So I have seen a few people use silkscreen prints to create amazing prints on clay. I wanted to give this a go but being me I didn't like the idea of using a design anyone could get a hold of. I like everything to be me and my design.
So a year later and after lots of research, I decided it was not going to happen but then I found an easy way to create a screen print. Without the complexity of making a screen print from scratch.
How? I used my Cricut machine to cut a vinyl stencil and then bought a cheap screen. I then stuck the stencil on the clay.
I choose a simple design as knew anything too complex and intricate wouldn't work with the vinyl. So I choose a spot design because of the collection of Ice Cream Sundae so I thought it would be alike a sprinkle effect on top which I liked. So then I proceeded. With paint, glitter, mica paste and gilded leaf.
Wow, I loved it! I loved the possibilities. I loved the effect. Once the collection was done and launch it kept on my mind. I wanted more. More options of design and more intricacy.
Research. So I dived straight back into research and found a kit online. EZ Screen. From America which made me a little uneasy. But after lots more reading I took the plunge and ordered.
This kit basically comes with everything you need to print and expose a design in too photosensitive silkscreen and thus creating a silkscreen stencil.
So now probably the reason you clicked on the article.
How to make a silkscreen print?
Ez Screen had a really great Youtube video on how to use the kit. As a dyslexic who struggles to read instructions was very helpful for me.
So with the video as a guide, I started.
1. Printing the acetate;
The first thing that is needed is to print a design on specially coated acetate. I had drawn some flowers into my sketchbook and then digitised them onto procreate and then made them into a pattern.
So I printed this on to acetate.
Mistake 1: I meticulously went over the print settings but then neglected to check the scale.
So the image was very small on the corner. But I was hoping it could still work.
2. Exposing the screen;
Then it is time to expose the screen. Still being guided by the video. I have a lamp I got with the kit but it was a gloriously sunny out so I decided to use the sun to do the exposure.
I clipped it into the exposure unit. Which is effectively a piece of glass and a piece of black felted card. I used a piece of cardboard to protect it from the sun on the way in and out of the house, as guided by the video.
I set the timer for 2mins and lifted the cardboard. Once the time had elapsed I replaced the cardboard on top.
3. Water emersion;
Once I returned to the house I removed the silkscreen and submerged it in water. I left it there for 15mins. I then returned I gently shook the screen and then washed it while brushing the screen. At this point, I was worried as I couldn't see much. I lifted it to the light I could see a faint pattern I then left it to dry.
4. Testing the stencil;
I returned and I could see that it didn't look right. But I tested it anyway. And yes it was a big old fail. Nothing came out.
Mistakes and reflections;
I made a few mistakes I decide as I was thinking through the process.
Printing- I printed it way too small.
Lines- The lines need to be thicker
The bathroom where I submerged it in water was way too light
Fear not this is not the end. As I had previously mentioned I am obsessed. I reflected and I don't let mistakes stop me from trying again.
I had another beautiful day of sun and an empty schedule for the day so I took my moment.
This time I made 100% sure the print settings and the lines were thicker. I repeated the steps above. I put the acetate and the silkscreen in the unit. I was exposed to the sun. I took it to a now very dark bathroom, I submerged it in water and left 15mins.
When I returned I knew this was it! I could see a light version of the image. In the video, they say ghost image. I then shook it a little and washed it which brushing. While doing this I could see the image becoming more clear. I held it up to a little light I had in there so I could at least see a little. (I am way too clumsy to be pitch darkness!) and I saw the line was as good as they were going to get.
I left it to dry and then let it dry in the sun to set which I will admit is a step I left out the first time but it wouldn't have made a difference to the outcome.
Testing! I then had the fun part of testing.
I stuck it down to some card and got my acrylic paint. I then scraped it down the stencil. I then got distracted so a few moments, which was a mistake because acrylic paint dries fast so when I removed the stencil it had stuck somewhat to the paper. But I could see the design had mostly worked. I could see potential here.
I then wash the stencil and let it dry. I tried again. I did not let myself get distracted and once I brought the paint down the stencil I was quick but careful to remove the stencil.
Success! It looked so great. there was a few little areas that weren't perfect. but I can see maybe those lines should have been thicker still but I can confidently say I can repeat this process. I couldn't be happier.
I will design a print and create a screen print for my next collection whether that's this summer or next Christmas that remains to be seen. But the possibilities are endless and I can't wait! So keep an eye out for some amazing prints coming soon!