09 April 2013

screen printing on Dura-Lar from Grafix

If I have one endless task in my art making, it's seeking out new ways to add layers to my work. Layered printing - that's where my paint obsessed little heart goes to every time I enter my studio.

Cloth Paper Scissors teamed up with Grafix and several artists (your's truly included) to see what we could do with the groovy items that Grafix produces. In case you aren't familiar with them, they produce a wide range of plastic products that are really useful in mixed media art. Do check out their website, it's got very intriguing things there.

I was particularly interested in their Dura-Lar, a semi opaque acetate:

In case you can't read the last line on the cover of the pad, it says "This unique drawing surface accepts pen, lead, ink, paint and colored pencil." Did you catch the magic word in that sentence? Paint. Paint!

I've actually been flirting with screen printing on plastic for some time now but haven't been able to find one that could handle it. It was either too flimsy or the paint slipped around on it and in all honesty, I'd sort of given up on it.

But Dura-lar is nothing like the stuff I had experimented on before - it's strong and since it's designed to accommodate all manner of printing goodness, I didn't waste any time. Out came the thermofax screens and paint!

And I printed....

And printed and printed and printed...

(That's the "Text Background" screen, one of my all time faves.)

It took the paint well. It's not nearly as fast drying as fabric (kind of a "duh" statement but worth noting) but once it gets there, it's stable.

I printed some fabric, attached it to a canvas and then cut out four squares from the screen printed Dura-lar:

I flipped the squares over so the printed side was against the fabric. I liked that it toned down the print (because the Dura-lar is semi opaque) and also it offered some extra protection to the paint.

Then I doodled some paint and added some buttons to build up the collage:

I kept adding details (always have trouble stopping myself) and I had so much fun working with it that I made it a couple of friends (you can see I added more to the one above in the photo below):

As a fabric collage artist, plastic is not the first item I would think to reach for but I have to say, it fits comfortably into my collages. The shapes that can easily be cut from it are endless and the transparency of it is intoxicating, I really love it.

I'm sure it will be making an appearance in more of my art in the future.

You can see better shots of these little collages in an upcoming issue of Cloth Paper Scissors along with work from my fellow co-experimenters. As soon as I know the issue it's in, I'll post it here. I can't wait to see how others used these great materials! :)

Edited to add: There have been several questions as to if you can stitch through the Dura-Lar. The answer is yes! I didn't stitch it onto the collages shown in this post but I did in another project that I'll be able to show soon. For the collages above, I glued it down using a very small amount of clear Aleene's Tacky glue. Here's the thing - when the plastic has been screen printed on or drawn on, you don't notice the glue. If the plastic is completely unaltered, you see the glue spots clearly and it doesn't look good (remember it's only semi-opaque so you can still see through it).

When I stitched through the Dura-Lar on my other project, I did it by hand and found it very easy. I didn't do anything extensive so I can't speak to stitching an entire sheet down but I can say I didn't find it difficult. Since my sewing machine and I have an uneasy relationship, I didn't even go there. But it would certainly be worth trying!


Lisa Chin said...

Great job Lynn! I like the way it looks. Isn't the .005 the thicker dura-lar? Seems like I have .003 - don't quote me but it would be fun to see your work with the thinner pieces of dura-lar as well. And see what different (if any) it makes in this case.

Mauree said...

Very interesting. How did you attach the plastic to the canvas? Can you sew it? Or did you glue it? And, what kind of glue did you use?

Lynda said...


Carol said...

How fun to try new products! Your project is inspirational!