Screen Printing Enamels

I took a little trip out to the Richmond Art Center today to take a class screen printing designs onto my enamel jewelry.

I began the day in the screen printing studio with the knowledgable instructor Joyce, who’s been screen printing since the 60s, where I constructed my screens out of craft frames stretched with mesh, held together with staples and tape. Next I coated them with red emulsifier in the dark room and taped the designs I created in illustrator printed on transparencies before exposing them in the light box. Four minutes later, I took a water gun to the screens and rinsed away the emulsifier where the designs had been and my screens were ready for printing. 

For the second part of the class, we headed down the hall to the metals studio where instructor Ed showed us two techniques for enameling with our screens. The first technique involved pulling dry powdered glass enamel through the screens. Since I mainly work in dry enamels at my studio, I could try this out in my studio, I focused on the second method.

The second technique was a wet method, where we used ceramic pigments mixed with stain base to produce a liquid about the consistency of screen print paint that we used an old hotel door card to pull though the screens. It was challenging getting an even print with clear definition, since you only had one pull to do it, but a little more forgiving than actual screen printing, since if you didn’t like it, you could always wipe off your piece and start over after cleaning out your screen. Once we got a print we liked, we popped them in one of the four kilns they had onsite to fire the patterns to the enamel. I fired mine a couple additional times with a clear coat of enamel on top to bring out the colors and integrate the pigments with the enamel to leave a smooth surface. I definitely hope to explore screen printing more in my studio.

My finished pieces.