Screen Printing workshop

The benefits of creative activities have been the focus of several studies over the years proving that engaging in creative activities has multiple benefits to our mental health and physical wellbeing. When these activities take place within a social setting the gains grow substantially, not only on an individual level but also on a collective one. Hobbies, side projects, workshops are few great ways to get involved in the creative process and relish the associated benefits. Here at Red Badger we have a number of internal team building practices, one of them being our 'Social Budget' - a Red Badger initiative to support badgers socialise outside work. This initiative gives us the opportunity to hang out and participate in creative activities. One of the activities that got 'sponsored' by it was a Screen Printing workshop we did a while ago. The experience was brilliant; one I couldn't but write about for those of you who' d like to give it a go.

Here we are, the RB ladies proudly holding our artwork

Badgerladies
Badgerladies

Few words about Screen Printing - Background

According to Google:

screenprinting_google
screenprinting_google

Historically, screen printing was a form of stencilling that first appeared in China. It was largely introduced to Western Europe around the late 18th century but did not gain large acceptance or use until silk mesh was more available for trade from the east and a profitable outlet for the medium discovered.

Andy Warhol is among the pop artists that popularised screen printing as an artistic technique. One of his most famous paintings is Marylin Diptych shown below. This publicity photograph is from the 1953 film Niagara and Warhol made more than 20 silkscreen paintings of Marilyn Monroe based on the same photo.

moma_merilyn
moma_merilyn

What to expect from the workshop at Print Club London

The day kicks off with a warm welcome, a cup of tea and cookies. Your friendly instructor will briefly talk about the screen printing technique and what you will be doing on the day. You will hand over your artwork to a technician (images that you have saved on a .jpeg, .pdf, .psd) to edit in Photoshop and get the design ready for your screen.

Aprons are provided. I would highly recommend wearing them -how many times do you get the chance to look like a crazy scientist?-. Once you wear them you are ready for action.

This is where the magic happens. Ready? Go!

You will all gather in the Dark room to coat your screen with a light sensitive emulsion.

1_Applying emulsion
1_Applying emulsion

Once this is done you will leave the screen to dry. After a while you will join your instructor in another dark room with a massive exposure unit to expose your artwork to the screen.

2_Exposure unit
2_Exposure unit

You will place your image facing up and put the screen on top of it, turn on the vacuum until the blanket is tout and start the exposure timer. A couple of minutes later the image will be exposed to your screen. Worry not! your screen will look the same, i.e. blank; you will be able to see the image on your screen only after you've rinsed the excess emulsion away!

3_Rinsing the excess emulsion
3_Rinsing the excess emulsion

You will then let it dry outside -if weather permits- and head over for lunch.

4_Leaving them out to dry
4_Leaving them out to dry

--Lunch Break: Time for some yummy food around the area--

By the time you are back from lunch your screen will be dry. At this point you will have to use the tape and apply it to its edges to cover any pinholes you might spot on the screen.

5_Applying tape to the edges and pinholes
5_Applying tape to the edges and pinholes

Now you are ready to go. Off to the print bench!

6_Print bench
6_Print bench

Important step here is to attach the screen to the print bench and secure it to a fixed spot. You will then want to register the paper on the bench to ensure the image will be printed on the centre of your canvas. To do this you line up a scrap paper to the print and with a masking tape mark the spots where the canvas paper will be located (called registration marks).

You will choose a colour (or 2!) and apply a generous amount of paint across the width of the screen.

7_Applying a generous amount of ink
7_Applying a generous amount of ink

What you want to do next is cover the whole image with paint; you will do this by gently moving the ink upwards using the squeegee (a move called "Flooding"). Once the image is covered, you will push the squeegee downwards at a 60% angle. Make sure you apply enough pressure to ensure the ink is pushed through the mesh.

Ta da! Your print is ready! Remove it from the table and leave it to dry on the rack provided. You can carry on with the same process of Flooding and Printing as many times as you like (we had up to 6 official copies), with as many inks as you want!

When all printing is done, you will wash off the screen with high pressure water (yeap, it's fun!)

8_Washing off the screens
8_Washing off the screens

Once you are done with the cleaning, your instructor will hand over your artwork.

Mission accomplished. Off you go to show off and gift a few copies to your amigos.

Fun Facts

  • You get to dress like a crazy scientist
  • You play with water and paints
  • You will go home with 6 'ownmade' designs you will be proud of :)

And because as Badgers we are fans of communicating ideas through visuals, here is a beautiful illustration of the process described above.

How_to_Screen_Print_Squeegee_&_Ink
How_to_Screen_Print_Squeegee_&_Ink

Fancy being part of our team and join us for some fun stuff? Check out our job openings here and get in touch.