T1-MMT-P4 Lin Wilson – Breakdown screen printing workshop

In an amazing timing coincidence, just as I was about to start the Mono and collatype printing assignment I did this ATASDA workshop last weekend (booked last year). Breakdown screen printing, also known as deconstructed screen printing, is a form of monoprint – no two prints are the same. Lin has been exploring and extending the technique since she learnt it some years back from Kerr Grabowski, the originator of the method. You can read more about the method on Kerr’s website, including a short demonstration at http://www.kerrgrabowski.com/store/store.html.

Lin uses drimarene K dyes thickened with sodium alginate. Briefly, a selection of texturing items – paper, plant material, lace… – is placed under a silkscreen and thickened dye is squeegeed through (the pre-print). The texture items are removed and the pattern of thickened dye is dried on the screen. Then the screen is used to print, using more sodium alginate. Where the dried dye is on the screen it acts as a resist, blocking the new sodium alginate. However gradually the alginate re-wets the dried dye, which then starts printing on your fabric or paper.

Each time you print with the screen more of the original dye is wet enough to print through – which means there is less left on the screen. So when you print again on a new section of fabric the patterning you get is a bit different.

Too many words. The screen shown below was textured with some cardboard shirt packaging and foil. The pre-print was red and orange. I was fitting two screen pulls on an A3 page, using a variety of papers. By the end it was getting plain, so I tried refreshing it using long leaves as a resist.

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Another sequence started with pine branchlets. They looked good on the table, but I didn’t realise that the mass was too thick and would create large empty spaces. I used the original leaves to overprint on some images. Here I started layering patterns, using indigo dyed paper and also a sketch from assignment 2 (2-August-2015)

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Another attempt looked wonderful on the screen – textured with fern and some hessian I had pulled out of shape. Almost all the colour came off on the first pull (maybe it wasn’t thoroughly dry). Still it looks great on some old sketches, especially an ink drawing of p2-74.

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I focused on paper, finding it faster and easier to manage in the limited time and space of a workshop. However a couple of pieces of fabric crept in. The first was linen. On the photo of the texturing materials you may see some old favourites – corrugated cardboard (worked well) and insect screen mesh (too fine to have much impact).

Texturing items

Texturing items

Detail of result

Detail of result

Multiple prints on linen

Multiple prints on linen

One of my first attempts was on silk and I had a brain freeze. After using clear sodium alginate on the first pull, I changed to using the same oranges in the printing as in the pre-print. Orange on orange looks like a whole lot of orange and not much texture. Worse, apart from some bubble wrap most of the texturing was thread and string – too fine to be effective. However I’m showing the first pull (clear) because it shows overprinting with extruded black lines.



During show and tell at the end of the two days it was amazing to see the individual styles show through the technique. Below are some results from other participants.

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Lin showed us quite a few other variations and manipulations, including use of water-soluble crayons and more, but given I was a bit vague (printing orange on orange???), I decided to stay with the basics.

This is a wonderful technique with so much to explore. Everyone had results they were pleased with. Amazing textures, and that nice mix of having a little control in setting up the screen and choosing colours, then just letting go and enjoying what appears. I particularly like getting complementary colours next to each other without turning to mud. Adding soda ash to fabric (before, as part of, or after the printing process) will allow you to wash the results. I can definitely see myself using this to create interesting fabrics or as part of sketchbook work in the future.

T1-MMT-P4 Lin Wilson – Breakdown screen printing workshop
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Lin Wilson – Breakdown screen printing workshop

5 Responses to “T1-MMT-P4 Lin Wilson – Breakdown screen printing workshop”

  1. 1 starrybird October 18, 2015 at 6:58 am

    Really interesting for us printmakers. Love where textiles and printmaking collide!

  2. 3 starrybird October 19, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Its great to feed off each other!

  1. 1 T1-MMT-P4-p1-e1 Monoprint mark-making – exploring further | Fibres of Being Trackback on October 27, 2015 at 9:45 pm
  2. 2 T1-MMT-P4 Mono and collatype printing: Review | Fibres of Being Trackback on January 3, 2016 at 4:57 pm

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October 2015

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