Saturday, March 5, 2011

Silkscreen Printmaking for the home-based printmaker

While going to art school, I majored in printmaking.While there I learnt all about lithography, intaglio and silkscreen techniques. I enjoyed silkscreen very much but once I graduated I didn't see how I could still pursue the technique in my home studio. The processes that I learned were very dependent on chemical emulsions,cleaners and large photgraphic equipment. I knew there was no way I was going to be able to expose my screen with the sun alone, at least not in this northern climate. I gave up silkscreening and sold my squeegees and my 20"x30" sturdy screen.

Once I started on Etsy I learned about Gocco in the forums and was so excited to hear that I might be able to rekindle my interest in silkscreening. Alas, Gocco has been discontinued and what is still out on the market is highly sought after and very expensive. Why hadn't I heard about this option in school? The Gocco system has been around since the late seventies after all. Nope, not a word. In fact, there were virtually no words of advice from the instructors as how to continue our printmaking pursuits after graduating. Yup, still bitter.

One day while reading my Facebook home feed, I came across a post by fellow printmaker Coralette Damme about her attempts at embroidery hoop silkscreening using Modge Podge as a resist. Having found the tutorial on  Craftgrrl , Coralette has really perfected this technique that uses readily available materials.

I tried numerous times to create a screen as well but I just couldn't seem to get what I wanted. The process nagged me and I asked for some online help from printmakers Coralette and Adam Devenish. The two of them looked at photos of my results and helped me try and find solutions to the constant ink bleeding problem I was having. After a final YouTube search on the process for the home I decided to use sheer curtain fabric stapled to an old Ikea frame. Once tight, I painted the Modge Podge on as a resist. Finally! My problems had been caused by and embroidery hoop that wouldn't keep the fabric taught enough. Phew! I can silkscreen again.

I was able to use the embroidery hoop again but I kept it to only 4 inches in diameter. My recommendation for the home printer is to find yourself a sturdy, empty wooden frame and a sheer curtain found at a local thrift store. Use Modge Podge to paint your stencil on and you'll have created a very usable silkscreen for under $5. Happy printing again.

I would love to hear how this process goes for you if you try it.


  1. I've had similar experiences, trying to figure how to continue with printmaking at home! That's why I'm sticking with linocuts for now. But this technique sounds really interesting - thank you for sharing!

  2. My pleasure Jesse!
    Linocuts are probably the easiest to do at home for sure. Who doesn't love the look of well printed black on a linocut?