Before our play day, I decided to experiment with a product that my friend Kirry gave me. It's called Mask-Ease and you can see it here, as well as a stack of other places, including You Tube demonstrations. Basically, it's a system for putting a solid, reusable resist on a silk screen, without losing those pesky little bits or having to wash the screen for hours to remove it. I kept my design simple on purpose, because my paws don't always behave as they ought and part of the experiment was to see whether this process suited me. The yellow medium is very soft but I still found cutting the stencil slightly challenging and it took me several sessions. But if you have paws that behave properly, it would be a breeze!
And transferring the image, which had those little fiddly bits was just fantastically easy. The whole process is way easier than most other methods, so I'll certainly use this when I want to print with little fiddly details.
Here's what the Mask-Ease looks like on the screen. (This was actually taken after printing, hence the green tinge to the screen from the dye). The design is repeat in both directions, so I can use it on a large piece of cloth.
First, I tried the screen on paper. Printing with thickened dye on paper is never as sharp, as with printing inks or other media, but I wanted to see what the design looked like. It's a stronger line that I'd usually use but it looks pretty much as I expected, since I was keeping the design simple. The blurriness is just from the dye pooling on the cartridge paper, as it's such a wet medium.
OK on to printing fabric. Part of the point of this play day for me was to explore how thickened dyes differ from printing inks. I printed with yellow mixed with the blue from the earlier print. I didn't tape or pin the fabric firmly, as I wanted to break up those areas of strong colour.
OK, that worked. But the areas of white bugged me, so I overprinted with yellow using another screen I created back here. It broke up the white but in retrospect, yellow wasn't a good colour to use. That's fine, that's what this is all about...This will have a whole lot more happening to it, if it's going to be a useful piece of cloth. But then again it may just be a sample to experiment on..
Time was passing all too fast and I wanted to try out my other screen.
I made this one the night before, in front of the TV, using my wax screen resist from Batik Oetoro and a whole lot of bits and pieces like paper doilies, cotton reels, wooden craft shapes and the brush I keep for wax resist. Basically, I just stamped and painted around shapes and filled in with texture, all over the surface of the screen. It was more like we do for breakdown printing, but with the wax resist. Fun!
My first print as designed to be overprinted later, once it was dry, so I printed in yellow.
It's lovely and sharp, so you can really see how the screen looked, but it's fairly pale, of course.
For my second print, I added red to half the screen and allowed it to mix randomly with the yellow on the other half. I wanted to see how the colours blended, as this screen would also work for a larger piece of cloth with multiple repeats. I didn't allow myself to get distracted into printing yards of cloth though..
The screen was rather wet, by this stage, which makes me feel we need to thicken the medium rather more for this kind of printing. So I did two pulls to dry it out a bit.
They turned out as quite good prints too.
For my last experiment, I wanted to see what happens if you print wet on wet. You never do this with printing inks, but we've done it with breakdown printing and it goes back to my attempts to understand how dyed colours overlay each other and whether wet on wet is different to over dyeing later, after the first print has batched and been rinsed. First I printed in yellow, so it looked very much like the yellow print above. Then immediately, I moved the screen about 1cm offset and printed in orange. Then I turned the screen 180 degrees and printed in a magenta purple colour.
The colours interacted in interesting ways. Where the yellow and orange met, the yellow acted almost as a resist to the orange, pushing it out to the edges. When I printed with the purple, it turned brown in some places, as I expected, especially where the lines of colour were fine. But the orange and yellow also acted as a resist to the purple in places.While sometimes, the warm colours pushed the purple to the edge of the shape,in others, the purple actually over dyed the yellow. Frankly, it leaves me scratching my head (in a delighted kind of way). I've experienced this before with breakdown printing, with some colours resisting others, but that's such a harum scarum kind of printing process, it's hard to work out which colour is doing what!
As experiments go, it was a useful process and will be more so when I overprint the yellow piece and see how that differs. I can see that this kind of printing will be fabulous on my scarves and on large scale cloth prints. But I'm disappointed to see that, unless I get a whole lot better at predicting the interactions, I'm pretty much going to have to stick to printing inks on fabric, when I want a distinct outline in my colour layers and a lot of control.
Last of all, just for fun.. Maz brought along various print blocks and linocuts. She inherited this one from Mary Beeston (there's some pretty basic info here but just Google her) and it has seen hard use in its time.
It was one of three similar linocuts that belonged to Mary. I'm not sure what she did with them - images of her work are few and far between on the net - but it was fun to print from one of her blocks.
Maz also brought along a tree stamp, because the girls from Fibrecircle are working on the theme of Trees in our sketchbooks this year. I used it to stamp some trees onto a paper background I'd created when we were drying off the second screen.OK, that's going in the sketchbook!