Life & Travel

Screen printing

From the heart, via the mind, through the hands, into the world.

By Lonneke — July 12, 2017 02:55 pm
Life & Travel

With a mind always overflowing with ideas, Arjan was looking for a canal to help him bring some of them into existence. Enter: screen printing. Through this, we can materialize these ideas ourselves, be it on wood, paper, glass or fabric, without being dependent on an external party.

It's a real craft, with lots of steps leading to the end results. With digital printing, your printer does all the work. With screen printing, you experience the whole process: from idea to design, mixing colors, press and final product.

Early 1700 screen printing already existed in Japan; it's been done for a while now. It's like magic, contains the element of surprise, a little like with developing film roles; it's exciting to watch the finished product unfold. Chemistry is involved, light reveals the stencil. It takes experimenting, testing, trying out, sampling.

This trade is labor-intensive, so small editions are costly, but as long as you're willing to put in the time, that's alright. It's a good counterbalance to get from the spirit into the physical world, to make ideas tangible. Use the head, not creatively, but focussed on the craft. In the past months Arjan has built a washing booth, an exposure unit, a drying cabinet and a printing table. The tees we print on a 4-color carousel, to fixate the fabric, to press multiple colors tautly.

We start with a blank screen and a mesh fit for the design/media we're going to use. Apply exposure emulsion on both sides, place the design (printed on a transparent sheet) on the screen, expose the screen - where the light gets through, the emulsion hardens. Then we rinse the screen - where the light didn't get through, blocked by the design, we wash off. We let the screen dry and then you're good to go and press one color.

For adding a second color, you need to repeat all these steps. Align the screen(s) and shirt, smear the ink on with a painters knife. Now you push (or pull), with a squeegee, the ink through the mesh of your screen onto the fabric, one screen/color at the time. To make the water evaporate and the ink to cure we apply heat to the final print. So after washing, the image is still as vivid as it was at the start.

The designs for our first T shirt line are all inspired by the Asian countries we travelled through during our worldtrip. Everything is hand drawn: no fonts were used, to make every image as fitting and authentic as possible.

The whole process is like putting a vegetable seed into the ground, which grows, maturing into its final form, then made into a nice dish to enjoy. The true artisan way.

We took off in 2015 with a year of travelling the world with our 3 awesome wingmen, wasting time on the better things in life. From that day on we document our endeavours and make things happen.