Chapter 4 – Reclaiming Screens

In Chapter 3 (part 1), I wrote about the creation of a screen.  At the end of that article, there was this image:

finished screen




I never intended to use this image for printmaking.  The entire purpose of this was an experiment to see if I could “burn” a screen using something other than a transparency.  The answer is yes, as I used a child’s halloween costume to create the image on this screen.

Whether I create a screen as an experiment or am simply finished using a screen, I want to reclaim the screen so that it can be used again.  This chapter is about that process.

First, I must wet the screen and then scrub it with a chemical designed to remove the emulsion that was used in making the screen.chemical

I scrub both sides of the screen and let it sit for 20-30 minutes,
giving the chemical time to do its magic.

I then place the screen in a large sink designed for such work.  I do not
have such a sink at home so this work I do at the local Art Institute’s
printmaking studio.  The next photo is of that sink:

power washer I use the power washer (the blue machine sitting in the tray), as it takes a lot of water pressure to blow the old emulsion and ink out of the screen.

In doing so, I have to take care to keep the water pressure moving across the screen at all times.  If I were to keep it in one place for very long, it would likely ruin the screen by blowing out the strands of thread that make up the structure of the screen. I know this because I have done this in the past.

Once I have cleaned the screen, rinsed it with a de-greaser (such as dish detergent) to remove all the chemicals and dried it, it is ready to become a new screen.  Many times, after reclaiming a screen, there is a ghost of the old image, such as in this next photo:

clean screen

The ghost images will not impact the next screen,as I have washed it sufficiently that the ghost image is not actually filling the space between the threads of the screen.

I like ghost images on my screens, as they remind me of past work.

Today, I spent two hours reclaiming eleven screens, as I begin some new work.  I will write more in an upcoming article on some of that new work and a new process for creating screens.  Stay tuned!