we interrupt this christmas retrospective…

to bring you a special report about a new craft love of mine. this is actually the second new craft love for me in the span of about 3 short weeks, so my brain is buzzing with possibilities, but i’ll tell you about the first of the two in another post. i just have to tell you a little bit about my adventures last night.
a few months ago, i learned that a colleague of mine has some experience with screen printing. i have been wanting to try screen printing for quite awhile, but had been unable to find any classes in the area, so when i heard about this hidden talent, i had to jump on it. the topic came up in a discussion of craft program exchanges (you do a craft program at my library, i’ll do one at yours) but i really just wanted to learn for myself (selfish, i know) so i asked this other librarian if she would be willing to teach me in exchange for some other craft that i could introduce her to. actually, i think i’d brainstormed it into a monthly craft club before i talked to her, but…. that’s a whole other thing.* what actually transpired for the first meeting of this “craft club” was three people in a room at this librarian’s library last night, playing with screen printing. it was helpful to her because she’s thinking of doing a printing program with teens this summer and we tried out a few different techniques (some worked, some didn’t) and helped her to come up with a list of necessary tools (besides the obvious screens, ink and squeegee things). but enough with the chit-chat…. wanna see pictures?


this blue flower was my very first print.  i was still figuring out technique.  the brown flower was my first print with that color and i didn’t bother to rinse the screen in between (but i kind of like the rough look….)  here are more polished versions:


i just love them!!!  the pattern is from this great book the librarian had found called “screen your stuff” by marion levy that is full of super cute printing ideas.  we also, from that book, got the idea for a printing method that turned into our hands-down favorite of the evening–contact paper.  i suppose that real screen printers “burn” images into the screens, but then that design is permanently on the screen.  there’s also this brown goo that you can paint onto screens to block  the places you don’t want ink to go through, but the one sample that we tried of that was exceedingly tedious and also had a tendency to bleed (maybe it wasn’t shaken well enough?) and you had to be careful to make sure you got enough of the goo on or the ink would go through anyway.  so, this book instructed the reader to go out and purchase special screen printing sticky paper (there was a more technical term, but i can’t be bothered to remember it since the librarian said she couldn’t find it anyway), but we decided to try using plain old contact paper.  well, actually, we didn’t have contact paper, so she just “borrowed” some clear book covering sticky paper and we used that.  it worked like a charm.  look at those clean, crisp lines!  and it worked beautifully over and over again, print after print.  i suppose that one downside is that you can’t really rinse the screens between colors because you’re likely to rinse off your contact paper, but that wasn’t a huge deal.  (hey!  i just found an online video tutorial of this process in case you’re interested!)


one other technique that we tried out was from the “printing by hand” book and involved cutting a stencil from paper. as you can maybe see from the example above, it wasn’t quite as successful as the contact paper.  it’s possible that it didn’t work well because i used cardstock instead of typing weight paper and i’m not sure if i was supposed to tape it to the screen (i did), but… i do like this design (my own original!), i’ll just have to try it again with contact paper instead of cardstock.


i tried out the technique on some loose pieces of muslin i’d gotten from my grandma when i went to visit her, and also on a couple of stained tea towels.


(this design was inspired by the lotta prints book.)  tragically, i neglected to bring my camera with me, so i don’t have any process shots to share with you today, but i did take a few photos with someone else’s camera that was there and she said she’d e-mail them to me, so maybe i’ll post them as soon as they arrive in my inbox.

i love screen printing.  and now that i’ve done it with the help of someone who knows what they’re doing, i have a very clear idea of the tools that i need to do this on my own.  hooray!

*if you’re local to the happy stuff neighborhood and the idea of a monthly craft club curls your toes, contact me and i’ll fill you in on some of the details we’ve been tossing around for ideas.

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