The first of my new five week printmaking short courses began last Friday with Jelly Printing, or gelli printing or monoprinting or whatever the official term is. This week we moved on to basic screenprinting using a variety of stencils with an embroidery hoop.
The greatest thing about working on this small scale is that being lightweight it is a printmaking process that is open to everyone. When running workshops using my big aluminium frames, some people have struggled to apply enough pressure to get a reliable print and have been disheartened that all the time they spent making their stencil has been wasted. By contrast, when using an embroidery hoop it is much easier to push the ink through the screen and if it does all go wrong you can just rip it off and start again knowing that you only spent ten minutes cutting the stencil.
Here’s a brief How To to get you started…
Screenprinting with an Embroidery Hoop
- A small embroidery hoop
- A circle of net curtain, cut a little bit larger than your hoop
- Waterbased screen printing inks (or acrylic mixed with medium – I like Daler Rowney System 3 or Speedball)
- A plastic spoon
- An old credit card or lightweight squeegee
- Craft knife
- Newsprint, freezer paper, contact paper or copy paper for your stencils
- Brown tape
- Copy paper, kraft paper or card to print onto
Prepare your stencil
- Lay your embroidery hoop on top of your newsprint and trace the inside circle and cut out.
- Leaving at least a centimetre around the edges, tear or cut out abstract shapes from the middle of the circle. Do not overlap shapes and remember that anywhere there is a hole will be printed.
- Assemble the embroidery hoop with the net curtain stretched as tight as you can.
- Attach your circular stencil to the outside of the hoop with brown tape, making sure to tape all around the edges to that no ink can leak out the sides.
- You can use a craft knife to cut stencils out of freezer paper, contact paper, newsprint, card & various other materials – each will give a different effect
Prepare for printing
- Mix your inks according to the instructions on the bottle – The consistency must not be too runny otherwise it will cause bleeding of the image.
- Organise your printing papers into a neat pile so that it is easy to access.
Print your design
- Lay your embroidery hoop stencil side down on your paper
- Spoon about a tablespoon of ink onto the screen in a place where the stencil is blocking the screen.
- Using your credit card, squeegee the ink across the screen, with a confident but not too heavy hand until you have moved the ink across all of the stencil. The squeegee should be held somewhere between a 90 and 45 degree angle
- You are aiming to make as few passes as possible, while still covering the whole stencil.
- Lift up your hoop to reveal your print.
- You can keep printing on the same bit of paper, but just make sure that you don’t put the screen onto any part of your print that is still wet as this will cause ghosting.
- When you have enough prints, scrape off any excess ink back into your pot.
- Peel away your stencil and leave to dry flat, you may be able to reuse it.
- Loosen the embroidery hoop and wash out the net curtain and squeegee using warm water.
Having trouble with your screenprinting? Read my next post on Troublesome Screenprinting.