Screenprinting 101

Even simple creative projects can be immensely satisfying: that’s a lesson I re-learned last Tuesday at my first Open Studio water-based screenprinting class.

Which is not to suggest that all our class projects will be simple. Instructor Meggan Winsley, above, kicked things off by showing us examples of the kind of work that can be created using silk screens. I don’t expect to produce prints as accomplished as the ones Meggan showed us but my classmates and I were certainly inspired.

Next up was a tour of the screenprinting area, the supply cupboard, the washout room and darkroom, and the vacuum tables and drying racks.

screenprinting instruction at Open Studio

Meggan didn’t want to throw us into the deep-end but she definitely wanted us to get our hands dirty. She showed us a simple paper stencil and then demonstrated how we would use it to make our first prints. She outlined registration and other tips then assigned each of us a screen that we’ll use for the duration of the 8-week class.

The process is deceptively simple: cut a shape out of newsprint, tape it securely to the screen, then pull ink across the screen to coat the paper underneath. For added interest, Meggan showed us how to blend two inks to achieve a gradation of colour or an ombré effect.

stencil and screenprint

Our cutouts were simple, the process was simple but the satisfaction was enormous. My first print may be just a taupe and blue cow but damn, it was cool to lift that screen and see the image appear. My mind swam with possibilities!

Each student has his or her own reason for taking the class: some want to expand their art practice or enhance a formal art study program, others, like me, are there to wake up our dormant creativity.

screenprinting students at Open Studio

Meggan is an excellent instructor; knowledgeable and patient, she was at our sides to answer questions and help us unravel the mysteries of screenprinting but she was also keen to let us run with the ball, make mistakes, have fun.

With our first runs complete it was time to clean up and put the studio back to the way we found it. We washed and dried our screens and slid them back into their slots, anxious to pick them up again next week and see where else this marvelous process will take us. Stay tuned . . .

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