful book sent to me by Kathryn:

recipe

Hope you’re all having an excellent Sunday :)

getting by

When big, stressful things in life threaten to overwhelm me (especially when two or three of them coincide), I have to go looking for small morsels of pleasure, things to be grateful for, as affirmation that the world isn’t a volcano of shit about to erupt!

So today, we have (1) work: I have been commissioned to make a 3 by 3 metre patchwork bedspread by a Swiss woman who particularly wants guinea fowls and proteas dotted around (because who doesn’t LOVE South African stuff!?), but I’m also using some other designs of my own. I’m having fun with printing today.

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(2) Ripe granadillas from the front garden. Just perfect. And a few hundred more, close to readiness…

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(3) Zimbabwean flame lilies from Shona’s garden, with roots, ready for a bit of nurturing. If nothing else manages to do well here (and our water restrictions have just been upped another notch – Cape Town only has sufficient water for another 85 days -gak!), surely these will?! I’m not going to list any of the plants that have given up the ghost in the last couple of weeks, because this is a POSITIVE post.

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(4) and if all else fails — false nails!

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more experiments

My friendly local screenprinter, Gareth at I Love Screen Printing, tells me that there is hope for my buggered-up screen. There is some special stripper I can buy, apparently, but that will have to wait til next week: my days go pear-shaped quite often, plus I’ve already moved on to the next experiment:

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I traced the design onto the screen with a soft pencil, then went over the lines with powder paint (mixed with water, obvo!) and let it dry. In this **%#@ hot weather we’re having here, it took all of 5 minutes :(

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Then I carefully painted over the rest of the screen with the dreaded blue block-out  (this was after Gareth had told me about the stuff that will save my screens).

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Left it to dry overnight, then washed the whole thing. The idea is that the powder paint will wash away, leaving a beautiful clear design.  hmmmm, well, that only sort of happened.

The dried block-out bits were all soft and wrinkly round the edges, and tried very hard to peel themselves off the screen as I worked on it with a sponge. I tried digging at them with a toothpick then an earbud and eventually a scalpel, but there was no disguising that this was another balls-up.  What did not help the situation one bit was that Jessy’s cat litter tray is also in the bathroom where I was faffing around with the screen, and she snuck up behind me and laid the stinkiest foulest dropping of her entire life.  Eventually, I left the screen standing next to the bath and went to bed, disgusted and cursing.

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Next morning, however, the blue stuff had dried hard and crisp.  Yo! There was only one thing to do – I grabbed some sandpaper (always useful to have a couple of squares lying around), and actually sandpapered my screen! The professionals would have laughed themselves silly, I’m sure, and it certainly isn’t ideal, but I was determined to get something out of all this effort !!

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So, it’s not quite what I had in mind, but I quite like the rough textured look (!). At least, that’s what I tell myself. Market Rabbit is just in that pic for added interest, by the way.

Anyhow, it’s possible that I will soon stop with the block-out experiments and switch to using emulsion, like normal people.  Doreen gave me some screenprinting mesh that she’d found in the back of her cupboard, and Rob is very keen to help me make some wooden frames for the screens. Aren’t you, dear?

 

not so clever after all

After the success of the first experiment, I moved on to the second one with all the forethought of a pig jumping off a cliff.  I painted my design onto the screen with modge podge (thinking it would easily peel off when dry).

modge podge

Then I filled the screen with block-out, a really good thick layer, and let it dry outside overnight.

screen filler

First mistake.  I’d laid such a thick layer of filler that the excess seeped through to the other side of the screen and dried in big fat pimples.

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That alone would have made it unusable. But wait, there’s more – thinking I could at least salvage one aspect of the experiment,  I tried to peel off the dried modge podge. Second mistake. Dried modge podge on a screen mesh does not peel off no matter how hard you try.

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Okay, bloody bugger, but still not the end of the world. I could wash all the stuff off and try something else, because modge podge and block-out are water soluble, right? Wrong. I’ve soaked it in the bath for hours, scrubbed it with Vim and acetone and washing soda, cursed at it, kicked it a couple of times for luck, but nothing. Unless I can find some kind of special chemical remover, this is now a permanently stuffed-up screen.

So, what can I take away from this fail?  Don’t experiment with a brand-new screen; test out a theory on a scrap of mesh first. Like when you think it might be a good idea to use Nair on your upper lip instead of just your legs?- test it first on your inside wrist. If the skin revolts within two seconds, you’ll know you just saved your face from disaster.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing :-)

block out

I read about a screenprinting technique where you use powder paint to apply your design to the screen, and then bituminous paint as a screen filler.  I scoured the hardware shops for the right paint, but nothing seemed anything like what the author had used.  Googling and YouTube led me to products made by Speedball and Jacquard in the US, but none of the online stores delivered exactly what I wanted to South Africa.  Not even Amazon, the rats.

I had to wait for the 4th of January to contact local screenprinting suppliers because they were all closed for the week between Christmas and New Year.  Mighty frustrating. When I want something, I tend to want it right now, so this was a real test of my patience…

Anyway, to cut this short, I managed to find a place in Maitland that stocks Saati products imported from Italy. The most likely thing was stuff called Block-Out, but the guy couldn’t be sure that it would work like my book suggested.  Only one way to find out!

I laid the blank screen over the image I wanted and, using quite a fine paintbrush for the fiddly bits and a thicker one for the big bits, painted out the background with the block-out.  I let it dry overnight.

saati    drying

I hadn’t realised that the block-out would penetrate the screen enough to make the paper underneath stick to it, which is what that white stuff is. Lesson learned!

Here is the first print:

red bird

I was really pleased with this, but if you look closely you can see two tiny areas where I’d missed bits.  Second lesson learned.

This block-out stuff is water-solvent, so I was worried that it would all wash away under the tap when I cleaned the ink off the screen after printing – in which case, this process would be the opposite of useful – but it didn’t…happy dance :-)  The screen definitely looks pretty mucky, though:

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but I ignored the muck and made another print, which turned out just dandy:

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While all this was being done, I had another idea about how to make a positive instead of a negative along similar lines. I’ve prepared the screen and it’s drying outside tonight, so if the idea works you’ll get another scintillating post tomorrow.
xx