Archives for posts with tag: Theresa Haberkorn

One of my goals this year is to learn new printing techniques, so I signed up for a screen printing class at the Art Students League of Denver, with my friend Theresa Haberkorn. Side note: one ulterior motive was to check out the League and see how it felt to drive to Denver for a class. I love the building and the atmosphere, and the instructor, Mark Friday, was super knowledgeable, clearly a professional. I’ll definitely take a class there again.

Here’s what I ended up doing:

First, In class we “prepped” the screen (wood frame with mesh) by applying a photo-sensitive emulsion. In a dark room, we applied several coats and let it dry. From this point forward, the screen had to be kept “in the dark” (haha) until it was time to expose it.

Then, at home, I created transparencies of the image I wanted to print out. On a road trip last fall, I took this picture of a truck carrying a huge load of pipes. I love it!!

So I altered the picture to give it more contrast (remove detail) using <unpaid plug> Adobe Photoshop products, and then I created another copy of the image and reversed the black and white, to create a negative. I asked Kinkos to print both images onto transparency paper. (If you want to draw, you can also use a Sharpie on the transparency, but I don’t think it works to run transparency paper through most home printers.)

So now I was ready to “expose” the screen. I placed both transparancies onto the screen, and put it under a super strong photo light (500W, I think), for about 20 minutes. Trust me, you didn’t want me to take the picture with the light on – it’s like looking into the sun!

After 20 minutes, the “pink” emulsion that was exposed to the light hardens, and everything underneath the black areas stays unexposed. You have to wash out the unexposed area as soon as possible, and thoroughly – something I didn’t quite achieve, as you’ll see in the finished product.

This is what the screen looks like when it’s done exposing and washed out. All of the white areas will allow ink through, and the pink areas are all blocked. And now the screen can be in full sunlight and it won’t get damaged, in fact I think it can stay this way for years, for future use.

The screen is now ready to be printed! Stay tuned for my next post, where I show you how to screen print (and with a cracked rib no less!)…

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My most recent “inner” post was about a new large-format carving I did on MDF. Here’s what happened next:

Carving into MDF isn’t that hard – it cuts smoothly and cleanly. Before printing with it, I suspected I should treat it with something, because it’s porous, like wood (really more like cardboard). I learned from Theresa Haberkorn that the typical treatment for woodcut blocks is Polycrylic protective finish. Since my studio isn’t ventilated, I took the board outside and applied two thin coats with a paintbrush, letting the first one dry for several hours. The board turns shiny, as I expected, as if I had coated a piece of furniture with a finish.

Then I jumped right in with my first print! First, I mixed up and rolled out a bright yellow from Speedball ink:

Then I rolled it onto the MDF block, just around and inside of the hand – I’m thinking that I’ll cut out this large hand, so I don’t need to ink the whole board:

I used a hand-held baron to print the hand onto two pieces of newsprint (taped together – I don’t have paper this size!):

And the final product, which reveals a lot to me – first, it’s inconsistently printed, so I need to pay more attention to that next time – I suspect this is partly because Speedball printmaking ink isn’t the greatest and I should be using something that dries slower. I also noticed some areas that I wanted to carve out a little more, so I did that (and then reapplied Polycrylic).

What a learning process! Sometimes I think my work would move along a little faster if I was in an MFA program, learning from the instructors how to avoid mistakes before I hit them, but I’m also having fun experimenting in the unknown…