#Print52 Week 3: Big & Small
Determined to understand how to print a seamless repeat (the screen print zig zag type), I spent two full days tinkering in Illustrator, on paper and finally on fabric. It was not time wasted. I now have two large pieces of white calico covered in a my little gum flower stamp pattern. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good start.
Understanding the ‘zig zag’ repeat:
Up until this week all of my pattern design efforts have involved creating seamless repeating pattern ’tiles’ for professional print services such as Spoonflower. These tiles it seems don’t work so well for screen printing, or at least for the newbie screen printer. Instead, screen printers should use ‘zig zag’ formatted pattern (tiles) as they help cover up any little registration errors. Knowing how bad I am at measuring and lining up anything I decided to try creating on in Illustrator.
My initial go was rubbish, so I went old school and tried paper.
After a little cut and tape, I discovered that it wasn’t such a big deal after all and that all I had to do was move a few of my motifs around to allow the ‘pattern’ to slot into the next piece.
You know, an overlapping type thing.
So I set about doing that and printed off copies to burn onto my screens.
(I only have an A4 printer, to make the artwork for the larger screen I had to cut and tape 4 x A4).
Exposure Time & Wash Out:
This week I decided to stick to 9 minutes exposure time for both screens because;
a) this week’s goal was to get the hang of the zig zag registration process, and
b) because I wanted know if I need to adjust exposure time according to screen size.
The jury is still out on that, but to my surprise the larger screen came out much better and with greater detail than the smaller one.
side bar: My large screen is an aluminium 43T screen (from Leapfrog Inkspot), and the small one a wooden framed, mesh a little loose, thread count (??) screen from a Speedball printing kit.
I think the main reason (I could be wrong) for this is because the photo emulsion actually sank into the screen (in a thin layer), whereas the emulsion sat on top of the small screen in a much thicker layer. Although I tried to rectify this before I put it away for drying it quite clearly didn’t work, because all of the motif’s finer details came off in chunks during wash off.
Yep, we have been and seen this before!
The larger screen wasn’t perfect either by any stretch. Instead of chunks washing off, I struggled to get rid of the weird pebble dash thing happening across some of the motifs.
Again, I think I know the reason for this one too.
I used different printer settings for my larger artwork which probably resulted in less ink on my print sheet. Well, that what it looks like when you hold the two versions up to the light.
Or, I need to run faster to the shower and go crazier with the water jet. Either way, it’s probably time I made friends with my local printer.
Registration & printing:
As much as I want to claim success first time I can’t; it would be a big fat lie.
To claim partial success would also be a big fat lie. In fact, my first attempt was so bad that the fabric I used is now earmarked for clean up rags.
So how did it go so horribly wrong?
I marked up my fabric using the same method as the previous week. Instead of marking up my artwork to overlap, I marked them up to lie next to each other. It resulted in huge gaps of emptiness. I know white space can be good, but not in this pattern.
After a little trip back into Illustrator to check my calculations, I had another go. My second attempt worked a charm. As did my third attempt with the larger screen.
It’s actually quite easy when you know how…
So what’s next?
I quite clearly have a very long way to go!
Other than fine tuning exposure time, nailing registration, and getting my finer detail to stay on my screen, I REALLY need to work on my slap dash attitude to artwork size and it’s placement on my screen before burning.
My smaller screen may have lost all of it’s fine detail and most motif’s edges were bludgy, but at least the artwork was correctly placed onto my screen. It was sized to allow room at the top and bottom of my screen for ink. Not the case with my larger screen. It had zero room top or bottom for ink.
Because, I totally forgot to create some.
To make the artwork for the larger screen all I did was copy the smaller screen artwork x 4, cut and tape it together and onto my larger screen. A slap-dash rookie move that cost me. Instead of evenly distributed ink across my fabric, I now have darker/ less defined patches where the ink flooded.
So there you have it. Another week of #print52 mayhem.
See you next week!
The motif I used is one of my little Ezy carve stamps I made in 2014.