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Silk Screening Love at Ryonet

Last weekend, I took a silk screening class at Ryonet in Los Angeles, California. Not that I want to open my own screen printing shop, but I wanted to get back to handmade processes and get my hands dirty! Also, like many will tell you, it’s important to know your roots and printing in any form is deep down there in the roots of design.

Printing anything physically takes a lot of time and care. In a world where everyone wants things to go bigger, faster, and harder, this process seems counter intuitive to that. You have to slow down, take your time, think out a process and this, for me, can be a very Zen experience. This also is an awesome way to remind yourself to do this in every aspect of your life from work to home life. We can all benefit from this “slow down and be present” idea.

I find that when I am designing for a large project it’s the only way I can start off. Then, once I get things nailed, I am off and running, but not before I take a moment to breathe, review all the details, weigh my options and then start slowly. When in a rush, details are forgotten and you end up wasting more time in the long run. That I can almost fully guarantee and I’ve learned this from experience of doing the opposite. So, it was nice to be reminded of the importance of exercising care while going through the silk screening process during the two days of the class at Ryonet.

OK, sorry for getting touchy-feely there. Back to the screen printing class!

Day 1: Ryonet class on basic two-color print jobs, pulling ink through a screen

It was a two-day course, 9 am-5 pm each day. It actually goes by quickly. They even provide food and drinks, which is cool.

The first day covers the basics, but I think it’s a good idea to have some idea of how printing in general works. I know about CMYK printing and the printing process from being a designer, but if you just jumped in and never heard of it, I could see how it would be a little daunting. They go over different types of emulsion, how to apply emulsion to a blank screen and then how to burn an image into a screen. Pretty quickly, you realize this is a messy process and it takes time and patience to become proficient.

Press up close

In the class on the first day they also go over the different ways to print. You can do a CMYK screen print where it’s literally just as you would imagine it — one screen for cyan, one for magenta, one for yellow and one for black. Then, you print all of them et violà, the image! You can also just use Pantone inks, one Pantone ink color per screen, and as many screens as your press can hold, I assume, to combine into a print. Finally, there is simulated process that uses halftones of a few ink colors to represent the colors in the original design. This process differs from the standard 4-color process in that the inks are solid opaque colors, usually used for printing on dark-colored shirts. Since the shirt colors are normally black (or at least dark), simulated process generally requires the use of an underbase that is applied first to the dark shirt and “flashed” dry before applying the other inks. More info is available at the Graphic FX FAQ.

Day 2: Foiling, glow in the dark and more!

On the second day, you get a chance to try out different types of screen printing using inks on shirts as well as paper. This gives you a great sense of the different types of things you can do with screen printing including puff pants, glitter, plastisol, water based inks, foiling and discharge printing. It’s all really cool stuff. I even dig the cheesy foiling — it’s shiny, after all. Seriously, though, the great thing about it is that you can use any combination of ink and screen mesh sizes to screen print most surfaces and that’s an opportunity for a lot of great ideas for different projects.

Examples of silk-screened shirts that I made in class!


Fun with applying foil to a T-shirt

 Have you tried any kind of screen printing? What have you printed?




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