07 April 2010

battle of the paint brands

Open Studios for IQF is fast approaching (next week in fact) and I realized a couple of days ago that most of my screen printed fabric has been cut up and consumed by projects. While that's a good thing from a portfolio viewpoint, it doesn't create that impressive of a demo.

Imagine going to see a demo and the artist pulls a pile of scraps out, dumps them on the table and says, "Aren't they great?!"

Yeah. Not so impressive.

So its time to get my behind moving and get more samples printed up. I was also thinking that I would do some blog posts about what I'm demoing at Open Studios, which is screen printing with thermofax screens. Sort of like the demo in little bitty installments without the entertainment of me flinging paint about in an anxious frenzy.

One thing I really wanted to do was take along comparisons of screen printing paint brands. There are more options now then even just a year or two ago.

I printed with four paints today and two came out as my favorites. These are my personal opinions and you can take them or blow 'em off, won't hurt my feelings.

Here are the brands that I tested today:

From left to right: Yudu, Plaid Simply Screen, Createx and Jacquard Neopaque.

Here are the things that I look for in a screen printing paint: (1) decent cost (this includes taking discount coupons into account), (2) availability (do I have to mail order it or can I go to the store and pick it up?), (3) how opaque is it (I torture test samples with light paint on bright or dark backgrounds) and (4) range of colors.

All of the images of the prints are of the paint dry. This is important because just like wall paint, the colors aren't always as vibrant or opaque once they dry.

First up was the Yudu brand:

This is the color Putty on black. (All the prints are on Kona cotton.) Here are the answers to the questions above:

(1) Retail cost is $7.50 for 3 oz. You can get this brand at Joann's so it makes the price reasonable - drops the price to $4.50 if you have a 40% coupon. They also come in three packs of colors so it is even cheaper this way with the coupon.

(2) I can get this at local stores.

(3) Its got good opacity.

(4) They have a good range of colors including earth tones and neutrals.

I really like the squeeze bottles on these. The paint is a good thickness although I did end up adding a little bit of water to some of the bottles to thin it out slightly.

The paint also washed out of my screens easily.


Next up is Plaid Simply Screen paint (slightly lousy photo, my apologies):

This is Apple-tini on turquoise fabric.

(1) Again, you can get this at Joann's so with a 40% coupon, which makes it all kind of convenient.

(2) Can get it locally at stores.

(3) It has pretty good opacity. The color shifted a little on the fabric (its a lime green in the bottle) but I can't say I'm bothered by it. It performed pretty well for having to contend with such a strong colored background.

(4) In terms of colors, they lean more toward primaries and brights. They do have a couple metallics but really lack in the neutral color range.

This one also comes in a squeeze bottle and I really really like this. For the way that I print (I'll do another post on this soon), I find it really helpful to have the squeeze bottle (I end up wearing less paint).

It also cleaned up well, didn't clog the screen at all.


Next is Jacquard Neopaque paint:

This is turquoise on yellow fabric.

1) Retail cost is $5.29 for a 2.25 oz. bottle. Again, this can be purchased at Joann's now so the price drops to about $3.17 with a coupon.

2) Can be bought in a local store.

3) The opacity is very good. Jacquard has very heavy pigment and rich color.

4) They have a decent color range as well. More metallics then the previous two if that's your thing.

Let me preface this next statement by saying that I love Jacquard paint. I think its excellent. I do it for direct application printing all the time and for that, its my absolute favorite. But for screen printing? It has a tendency to do this to my screens:

That's the screen after its been washed out. This is not the first time it has stained one of my screens. For that reason, it falls toward the bottom of my list for screen printing. The color doesn't rub off on the next print but it bugs me enough to avoid it for this particular thing.


And lastly is Createx paint:

This is hansa yellow on red fabric.

1) Cost is $6.88 for 8 oz. I can find it discounted for $5.63. So if you compare how many ounces you get for the price, Createx is a great deal.

2) I've never been able to find it locally. I have to mail order it which sort of makes it a pain. For one thing, I like being able to get what I need when I need it and not have to wait for it to ship. And secondly, when you want to order several colors, the shipping costs really add up so it sort of kills point #1.

3) The opacity can be weak with certain colors, such as the yellow above. This is NOT true for all createx paint, just certain ones. Which means when you first buy it and are experimenting, you could end up with a jar that you just don't have much use for (I tend to work darker so paint that absorbs into the richer colors is useless to me, which I would expect it would be to most people).

4) They have an o.k. color range. I know I can mix colors to get a particular shade but a lot of times I want repeatable consistency and unless I plan to keep a notebook of one-part-this-two-parts-that, I like a decent range of colors to pick from.

This paint cleans up well, no problem-o with the washout on the screens.

Wow, what a mouthful. I suspect the only ones who made it to the bottom of this post are other people who want to print fabric. Everyone else probably nodded off and has bumped their heads against their monitors.

Sorry 'bout that one.

For me, my favorite brands to work with are Yudu and Plaid. I'll be keeping those as my go-to paints in my studio. Again, not gospel, just my personal preference.

I don't really feel like it would be a fair review without washing these. I admit that I almost never wash my printed fabric since it usually ends up in wall art. But I'm wondering if I'll notice a difference in the performance of the paint once its been washed (Plaid - I'm looking at you). I'll let them sit for a day while I putter with other things, heat set them and then give them a hand wash and let you know how that goes (with much less text, I promise).

Okay, I'm all talked out. I'm going to post a giveaway tomorrow so more screen printing frenzy to follow...


kathy n said...

your JoAnn's is way better than mine :-). cool info...glad to know that the screenprinting on fabric paints have expanded since I last did it...and looking forward to HOW you did it...

Jean Baardsen said...

Sorry I will miss the part of you "flinging paint about in an anxious frenzy." I read to the bottom, and didn't fall asleep. :o)

Gisela Towner said...

Thanks for sharing your results -- good stuff to know.

bj parady said...

thanks for the summary--I'll have to look at my JoAnn's to see if they carry these; I hadn't noticed them.
Have you tried Speedball's fabric screening paint? I just ordered some from Dharma to try (because I didn't know there was anything decent at JoAnn's).

Anonymous said...

Good info Lynn, thank you.

Libby Fife said...

I am just tuning in here and yes, that review was really helpful so thank you. I will need to look for the Yuda paint you mentioned. I use Speedball for my lino cuts on fabric and I like it fairly well. It isn't a solid result but I paint my results so it works well for me. I have the Jacquard but hadn't thought yet to use it on the lino blocks. I will give it a try:)