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Pugaboo

Anyone Else Doing Silkscreening On Clay?

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I am In the testing stages of creating and using silkscreened imagery on my pottery. I am coming to the point I find myself using the same type images again and again and hand painting them repeatedly isn't a very cost effective use of time. So now that I know the type designs I like to use more than once I have decided to try using silkscreening to make the process more efficient. Never done it before, am learning as I go. The image in the plate here is my Black Luv Pugs design made from one of my own Pug paintings.

 

I have made a couple of screens and used them to create a few sample pieces.

 

I am currently using Underglazes that I have prepped for screening. To prep them I let them dry out until they are the consistency of that school paste we used in grade school. I used a white slip for painting in the back ground on one plate and a white underglaze on another so I can compare them. I have not yet tried slips through the screens. I am wondering if there is something I should be aware of using slips as the background instead of Underglazes? The same question for using slips through the screens.

 

I already figured out I need to make a separate screen for parts of the design. On the test plate shown here I made a screen with the hearts and the paws on the same screen, you can see where I got a bit of black into some of the red hearts. I hope I am right in thinking that if I remake the design as 2 screens paws on one and hearts on another it will fix this problem.

 

I did make the pugs as a separate screen, but messed up and put the image reversed when I exposed the screen so had to use the wrong side of the screen to get the pugs oriented correctly. It works but will need to figure out how I did that wrong so I don't repeat the mistake again.

 

The paws and hearts as well as the pugs are on ezscreens and have no frame. I can conform the screen to the shape of the plate with these but they are limited in size. I have a large design (16x20 or so) I want to put on a screen with a frame but haven't attempted this yet.

 

I am hoping someone else here might be able to give some input to help a beginning silkscreener avoid some pitfalls?

 

Terry

post-22921-0-18718100-1453677828_thumb.jpeg

post-22921-0-18718100-1453677828_thumb.jpeg

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I have always wanted to try it but never had the good ideas to go through making the screen. Had some luck with the CAD photo lithography, need to try more of that now I have a laser printer.

 

Got to say your work makes me want to try screen printing. Looks beautiful. It's interesting to see how well it has printed.

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I love your Pug Pottery and your print looks very good.

 

If you are using a brush to paint your screen, dab it like you would over a stencil with a fairly dry stencil brush. I daub my brush on a piece of cardboard before it touches the screen to get consistent results with the stencil brush. If you are using a squeegee, squeegee your color in one direction and try to make your print in one pass with the squeegee; this will reduce the bleeding that you are getting.

 

Printing with two or three colors with the same screen can be done well, but you need to use a method that will align the screen perfectly with the first color. To avoid this it would be easier to print your heart pattern first let it dry then screen over the heart pattern with your pugs and paws in black. You should be ok if you print over your hearts with a dark color. (One screen for each color.) You could make a screen for the pink, but it would probably be hard to get it to line up well if your free handing the screen.

 

When you burn your screen make sure your transparency is facing the same direction. If you are using a laser printer transparency make sure the printed side faces the emulsion.

 

As you found out it's harder to print on curved surfaces. Screen printing can be done on odd shapes. You would make a screen to fit the shape. This works best if the 3 dimensional item being printed is exactly the same. It really wouldn't translate well to pottery unless your item would be stamped 100's of times in a press.

 

It's a lot easier to screen print on something flat, like printing directly on decal paper. You'll get a better image, but your adding another step and more materials. It might be a great cost effective idea to give full color photo laser transfers a try. You can fit multiple Pug poses on one sheet.

 

Your background could be made with a basic screen printed pattern and then you can decal the pugs over the print.

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Thank you for the pointers.

 

I've watched a lot of videos some of them by Meredith Host and Jason Burnett and as many others as I have been able to find. They make it look so easy, and I know practice makes perfect.

 

I have another plate that I screened the background and plan to try and position a laser transfer of the pug into the design, it's waiting to get fired. This plate here is my first try at screening the pugs as well as the hearts and paws. I'm going to make the separate screens today and try screening the background images on the plate round before shaping it over my bisque hump mold. This ought to help with my blobby hearts and paws around the curved edge. Once on then I will add the pugs. Not sure how much distortion happens when I shape the plate so doing the pugs after am hoping to avoid this. It's all a test and a huge learning curve as well.

 

I started with the ezscreens because from what I have seen in the vides burning a stretched screen with liquid is complicated and I'm not ready for that yet.

 

T

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I went to a conference recently where the Mayco rep was demonstrating their screens.  They sell a powdered medium which you add to underglaze to get the right consistency, then he used his finger in a circular motion to push the underglaze through the screen. I tried it with their premade screens (I bought the sheet of cats) and it came out pretty nice.

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I've just been using my finger like you say. I think though that I am pushing too much through where the plate curves up for the lip and that's why I am getting blobbies. I just pour some underglaze out onto glass and let it dry out a bit, been doing this for awhile now to use the thicker stuff for testing silk screens and for painting when I need a raised texture. I've been testing screens since the end of last year and only now getting anything worth test firing.

 

I burned the new screens this morning and they are drying will test them this afternoon and see if it helps me get a better print. Oh and I saw the Mayco screens and thought about getting one just to see how they are but really want to use my own artwork so decided not the spend the money.

 

Wish me luck!

 

T

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would love to try the silk screen method but would n't have a clue where to start. Don't you need specialist equipment? 

I bought a lazer printer last year to try and make my drawings into transfers as a start but I must have used the wrong paper or something because it did n't work at all.

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I've been doing my own laser transfers for awhile now. The reason yours didn't work could be several different things.

1) Your toner: look up the MSDS sheet online for your printer and toner. It will tell you if it has any iron in it. It might be stated as Iron, Iron Oxide, or Ferrous you want as high a percentage as possible. Something around 40-50% starts working. I use HP printers which during my research into it seems to have some of the higher iron levels in their toners.

2) You bought the wrong paper. I get mine at decalpaper.com, you want Laser transfer paper not inkjet and the clear is what I use.

3) You fired them at the wrong temperature either too hot or too cold depending on the issue you encountered. I fire mine at 04 slow bisque to 05 fast glaze depending on whether I have a whole load or just a piece or 2.

Maybe this will help you give it another shot?

 

For silkscreening look up ezscreens, that is what I am currently using because I too am clueless as to how to do it. These screens are really amazingly easy to use. I do have a background in photography and darkroom work so this might give me a bit of a leg up with exposure times, test strips, etc. I have set up a mini darkroom in my studio bathroom using some old photo equipment I had on hand, the set up stays up so its easy for me to test another image (which I have been doing a lot) without a lot of set up. The company that makes the ezscreens says it can be done using sunlight which means no equipment at all BUT you have to have direct sunlight and where I am that has been in short supply lately hence my digging out old photo lights and stands.

 

I bought the liquid emulsion, a screen and a squeegee to make an official stretched silkscreen but haven't done it yet as it looks way more complicated than the ezscreens. I will figure it out eventually as I want to make a 20x24 screen for a large design I have drawn up and the ezscreens I have now only go to 11x17.

 

The hardest thing in all honesty has been figuring out the printing medium. I've read about adding stuff to Underglazes to thicken them but didn't want to add any new substances to my Underglazes as am afraid it could affect their compatibly with my glazes, and the safety issue of "you've changed the chemical formula of something is it now still food safe". You can also add something called acrylic screen printing emulsion to your Underglazes or slip and it supposedly burns out in the kiln. Haven't tried this yet.

 

I decided to just try drying out the underglaze to a thicker consistency. Then it decided to rain for 2 weeks straight, had a heck of a time getting it to dry out enough. Ended up having to get a heat gun, figured I could use it for glazing and such as well so was worth the investment. I poured the underglaze out onto a sheet of glass and went at it with the heat gun. Took a bit of time but got it to thicken. Now I am tweaking the thickness I have found too thick and it won't go through the screen at all, kind of too thick and it goes through but when you pull up the screen you also pull up some of the underglaze, too thin and it bleeds all over the place. Feel like a screen printing Goldilocks LOL

 

Today I just figured out that for some reason the silkscreened design on a white slip background firmed up faster and more consistently than the one I did on a white underglaze background. This one looked dry (dull in appearance) but when I laid the screen on it smudged some of the design. This plate was done first so should have been drier than the white slips ones. Will have to experiment some more and see if it's a fluke or something to keep in mind.

 

In all honesty it's been a lot of trial and error, more errors than I care to admit! Which is why I finally asked for some pointers here on the forum. Once I get a handle on the underglazes then it will be time to start experimenting with using slips instead. Have never mixed a glaze or a slip. For my current white slip I just used my clay body dried out, with some white mason stain added then reconstituted, not even sure if this will work! Will hopefully be finally firing some of these tests next week. Want an option to Underglazes since they can expensive when you dry them out to thicken them, plus add in doing all the backgrounds and you start sucking up pints. I am hoping I can switch over to using some slips instead to save some money.

 

Will try and keep you all posted on how things go!

 

Terry

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Pug, the pug image in the middle is fantastic. I wonder whether you might play around with changing your design a tad to eliminate the curved edges from your design, only printing on the flat interior. That way, you would create a frame for the image, and get away from the blotchy spots on the rim, while enhancing the central image.

 

My other thought is to hand paint over some...all...? of the hearts with a black outline. I've done this with pretty neat effect, because it essentially doesn't matter if you are right on the edge or not. It ends up looking sort of three dimensional, ant takes the eye away from what the actual (fuzzy or not) heart edge will be. I've used a glaze pencil, but that ends up looking more like a crayon.

 

Just some thoughts.

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I went to a Mayco screenprint workshop too. We added the silkscreen medium to an iron wash and mixed it with a palette knife until a peanut butter consistency. It was a stripey patterned screen and we pushed the iron mixture through with our fingers. When it was dry we brushed 3 coats of glaze over the top. The effect, when fired, was of curved, random-thickness lines where the iron had caused the glaze to run. Looked good. I bought a small pot of the silkscreen medium to use at home but haven't got around to it yet.

 

This obviously won't suit you, Pugaboo......you're looking for a more precise print. The rep did say that they will make a screen of your own images, details probably on their site.

 

I like what you' ve done so far-will watch out for your next post to see how you're getting on. These EZ screens look promising. I think I'll check out their shipping costs, unless anyone knows of a supplier in the UK?

 

Sally

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Drmyrtle - great minds think alike! I was actually thinking of trying a black outline on the hearts. I did 3 test plates today and on one of them I painted real quick black lines around the hearts, not going for exactness more of a spontaneous line.

 

Sallyd - I read on their sight where they will make custom screens, but I am a bit of a control freak (surprise surprise right?) so am determined to teach myself. I hope you can find an outlet for the ezscreens in the UK, they make a really good gateway into this process.

 

Technique Update:

Today I did a test where I cut the circle for the plate and then while this disk was still flat screen printed all the designs on it and..... Drumroll...... IT WORKED! No distortion to the Pugs whatsoever. This is what I will do from now on for plates, I will have to test for bowls. I have to make a bisque mold for a bowl first.

 

All the current round of tests are drying, I will post pictures when they come out of the bisque firing, even if they turn out awful, since sometimes things can be learned more from disasters than successes. Fighting the urge to speed up the drying but I know Little Loafers will smack me if I try it so now is the time for PATIENCE.

 

 

 

T

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