What goes on in the print studios on campus?
If you’re a local you may sneak a peek into the windows as you walk from one part of the campus to the other. Here is a little of the magic that happens in the screenprint (serigraph) studio. Printmaking is a technical process and the students are learning not only the technical aspects of the process, but also how to solve problems when they encounter a challenge.
Preparing an idea for a print.
Once an idea is worked out, the paper needs to be cut to size.
Individual sheets then need to be registered so that the image is printed in the same place on each sheet. Each layer of the image will also be printed in the correct place using this particular method (pins and tabs).
Stencils, or film positives, can be made in various ways. By hand using a black marker as in this example, Or…
… rubylith. Or…
… a halftone prepared on the computer and printed out on a transparent film.
Photographic images can also be created by splitting an image into four colours: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK). These are just a few methods for preparing film positives.
Frames with a fabric mesh stretched over them are what constitutes a screen printing screen. Here the screen is being degreased to prepare it for coating.
Once the screen is cleaned and dried, it is coated on both sides with a UV light sensitive emulsion.
Students are checking the instructions to ensure the proper operation of the vacuum frame and the OLEC Lamp.
Film positives are set on the vacuum frame bed. Here two film positives are used for each screen to make efficient use of the screens.
The emulsion coated and dried screens are set on top of the film positives.
A narrow cord is used to create a break or channel for the air to be drawn out from between the inside of the frame and the glass bed.
The vacuum is then turned on to draw the air out of the bed to hold the frames in place. Once the air is drawn out the bed can be raised and the OLEC lamp moved into position.
After the timer is set, a curtain is drawn and the lamp does it’s work to harden the emulsion on the screen.
When the lamp is finished it’s job, the screens are moved to the washout sink to wash out the emulsion that was protected from hardening by the film positives. This creates the area that the ink will then be able to pass through to create prints.
Once the screens are washed out, they are set to dry.
Areas, including the edges and/or small pin prick holes, will be taped off to prevent ink from seeping onto the print where it is not wanted.
The screen is then set up at a print station. NIC has two vacuum tables and two other stations where Brush Tac can be used.
Printing at the vacuum tables.
Printing and set up at a non-vacuum table station.
NIC also has a parallel press for screenprinting. The student is working on registering their print so that each print and layer in the run will be aligned and the same.
Demonstration prints in the drying rack.
Other effects can also be achieved with different printing methods. Here a split fountain, or colour merge, is being printed. It takes anywhere from 5 to 12 prints before a merge is blended.
A split fountain print.
Brush Tac needs to be cleaned from the table surface after the printing is complete on a non-vacuum table station.
Dialogue between True-mouth and Greedy-goods, screenprint, edition of 14, 38 x 56 cm (15 x 22 in), 2018
The title comes from a 1637 book by Adriaen Roman,
Samen-spraeck tusschen Waermondt ende Gaergoedt. As an ethnically Dutch person I am also interested in the role of the Dutch in the development capitalism, colonialism, and the 16th to 19th century slave trade between Europe, the African continent, and the Americas.