Final color!

It’s ridiculous how much the final color (usually black) pulls everything together. One second the prints look like amorphous blobs of color kind of sitting on top of one another and the next, they make sense.

The screen:

the mess:

the print:

just a bit of tweaking/cleaning up to do, but the colors are done. The anxiety is mostly over. Heavy sighs of relief.


Day 3!

Day 3: trapped in the same room, windows agape, ancient, temperamental stereo cranking, with the warm weather breathing its tantalizing and inescapable breath in my face, I’m wearing the same apron I’ve been wearing every time I’ve exposed myself to the throes of sloppy ink. I always grab this particular one: smeared with black throughout one side, graciously pristine on the other. I’m not sure why I have almost this automatic impulse to grab this particular apron. Today I actually scoured amongst all the others hanging on the back of the storage closet door to find it. We have a special bond, almost. The whole week it was me and this apron against this screen and this print. Allies. The only real object who could possibly know the trials and tribulations of this process as they unfolded first-hand.

Although the seemingly endless hours of seclusion in this room had weighed on my mental well-being by this point, I drudged forward, determined to complete this project before school was back in session and we were all walking on eggshells around each other, trying to use the power washer at the same time and politely competing for space. Here is what I had completed by Day 3:

I was luckily able to save myself a step by using one screen for two separate colors because the colors did not come close to one another. I used masking tape to create a barrier between the color sections. Tape was also used to block small areas where the emulsion didn’t seem to stick. Just in case. The magenta was printed first:

The yellow was printed after wiping the excess magenta away so the colors didn’t mix:

And of course after washing out the ink and emulsion came the last of the Rubylith cutting:

No more Rubylith cutting!

The week goes on.

By the end of Day 1, the first color (dark blue) was printed, the second color Rubylith was cut and the screen filler was washed out. The screen was degreased and coated with photo emulsion to dry overnight. The morning of Day 2, the first Rubylith (the mustache pattern) was shot on the photo emulsion and the screen was rinsed, leaving behind the hardened emulsion. By 11am, I was in Amanda Lebel’s studio starting the letterpress. As of right now, I only have about 75 reverse sides to print.

By 1pm I was back in the printmaking room, printing the second blue on top of the empty blue area (the blue on the screen seen here is the negative space, the transparent part is what will actually show up on the print):

and cutting the second Rubylith; a much simpler feat than the first.

I’m kind of loving the way the layers of cut Rubylith look on top of one another.

By the end of Day 2, I had shot the second color screen, started letterpressing, cut the second Rubylith, washed out the screen and coated it with new emulsion for Day 3!

Seven Day Success

As the week of insanity draws to a close, I can finally sit back and reflect on all those 8-10 hour days in the printmaking studio. I regret not being able to update this every night of the last week due to plain exhaustion, but I did manage to snap a plethora of pictures throughout with the help of various fellow Shafer dwellers. I think the easiest and logical way of showing them all will be by each day and each step. I apologize thoroughly for the lack of pictures of me actually printing, it’s a bit of a stressful, messy and fast-paced process. Stopping for pictures would mean ink drying in the screen!

Day 1 involved a number of things happening simultaneously: Prepping the screen, completing the image to its final state and printing the outlines on the plotter in the Davis lab, using Screen Filler for the first color to block the white space where my face will go, and cutting Rubylith for the second color while everything dried. Simple duct tape was used to prevent the ink from sloshing everywhere or leaking through the edges of the screen. The screen was then washed and degreased so that the filler could consistently adhere to the parts I wanted to block. I used the printed outline as a kind of map for tracing and cutting the Rubylith later on for each of the colors.

The outlines are also seen here, underneath the taped and degreased screen. I have the screen propped on a few pieces of foamcore so that the paper outlines did not stick to the back of the screen. Clear acetate was also under the screen to further prevent any drips or mishaps to the only copy in my possession.

By this time, Akus Gallery director and curator Elizabeth Peterson had popped in to see what I was up to:

The finished product:

And while this was drying, I cut each and every one of these mustaches out with an X-acto knife.

It seems so simple; lightly trace with the X-acto over the matte side of the Rubylith, and peel back the thin, red layer of film. I started this at noon. It was complete by 6pm.

This was only Day 1. Eat your heart out Rubylith.

Springbreak in Shafer Hall!

A trip to Providence involving Utrecht and the RISD art store with $210 in art supplies and $30 in gas, I have all the supplies needed to make this portrait. Today consists of mapping out my image to its completion, cutting Rubylith and prepping and coating my screen with emulsion. Tomorrow starts the letterpressing process at Amanda Lebel’s studio. Printing and assembling the rest of the week like a crazy person.

And Just Like That!

…the Letterpress plates are in! Images have also been gathered for the actual content of the silkscreen portrait. After much stressing about large-format transparency printing and all local places not having these capabilities, it turns out I will be using a great deal of Rubylith. Which I have fallen completely in love with. For those of us longing to connect with incredible things of the past which required skill and obscene patience, Rubylith is a glorious material that masks or blocks light as black ink on a transparency would. So instead of spending loads of money on several transparencies and running the risk of fixing tiny defects for endless hours, I can just draw my image, cut out the white space with an X-acto knife and peel the red layer back, leaving the clear film for light to pass through.

As it stands right now, I will have my image and colors planned by the end of this week, and by the weekend, have ordered a 30×30″ screen from Victory Factory and 300 paper mustache cards from my wonderfully helpful Etsy source! All printing and production will happen over Spring Break. Coming togetherrrrr