Fool’s Day Out at East London Printmakers- Part 1

28 Jul

Today I took a break from the hectic life of a Playworker for the comparative calm of the printer’s workshop.

After nearly 7 months of printing Foolishly with nothing but the cheapest and most DIY of resources, the scraps of things I could remember from A-Level art and whatever trial and error taught me on the way, I’ve spent the day learning from the pros and loved it.

The East London Printmakers are a community of printers based in a shared large workshop space just off Mare Street in Hackney, They’ve got all the printing equipment that you could ever want (but I had no idea how to use); light boxes, photo emulsion, magic light box with a vacuum seal that exposes your screen….and more! (as you can tell, I now know how to use these things but haven’t yet picked up the lingo).

So, in today’s workshop, that ran from10am-4.30pm, we learnt how to expose screens and all about registration; two chunks of knowledge entirely missing from my printing experience so far. We were told to bring two A4 tonal images (black, white and grey only), either photocopies or on acetate. I chose Chappers of course. These are the originals…

We started the day by each coating a screen with photo emulsion. We left them to dry in a dark room. Then we each (there were 6 of us) set to work deciding what bits of our pictures we wanted what colours. The print out of the picture at the top had come out a lot darker than this original. I decided to make his face cream while keeping his eyes white. I did this by placing the acetate image on a light box, placing paper on top and tracing round the shape of Chaplin’s face. I also traced his eyes. I cut both his face shape and eyes out. I discarded the background and threw out his eyes, keeping only his face shape. The paper face shape and the original image on the acetate were both exposed onto the screen. If you have no idea what I’m talking about so far, this slightly annoying yet insightful video will help.

Once both of those elements were burnt onto the screen through the exposure process, I was ready to print. I used news paper and parcel tape to temporarily cover the original image that was now on the screen. I taped a piece of plastic to the bench but only along one side. I mixed my creamy colour (you mix the colour you want using acrylic paint, and then add screen printing medium, which stops the acrylic from drying too fast). I then printed my first image onto the plastic sheet. I could then place my paper under the printed plastic sheet and work out where I wanted the design to sit on the page. Once I made my mind up I used masking tape on the bench as a guide for where each sheet of paper should go. I then printed 4 copies of this cream face shape.

While they were drying I washed the squeegee I’d used to print, took off all the tape and newspaper and put it in the bin, and washed the screen so there was no paint left on it. Then I covered the part of the screen I’d just printed through with newspaper, ready to print the black top layer of the original image. Again I printed on the plastic first. I could then put the sheets with the face shape on under the plastic and find out where the paper needed to be in order for everything to line up properly. This is registration. Discovering the plastic sheet today was a revelation. So I lined up and printed the top image on all 4 pictures. Here is my finished piece…

After that success, I decided to go all adventurous on the second image. I did everything as before except this time I printed 3 colour layers, yellow, blue and red as well as the black image on top. The plastic registration technique was pure genius and it didn’t take as long as I thought it would. My finished picture looks like this…

I’m so pleased with it and I had such a brilliant day. I’m looking forward to printing on fabric at next week’s workshop and to putting these techniques to good use!


2 Responses to “Fool’s Day Out at East London Printmakers- Part 1”

  1. dancinglikeacarrot August 2, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    These prints look amazing! Nice job.


  1. Fool’s Prints 1 year on « Fool's Prints - January 2, 2011

    […] prints work as I became a full-time Playworker for the holidays. But I also attended a  print workshop and a book binding workshop at East London Printmakers’ Studios. ELP is a brilliant place. I […]

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