Screen Printing

A three-week screen printing workshop with Caroline assisted me in discovering new ideas of adding surface decoration on ceramics no matter which raw material, bisque ware or glazed ware. The printing techniques demonstrated by Caroline were mainly monochrome print.

The print techniques showed in the first week had already been demonstrated by Pete in last year’s Field project, such as using coloured slip, mixing print medium with colour oxide, underglaze and onglaze powder, the use of decal paper and pottery tissue. But it was good to have revision.

In the second and third-week workshops we were taught to prepare, set up and process the proper screen printing technique. The preparation time was rather lengthy but the outcome was well worth it as the technique allows us to consistently reproduce a detailed image.

The image used for printing should avoided containing the colours, grey and mid tones since they cannot be shown clearly. So I used Photoshop to discard the mid tones of my image which left only black and white.

Regarding the image I used, were patterns which were taken from traditional blue and white porcelain then reassembled to form a new pattern. The idea was inspired by Jaime Hayon, who used traditional patterns from Japanese culture to create a series of porcelain wares.

jamie hayon

The screen printing technique is to use light sensitive emulsion and light to expose the image onto a mesh (screen) to make a stencil. The whole process should be finished in dark room as the light sensitive emulsion is extremely sensitive to light.

The emulsion was evenly spread on the mesh by using a squeegee then put into a drying cabinet to dry for about half an hour. As long as the emulsion had dried the mesh was readied for making a stencil. The black and white image was placed face up on an exposure unit then the mesh was put on top of the image. There was a small tube placed between the mesh and the cover of the unit, which was an elastic material, to suck out all the air and then the image was securely clamped in place.

The black area of the image will block the light so the emulsion will not be hardened while the white area will be hit by the light and gets hard. The exposure process usually takes about 4 and a half minutes, and it depends on the quality of the image. After exposing the mesh the unhardened emulsion will be washed away to reveal the image.

 

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