Screen printing with drawing fluid and screen filler

This weekend I am having fun with my screen printing. Things are working more or less as they should! I have made myself some home made screens with some plastic thermofax frames and some synthetic fibre organza fabric and am finding them much easier to use.

I used both home made screens to try out the method of screen printing using drawing fluid and screen filler. For one screen I drew around one of my earlier designs with pencil and then filled it in with drawing fluid. For the other one I drew a design of interconnecting spirals free hand with a flat paint brush and drawing fluid.

I took a lot of trouble with the painting to get a sharp image, which turned out to have been a bit of waste of time for my first attempt. Another learning curve I’ve climbed up the hard way. After the drawing fluid has dried, the next step is to apply the screen filler. The recommended method on the bottle and in my class at QU was to use a squeegee and draw a thin film of filler across screen. I have to admit that both said not to do this repeatedly, because it can start to dissolve the drawing fluid. I wasn’t getting a good cover in the negative spaces of my design, so ignoring all advice I did a total of 3 pulls on the smaller design. This was a mistake, because when it had dried and I looked closely I could see that the design had started to disintegrate.

I was more sensible on the spirals. After the first application of filler had dried I could see there were still holes in the surface when I held it up to the light. I applied some more filler but using a paint brush this time. With the benefit of hindsight that is what I should have done after the first pull with the squeegee. I should have filled in the missing bits with a small brush.

The next step is to wash away the drawing fluid under cold water. This was easier than I expected. I used a soft toothbrush to encourage the stubborn bits to disappear. The filler is quite robust and remained well stuck to the screen. Once the screens were dry again I was able to do my first prints onto my yardage piece. The spirals survived the whole process the best, but the organic, decaying look of my square design matches up quite well to the background of crackles.

I am also finding it much easier to produce good prints with my home made screen. Seems like I could have saved myself the expense of buying the Speedball screen that has caused me all the associated grief.

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