Hood Joplin                   


Here’s my first blog post. My good friend Danielle and I were chatting about 00s - 10s internet culture, and the community + spirit that came with it. Blogs played a big part in both of our lives (+ also how we met ♡ ) + she encouraged me to start one up.  I don’t know what I’ll write in here, but today I’ll write about screenprinting, let’s see how it goes~

Pretty much all of my hobbies are digital, so I decided to try screenprinting again after a few failed attempts in highschool (still did make some fire t’s though, but that’s another story). A few years back I decided to finally learn how to properly print and took a course through a local print shop. When the course was done, I would use the open studio days to work on other projects ... but then Miss. Rona came around and the studio shut down for a while.

After a few months of being stuck in at home, I thought that I would try and switch up staring at digital screens all day and switch it up with some analogue screens.

Trial + Error. It was a lot different from printing at home than in an organized studio with an expert around for guidance. I failed so many times. There’s probably 2 Liters of emulsion that ended up down my bathtub drain. Once I started jotting down notes of what not to do, I would make fewer and fewer mistakes. The printmaking process requires each step to be done in order which is different from most of my other hobbies, (i.e. music- just open up Ableton and GO), so each time I would make a mistake I would have to start from scratch. I’m telling you, it was a mf pain. Slowly I started getting better with the tools I had around me, but I invested in two things that helped a lot: better emulsion (game changer) and a utility skink (s/o to my big bro for helping me install it).

Each time I finished a project, it got easier. Same goes for most things, but I’m telling you this was frustrating AF to figure out at home. Now that I figured it out, I thought I’d break down my process. The photos below are from a session I had last Sunday. S/O to my bestie Nick for coming by and helping with the art and concept!

Step 1: Prepare Screens

                        This part is boring but important. Essentially you take the emulsion and coat the screens with it. This needs to be done away from UV light. I learned that a yellow bug-light is much cheaper than any darkroom lights and does the trick. I do this step in a room with the windows covered and the yellow light on. After the screens are coated, you need to leave them to dry horizontally. I turn a fan on to speed this process up a bit. A blackout curtain is also a good idea if you don’t have space for a drying cabinet. With the emulsion that I use (Ulano Orange), the humidity in the room, and a number of other factors, I found 1.5 hours minimum drying time is required.

Step 2: Prepare Art

                      I bought some canvas from a local fabric shop so I thought it would be fun to make some patches. We didn’t really have an art concept going in but I had some high mesh-count screens ready which meant we could try something with higher detail (higher mesh = more spots for the ink to pass though, think of it like pixels). We smoked up and Nick found some cool photos from some of his trips that we went with. I thought it would be cool to play with negative space so we added this sun element on top. We spent some time deciding what we liked and went with these designs. We printed out the designs on some inkjet transparency paper twice and layering them on top of one another to make sure that the transparency was dark enough that light cannot pass though (which is very important for the next step).

Step 3: Burn Screens

                       Back in the makeshift darkroom, we went to burn our design onto the screens we prepared in Step 1. To do this, we took the transparency we made in Step 2 and placed it onto the coated screens. We placed our transparency (reversed) onto the on the screen print side up (print side = the side that hits the print surface; the “flat” part of the screen). This is done on a black table or you can use a black t-shirt or piece of paper to ensure light did not go through. When doing detailed work such as a photographic image, I will place a piece of glass from a picture frame on top of the transparency to make sure it is flat and does not get distorted during the actual burning process; the glass allows light to go through the parts we do not want to print. Through trial and error from previous projects I found the optimal distance of light to the screen and calculated the appropriate burn time. If you’re interested in details HMU. We flicked the light on and waited for the screens to burn. As soon as the time is over, we shut the light off and developed the screens using water. Then with a little bit of water pressure, your design becomes exposed! The emulsion is still “wet” where the design was placed, and the other emulsion is cured by the burnlight. If done right, you should have a perfect stencil! Let it air dry a bit. 

Step 4: Print!

                       Prepare Prepare Prepare. We prepared some canvas by cutting it into smaller pieces. Surprisingly, the canvas was cheaper than the printmaking paper from the art store. Then, the ink, and the screen itself. Be really organized and tidy at this stage. I made a makeshift clampboard using some clamps I found online and an old cabinet door. It works perfectly. I locked the screen to this board and then taped up the parts of the screen that did not have emulsion, had a different design, or had any holes where ink could pass though and mess up my print. Using some transparency paper I did a test print that I also use for registration and if everything worked out, we should be good to go! This part is satisfying, once the image gets printed perfectly, it makes the tediousness of everything earlier in the day worth it.

Step 5: Reclaim Screens

                       Go to the carwash and spray them d o w n. You need high pressure to reclaim your screens (as well as a chemical emulsion remover). I like doing this when I’m having a bad day, it feels good to clean ‘em out and start thinking of my next project.

Anyways, hope you enjoyed this! 

x, hj