Day 10, Thursday December 3rd, week 19

Introduction to Textile Printing, practical workshop 2

Fabric screen printing, a practical workshop with Andy

This is the second part of the sign-up workshop. Most of the group had prepared Folex (a brand name for acetate transparent sheets) drawings or prints ready to make screen photo stencils. I had not got mine ready, which meant a certain amount of running round:

  • scanning in the Epicentre, this means logging on to a computer that has a scanner attached (they aren’t networked) then saving the file
  • going to the Digital Print room, logging on, getting the image to the correct proportions and print requirement – 150 dpi – then printing the acetate on a laser printer

Perhaps I could have printed the acetate in the Epicentre? I will enquire.

Back in the fabric print room Andy demonstrated the coating of the screen with photo-emulsion and we each did one screen, which then went into the drying cabinet. Screens were taken into the exposure room in batches of three or four and made into stencils. After washing out and allowing to dry printing began.

Coating with photo-emulsion
Coating with photo-emulsion

Andy demonstrated pinning out the fabric – we each had three pieces of different weight cotton and a heavier wool mix, approx 33cm x 50cm.Positioing-the-squeegee,-ink-in-place

There was no attempt at registration, for those who wanted to do multi-colour, which seemed surprising. Although this was still a demonstration workshop several students wanted to use multi-colours straight away, and did, but with registering by eye only.

I finally got a screen exposed, washed it out but found it had a ‘blob’ of emulsion which had not fully exposed and so when the screen was washed out the stencil was wrong; I cleaned the screen and started again.


This-screen-is-poorly-exposedMy screen was stencil exposed, washed and ready to be taped soon after lunch, most of the group had made prints by this time. Parcel tape is used to block out the sides, top and bottom of the screen to prevent ink straying through at the edges of the stencil. Tape is applied to the underside of the screen.

Having pinned out the three pieces of fabric and covered the pins with masking tape I was ready to print.

Andy pinning down the fabric
Andy pinning down the fabric

I used a plain black ink – acrylic base and a dye colouring, already mixed, these have become almost universal in fabric and paper printing. For plastics and some other materials other inks are still required, with health & safety implications; e.g. printing on vinyl.

My acetate
My acetate

The actual printing was quick, results were as hoped for. I hastened the drying process with the iron, cleaned up my workspace, squeegee and screen, packed away.





My prints
My prints







NB:  Last week I asked Shaun (the Senior Technician who was giving the lecture) why there was no tee-shirt print facility, given the fairly obvious interest from Fashion students.  He said that if there was such a thing then it would be in effect a print bureau, and undoubtedly very popular for printing all sorts of tee-shirts, hoodies, and so on.

Screen print carousel, popular for low-cost and multi-colour tee-shirt printing
Screen print carousel, popular for low-cost and multi-colour tee-shirt printing.

I asked if that would be a bad thing.  The shop at Bower Ashton seems quite popular, that is a commercial operation.  Perhaps UWE does not want hassle of another venture that at least does not lose money?  A carousel print station of the type shown here is cheap, easy to install, easy to use and they are in widespread use commercially, something that “the university of the real world” might want to take on board, one might think.

Given that the Fabrication area is a facility that can be used by all, although not for commercial volumes of course, I can’t see why a screen print carousel could not be installed with the same conditions of use.


NB: Surprisingly there is no hand wash basin in the fabric print room. As in the rest of the print areas there are no places to hang coats, consequently bags and coats are piled on the floor or, sometimes hung with inky aprons. What a shame that in these austere times UWE cannot provide coat hooks.

Coat rack
Coat rack, of the sort not available at Bower Ashton campus