Continuing Screen-Printing Sampling Processes with Different Cardboard Types
Experimental Series of A1-A2 Sized 3mm-5mm Recycled Cardboard
From experimenting on newsprint and other paper types using a range of screen-printing processes I progressed onto recycled cardboard. Several different types of A1-A2 sized recycled cardboard was used with varying thicknesses and surface finishes. While the creative focus of this series of cardboard was to experiment with and to explore the effects of print, pressure, and squeegee technique with the screens with and without the use of exposed imagery from prior and ongoing artwork I was also keen to generate art from waste. Different waste materials continued to be used as complementary and contrasting forms of resist including different forms and weights of shredded paper and card of which some of the waste had already been printed on to create additional effects in print. The cardboard acted as an additional recycled material to investigate through print. From using such a mix of materials and techniques so many varying outcomes could be realised. The experimentation processes continued through using up left-over colours from previous art projects within the studio space. I selected from colours which offered the most information concerning contrasts, the effects of the resist material, layering and distortion effects as well as investigating how the different surface tensions and finishes responded to different printing inks. The use of the materials reinforced and connected with the context of environmental sustainability and minimising waste. I particularly enjoyed using recycled, reclaimed, found, and repurposed materials with waste products, it supported the core purpose, guiding principles and aesthetic of my artwork. Such sampling processes generated so many more ideas for sampling and aided the development of my creative processes. I liked working with the feel of the cardboard, of the variety of experimentation possible given both the physical properties of the materials and the visual qualities which were enhanced with print, imprint, and resist.
Through using mixed imagery and techniques with varying sizes of squeegee and pressure with single pulls interesting and impactful outcomes were created. Different screen sizes were selected to vary the perspective of the imagery alongside working to disrupt what was on the screen through print. I sought to articulate my narrative through using reused materials with waste products in innovative ways. I wanted to create using recycling and minimising waste. I wished to capture the beauty and strength of something recycled and reclaimed with waste products to promote their usage and dispel their inferiority. I enjoyed exploring this concept of reuse and repurposing throughout this series of screen-printed cardboard. I engaged fully within this series of creative investigative processes as if interrogating the surface of the cardboard and its response to the printing inks to challenge myself and to gain the maximum degree of learning possible from such experiencing, of how the different types of cardboard and surface finishes reacted differently in how they held or repelled the printing inks. Through such immersive and deep relating optimum outcomes were achieved whereby the material in use could be best responded to, represented, and connected with.
From this series of cardboard prints especially A1 size I felt the more successful outcomes centred around the use of black and brown-red-orange colour schemes with the mixed imagery in use from the original artwork. I felt that the overall size worked well with the scale of mixed imagery. This was helped by the natural brown coloured cardboard and the complementary and contrasting tonal range. As often is the case I naturally gravitated to a more paired back colour range in keeping with the cardboard material. I enjoyed relating with and respecting the physical qualities of the materials I was working with. I felt that I was responsible for promoting the use of such cardboard materials to shine a light on materials which are so often underrepresented in the art world. The surface quality and feel of the printed cardboard surfaces was altered significantly through print. The cardboard distorted fractionally but held its overall integrity which created more impactful results.
Despite personally preferring the natural tonal range of the cardboard the white coloured cardboard also enabled some interesting contrasts and positively highlighted the natural surface qualities of the cardboard more given the colour schemes used. The black and brown-red-orange printing inks on white cardboard often illustrated every surface textural mark which I liked. Through layering increased mark making was possible using both the artwork imagery and the natural surface qualities of the cardboard. It was lovely to see and respond to the printed artwork effects of the natural surface qualities of coastal and marine life with the cardboards own natural surface qualities with the over layering of colour and print. I have been so impressed with cardboard as an ideal material for print I aim to continue to creatively investigate and extend such usage while also increasingly integrating weave with related materials including the use of cardboard as warp and weft itself.
Although not completely new to Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) I was new to using MDF as a material to print onto using screen-printing processes. As this material is created from waste…mainly wood fibres and chippings I felt that I was capitalising upon waste products which was environmentally sound. Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) is an engineered wood-based sheet material made by bonding together wood fibres with a synthetic resin adhesive. MDF is extremely versatile and can be machined and finished to a high standard for creative practice.
Right from the outset I really enjoyed using MDF as a material to print onto, the surface quality lent itself to the screen-printing processes with its capacity to accept the printing ink in ways which were both conducive to the imagery and the material being used. The MDF acted as an ideal canvas with its natural coloration, patination, resilience, and robustness as the MDF did not distort despite the pressure applied. This resulted in clear and precise prints throughout the sampling processes which were visually impactful.
From experimenting with MDF I was pleasantly surprised just how well the material responded to the printing ink. Single pulls using a small squeegee continued to be utilised as proven to be the most effective techniques from exploring different approaches. Waste printing ink was utilised using black, blue, and deep pink to investigate the impact of colour on such a surface. The colours used within this series and other experimental prints all dried slightly darker which I liked. Given the printed and painterly effects achieved further research is planned to increasingly investigate a greater range and scale of MDF. Given its lightweight and inexpensive properties with its recyclable credentials I aim to scale up. With its original organic structure of wood completely broken down to allow for consistent specifications with the density and binding material used I can see the possibilities of increasingly individualising how I use this material over time. I have also reflected upon the use of hardboard as a core panel considering its strength and longevity. Hardboard is denser than MDF and as such it is less prone to warping while still retaining its lightweight properties, it is a very uniform and stable surface however lacks the grain of MDF which I like. Through such sampling processes I have become more open to what constitutes materials within contemporary textiles, to continue to experiment with an ever-increasing range of materials to expand my knowledge, understanding and expertise of such materials, their use, and my relationship to and with them through print and weave.
Continuing Sampling Processes using Different Sheer Paper Types to Explore Fragility
Use of Natural Rice Paper from Waste Remnants to create a Series of Nine Prints & Imprints
Through reading up on rice paper and recognising its sheer qualities I started to experiment with different types of rice paper which is often used for sumi-e and calligraphy. I soon realised that this paper type had unique qualities in how they reacted to the printing inks. I was keen to select a rice paper for a series of screen prints on sheer paper, so I investigated its characteristics through sampling. I preferred unsized rice paper which was more of a raw product with heightened degrees of absorbency with a soft and textured surface quality. The small squeegee worked well as it could be more readily manipulated to suit the rice paper. Although there were difficulties with the rice paper ripping and pulling apart it matched the context. I enjoyed the screen-printing process of getting to know this material especially using more translucent printing inks on pre-cut rice paper. The ripping and tearing effects which exemplified this idea of fracturing fitted with what I wished to communicate, of environmental fragility and brittleness.
The natural and beautiful textural surface qualities of the rice paper added to the printed mark making alongside the picking up of several imprints from uncleaned screens. While the rice paper held up well after the first print there was less resilience evidenced with any additional prints. Thereafter the rice paper became quite unmanageable, stuck to the screen, and readily disintegrated. Despite this I felt that the process lent itself to the environmental context in which I work. I was almost fighting for the survival of the rice paper as I am trying to convey the fight that is required to preserve and work with the environment to ensure its survival. The imagery printed originated from natural surface qualities of marine and coastal life which was involved in this fight for life which helped to communicate this experience of struggle and survival within a life lived.
On several of the pieces of rice paper recycled resist materials were used including fringing and threads to create added contrasts and areas of interest. The resist worked well however this often-created additional fracturing as the rice paper was no longer completely flat during the screen-printing processes. With its sheer quality little pressure could be tolerated before fracturing which exemplifies the current environmental balance between life and death, survival, and extinction. I really enjoyed the immersive quality of this creative process and its juxtaposition with nature.
The imagery which worked best appeared to be the examples with a more equitable balance between print coverage, imprints, space, and colour between the left-over printing inks of translucent pale green and brown-red-orange. Areas of more dynamic mark making from both the exposed imagery on the screen and the use of smaller squeegees within selected areas of the imagery also contributed to the eventual outcome.
The printed rice paper was another material type which was lovely to touch, its natural qualities fractured through pressure and the application of printing inks still held onto its unique sheer qualities. This paper type appeared to replicate the qualities of muslin through print processes so while larger scale work would be extremely difficult using rice paper, I can carry forward this work on sheer paper to larger scale work on muslin.
Ultimately for me screen-printing is not about repetition but uniqueness, so with every print and imprint something different and dynamic was being created, which further fuelled an ongoing process of discovery through the varying and changing use of materials, techniques, relationships, scale, and feelings. In reviewing the use of print with weave using paper I started to establish relationships with 2D and 3D arrangements and configurations using twisted, torn and ripped paper strands.
Sampling Processes using Different Paper Types to Explore Coastal Textural Mark Making Qualities
Use of Natural Sugar Paper from Waste Remnants to create a Series of Four A2 Prints
Sugar paper or construction paper has been made by combining wood pulp, recycled paper, and dye. Wood pulp basically consists of shredded wood that is mixed with hot water until it gets mushy. More recently agricultural waste has been capitalised upon to make sugar paper. The texture is slightly rough, and the surface is unfinished. Due to the source material, mainly natural pulp, small particles are visible on the paper’s surface which made the paper type ideal for screen-printing and this encouraged the investigation of a range of different sugar paper types. The roughness of the surface quality of sugar paper created impactful areas of mark making through print, imprint, and resist. The use of resist exploited the grain and textural qualities of the paper especially the sugarcane by-product waste.
A mix of imagery was used from a selection of screens which centred around the natural surface qualities of a great many natural forms especially from marine and coastal environments. Apart from the addition of deep pink a simplified colour palette of black and pale green printing inks was preferred given the transparency of the pale green which contrasted with the textured paper surface and the solidity of the black. Some of the mark making was created by not cleaning the screens and allowing additional imprints to be made with the use of shredded wastepaper and recycled haberdashery items like threads, fringing and ribbon which were left on and removed from the screens between prints.
I was once more led by the material in use and how it reacted and responded to each print, imprint and the use of resist. Less individual and unique stencilling work was undertaken given the investigative nature of the creative sampling processes including the examination of the surface qualities of sugar paper. The rough and unfinished surface texture of the sugar paper meant that it proved to be relatively easy to print onto as it absorbed the print well without any distortion. Its overall resilence and strength evidenced the beauty and uniqueness of waste, of the benefits of using recycled and repurposed materials.
In using sugarcane by-product waste in the production of sugar paper it has clearly demonstrated that agricultural waste can be used in the production of paper instead of wood pulp from trees. Every two boxes of sugar sheet paper can save one 30ft tree and in doing so this reduces the scale of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Agricultural fibre waste can then be diverted from landfill sites and used to make paper to enable the trees to do what they do best…save the planet by absorbing carbon dioxide.