Creating a photo silkscreen at home.
I have used a mix of printmaking supplies and hard ware supplies for my set up.
I purchased a screen coater through DickBlicks.com I chose a 13inch scoop coater, as this would enable me to coat my smaller screens easily as well as my larger ones.
Having created my artwork in Photoshop from original drawings and concepts, I printed the image onto EZIscreen A4 artwork Transparency. This film product can be printed onto with a home printer and has a special coating that will hold the inkjet ink. I purchased this from an art supply, and it costs out to about 50 cents a sheet, (although it is purchased in a pack of 20 for $10.00). You can also draw onto it with an opaque medium to create a film positive.
The film positive was then taped to a piece of glass that I had removed from a picture frame. The edges were taped to provide protection from cuts. The piece of glass was large enough to sit across the wooden frame of the silkscreen, so that the artwork would remain flat against the emulsion. Remember to place the artwork the correct way around, you don’t want the artwork to be exposed back to front on your screen.
Again a trawl of You Tube videos and internet forums led me to use a halogen work light that I purchased from a local hardware chain store for $25.00. I reconfigured the handle and removed the glass and cage from the front, this allowed me to hang the lamp from a microphone stand; positioning it above and parallel to the prepped screen.
I ensured the unit worked in its reconfigured state and that the height of the bulb from the screen surface was as specified in the data sheets.
Again I relied on the technical data sheets, and used the exposure time indicated. If I was creating a more complex photo image, utilising a dot screen to create a tonal range, I would have created a test strip of different exposure times. As it was the image was a straight forward block / solid colour, so I went ahead without a test.
I placed the glass / film positive onto the dry screen while it is in the storage cupboard, and then covered it with a piece of black paper to give extra protection to the emulsion from any light exposure when moving it into position under the exposure unit. This also allows me to turn the exposure unit on and position the screen correctly before beginning the exposure of the film positive to the emulsion.
Keeping only the safe light on, I was able to navigate to the washout area, (Bathroom) where I used a hose attachment that can be bought from supermarkets. (These have a brush attachment for rinsing out hair shampoo that I removed.) Again the technical data sheet will note water temperatures etc.
I placed the screen back under the light to harden off the emulsion, as well as being bright the halogen lamp also puts out heat. Place the screen so the frame side is on the bench top, otherwise the emulsion will stick to the bench. After hardening I checked for pinholes which I will correct with a block out fluid.
Cost break down.
Screens: $? Pricing depends on whether you purchase new or used.
Photo Emulsion 1kg: AUD$72.00 (from Melbourne Etching Supplies, Fitzroy)
Screen Coater: US$22.00 for the item from dickblick art materials, (freight to Australia for this item was US$42 which I have included in the final costing.) (Total was approx. AUS$65.00)
Film Positive: AUS$0.50/ sheet, $10.00 per pack of 20.
Safe light bulb AUS$2.00
Glass: from frame $0 - $10 depending on supply
Exposure unit: AUS$25.00 from Bunnings
Stand: $0 - $20 depending on whether you have one or make it.
Hose: Aus$5 .00 from supermarket
My costs to set up an exposure unit was AUS$25.00 as I had all the other items already.
The costs to set up for making repeated screens was AUS$175.00 (as I already had the screens, glass, stand and hose). With the quantity of emulsion I think I could make at least 20 or more screens, which brings the cost to about $9.00 per screen.
I am excited by the creative outcomes that are possible using screen printing techniques, and I am looking forward to pursuing more of my ideas, now that I can create my own photo stencils.