This spring I took a silk screen printing class called “Color and Form in Surface Design”. I learned all about the different processes involved and had a lot of fun! Below I’ll briefly describe each of the projects I did, with a large gallery at the end of the post full of process pictures and final work.

Introductory Project

This project was meant to introduce us to the different processes of screen printing. The theme of this project was ‘man-made vs. naturally occurring’ and the pieces had to have a mono-print layer and a key screen layer. For my piece I wanted to compare the rigid, geometric shapes of city buildings with the more organic shapes of cliffs, as well as compare the natural formation of clouds with the unnatural formation of smoke an pollution.


This next project was to introduce us to repeat pattern-making. We had to design a 6x6in motif to repeat over a length of fabric. For my pattern, I wanted to created a sort of hybrid between stripes, checkers, and argyle patterns, all into a digital/pixelated woven fabric. I wanted my fabric to be white on grey, but after dyeing, the fabric came out a pale blue color–which turned out to be kind of a happy accident. For printing, I used a translucent white ink, to soften the overall look. Lastly, I did a very subtle checker pattern dye to create more variety and visual interest within the fabric.


For this project we had to make a 3-layer print based off of part of a poem selected by our group. My text was “..saw the snow stretched out like a beach, the black trees drawn sharply against it.” Although the text clearly alludes to a landscape, I didn’t want to do another landscape after my previous print project, so I decided to go in a different direction. I used an old Gray’s Anatomy illustration of the muscles of the eye to show the mechanics that actually go into seeing. I connected the eye diagram with the branches because they are referenced in the poem, but also because it references the neurons in the brain, and show how information gets processed. Lastly, I added blue and orange accents to give the piece a more graphic, dynamic quality.

Final Project: Ikebana

Our final project had to have 2 pieces, one had to involve 3-dimensionality, and one had to involve at least 2 surface treatments. For my project, I wanted to work off of a project I had worked on previously called ‘Polygon Papercraft‘ which involved using the laser cutter to cut complicated geometric shapes that were folded into a 3-dimensional form. I wanted to create a small plant or tree that would be laser-cut and colored by screen printing.

I researched the Japanese art of Ikebana which is essentially complex flower arranging. I was both surprised and inspired by how complicated it actually is. For example, there are many different styles of Ikebana, each emphasizing different things, and for each style, you can have tall, medium, or short arrangement. Each of these arrangements have different ratios for the branches that depend on the size of the pot the arrangement is going to be placed in. Each branch as has specific angles both horizontally and vertically that it has to be placed in. All of these techniques are meant to present the plants and flowers in the most natural way possible–showing its most genuine, true beauty.

I wanted to recreate this concept through combining cut-paper and screen printing. By creating my laser cutting templates and transparency files simultaneously, I was able to determine where paper would be cut, and where ink would be printed. I chose to use a thick card stock so the branches would be able to hold their shape without bending. I think it turned out well! See the finished product as well as a video showing the laser cutting process below.