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.