Exercise 2 Tools
Gillian Morris Student No. 511388
My Favourite Screen-Printing Tools-Equipment at the WASPS’ Artists’ Studio Complex in Glasgow within the Studio of Joanna Kinnersly-Taylor, Textile Artist
The Cornerstone lightbox has a clear screen at the top and a light source inside and when it is switched on, it is easy to see through most papers that are laid on the screen. I see the lightbox as invaluable for checking my artwork especially before exposure onto the screens as well as using it as an aid to work out how best to use my artwork for any of my screens which are in use to aid my printing processes. I prefer to lay out my artwork onto the lightbox and to experiment to see how best to layer and to arrange my artwork onto the screens and for layering purposes to optimise what works best and what feels right so I have the potential to realise the most I can with the materials I am working with in process. The Cornerstone lightbox is a large-scale piece of equipment which is ideal for layering my artwork to see through multiple layers of paper to fully evaluate the merits of any of my artwork before progressing further creatively and as such it encourages me to frequently stop, reflect and take stock, to work in more thought out and considered ways.
These manually operated weighing scales are essential for weighing out dyes accurately to achieve the preferred aesthetic, image and effect through the colour range and tonal variations used when screen printing. I like the manualised process of weighing and its level of engagement to achieve the desired results with colour when screen printing specific pieces with more exacting outcomes for others. When I do it manually, I feel more connected to the creative processes. Although not to everyone’s taste I like the design of these scales as so well made and the robust nature of these old and well used scales.
For me squeegees are like pens, pencils, and paintbrushes whereby I always have my favourites which I prefer to use when in the studio. Some of the older squeegees seem to mould to my hand through the years of use. I print in my own unique way dependent upon how I use the squeegee, the degrees of pressure applied during every pull and the number of pulls. More recently I have used smaller squeegees like paint brushes with larger screens to increasingly individualise every print as if I am painting over a canvas with paint, so I am relying more heavily on the feel of the squeegee in my hand and it being an extension of my thought processes to help me to achieve more creatively.
Although I love the feel and texture of wood with screens the newer aluminium screens are preferred especially for larger scale work given their lightweight construction, durability, and manoeuvrability. Lots of my screens are second-hand and reconditioned which has allowed me to build up a collection of screens and enabled me to work in layers and to revisit previously exposed imagery to continue to develop my preferred artwork. Most of the screens have my preferred mesh size of 49T-49 threads to the inch, which is a good all-round size for what I want to do with the materials I use, to get the right amount of ink coming through for the creation of my preferred imagery. For me, it is important to have a variety of screens to work with to achieve this building up of imagery through different layering processes and techniques
Photoshop and the Desktop Computer
Both Photoshop and the desktop computer help me to work in layers through the screen printing processes and while I still manually prepare my imagery through the compilation of my artwork Photoshop enables me to evaluate and reflect upon the layering processes more effectively before fully committing my preferred imagery to the screens. It is perfect for screen printers as the creative processes are so often multi-layered alongside separated and full imagery from my original artwork. I often experiment with scale through Photoshop to ensure the scaling up of an image is viable, effective, and preferable. Ultimately however nothing can replace the manual, creative and experimental process of generating the source imagery by hand. For me, any creative process starts through my own hands, thinking processes, and tools which are used on a range of materials, and of relating and responding to what is happening in the moment as a consequence of every mark made.
Nuarc Mega-Light Fluorescent Screen Exposure System
The Nuarc Mega-Light Fluorescent Screen Exposure System has a specially designed vacuum system which features high-speed drawdown, ensuring intimate film-to-screen contact without damage to the screen or glass. The LED timer with digital readout ensures accurate exposures and fast exposure times and the ultraviolet light source and vacuum frame are enclosed, which means that the screen exposure lamp cannot be turned on while the blanket frame is open which avoids unnecessary duplication of work through inaccurate exposure times. The exposure unit is robust, durable, easy to use with proven reliability with exposure to a good quality. The blanket and vacuum are exceptionally flexible and resilient material which ensures intimate contact which is vital for a perfect transfer. While home-made options have been used in the past the transfer of the imagery onto the screen has not been less successful. That said such an exposure unit including the vacuum and UV lamp is necessary for the way I work using half-tone and richly detailed imagery including the use of expressive and gestural mark-making.
Before printing occurs, the frame and screen must undergo a coating process with photo-emulsion in which this emulsion is ‘scooped’ across the mesh. Once this emulsion has dried, it is selectively exposed to ultra-violet light, through a film printed with the required design. This hardens the emulsion in the exposed areas but leaves the unexposed parts soft. They are then washed away using a water spray which will allow the passage of ink. The coating trough therefore is essential for the good transfer of an image to the screen as it is used to apply photo-emulsion to the screen. It is basically an aluminium trough used to achieve an equal coating onto the screen to ensure an excellent exposure. There are numerous sizes available at the Wasps Factory in Glasgow to suit any size of screen. Both the angle held, and the speed of application is crucial to the success of a sufficient and even distribution of photo-emulsion throughout each screen. Given the manual nature of screen-printing processes including all the necessary preparation and equipment there is complete mental absorption, physical connection, and engagement within each process through all the senses especially touch, sight, and sound.