22 April 2010

top ten questions

I'm still recouping from IQF. I promised myself that I would tidy my studio when I returned from festival before I started another project.

Yeah, well. I work on tidying and then I shove everything around into a heap so I can make something. Talk about a counterproductive heap of silliness.

At any rate, I came away from Open Studios and the show with tons of ideas and directions I'd like to go. I also got asked several recurring questions during Open Studios so I thought I'd distract you with a post answering them while I work on getting back into the groove of things:

(this is the only decent picture I took during open studios...if you have one that you wouldn't mind sharing, please email it along to me. thanks!)

Q1: What is a thermofax screen?

A1: Excellent question. A thermofax screen is made from a thermofax machine which is a giant hulk of old technology that, in its hayday, was considered very advanced technology. Of course, now that we can carry around an entire computer in our shirt pocket, its considered by most a relic that is best used as a doorstop.

The screen is made by passing screen mesh and a photocopy of a black and white image through the machine. The heat in the machine burns away the parts of the mesh where there is black on the image and voila, you have a screen.

Finding the machines are difficult. And can be expensive if you go to a place that refurbishes one. But if you do come across one at a reasonable price, snatch that bad boy up, its a gem.

This is what mine looks like:

Not real pretty but I have an undying affection for it. (I may have even named it Henry but that could make me sound like a nuts-0 so we'll leave that to speculation.)

The screens last a long long long long long long time (I have some that are several years old) and provide repeatable consistent results.

Tattoo and fiber artists seem to be the biggest users of it at the moment. Will they begin making them again? No idea. Odds are no. But I suppose we could stage a march on 3M and demand they bring them back. If nothing else, it would be entertaining.

Q2: Why do you use foam brushes?

A2: The most honest answer I have for you is that I'm a brute when I use a squeegee. For whatever reason, the moment you put a squeegee in my hand, I turn into the hulk and decide that I must use as much force and pressure as I can. (Works well during deconstructed screen printing but its not always necessary.)

The foam brushes force me to be nice to the thermofax screens. Plus they double up as a way to help wash the paint off the screen.


Q3: Why do you duct tape the edges of the screens?

A3: You can buy frames for thermofax screens. My thing is that I like to make lots of screens. I have to mail order frames (that whole waiting around thing is so irritating sometimes) and a roll of duct tape is so much nicer to my pocket book.

Plus they come in funky colors now. No more boring run of the mill silver - get yourself some red, neon and even fancy pants prints now.

You have to either duct tape or put a frame on the edges of the screens. The edges fray otherwise. Plus it helps them lay flat.


Q4: Do you use a padded print surface?

A4: Not always. I normally print on a regular table but I do put a piece of denim beneath the fabric I'm printing. I dream of the day I can set up a permanent print table but since space dictates otherwise, I make do and have been satisfied with the result.

If you want to set up a temporary print surface, here's what I do. Take two to three layers of acrylic felt (cheap-o stuff from Joann's that's 72" wide is what I normally use) and tape them down to your table. Then tape a piece of plastic over the top of them (I usually use a garbage bag that is cut open). I still place a piece of fabric over the plastic so that the paint will be absorbed into the fabric and not slip around on the plastic waiting for my next new piece of fabric to get mucked up.


Q5: Do you sell the screens?

A5: I will be selling them very shortly. My goal is to have a little etsy shop up by June 1 that will sell screens with designs already burned into them ready to go as well as being able to print screens with your own images.

I'm working with three artists right now that will sell their designs in the store. I will also have a PDF available for sale that explains how to use the screen. I'll be starting out with a beginning printing one and then working on making one for printing with things other then paint.

There will be a big party on the blog announcing when its ready to go - and another screen giveaway.

If you are interested in selling some designs in the shop, email me at FibraArtysta@earthlink.net for information on this.


Q6: Do you teach?

A6: I am currently working on workshop descriptions for two classes: Printing with Thermofax Screens (one for printing with paint and one for printing with other mediums) and Art Journals.

Again, I'll be announcing them on the blog when they are ready to go.


Q7: What is your favorite kind of paint to print with?

A7: This is a wide open question. Its sort of like asking someone what they favorite song is, everyone has a preference and opinion.

I've tried a lot of different brands but I can tell you which one I reach for over and over is Plaid brand Simply Screen. I use them the most for four reasons: (1) they have good opacity so they work well for my work, (2) they are economical at $2.99 a bottle (3) I can get them at local stores, I don't have to mail order them and (4) I love that they come in a squeeze bottle that lets me aim where I apply the paint and the paint is a good consistency so its easy to squeeze out of the bottle.

I dig it, what can I say? There are tons of brands out there and I encourage you to try them out so you can be happy with your results. But give the Simply Screen a try as well, its cool stuff.


Q8: Can you only screen print on fabric?

A8: I will screen print on anything that will hold still. (Dooley sometimes looks worried when he sees the brush in my hand.)

Some brands have different paint for different surfaces (speedball does this) but I use the same paint on both paper and fabric. I do find that I need to go a little easier on the amount of paint when doing it on paper when you are doing it in an art journal.

Experiment with it. Don't fear the paint. Worst thing that can happen is it doesn't work out the way you wanted it to and really, that's no big loss.


Q9: What kind of paper do you use for your art journals?

A9: Watercolor papers. Holds up to all the torture of the paints and markers. I do find it curls a little bit after I paint the pages but I weight them with some heavy books overnight and they behave just fine.

Cold press watercolor paper has texture and hot press watercolor paper is smooth like computer paper. I like to buy the large sheets (I believe they are 22" x 36") so I can make whatever size and shape of pages I like.


Q10: What kind of paint do you use to paint the backgrounds of the pages in your art journal?

A10: I've done several different ways of doing this. I've watered down Golden paints to a wash and its worked pretty well. But lately I've been going straight for watercolor paints because they give the wash easily and I don't have to do much.

To make matters even easier, I discovered that Dick Blick sells liquid watercolors. They come in big 8oz bottles and the pigment in them is great. They are squeeze bottles but all I do is tip them upside down and drip a couple drops onto the paper and spread it around. I find I use less paint this way and the size of the bottle means I'm going to get a lot of journals out of them.


Wow, lots of babbling. I'm wandering back up to the studio to do some more cleaning. The westie is at the groomer's getting his summer hair cut which means it will probably snow tomorrow. But he needs it, he's been huffing and puffing lately when the weather warms up and its only gotten into the 60s so far.

Send a search party if the blog goes dark for too long, the studio may have absorbed me into the black hole of its chaos (which may not necessarily be a bad thing)...


Kitty D said...

I've been wanting to do the Art Journal thing for awhile.

Please do let me know when you start it! Drop me a line on the FB, or post to my Blog!

Thanks Lovey!

P.S. You're an inspiration, as always! I'm going to do my first Sunday "Where I Stood" post in your honor today! Hopefully I can figure everything out, Like how to do a link back! LOL!

Marianna said...

Great post lots of information and it made me smile as well. Thank you,