Friday, January 30, 2009

Bucket Of Ice

This is the second screenprint I did this year using the drawing fluid. I've had run out of wood to make screens but found you can get frames from Ikea, although they are a little big and hurt your wrist when you phillips head them in. This one is on a natural cotton I found tucked away in the quilting section of Spotlight. I normally bypass this section due to the ghastly print options on offer, although have sometimes found some nice surprises.

Tomorrow I'm at Rose Street, come along with a bucket of ice and I'll be your BFF, come and take over for me and I'll give you my first born. I've got two bottles of water in the freezer ready for tomorrow and a whole stack of Valentine's Day Cards ready to go. I spent today photographing the cards again, this time in a lightbox. I didn't need to use lamps, the sun outside was blaring in so the lightbox came in really handy. You can check out my handiwork at the new Etsy Shop.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Little Shoes

I'm due for a new pair of flats after my last pair were ruined on that weekend in December when it wouldn't stop raining. After drinking too much wine at the Rose Street Christmas Party I walked through puddles with gay abandon and they just didn't recover. As I was staying over at my sister's house I had to buy a pair of shoes at Coles the next day after waking up to find them with pools of muddy water inside. I had originally got the shoes back in February after I went to the MixTape party and wore a pair of very lovely vintage shoes that were not designed for walking long distances, like across the road. My feet were thankful for late night shopping that Friday night.

These little red shoes would be an ideal replacement although I'm not sure I would be too keen to wear the white lace socks. I've been making little artworks, either screenprints or applique and taking them along to Rose Street and other markets I've been doing. It seems the shoes are quite popular so hopefully I can organise myself to get them up on my Etsy shop.

Speaking of Etsy shops, the new Able and Game one is up for all your Valentine's Day card needs. The Etsy shop is only going to be temporary, we will be opening a webstore on the website after Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Big and Hot

Thanks for all the great comments on the last tutorial post, I was worried it might not make sense and be a little confusing. If anyone has any results from printing using the drawing fluid I would love to see them.

I had a great long weekend, spending Monday at the Big Day Out. Thankgod the current heatwave came a day later, as the 28 degrees was enough for me. Standing in the sun for long periods of time is something I don't ever do, and despite drinking about 2 litres of water in 30 minutes I was still feeling a little dizzy and lightheaded. I had never been to the BDO before, so it was all a bit of a novelty, the last festival I went to was Falls in '99. Highlights was TZU, Cut Copy, Neil Young and Mike Patton in cricket whites AND pads.

This Saturday it is meant to be 40 degrees (104 F) and the tin roof at Rose Street always seems to add 10 degrees onto whatever temp it is already. Bridget and I are considering wagging, although I'm hoping the cool change comes in Friday night. Cross your fingers people, we don't want to melt.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tutorial - Screenprinting using drawing fluid and screen filler

I just want to note that the screen filler is designed to create a permanent screen to reuse over and over. To remove the screen filler there is a product called Greased Lighting which is not made by Olivia Newton John and John Travolta. I've not used it before, that is just what the speedball pack recommends. If you want to reuse your screen I recommend a paper or plastic stencil rather than this method.


I only just discovered this method of
screenprinting recently and had no idea it was available. I felt like a bit of an idiot for not finding out about it sooner as it has the appeal of handcut stencils because it is hands on, but it provides a permanent screen. The print doesn't come out as crisp as my handcut stencils, but as long as you work this into your design then it isn't a problem.

Materials Needed:

A silk screen
Drawing Fluid
Screen Filler
Thin Brush

I got my screen filler and drawing fluid from Melbourne Etching Supplies in Fitzroy, Melbourne and they are made by Speedball in the USA. I've not seen it in other art supply shops before and if you're not in Melbourne I think MES deliver. I'm not sure of the exact cost, but it was around $60 for the two bottles. The drawing fluid will last a lot longer than the filler judging by how much I've used already.

You need a longish squeegee to put the filler on the screen, something big enough to cover the whole design so you can get an even coat. If you only have a small one it might cause problems getting an even coat when you double up. Maybe some thick cardboard cut to the right size could also do the trick, although I've not tried this.

I recommend gloves when you put the screen filler on and newspaper for when you working with the drawing fluid to cover your surface. I used a thin brush for my design, but it depends on what you're doing, a bigger brush might suit you better.

You can buy your silkscreens from art supply shops, however they can be quite pricey. I make my own with wood that I cut to size and then nail and staple gun together. If you can't be bothered doing this you could be a canvas frame and remove the canvas, then stretch the silk onto it. I get my silk from All Australian Screenprinting Supplies, located in Bayswater, Melbourne, as they sell it by the meter. I am sure you can get it from art shops as well, I think I've seen it before. Making your own ends up being a lot cheaper when you are wanting a few screens which will be permanent. If you are doing a bit of printing, I suggest getting your inks from All Australian as well in litre tubs. I think if you order over $100 they deliver for free, however make a trip and visit the opshops in the area as they are worthwhile.

Set up your work area with newspaper, I find it is around the screen that drips occur most. If you are not sure about the drawing fluid, have a go at just drawing with it. Because it washes out with water you can do anything and wash it out, let it dry and start again.

The fluid is thicker than ink but not as thick as paint. It is a bit weird and takes some getting used to. I also find you need to use a bit of it to get a thick line. If it is too thin, the filler can cover it up and it wont wash out, so it needs to have some thickness to it.

This is a design I made by dripping the fluid. Although the line was nice and clean, I didn't like the design and ended up washing it out. You don't end up using much of the filler so you don't feel like you're wasting it which is good.

When you are ready to paint your design it helps to draw it on with pencil first. The pencil will just wash out, or come out in your first print. Take your time with the drawing fluid to make sure you have a nice solid line. Work slowly adding the ink when you create your linework to make sure it is nice and thick. It is very important that the line isn't thin, as the filler will just cover it and it wont wash out. If you make a mistake you can use a wet cloth to blot out that area and go over it again when dry. With the pattern on the socks I dotted the fluid on, I find this is a good way to create texture. Make sure your design isn't too close to the edge of the screen. I would give at least a 2 inches/5cm gap. When you start printing, if the ink is going to the egde it can seep out, if you're worried put a paper barrier up around the edges on the other side to pick up any excess.

The final design. You need to leave it to dry flat for some time. I wouldn't get the hair dryer out right away as the air blowing on the fluid could cause it to move about and screw with your design. I usually put it out in the sun for a few hours. If you don't have much sun it will take longer and if you're unsure leave it overnight. You don't want to lose all your handwork just because you're inpatient now do you? (Speaking from experience here!)

Here is a close up of the fluid, you can see it has a bit of height to it.

This is the screen filler. It is harder to work with than the fluid and so time to get the gloves on, and put some newspaper around as well. I do mine over the laundry sink so you might get a peek at the fabric softener we use, and the old school microwave which doesn't even have pride of place in our kitchen.

Oh look, we use cold power. Okay the colour of the screen filler is nice, the type of colour you dream about your bridesmaids wearing, or is that my nailpolish? Anyway this stuff needs a good stir as it is quite thick and the heavy stuff goes to the bottom. Put the filler at the top of the screen on the same side as the drawing fluid. I put about the same amount on as I would if I wanted to fill the whole screen with screenprinting ink. It is better to have more than less, however it is also messier. I put more on this time and it all dripped off the edge and onto the ground and I didn' thave newspaper down either. It can be cleaned up, but do it right away, don't let it dry then try and remove it.

I've not got progress shots as I couldn't take photos and run the squeegee at the same time, so this is without the fluid, but imagine it is there. You really want to get it all down in one go and not have to patch anything up, so make sure you have enough filler right across the whole squeegee. If you don't get it in one go and there is quite a bit that isn't covered, it might be best to let it dry flat and then add more later, because when you try and patch it up it can often remove some of the filler already there. If you do let it dry and do it again, don't recover the areas already covered if you can help it as the drawing fluid might not come off.

Here is the screen with the filler on it. This is probably my 4th or 5th go at covering a screen and probably the best one yet, so you do get better. If you have some edges that are not covered and they are well away from the design you can patch them up with a brush to make sure ink wont get out the sides.
Now it is time to let it dry. Again, I put it out in the sun, however the hair dryer could be used at this point. If you're unsure, leave it overnight.
Make sure it dries flat though, you don't want it upright and all the filler coming off.

Once dry you need to run it under COLD water. Don't use hot as the filler can come off. You might want to use a sponge to get the drawing fluid out, and it might take a bit of water to do it, so fill the sink up a bit and just rub it down. You shouldn't need to use much force, the drawing fluid will come out.

Here are my prints, I did two colours underneath the black and for those I cut the stencils out from paper, so the black part is what I did for this tutorial. I don't think I had any problems with this print with the filler not covering everything or filler covering too much. As long as you take your time and make sure everything is done okay and dry there should not be any problems.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Welcome back to 2009 and hello summer with another 37 degree day. I've been busy the last month doing the usual relaxing and getting my mind around Valentine's Day. Gareth and I have been working on websites and processes and hope to have everything running smoothly come February so everything else has fallen by the wayside.

Gareth and I had a lovely new years at Bridget's house. A few of the shots above are of her very lovely house overlooking the Yarra where we could see the fireworks at midnight. We spent the night playing games, drinking an assortment of drinks and eating curry and then went out to Brighton for fish and chips the next day. I also got to spend a few days down at Lakes Entrance and despite talking about sharks quite a bit before the trip my only encounter of a triangle in the water was dolphins swimming close by while taking a dip. I've not been on our boat for a holiday in about 4 years so it was nice to spend some time away from Melbourne. It is where we spent all childhood holidays and we had some close encounters with sharks and snakes however this time the wine was the only thing causing any grief, oh and the Cointreau.

I'm back in business this week with Rose Street on Saturday. Hopefully it isn't a plus 35 day, although after a month away I think I might be feeling a little rusty when it comes to setting up. I'm going to have some new screenprinted artworks available, I've finished one and hope to get another made in the next few days, hopefully I can get it all done and still go to the cricket on Friday.