Friday, March 12, 2010

Foray in to Silkscreening... On Glass!

So I've been looking at some glass online and I have been trying to figure out the process of transferring images to glass for a few months now. There is only one way to figure it out and that is to splurge sixty bucks on a beginner silkscreen kit!

Dad took me up to Kelowna and waited patiently for me as I picked out what I wanted at the art store. I had to beat myself off the nicer supplies, reminding myself I'd never done this before. (Well, except once when I was about fourteen years old in Mrs. Saul's class. I remember I did a hippie portrait of John Lennon and screened it on a t-shirt. But I digress....) I ought to have an instruction booklet. So with my big box of silkscreen goodies under my arm, I went home, ripped off the plastic wrap and laid everything out on the kitchen table. I felt like a little kid with new crayons! Fresh, shiny new supplies. Yes!

The apple tree image traced on the screen then painted in with turquoise drawing fluid. When painting the image on, the screen can't touch any surface, so that is my mother's pizza pan underneath it all. Worked like a charm! (the stuff I'm using is non-toxic, so no big worries!)

The first thing I did was draw out my design in pencil. Then I read the instruction manual, to be told that I had to wash the screen in soapy water first, then seal the edges with masking tape. Damn! I knew there was a reason I wanted the instruction manual. So I did things a little backwards- I painted in the drawing fluid after the screen was generally dry from washing it. Then I let it sit overnight to completely dry, and then I taped it up the next morning and burnished it all down with the back of a spoon. (I love spoons!)

Thanks Dad, for having green masking tape on hand. Looks pretty!

Then, I had to repaint in the bits I missed with blue drawing fluid. Little pin pricks of light needed to be blocked. Once that was dry, I was ready for the terracotta screen filler.

Terracotta coloured screen filler, put in place by the same spoon that burnished the masking tape.

Once the turquoise drawing fluid was dry, it was time for the terracotta screen filler. I have to say I didn't expect these colours of turquoise and terracotta. I liked it though! Colour always makes things fun.

Colourful little screen waiting to be washed!

Next I took the plastic squeegee that came with the box and dragged the screen filler across the screen. You've got to do this in one swipe- the drawing fluid is water soluble so too many passes of the squeegee will dissolve the drawing fluid and your image will look like crap. I didn't do too badly, but you can see where I had to touch it up on the bottom right had corner- luckily it wasn't near the image! Phew!

No more blue!

Next I had to rinse the screen in the bathtub with the detachable shower head,with COLD water, concentrating on the image, both sides of the screen. I have to say, it was a satisfying feeling watching the image appear, knowing this was the last step before silk screening. It meant it was going to work! Yay!

Silkscreening the blue glass paint onto clear glass.

My silkscreening kit is for fabrics. I can make t-shirts and stuff with this funky little apple tree now. But I wanted to try glass first. So I cleaned up a piece of clear glass and put it under the screen and applied blue glass paint just as I did the screen filler. (I have no idea how that sreen filler is ever going to come off the screen! I guess the instruction booklet might tell me.) I've included the ghetto little squeegee so you can see what it looks like. It works though! So I can't complain.

One nice thing about silk screening on glass- if you don't like it, you can wash it! Unlike paper. I didn't like the first few I did. Too faint in the leaves so I experimented rubbing the paint in with my finger. If I rubbed too much, the design bled. So I found a nice happy medium, a little squeegee, a little rubbing and voila, I silkscreened successfully on glass!

Checking which colours look good. the problem is, the glass paint might change colour in the kiln. For instance, the pink paint here says dark red on the bottle. I had to be careful which colour I put behind the image, because I don't know what it's going to do in the kiln. I'm hoping it turns dark red.

It didn't take long to dry, but it was easy to scratch the paint if I wasn't careful. So I headed over to Larry's glass studio and began constructing some experiments. Larry's back now and Mitch is gone. Larry was both perplexed and curious about my experiments!

Cream squares seems like a safe bet, in case this turns colour! You cans see the paint is on the outside, so there is a slight shadow.

So I made two kinds of plates (three altogether)- One that has the paint on the outside, the bonus is that the design is three dimensional and casts a shadow on the coloured glass. I think it looks cool, but the down side is that the paint can be scratched off before being fired. The second one has the paint sandwiched between glass on the inside, meaning the image is protected completely but there is no shadow.

This one has the paint on the inside, so I couldn't use any glue to hold the cream piece in place. Those little blue squares are glued so it shouldn't shift in the kiln... hopefully! Notice this image is reverse compared to the pink image above? One of the benefits of printing on clear glass!

They are in kiln now~ check back to see how they turn out!



  1. Mel,
    These are stunning!! I think you should continue the creative glass :)

  2. Melanie: I googled silkscreening on glass and read your blog, then got to the bottom and saw with a start that OMG - your name is Melanie - So is mine! I had this weird thought for just a second that 'good grief, am I living some alternate life out there, blogging about silkscreening on glass?' How did these turn out?
    I'm looking to silkscreen old photos onto glass for a commission, which is why I'm looking into this...

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