Silkscreen Printing 

A screen is made of a piece of mesh stretched over a frame. A stencil is formed by blocking off parts of the screen in the negative image of the design to be printed; that is, the open spaces are where the ink will appear on the substrate.

Before printing occurs, the frame and screen must undergo the pre-press process, in which an emulsion is ‘scooped’ across the mesh and the ‘exposure unit’ burns away the unnecessary emulsion leaving behind a clean area in the mesh with the identical shape as the desired image. The surface to be printed (commonly referred to as a pallet) is coated with a wide ‘pallet tape’. This serves to protect the ‘pallet’ from any unwanted ink leaking through the screen and potentially staining the ‘pallet’ or transferring unwanted ink onto the next substrate. Next, the screen and frame are lined with a tape. The type of tape used in for this purpose often depends upon the ink that is to be printed onto the substrate. These aggressive tapes are generally used for UV and water-based inks due to the inks’ lower viscosities. The last process in the ‘pre-press’ is blocking out any unwanted ‘pin-holes’ in the emulsion. If these holes are left in the emulsion, the ink will continue through and leave unwanted marks. To block out these holes, materials such as tapes, speciality emulsions and ‘block-out pens’ may be used effectively.

The screen is placed atop a substrate. Ink is placed on top of the screen, and a floodbar is used to push the ink through the holes in the mesh. The operator begins with the fill bar at the rear of the screen and behind a reservoir of ink. The operator lifts the screen to prevent contact with the substrate and then using a slight amount of downward force pulls the fill bar to the front of the screen. This effectively fills the mesh openings with ink and moves the ink reservoir to the front of the screen. The operator then uses a squeegee (rubber blade) to move the mesh down to the substrate and pushes the squeegee to the rear of the screen. The ink that is in the mesh opening is pumped or squeezed by capillary action to the substrate in a controlled and prescribed amount, i.e. the wet ink deposit is proportional to the thickness of the mesh and or stencil. As the squeegee moves toward the rear of the screen the tension of the mesh pulls the mesh up away from the substrate (called snap-off) leaving the ink upon the substrate surface.

   

  

Alessandra Marie: Artist 

Originally from Seattle, Washington, Alessandra attended the Pratt Institute where she graduated in 2012 but remaining in New York where she currently lives and works.  It’s been a pleasure to see her style evolve and to see her art embraced into the eyes of countless viewers and I’ve always wanted to sit down and talk to her about all of it. She has gained a lot of recognition though interview, blogs and social media which I guess is a sign of the times.

All her works are with coffee stain, ink and pencil then Alessandra adds gold leaf details. This creates these wonderful dreamy pieces with an almost art nouveau feel I think.

  

My favourite interview answer when asked about her work :

Alessandra: Well – I don’t work with color! It’ll start to come in eventually (in certain areas), but my mind doesn’t work like a painters’ does. I see and compose work in terms of pattern, as opposed to light.. At first I perceived it as a serious disadvantage, but now I’ve found that it enables me to overcome some obstacles in interesting ways. It goes back to that Picasso quote, “If you have five elements available, use only four. If you have four elements, use three.” You can’t keep the intention of the piece pure if you’re too focused on balancing a bunch of irrelevant parts.

And yeah, Klimt was where the initial idea for gold came from! Growing up, my grandparents had some lovely Japanese lacquer boxes with gold that were great too.. I’ve always thought they were beautiful, and the execution on them inspired the work as well.

  

Having a go myself was going to be a challenge. I didn’t have gold leaf so I just used metallic pens to match the iridescence. I have to say learning to control and predict what the coffee stains would do took several test attempts.

My attempts:

   

 

Final piece…

  

The Birmingham Botanical Gardens

The Birmingham Botanical Gardens, four spectacular glasshouses span from tropical rainforest to arid desert climates. A lively birdhouse, wildlife trails and fifteen acres of flourishing gardens and foliage. An excellent spot for me to start my botanical illustration projects. I went for the butterfly house but that does not open until May 15th. but with easy access and a lovely tea rooms Daddy and I had a great time. He really enjoyed watching the giant koi carp in the rainforest pool.

The landscapes were designed by J. C. Loudon, one of the most successful garden planners of his time.

The Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Westbourne Road
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 3TR