A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to participate in a screen printing workshop at We Are 1976 (yes, that’s really their name). The workshop was run by two very knowledgeable printers, Mike Arreaga and Brian McCorquodale from Holding Pattern. If you have ever wanted to learn screen printing, like me, then I highly recommend signing-up for this workshop the next time it’s offered. Sign-up for their mailing list.
We Are 1976
We Are 1976 is a very eclectic shop selling graphic design merchandise including books, prints, posters, shirts, toys and other interesting items. They are located at 1902 North Henderson Ave, Dallas, next to the Blue Collar Bar and across the street from Café San Miguel. The next time you’re waiting on a table, stop in and browse around.
Why 1976? Because that’s the year proprietors Vynsie and Jully were born (make sense to me).
The screen printing workshop was held in the back of the shop on a couple of stainless steel tables. I was not sure if We Are 1976 does any printing on-site, but it looks like they could. Overall, the shop was very clean and a really cool place to learn screen printing. They even provided refreshments; Cheers!
The workshop, which cost $200, included the instruction from Mike and Brian plus a pre-burned screen (a custom screen is extra), a ten inch squeegee and a tabletop screen printing set-up. The screen, squeegee and tabletop are very nice and add a lot of value to this workshop. Brian made the tabletops, which are basically varnished plywood with rubber feet and inset screen hinges. The tabletops look really good.
The workshop was full with eight or nine students. We were shoulder to shoulder at our printing stations. There was plenty of room for moving around and bumping into new acquaintances until we started printing. There really wasn’t a good place to put our fresh prints but on the floor, the tables, the stairs and the piano. Spacing issues aside, we all had a good time.
After a round of introductions from the instructors and students (Hi, my name is Michael. I’m a Pisces.), we started learning the basics of screen printing … in reverse. Mike and Brian taught us how to print with the screen before learning how to burn a screen. There was too much light for playing with photo emulsions at the time.
But for the sake of our readers with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), here is the screen printing process in the proper order.
Dark Room: The following steps must be done in a dark room with very little lighting (see Note 1). The screen should not leave the relative darkness until after it has been burned and washed.
- Apply a thin coat of photo emulsion to both sides of a clean screen using an emulsion scoop.
- Allow photo emulsion to dry on the screen with the screen side facing up.
- After photo emulsion has dried, place film with design on the screen. Be sure to properly orient the design. Keep in mind that you will be printing on the inside of the screen.
- Place a large piece of glass over the film and screen for best burning results. The film should be flat on the screen.
- Flood the screen with strong light (see Note 2) for about forty-five seconds.
- Remove the glass and film from the screen.
- Gently wash out the freshly burned screen. The unexposed photo emulsion areas of the screen will start to disappear.
- Continue washing both sides.
- Allow screen to dry before printing.
Light Room: The remaining steps can be done in any lighted area.
- Prep the dry screen for printing by adding blue masking tape to the inside edges.
- Clamp the screen into the tabletop.
- Align and mark paper (or other printing material) under the print. Use tape or pencil marks for guides (see Note 3).
- Add a line of ink either above or below the design.
- With the screen not touching the tabletop, flood the screen once by pulling the ink with the squeegee over the screen.
- Spray a little adhesive to the tabletop. This will keep the paper from moving during printing.
- Add paper per the alignment marks.
- Make a print by firmly pulling the ink with the squeegee over the screen.
- After printing, lift up the screen and re-flood it for the next print. This keeps the ink from drying in the screen.
These are just the basic steps for screen printing. I highly recommend taking the workshop. Mike and Brian really know what they are talking about. I felt much better about trying this on my own by the end of the night.
If you have any questions about screen printing, please don’t ask me. I am still a beginner. Instead, sign-up for the next screen printing workshop at We Are 1976 with Mike and Brian from Holding Pattern.
We Are 1976
We Are 1976 is owned and operated by Vynsie, Jully and Derek (born in 1977). They are located at 1902 N. Henderson Ave, Dallas, Texas 75206. Contact them by phone at 214.821.1976 or online at www.weare1976.com.
The following information about Holding Pattern, Brian McCorquodale and Mike Arreaga is from their website:
Holding Pattern is a design and print operation based in Fort Worth, Texas. Our main focus is designing and printing silkscreen posters. It’s safe to say that we have a thing for concert posters. We collect them, design them, and print them. We love posters! And we mean it. So, feel free to contact us with your design/print project. Helping you would be our pleasure.
His philosophy on art, music, and life are very much the same… Keep It Simple.
Brian has a fond admiration for simple & clean designs which are reflected in his work. His preferred medium is silkscreen on paper. Music is also a big part of his life. For the past decade he’s played keyboards in the band Black Tie Dynasty. Most recently he’s joined Telegraph Canyon, playing pedal steel guitar and keyboards. Brian currently lives in Fort Worth with his wife, 2 dogs, and cat.
His design style consists of layered images of self-taken photos, collected vintage photos, hand drawings and illustrations. He strongly believes in collaboration with fellow artists and is very active in the Dallas art scene. He also serves on the board for Art Conspiracy, a nonprofit street level philanthropy project supporting artists and musicians. Mike’s a true Texan currently residing in North Oak Cliff with his wife and two dogs. He likes sitting under a shade tree with an ice cold Modelo and throwing the frisbee for his dogs. Mike’s favorite word is “word.”
1. Mike and Brian recommended using a yellow bug light in a cheap clip on light fixture as your only lighting source for coating screen with photo emulsion, burning and washing. A red dark room light would also suffice.
2. Mike showed us his light set-up which uses two cheap 500 watt flood lights from the local hardware store. He screwed the two lights to an old screen frame with a power strip as a switch. A couple pieces of rope are used to help hold the lights.
3. Marking paper guides before printing is a must. After inking the screen, aligning paper is nearly impossible.