Highway 21/31 Serigraph Progress

A while ago-prior to the pen and ink stipple drawings of the birds-I started a new serigraph (silkscreen) print based on a photo I took in downtown Atmore of the intersection of Hwy 21 (Main Street) and Hwy 31 (Nashville Ave). At the time I thought it might make a good 4 color silkscreen print on paper and I proceeded to do the preliminary computer work of making the value separations and getting them saved as PDF files in a size I wanted to print. Later on I got the 4 PDF value images printed on paper and soaked these copies in vegetable oil to make the paper less opaque, for burning the screens.

Then shortly before I got sidetracked with the stipple birds I burned my four value images on 4 metal framed screens that I had purchased the year before at a screen printing supplier in Kennesaw, Georgia. It was much easier to buy the $20 screens than to go through the rigorous hassle of building and stretching my own screens in the shop. This takes a lot of time and materials, not to mention the cost of the screen mesh as well. The “ready -to-go” metal screens seemed like a good idea!

Earlier this week I got my first color mixed and yesterday I began to print that first color onto my 20 sheets of Rives BFK printmaking paper. I didn’t get very far when I realized something was amiss! Something different! Something very frustrating! The screens would not press down close enough onto the paper when I squeegeed the ink across. The screen was stretched so taut, and the image was so close to the edge of the frame, the mesh would not press down at the edges, even with all my strength and nearly breaking the rubber squeegee. This was not right! I had to abort the printing session and figure out what the problem was or I would just ruin ALL my paper. I already had messed up 8 sheets when I decided to stop.

After closely examining all the parts I have figured out that the screens are just stretched way too taut for printing on paper the way I am trying to do it. They will work fine for tee shirts. Tee shirts are printed on a different press and the screens are put down almost touching the empty shirt before squeegeeing. My paper printing is going to require that I hand build and hand stretch my own frames, probably a little larger also, so there is plenty of space between the edge of the image and the frame. More work and more expense, but I still am enjoying it. Just a little set back!

See the video of my printing attempt below.

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  1. Ahh, the problems of the artist. You will become the engineer and solve it. Good luck.

  2. Haha. Yes, I often feel more like the engineer than the artist. I’ve been reading some J.D. Salinger and have been rethinking the role of an artist. In general he’s not so concerned about WHAT he does as HOW he does it that counts.

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