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Deconstructed Screen Printing

Deconstructed Screen Printing

My local group met last week and we did more deconstructed screen printing. We all enjoy this process so we usually end up at least one of our sessions per year doing screen printing. I did write a post to show the screens before they were printed here. We used thickened fiber reactive dyes that print on cotton and silk.


We were a small group this time so we got lots of prints. I don’t have any photos of Louise’s silk but I will try to get some photos at our next meeting. I printed on cotton and paper. I have a large stash of printed fabric and paper and I just keep adding to it. So before you ask, I don’t know what I will do with these yet.

The photos above (plus the first photo) are all printed on cotton. All of the screens already had dried dye in them and then we added further colors when printing. I tried some different techniques including brushing on the thickened dye with a dry brush and adding two layers of dye and letting them dry in between applications.

These are all printed on paper. I just love the random, serendipitous prints that you get from this process. You are never sure how they will turn out but I generally end up liking them all.

You can screen print on felt. I have an online class that teaches you how to screen print on wool and if you’re interested in taking the class in 2017, just leave me a note (including what class you are interested in) on our contact us form.

Breakdown Screen Printing Party

Breakdown Screen Printing Party

Breakdown screen printing has been around in the surface design world for a while now. I have discussed it on my personal blog but thought everyone here might be interested in the process too. My local group got together yesterday for another session of breakdown screen printing.

Print Paste Powder

What you need to start is some print paste. Essentially, you use this to thicken fiber reactive dyes and you screen print with the thickened dyes. It only takes about a quarter cup of print paste powder to add to 2 cups of water. We used 4 cups of print paste for our “party”.

Making Print Paste

You can just stir the print paste into the water but it works really well if you use a blender because otherwise it gets lumpy. As Lyn told me, you don’t want to use the same blender that you make milkshakes in – use a blender that is just used for the studio.

Black Dye Added to Print Paste

Then you add dye powder to the print paste. This one has black dye in it. Then you squeegee some thickened dye on to the screen while you have the screen on something textured. You can use things like bubble wrap, texture plates or anything relatively flat that will press against the screen and give it different textures.

Screen with Dried Black Print Paste

This is one of the screens where I used the black dye over texture plates. The textured part that sticks up a bit, keeps the thickened dye from filling that part of the screen.

Close Up Dye Texture

So you get a textured screen that looks like this. Then you let the screen dry completely. I always do this step about a week ahead of time.

Carole and Louise

Here is Carole and Louise getting ready to print a screen. You can use clear print paste (with soda ash added) or you can use a colored print paste where you have added dye. The dried dye in the screen starts breaking down as you apply the print paste and you never know how it will turn out.

Screening with Print Paste

Louise is adding clear print paste and a little bit of blue print paste. She is using a squeegee to force it through the screen.

Louise's Screen

Using the fiber reactive dyes, you can print on cotton fabric or silk. The added soda ash causes the dye to set in the fabric. This screen that Louise is using is one she made using strips of Pellon Vinyl Fuse Matte. She fused the strips to the organza and then added green print paste to the screen.

Louise's Screen on Paper

This is one of my sketchbook pages that I printed with Louise’s screen.

Black Dyed Screen with Circles

Here is another screen that has black dye.

Circles Breakdown Screened

And the resulting print on yellow fabric. Each print is different from the next one as the dried print paste continues to break down. Bunny printed this one.

Breakdown Print on Paper


Here’s a sketchbook page printed from the same screen.



Embroidery Hoop with Organza

This is a screen that I made from a 6″ embroidery hoop, nylon organza and duct tape.

Circle Breakdowns

This is the print from the circle screen above. I used a fabric that was already dyed and clear print paste with this one.

Black and Green Dyed Screen

Here’s another screen that I mixed black and green dye and let it dry.

Breakdown Screen Printed Fabric

This isn’t a very good photo but here’s a portion of the printed cloth from the screen above.

Green Dyed Screen

This is another screen that I used green print paste and let it dry. The squiggly bits are just stains from a previous experiment with blue glue.

Orange Breakdown PrintThis is the resultant 4-5 prints from the green screen above. The green barely shows at all and just mixed in with the orange print paste. Most of my fabrics already had prior printing on them from previous experiments. Most were quite ugly so I thought I would try to improve them.

Another Breakdown Print on Paper

This is another sketchbook page from a screen that was mostly broken down. I did several of these and they reminded me of photo negatives.

Screening with Paper Scraps

This piece of fabric was printed over paper scraps out of a paper shredder. You just sprinkle the shredded paper over the fabric and then use a blank screen and screen colored print paste through it. You keep moving the screen and some of the paper bits move with the screen. These always look different after being washed out because there are still bits of paper stuck all over it. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a photo of the finished fabric but it belongs to Carole so if I remember…

I have printed on wool before with this technique. You just need to use acid dyes and vinegar in place of the fiber reactive dyes and soda ash. You do have to steam the pieces afterwards but the process works well. Once I get these fabric and papers rinsed, I will post them on the forum. You do lose some color but they are always one of a kind prints. Breakdown screen printing is a fun process, messy but fun!


Edit: See final results here.



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