Screen and Screen Again at Ink Spot Press

Green tree print by Ivy Arch

On the second day of printmaker Jane Sampson's Thursday morning course at Ink Spot Press I experienced the absolute magic of printing an image onto a piece of paper. The six session course at Brighton's open-access printmaking workshop takes us through screenprinting step-by-step. Last week we looked at some of the inspiring work of printers and artists who'd previously passed through Ink Spot including Jane's own beautiful artwork; learnt how to prepare a screen with photo emulsion; made up a sample stencil; and exposed an image onto a screen.
Ink Spot Press, Brighton
Outside and inside Ink Spot Press HQ

A simple paper-cut tree seemed a good starting point for my first print, with the idea of exploring mark making and printing texture on top of the leaves. I roughly drew and cut out a stencil from stiff black paper then laid a piece of acetate on top and experimented drawing cross hatches, swirls, dots, patterns and making grainy marks. 

Initial test design for screenprint

The two pieces – black cut out stencil and scribbled-on acetate were then laid side by side onto a prepared screen and put in the screenprint exposure unit. It was a thrill to press the start button and wait for my images to appear on the screen.

My first exposed screen
A big moment as my first screen emerges from the exposure unit!

This week Jane showed us how to set up, secure and register the screen in preparation for printing onto paper. It's a much more exacting process than I remembered from my previous improvised attempts at printing onto fabric more than 20 years ago! I began using the tree stencil shape part of the screen, and will try printing with the textured/patterned leaf part next week.

Printing a tree at Ink Spot Press

Screenprinting is physically demanding but also hugely rewarding – my dormant biceps were put to work in attempting to apply the correct pressure to the squeegee to evenly distribute ink across the screen. I could've happily carried on mixing colours and printing trees all day. 

Many trees in shades of green
Trees on top of pink test print paper

Seeing my simple first image reproduced in different tones on variously coloured backgrounds was so exciting and the euphoria hasn't faded yet. I can't wait for next week's class...

Ivy Arch tree on yellow rectangle
Ivy Arch tree on pink rectangle with missing white area
Colourful tree print