Reconstituting Screen Printing Inks

So one thing that the Goblinessa is obsessed about lately is screen printing and stenciling garment edges.  (Not that we have MADE any actual garments yet.)  Yesterday, I met with my Sister in Law, who is getting married in October, to discuss adornment options.  We may be using some screen printed organza or violle somewhere in there and I decided to make a couple of test samples for her to look at while she is here.

dry and gummy magenta ink
dry and gummy magenta ink

When I pulled out my Jacquard inks, I was dismayed to find that most of them were gummy and some of them were downright sticky and grainy.  I really don’t want to buy new inks right now so I decided to try mixing in some water to see if that would smooth them out.

These inks are probably 5 years old or more.  They have mostly been sitting in my studio storage, which gets very cold and very hot.  Some years, I have forgotten to move my inks, dyes & mediums out of there before the weather hits 30 below and they have gotten a bit . . . frostbitten.

reconstituting printing ink
mixing water in to reconstitute the old ink

Water and lots of stirring seemed to do the trick.  My wrist is sore and I used a lot of paper towels in clean up but I think these inks will work again.  Jacquards line of screen printing inks are all water based so if this trick worked with the professional grade, it would probably work with their other inks, too.  I have also found that you can water these down quite a bit for printing before they get runny, which is nice for sheer fabrics.  I can’t wait to do a test run on the organza and voille!

ready to print
water and lots of stirring resulted in a creamy consistency ready for printing

I made a quick test print on paper with the magenta ink after I had stirred it for long enough to make it smooth.   It worked well.  No lumps to drag across the image, no graininess or gummy spots.  (Yes, I know that is a lame-o screen.  I haven’t done a lot of printing so I don’t have lots of professional frames.  This one is made with screen from, stabilized in a piece of old mat board which was sealed up in duct tape.  It gets the job done for very small runs.)

My white and copper were both pretty far gone – almost like stretchy plastic instead of ink or paint.  They took a while stirring and adding water gradually but they came around.  I used a butter knife from the kitchen – a dowel wasn’t doing the trick – I needed something with a wide, flat edge and a blunt blade so I could smush the ink against the edge of the container and cut it into bits with the blade.  If you have real painter’s tools in your studio, a flat metal oil paint spatula would probably work pretty well.

magenta print
a successful print with the reconstituted ink

When I bought inks, I chose the Professional grade  because they can be used on just about ANYTHING – fabric and paper, yes, but also vinyl, some plastic, leather and wood.  Plus it has a long open time – which is good because I am slow.

I am still hoping to buy some new inks.  Jacquard didn’t have all of their process colors (or Dharma wasn’t carrying them) when I bought my first batch.  The yellow that I have leans pretty far toward orange – it is sort of an egg yolk-y color and they didn’t have cyan.  I can’t make a nice green with it.  So maybe someday soon I will get those CMY hues into the studio but I will wait to see how much I actually use in this new line Molly and I are working on.  I have a bad habit of spending money on stuff I want and then not using it.  The Goblinessa makes me do it.  She is very impractical.


Ice Dying Class

Did I say something about July being slow in the studio?  Well, it certainly hasn’t been slow in the house!  Summer always seems to bring its own brand of chaos and no matter how hard I try, I just can’t impose and sense of order on it.   Hence the blog silence lately.

Detail of Ice Dye on Hemp Rayon Jersey

Anyway – I wanted to announce that next Saturday, August 9th, I will be teaching a Rust and Ice Dying class for the St. Lawrence County Arts Council in Potsdam, NY.  I will lead people in an exploration of using two natural processes to add color to fabric; oxidation and melting.  Students will take home a rust dyed scarf (scarf provided by me) and an ice dyed item of their choice – a tee shirt, some fabric yardage – anything you want to dye provided it is a cellulose fiber (cotton, rayon, bamboo, hemp, linen or a blend of any of those. )

Rust Dyed Silk Scraf
Rustic Scarf – crepe de chene 11×60 inches

The class is $19.00 for members of the Arts Council or $22.00 for non-members.   If you decide to come, be prepared to return to the classroom later in the day or early in the following week as the ice dyed items will need to be stationary as the ice melts.  People can take their rust dying scarf packet at the end of class.

You can register online here or call the SLC Arts Council at 315-265-6860.

Sometime soon I will tell you about what the Goblinessa has been scheming about in the middle of the night and show you more photos of beaded lace bracelets.


Beaded Lace Wonders

Last week, I had the honor of embellishing a strip of lace for a friend’s wedding dress.  I can’t go public with photos because she doesn’t want the groom to stumble across them but the project got my juices flowing for more beaded lace work. Now I’m working on a bracelet.   I got this wonderful lace (and the lace for the bride) from MaryNotMartha on Etsy.   She has an amazing selection of gorgeous laces and other millinery and bridal trims.  I swear she had psychically anticipated my order because it arrived faster than I believed possible.  (I did alert her to the fact that I needed to embellish the lace for a wedding dress so she must know how much time goes into sewing tiny beads onto lace.)

Embellishing lace is ridiculously easy.  It is also ridiculously time consuming.  For bracelets, I cut the lace to the length I want the bracelet to be and start choosing beads.  Molly suggested that I make this one with aqua blues because the lace seemed “oceany” to her with its radial circles and scalloped edge.  And also because it is hot this week. I use a sturdy, long beading needle because sometimes the lace can be difficult to push through. I always use thread that matches the lace, not the beads. This way, your stitching disappears and allows the beading to look like a natural part pf the lace.  I like to try laying beads and sequins on the lace to test out patterns before I get started.  For this piece I’m using 2 sequins – a large flat sequin in very pale celadon green and a smaller flat sequin in dark teal blue stacked on top of one another and held to the center of each circle with a gold seed bead.

On one row of circles, I am using size 15 gold lined aqua seed beads and size 11o matte finish gold lined aqua seed beads to outline the concentric sections of the circles.  On the next row, I am using 3mm luster opaque turquoise firepolished beads.  I am lining the scalloped border with permanent finish gold seed beads in size 11.  For the seashell scallops at the edge, I am using a silver lined dark teal 15o seed bead, some of the matte aquas, turquoise and some lovely matte AB striped aqua mini daggers that I picked up on vacation in Las Vegas a few years ago and haven’t found a use for before now. All the seed beads are TOHOs.

I stitch beads and sequins on using simple embroidery stitches.  Buttonhole and whip stitches are very useful and I put long stretches of seed beads on using a couching technique.  There’s nothing fancy going on – just many hours of loving labor. I bought a new OttLite magnifying light last week to help me with all of the white-on-white work involved in the bridal lace and I am loving it. I also love to use my Beadalon sticky mat – you can see it in the last photo in this post. It holds my beads where I want them so I don’t get a bug pile of bead soup halfway through the project.

I’m not sure what the closure on this piece will look like.  It is a wide cuff that might require a fairly long rigid support for the edges but the edges are scalloped and interlocking so it might be a challenge.  The final piece will have a distinctly feminine Bohemian flair. I can’t wait to see what it will look like on someone’s wrist!