This is probably where I should tell you that I’m not a Doctor, and I don’t play one on TV; proceed at your own risk and all that jazz. Just don’t do anything stupid, like drink something not intended to be imbibed.
Ok, Speedball Drawing Fluid and Screen Filler. I’m not linking sources on these because there are tons of places to get it, even Amazon. Just G00gle it. Here we go…
This reminds me of when I made a Crazy Quilt for my very first ever quilt. Brilliant. Since heaven forbid I start with something simple, I started with a Photoshopped image that began life as a ceiling rondel from a cathedral in England. I’ll be damned if I can remember which one, though.
I mounted the piece of sheer fabric inside a quick-load screenprinting frame. I put the paper on the work surface, and roughly painted the image on the back* of the screen. The key here was keeping the same perspective while working since the design was an inch+ below the screen. I even duplicated the “oops” looking dots and the spots where black was missing in some ‘petals’ of the flower. I clearly don’t like things too perfect or symmetrical.
Sure, I could have taped the paper to the screen and or laid the screen over it upside-down and traced the design onto the fabric with a pencil to make it easier. Clearly, I wasn’t interested in exerting that extra five minutes. I started to, actually, and decided after the first ‘petal’ that I simply didn’t care that much because it was the general idea that mattered. I doubt you would want to tape the design to the screen and leave it there – it might pull the fluid through or let it bleed where you don’t want it. Or, it might be great. I didn’t try it. YMMV.
I used an inexpensive #5 round paintbrush. Don’t overload your brush. You don’t want to put it on so heavy that you have globs dripping through, which can be tough at first. You also don’t want to put it on so thin that it doesn’t really fill the fabric openings properly (unless you WANT that effect). The Drawing Fluid is thick enough that you can push the fluid with the tip of the brush though, which gives you some additional control for small places and edges and the like. In essence, this is a balancing act of having the drawing fluid both fill the fabric openings and also still sit on top of the threads of the fabric itself. Or, I could be obsessing. Wash out your brush with warm, soapy water as soon as you finish.
In a perfect world, you aren’t doing this on a cold or humid day. That said, you can totally do this part inside – either way have a protected work surface. It doesn’t have much of a smell, and I’m very sensitive to such things – doesn’t bother me a bit. Don’t let the cats get into it, you know, just on principle.
Put this somewhere FLAT to dry. If you think it will drip, put a piece of fabric or paper under it. Preferably in the sun, but not if leaves & bits are going to fall onto it, etc. If you have the fabric in a hoop, don’t let loose edges blow onto the painted area. It will piss you off, but it isn’t a project killer. You can still rinse all of the drawing fluid off with water even if it is dry.
Go do something else. Don’t watch it, don’t touch it to test it, and don’t fuss with it. When it is dry, it will still be shiny and look a little wet in places even after hours in the Texas sun. It’s just trying to mess with your head.
This was the first time I’d ever used the screen filler, but my Mom had done some testing on little pieces of sheer in hoops the day before. I spooned some on to flood the screen* and use the squeegee to move it around, but it dripped through in numerous places. It worked its way onto the back of the drawing fluid areas in some spots. Again, this went much better on tighter weave screen fabric – but I’ve also painted it on with foam brushes. You can make it work perfectly well as long as your drawing fluid lines are not overly thin (in width or in coverage). Don’t paint over the drawing fluid too many times or let too much filler sit on top of it – makes it hard to wash away.
I didn’t take a picture of this image at this stage, so this will have to do…
Again: put this somewhere FLAT to dry. If you think it will drip, put a piece of fabric or paper under it. Preferably in the sun, but not if leaves & bits are going to fall onto it, etc. If you have the fabric in a hoop, don’t let loose edges blow onto the painted area. It will piss you off, but it isn’t a project killer. You can touch it up again later. The screen filler will be completely matte in appearance when dry.
Once the screen filler is well and truly dry, use COLD water to wash out the blue drawing fluid. This can take a long time if the drawing fluid is too thick. Use a toothbrush to help. It is best to focus the water only on the areas with drawing fluid – and if you let it get good and wet it is easier to scrub off. Also, you can wet it from the inside* of the screen frame to help. Be gentle, but not tentative. Sometimes it helps to support from inside with your fingers while scrubbing with the toothbrush.
Once all of the drawing fluid is rinsed out, put this somewhere and let it dry completely – until the screen filler is once again completely matte and there are no damp spots. Don’t fall for it when you think you can just wipe this out and test it with a single printing. Just Say No.
Once it is well and truly dry, START PRINTING! I use fabric paints and thickened dyes. If you use paints, be SURE to rinse it out completely as soon as you stop printing.
If you refuse to wait until it is really dry/cured, the screen filler will come off – both during printing and when rinsing the screen after printing. Still, this is not a project killer. You can touch it up with more screen filler and a paint brush, or touch it up with another filler product. I have since touched this screen up several times using Polyacrylic and a #5 paintbrush.
This is the ‘regular’ screen that worked really well with flooding of the screen filler…
Another quick and easy one follows, on an old screen with plenty of ghosting:
I used a foam roller to load the drawing fluid onto a stamp I created. Because pushing the really large stamp onto the back of the screen didn’t get proper contact, I flipped the whole thing upside down – stamp on the work table fluid up, put the back of the screen against it, and pressed down with the roller brush from the inside of the screen frame. I got the very light, scattered coverage of drawing fluid that I was after.
The screen, after fill and washout:
Screen detail: (you can see stains from previous designs)
Stamp I used, made from glued together layers of puff-embroidery foam cut into shapes and glued to a board. Why I had this foam, I have no idea.
Next round: checking out the alternatives!*Remember – you are putting both the drawing fluid and the screen filler on the OUTSIDE of the screen – the side that lays against the fabric when you print. NOT on the inside where you use the squeegee.