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A long time coming!

Blog

A long time coming!

Rhian Mclaren

Welcome to my new blog. It has as my title says, been a long time coming. As well as keeping you posted on my latest news, I'll be sharing nice things I find, photographs of things and places that inspire me and whatever comes up in between!

For my first post I thought I'd share with you a little insight into the world of screen printing. Screen printing plays as big roll in what I do as a designer maker. It's a wonderful process which is unfortunately being overtaken by digital printing. 

It does of course require a lot more graft, and things won't always go the way you want them - but this is far outweighed by the beautiful results you can achieve and the satisfaction of knowing you have produced something by hand. 

For me, screen printing lets me take a very graphic design and soften it, producing geometric prints with a less clinical feel. 

Ever wondered what's involved? Here are some photo's I took whilst printing my latest collection, showing the process...

 

Colour separations printed onto acetates in preperation for exposing onto the screens. Screens are coated with a light sensitive emulsion and once dry are placed in a UV exposure until with the acetates underneath. The light fixes the emulsion to the screen, except where the black of the acetates block it out. 

Colour separations printed onto acetates in preperation for exposing onto the screens.

Screens are coated with a light sensitive emulsion and once dry are placed in a UV exposure until with the acetates underneath. The light fixes the emulsion to the screen, except where the black of the acetates block it out. 

The screen is then washed, removing the emulsion that hasn't been fixed, revealing the design - similar to a stencil. 

The screen is then washed, removing the emulsion that hasn't been fixed, revealing the design - similar to a stencil. 

Gum tape is used to ensure there are no gaps between the emulsion and screen frame, and screws are attached in readiness for aligning the screen.

Gum tape is used to ensure there are no gaps between the emulsion and screen frame, and screws are attached in readiness for aligning the screen.

A registration bar is fixed and will be used to align the screen before each print. The repeat is measured by placing the screen alongside the acetates, which tells us the distance required between each stopper. The registration bar will then be used to line up with the stoppers as it is moved along the table.

A registration bar is fixed and will be used to align the screen before each print.

The repeat is measured by placing the screen alongside the acetates, which tells us the distance required between each stopper. The registration bar will then be used to line up with the stoppers as it is moved along the table.

My fabrics are printed using Procion Dyes, which penetrate the fibers of the fabric.  Small amounts of powder are weighed using scales, before being mixed with Manutex paste.

My fabrics are printed using Procion Dyes, which penetrate the fibers of the fabric.  Small amounts of powder are weighed using scales, before being mixed with Manutex paste.

Achieving the desired colour can take time, as the printed colour must be steamed and washed before the true colour is revealed.   

Achieving the desired colour can take time, as the printed colour must be steamed and washed before the true colour is revealed. 

 

Once dry the test sample can then be steamed and washed.  The results then form the basis of your next batch of tests, and so on...for this collection I spent 2 days testing colours! 

Once dry the test sample can then be steamed and washed. 

The results then form the basis of your next batch of tests, and so on...for this collection I spent 2 days testing colours! 

One colour is printed at a time, alternating along the table, allowing the colour to dry before printing the panels in between.

One colour is printed at a time, alternating along the table, allowing the colour to dry before printing the panels in between.

Multiple colourways can be printed along the same length of fabric for minimal waste.

Multiple colourways can be printed along the same length of fabric for minimal waste.

Once dry, the fabric is then enveloped in a clean sheet in preparation for steaming.  It is important to protect the fabric from any possible drops of water, as until it has been set by the steam, the print will run. 

Once dry, the fabric is then enveloped in a clean sheet in preparation for steaming. 

It is important to protect the fabric from any possible drops of water, as until it has been set by the steam, the print will run. 

The fabric is then hung from the steam carousel, with the print facing inwards.

The fabric is then hung from the steam carousel, with the print facing inwards.

The fabric is steamed for 30 minutes, and then washed to ensure any excess dye is removed.  

The fabric is steamed for 30 minutes, and then washed to ensure any excess dye is removed.  

Printed, steamed, washed and good to go! 

Printed, steamed, washed and good to go!