Hazaa! The Silo Is Printed!

Gah! I’m three days passed my self-imposed deadline to update this blog. That’s okay, I was hard at work printing. And look, I made a video!

Printing The Silo

I’ve seen a few screen printing process videos and I’m always interested in seeing more, especially if the printer does something a bit different. But I realize why more people don’t do this…it’s a huge pain! Not only setting up to shoot, but then editing when I’d rather be making art.

I wanted to do a couple things differently in my video that I haven’t seen in many others. I included all the background sounds (vacuum cleaner, dehumidifiers) and didn’t drown it out with a totally awesome song from my iTunes Library (which you may not think is awesome).

Also I included nearly all of the steps involved. Not seen are coating, reclaiming, and taping screens. If something is still unclear, give me a shout and I’ll try to explain it better.

Of course the video also only shows when things were going well. I may do a separate video of the cursing, the ink sticking, and the singing along to the radio that didn’t make this cut.

Further Details

Silo Print

The Silo. Six-color hand pulled silkscreen print

At long last The Silo print is done. I ended up with an edition of 46. Initial thoughts where somewhere between 75 and 200. I ran out of ink on the first screen after a little more than 100. I was hovering between 80 and 100 up until the fourth color, which was the cream color for the silo. It took me three separate attempts to get it printed correctly. During the second attempt I flooded a bunch of ink on about 10 prints, rendering them unusable for the remaining two colors.

It was the last two colors that caused the most difficulty. The stencils for the red and black inks were nearly identical, with the exception being the barn in the lower right corner. This was so that the black could be printed on top of the red, which would just be slightly offset.

The difficulty was getting these to line up correctly and it didn’t always happen. With most of the stencils a little bit of play is built in, but there was much less play available with these two colors. One of the worst offenders is shown below in detail.

Poorly aligned stencils

Here the black screen was off considerably from the red screen.

After sorting through the prints, I came up with 46 to put into the standard edition. There were another 39 that didn’t make the cut. Of those, a few of the more weird examples will be offered as test prints.

Test Prints and Variants

Test Print #1

First true test print.

Above is the first true test print. You can make out the hand drawn lines used to line up the screens.You can see it doesn’t look too much like it is supposed to. Still, there is a kind of beauty in it. And this is a truly unique example. There isn’t another like this. I kind of hate to part with it.

There are a few others in this vein, but the remaining 39 aren’t really test prints (as they didn’t happen during the initial testing), but botched prints. Botched is too strong a word for many of them. They simply had enough flaws not to make it into the final edition. Some might get hand embellishments. Some will go into a drawer to be pulled out when I’m testing the beginning stages of another print and take on a life all their own.

There are no real variants to this edition per se. Maybe I’ll do a different colorway in the future. Personally I’d love to do this at twice the size at 24 x 36 inches, but I can’t print that myself just yet. If there were huge demand I might do a second printing, but I’d find some way to clearly delineate it from the orignal.

Variant prints

Some variations. Left to right: Two-color print, Four-color print, and single color print

Along the way I did experiment with a couple other combinations. I think there are four that are just red, five that are red and black, and six that are skyless variations with the last four colors printed. These won’t be numbered variants and aren’t available for sale right now. I might play around with some paints or pastels or colored pencils on them. If I get anything good I’ll offer them as one-off hand embellishments.


Framed print

Frame not included. But wouldn’t this look great on your wall?

You can buy these now in my Etsy Shop and I’ve even thrown up one of the test prints. If you think you might want one you should act now before I raise the price when I open up my own online marketplace.

It’s been quite a learning experience and this was a pretty ambitious print considering I’ve never printed more than a two-color print from my press.

The final embarrassment is the size. I intended these to be 18 x 24 inches for the simple fact that it’s a pretty standard size and frames are widely available. The stock paper is 19 x 25 inches which gives me a good border to work with while printing (so that I can cut off inky thumbprints). Then I cut them down to 18 x 24 after printing with my guillotine paper trimmer. No problem, right? Except that when I put one in a frame (after I cut them all of course) I noticed how unsquare the margins were.

Now the edges are not perfectly straight lines in the first place. They are all hand drawn and slightly feathered and jagged. In fact, the bottom edge of the silo is slightly concave by design to gently follow the curve of the structure. Anyway, even with the hand drawn edges it was clear that I didn’t print these as square as they should have been. I should have made more certain of this when I was printing, but once those first two colors were done there were no take backs.

I could have resolved this by measuring and cutting the top edge off by hand with an X-Acto knife blade and a straightedge. And that’s what I’ll do now to put them in square. The problem being that the prints will go down to about 17.5 x 23.5 inches. Edit: They aren’t quite that small, but I still think they look best behind a mat in a 22 x 28 frame.)

This might leave a small gap if you’re using a pre-made standard frame. This doesn’t cause a problem if you’re getting custom framing done or just going to stick a thumbtack in the top of it. And I don’t believe that art in any form should be made to fit preconceived notions of standard dimensions or formats (but sometimes I try to be cool). At any rate, I’m going to share my poor man’s mounting solution for prints that are just a bit smaller than your frame. I’ll try to have that up later this week.

2 thoughts on “Hazaa! The Silo Is Printed!

  1. Pingback: New Print, New Job, New Problems

  2. Pingback: Homage to Ray Johnson and Kurt Cobain with Self-Portrait

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