The Problems in Screen Printing and Their Remedies

Printing from screens prepared from paper, silk and others are one of the efficient printing techniques in the modern society. However, the printing technique poses some challenges to amateur printers. Thus, solutions to some of these problems in screen printing have been suggested. Most of the problems that are likely to occur in screen printing are:

(i) Bleeding of colours
(ii) Unequal gaps left between repeats
(iii) Irregular placement of screens or block/leaking screens and soiling of clothes
(iv) Formation of colour patches on the cloth
(v) Pin holes

i) Bleeding of colours may occur when the pigment (printing paste) used for the printing process is watery. If the pigment watery, during printing, at every registration, the pigment will bleed to the surrounding areas of the motifs thereby spoiling the printed cloth. To solve that problem, the printing paste must be thick enough so that at every registration, the pigment will stick to the fabric. Also at every registration, the under part of the screen must be cleaned.

ii) Unequal gaps left between repeats may also occur when the registration of the screen is not calculated. If the registration is not calculated, subsequent repeats of the design may not join thereby creating gaps in between the repeats. The problem could be solved by checking the repeats before printing starts. The repeats can be checked by using a coloured chalk to mark the various repeats on the fabric so that at every repeat one will know where to place the screen. Another solution is, a coloured strand could also be placed at the edge of the design widthwise so that the screen could be placed directly on the strand when the repeat is registered, the strand will be removed and the design will be printed.

iii) Irregular placement of screen may occur if the repeats are not checked. To solve it, the repeats have to be checked before the placement of the screen is done to register the print. Blocking /leakage of screens and soiling of cloth may also occur when the edges of the screens are not blocked. If the edges are not blocked, the printing paste will leak through the edges and soil the cloth. This is solved by using a masking tape to tape around the screen before printing starts.

iv) Formation of colour patches on the cloth may occur if the pigment is not distributed evenly on the screen. To solve this problem, enough pigment has to be used so that the paste will be evenly distributed to prevent this patchy effect. Also, the pulling of the squeegee must be well done.

v) Pinholes may occur as a result of any of these:

(1) The mesh used for the screen may contain some oils or gums and dirt in it. So if the development of the screen is done, because the silk was not washed to remove the dirt and other foreign matters in it, it will block the light from passing through so during washing, those portions would be washed off thereby creating pin-holes there. This could be solved by washing the mesh to remove every impurity before stretching it onto the screen.

(2) Pinholes may occur when there is under exposure of the screen during developing i.e. during the development of the screen, the due time for the screen to develop will not be sufficient or would not reach and the screen would be washed. If that is done, the chemicals would not develop enough on the screen so during washing most of it would be washed off, creating pinholes. This could be solved by allowing the screen to develop well, that is to reach the due time before it is washed.

(3) Coating of the screen can also create pinholes in the screen. This is so if the coating is not well done most especially when it is done once. After washing of the screen, there would be pinholes in the screen. This could be solved by coating the screen twice or thrice before developing is done.

These suggested solutions to the identified challenges are time-tested and born from the experiences of skilled screen printers. Therefore, printers using screens who confront the same or similar challenges can utilise these suggestions.

Importance of Block Lettering and Its Construction Process

Block lettering is a general term used in describing all lettering styles that are drawn or constructed. They are constructed according to specifications using squares or blocks. A young designer or student can use a paper with the squares already drawn in them like a graph sheet. He/she can draw the squares on his/her own by drawing straight or parallel horizontal and vertical lines that cross each other at an angle. All letters with the exception of “M”, “W” and “I” take 5 squares down and 3 squares across. However, letters “W” and “M” take 5 down, 5 across. On the other hand, letter “I” take 5 squares down and 1 square across.

Block letters have several characteristics that make them different from other styles of lettering. Some of its distinctive features are outlined below.

1. They have an equal or uniform thickness of strokes. That is all the parts of each of its letters are the same measurement. For instance, if the vertical stroke measures 2cm, the horizontal and circular parts of the letter also measures 2cm.
2. They have no serifs or finishing strokes. There are no ornamental projections at the ends of their letters.
3. All the letters stand erect in a vertical position. They do not slant but stands straight.
4. They are not written but are drawn or constructed.
5. Squares of equal sizes serve as aids in their construction.
6. They are bold and easy to read.

The style has been used for various purposes due to its distinct features. Some of these are listed below.

1. They are used in writing on signboards, billboards, and signposts because of its keen sense of legibility.
2. Block letters are used in writing the titles of books and magazines due to its simple form that readily attracts viewers.
3. They are used in writing the text on greeting cards like birthday cards, success cards, funeral cards etc.
4. They are used in writing names of shops, institutions, and companies because it is easy to read.
5. They are the most widely used style of text for the designing of communication design products such as posters, banners etc.

The construction is not a very painstaking task. As already discussed, constructing block letters involve the use of accurately measured squares on paper. If this is available, the artist has to follow the rules and guidelines that govern the construction of block letters.

Also, the artist has to use a pointed sharp pencil in the ruling of the squares and in the construction of the letters. All the measurements should be done accurately. It is advisable to use straight measuring instruments such as rulers to ensure precision and accuracy.

The curvy parts of the letters can be created using any suitable circular object such as the edges of coins or protractors.

It should be noted that the squares which serve as guides for the construction of the letters should be created with a lighter grade pencil (HB or HH). The marks should be faintly created so that they could be easily erased after the construction of the letters.

Twelve Things You Need To Know When Producing Articles By Hand

Hand-made designs and items are items that are produced with the hands with the help of hand tools, materials, and equipment. It exclusively refers to articles that are produced manually. To enhance the designing and production of hand-made items, the artist has to consider some important factors.

i. Purpose of article

The artist must consider the purpose or need that calls for the production of the artefact. This will serve as a guide to the artist in knowing what to put in the designing and production of the artefact for it to meet its intended purpose. For example, there is the need for the production of a clutch bag to keep the items of an artist.

ii. Design, shape and form of the article

The artist has to critically consider the design, shape and form of the article. This should be in harmony with the intended purpose of the artefact. Moreover, the choice of colours, shapes and form should also reflect the age, social status, sex and possibly, the occupation of the end users of the article. For instance, if the article is meant for teenagers, males, females, students, nurses or teachers, viewers must be able to reliably tell from the design, shape and form of the article. Wallets for females may be produced with synthetic leather colours such as pink or blue with oval shaped design as well as floral patterns.

iii. Technical qualities of the article- The techniques and styles that would be used for the production of the article should be carefully considered by the artist. The technique to be used for the production of the product should be suitable for the material to be used for the work as well as the purpose of the article borne in mind.

iv. Nature and suitability of materials to be used

The material chosen for the production of the article should suit the purpose intended for the article. For instance, if the purpose of the clutch bag to be produced is to keep items to be used by the artist, the designer should choose a material that can hold the said items and ensure their protection. The designer can ask himself or herself some questions such as ‘Will a clutch bag produced with leather, cardboard, or cloth be able to keep these items of the artist?’ A very appropriate material should be chosen for the production of the article with the purpose of the article in mind.

v. Occasion on which the article will be used

The occasion during which the article to be produced will be used should be known to help the artist to choose appropriately the designs, colours and form of the article. For instance, if a greeting card is to be made, the artist must know the occasion for which the card is being designed for. Is it Christmas, birthday, examination or get-well-soon card? The occasion would dictate to him the sort of colours and designs to use.

vi. Article to be used by one or several people

The number of users of the article should be known by the artist. This would assist him in the selection of his material, design and shape of the article. For example, if the article would be used by just one person, the artist can factor that individual’s preference and taste such as choice of shape, colour etc. in the designing and production of the product. On the other hand, if the article will be used by several persons, the material to be used should be strong and durable to be able to protect the article from the frequent handling and usage of the masses of people. Moreover, the choice of design and shape of the article should reflect the taste of a greater number of the end users if not all of them.

vii. Designed to fit into the place where the article will be used

Where will the article be produced be used? Is it in a school, hospital, marketplace or office? This information should be known by the artist. There are some designs and colours that do not fit certain environs. For example, educational items will be suitable for articles meant for an educational institution while farm produce such as yam, corn, etc. are meant for articles to be used in the market squares.

viii. Preliminary designing or sketch models

Preliminary designs are the first designs that the artist puts on paper. The designs are what the artist has envisioned or brainstormed in his mind. This serves as a visual representation of the ideas in the mind of the artist.

ix. Cultural symbols to be used

The artist must fully understand the philosophies and ideologies behind the cultural symbols that he wants to use for the designing of the article. The interpretations of the symbols should harmonize with the purpose of the article. For example, the ‘Duafe’ Adinkra symbol which means beauty, hygiene and feminine qualities is very appropriate as a cultural symbol for a plaque designed to be hanged in the hall of a women’s association.

x. Functional aspect and aesthetic qualities of the article

This is the most important aspect that needs to be considered by the artist. The final product will be useless if it fails to meet the intended function for its production. Also, the artist has to consider the aesthetic elements to add up to the article. This would enhance the appearance and attractiveness of the article.

xi. Proficiency and dexterity in the use of hand tools, materials and techniques

The artist should know or possess the mastery skills in the handling and use of the hand tools, materials and techniques for the production of the article. This would reflect positively on the final article produced. A poor handing and usage of the hand tools, materials and techniques would certainly have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the article.