Friday, 2 September 2011

It's been a productive Friday, and I'm completely spent

Today has been such a productive day - far more so than I anticipated.

I went to class, not sure how much I could achieve today.  I wanted to expose my silkscreens, but needed to copy my design onto A3 paper, and thought there was no paper in the copier (and I do not have a supply of my own yet). And I could not expose the screens without the paper. I needed 2 pieces of fabric to create two 1m square samples for next Thursday, but did not want to take 2 buses each way to Perth to buy some.  
Colour design 1
Colour design 2

Screen standing outside to dry (in the UK it would need to dry in a drying cabinet!)

So I investigated the copier, and someone had left about 6 sheets of A3 in the large paper tray, so I hastily used 2 of them for my two design versions.  I oiled them (yuk), and went to the exposure room.  I cleaned the glass, positioned my originals, put my emulsed screens on top and closed the lid.  I asked Mark, the technician to supervise the process because I am still scared of breaking the exposure glass.  I put the vacuum on, and swivelled the screen to face the exposure light.  I switched the light on and left the room while the screens exposed.  Once exposed, I returned the exposure glass to horizontal, and took the silkscreens to wash out the unexposed residue.  And being a super student (!) I cleaned the exposure glass of residue oil from my originals (after putting the oiled sheets in the bin).  I put the screens to dry, while I went to my tutorial.  All this achieved before 1030.  A good start to the day. 
Mark, our technician, hard at work

Exposing table in vertical position, screens held in place by vacuum pump.
Odd lighting because it is a safe light that won't pre-expose the light sensitive screen emulsion.

The exposure light on the other side of the room

On my return from tutorial, I asked Mark if the fabric in the store was for sale.  He said as it was an educational establishment, they were not allowed to sell it - this is different from University of Herts, where materials are available at close to cost price, and means basic materials beyond samples are available on site, and cheaper than buying at commercial outlets.  However, because I only wanted 1 meter of each, and he wanted some print tests done on two new fabrics, he gave me a metre of two different linens - one white, one beige.  (I did confirm I had paid my materials fee). 

I was really tempted to started printing in repeat, straight away onto fabric.  But for some reason, caution checked me, and I trialled my new silkscreens by printing two repeats on each of 6 sheets of paper.  I had an outline screen, and two screens with different shading of the honkey nuts (local name for eucalyptus).  I worked in different colourways, layering varying shades of blue, green and orange. 

This took about 4 hours, between blending colour, printing, print drying and screen washing and drying.  I varied both the colours used and tonal values.  Some worked very well, others were terrible.  But it reinforced that it was an afternoon well spent trialling colourways, before working onto  my metre samples.  I think I will try the white sample with turquoise outliner, slightly muddy lime green, and muddy lime green, and the beige sample with turqoise outliner, chocolate brown,  and muddy lime green.  It might sound an odd selection of colours, but once overlaid they look quite dramatic and I think the white background will look dramatic and the beige one might look quite subtle.  (Does not sound like it, but I think it will work).

And another reason for being glad I trialled onto paper, is that one of my screens is shedding its emulsion, and giving random splotches of colour outside of the design.  So on Monday, I need to start by cleaning and re-emulsing the screen, then re-exposing it (having copied the design onto A3 again, and doing the dreaded oiling yet again!)

There were about 6 students working in our free time in the workshop today.  And at least 4 of us had problems with the emulsion shedding from the screens.  I do wonder whether the last batch of emulsion was contaminated.  We have just started a new container of emulsion over the last day or two.  Because there are so many different students using the workshop, I know there is sloppy practice in a variety of actions.  (Today another class were working on batik, and were ironing the wax out of their fabric ... directly onto the ironing board that we all use.  So now there is melted wax on the fabric cover and the cover is stapled onto the ironing board frame!).  I wonder if people have been emulsing their silkscreens with natural light entering the emulsing room, and have thus started the emulsion reacting.  Although because the exposed emulsion is shedding from the silkscreens, I can't help but think it is more likely we have got grease on the screen, before emulsing.  Or is it is oiled paper when we expose the screens?

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