Wednesday, December 07, 2011

diy screen printing, pt. 3 - lessons in problem solving

I was so on top of everything all quarter. Everything except one thing: making these little zines or artist books that I proposed I would make for a project. At first they went along perfectly with the photographs I was making, but then my work shifted a little and they didn't seem as relevant. Still, I very much wanted to make them. I just kept putting it off. I would work on the stories, and the layout of the books (I was thinking of them as zines but I think now they are more of a little handmade book...the title is irrelevant, I suppose). But I didn't get around to printing them. Screen printing them, to be exact. I LOVE to screen print. I just learned how earlier this year and I am really excited about all of the screen printing possibilities in my future. However, it's kind of a big commitment compared to say, inkjet printing them.

I had it all figured out though. I was completely finished with everything else, so I would simply do all my screen printing this past weekend, just in time for finals week. Then I was sick for a few days. Time was running out! Monday, I got to work. It did not go smoothly. First, the light bulb in my "exposure" lamp burned out...after only about 3 hours of use total since I bought it! It went out Monday night, after I finally had everything ready to go. I went to bed.

Tuesday morning, I woke up and went to the hardware store first thing to replace the bulb. Funny thing: there are only really serious handy people at the hardware store at 8 am on a Tuesday. I was looking pretty girly in a pink jacket and rain boots, and buying a poinsettia plant and light 8 a few strange looks! But I had been meaning to get a poinsettia plant so I took the opportunity when it came to me! haha The new package says the bulbs will last 2,000 hours apiece! Um, what! I was so furious. The previous bulb had come with my lamp and like I said lasted ~3 hours...was it like those batteries that come with stuff and only last 1/4 as long as regular batteries, I wondered? I got home and changed the bulb, only to discover that the one that CAME with my lamp, was the WRONG voltage! Seriously! Super dangerous! It was 130 V while the lamp CLEARLY read in all capital letters, don't use a bulb over 120 V! I got back to work.

I'm not going to lie, my photo emulsion was expired, by 3 weeks. It had been refrigerated the entire time, though, and I thought 3 weeks would not be a big deal...turns out, it was a big deal. If you are reading this because you searched "DIY screen printing, etc., etc." (I know people are searching that and finding me from my stats--that's cool, welcome, maybe I can teach you what not to do today!), do not used expired emulsion. Just don't do it. Okay, I KNOW emulsion is expensive, and I know maybe the nearest place you can buy it is 10 miles away (okay, that was me) and it's raining and you just don't want to drive across town, but you're going to regret it if you use it. What happened, you ask? Well, it just never hardened all the way. When I would wash out my screen, the front would look fine, but the back would look hardened but then become sticky from the wash out water. Maybe if I had increased my exposure time from 25 minutes to 1 hour, it would have worked, but do you have 1 hour to test that out, and then to burn your screen every time? If you do, by all means, try it.

So I finally replaced my emulsion, got home, got back to work, and the rest went pretty well. I did not finish all three of my books. I only finished one, in an edition of 8. But that's okay, I have the pages all ready to go on transparency for the others and maybe I'll get to them next week, or maybe next quarter. I'll be in a studio class devoted to screen printing 6 hours a week next quarter, so I should be able to knock them out no problem.

My home screen printing studio is still pretty sweet, despite its initial hiccups. This was my third time to use it since I got everything set up (almost 5 months ago), I will shamefully admit. I am planning to use it all the time now, though, so get ready! If you've been wondering what sorts of new products will be in my Etsy shop in the next month or so, screen printing might have something to do with it, *hint, hint*! I am working on a small winter collection to start things off, so stay tuned...that's all the spoiler information you get for now.

In my next post, I will show you the actual handmade books I was printing!

Also, coming up this Friday, December 9 to Wednesday, December 20: My 12 days of Christmas! This is the time I have in between school ending and going to visit my family for Christmas, and I'm going to do one Christmas activity per day and post about it. It's going to be amazing! Cookie baking, looking at Christmas lights, making ornaments, and the list goes on...I will be posting lots of photos and DIY tutorials!


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! I know the feeling of frustration when technical/arty projects are just not going easily. I'm so glad you finally got there though! I can't wait to see your books. Screen printing is one of those things that I've always wanted to learn, but my studio is in the main area of our home, and I don't want to mix kiddos with chemicals. Though I've heard there's some kind of photo sensitive paper you can use for screen printing now?

Kristen said...

I know, isn't it the worst!?

I have heard of the emulsion sheets! I haven't used them but it seems like a good way to go if they work well. I don't know what the removal process is, athough,. I remove my emulsion with a special emulsion remover, simple green, or bleach. Luckily the inks available now are water based, so they are easy to clean and not as toxic as they used to be. It is a really messy activity though, unfortunately. And my bathtub has a red ring around it today as a result of washing everything in there! I put bleach on it but it's going to take some comet or something to get it out. Ugh! I hope you can learn it one day, though, it is super fun when things turn out right and you get the finished product you were hoping for!

It's Me, Tamara! said...

Very cool and very much something I'm not sure I could do. My mom has all sorts of amazing projects like this one. I'm very much looking forward to your 12 days of Christmas too!

Sarah O'Holla said...

Oh man, you were totally having one of "those" days. I am fascinated by all of the equipment artists use to make their art! I think it's super cool:)

Kristen said...

I know, those days stink! But they are valuable learning experiences. Thanks about the art stuff...I am constantly fascinated by it myself! hehe

ajay said...

Wow, great article, I really appreciate your thought process and having it explained properly, thank you!

Screen print