May 13, 2012


Awhile back I posted about the origins of my screen printing hobby and the creation of the printing station that I built (if you didn't see it, read it here first). 
    Once I built the station, I couldn't wait to try it out. However, since a garage isn't the most ideal workspace for a "print shop", I was going to have to be creative in how I actually went about the printing process in this place (with coating & drying the screens in the dark, exposing them, washing them, etc.) 
    After collecting the proper supplies —spray bottles, scrubbing brushes, garden hose, emulsion & coater, icing spatulas, and packaging tape— I put together a drying rack for storing and drying the screens.

Now I was ready to print. First I had to coat the screens with emulsion —a light sensitive goo that goes on the screen in order to make the stencil. I did one coat on each side, since I wasn't going to have a powerful enough way to blast out the stencil once I burned it (more on that in a bit).

Since the emulsion is light sensitive, you must coat them in minimal lighting. Ideally this would be in a shop, where you could control the lighting and then place them in a LIGHT-SEALED compartment, where they would dry over 24 - 48 hours.  Instead I had my garage for a shop and this for my "dark room":

A Lazyboy chair cardboard box. I would coat my screens, put them on the drying rack, and then slide them under this overturned box. I would then cover it with a giant black tarp (to keep out as much light as possible) and leave the screens in there to dry.

About 48 hours later, the screens were dry and ready to be exposed. Still working in the dark, I would remove the screens from the drying rack and prepare them for exposure. Here is a picture of me working in my darkroom.

Since I didn't have a light-table, I had to go all natural —using the sunlight. Here is my film positive (the image I want to print), attached to a piece of glass.

    I held this to against the front of the screen, as flat and tight as possible, and opened the garage door in order to let the light flood in and expose the screen as I held it out towards the sun (yea, I looked pretty ridiculous).     After about 70 seconds of exposure, I quickly went to work with the garden hose, soaking the freshly exposed screen, then spraying out the chunks of emulsion that didn't get exposed to the sun (so therefore, weren't hardened and dry, and would just wash away, leaving a place in the screen open for ink to pass through).

The screens are now ready to print! (I had two, just in case one didn't expose correctly.) 
Tune in later for part 3 : production. 


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