14 November 2010

screen-printed fabric and ceramics

I love hand-printed fabric and purchase it from various etsy sellers on a regular basis.  Current favorites are this and this and this.

Much as I love hand-printed fabric, I have never screen-printed fabric myself.  So, even though I knew that Lynn (firbraartysta) made custom screens at a very reasonable price, I didn't immediately have it in mind to order one from her UNTIL I realized that her thermofax screens are flexible and I might be able to wrap them around ceramics and print on ceramics.  I hand-painted some mugs last year and loved the process and results. (If you want to see thermofax screens, with an explanation, check out Lynn's shop and YouTube channel.)

Well, I asked Lynn about printing on ceramics at a Modern Quilt Guild meeting and she had never tried it, but because the ceramics paint that I have (Pebeo Porcelaine) is water-based, she thought it might work.  She generously offered to send me a screen so that I might experiment. With in a couple of days, I had emailed her this doodle:

Which is based on this 1950s textile:

Except I was trying to have the shapes look less like windows and more like vintage Fisher Price Little People character silhouettes.

When the screen arrived, I tried it out on fabric first, to make sure I understood the technique.

Easy peasy!

I printed up a bunch of blue and yellow for my Grandma's quilt in no time!
If I had planned ahead at all, I could have had a much cleaner repeat, but I wasn't in the mood for fastidiousness, so there are some gappy bits.

Results in using the screen with Pebeo Porcelaine onto ceramics were mixed.  I simply could not get a clean print onto my mug:

This is the best I could do.  The problem here is NOT the paint or the screen, rather it is the fact that the mug is a very hard surface that curves.  Luckily, you can wash the Pebeo Porcelaine off and try again, so I was able to try multiple times to get something I liked.  This is the best I could do and getting this involved using a lot of tape to hold the screen in place on the mug, printing a tiny bit, moving the screen and printing another tiny bit.   Not a fun process and not really the result I wanted.  Oh well.

Using the same paint and screen, I was able to get a clean print onto a 100% flat surface:
So, I guess that if I wanted to print onto FLAT plates I could.  It's much more likely that I'll be printing some more fabric however, now that I've begun, I'm hooked!


  1. Incredible idea! Love the pattern. Do you have any idea how this type of fabric will hold up to laundering? Probably not a great idea for a babyquilt that will get washed a thousand times, right?

  2. It holds up just fine! Better than pigment-printed fabric from Spoonflower, that's for sure!

  3. Hey there - there is a product you can buy and expose your design just by the sun - its called PhotoEZ Silk - Ginny Eckley has a website where she explains and sells the products:
    I think you would be able to CURVE this also, unlike the thermofax screens. (Yes I have done and used both on fabrics, prefer the photoez because I can make it myself and I can do it myself! Don't have to get a thermofax or wait for someone to make me one) Note: You can also use a light box to expose the print by the way - I think you live in a colder climate than me - I get sun 330 days a year. Oh and do it at high noon if you do sun exposure - you want the sun direct above!

  4. Your design is really fun!

    I tried using a gocco screen and glass paint to do a design on some pint glasses for my husband's birthday party earlier this year, and had the same results as you did with your mug. It's like the inks are too thin to adhere properly to the slick surface when you have to remove the screen? I've got 24 glasses sitting in my laundry room still, so I'm thinking I'll try transfer decals on them instead.

    I've always wanted to try screenprinting but didn't want to go through the process of making my own screens. I'll have to look into it with Lynn.

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  6. Oh yes, I am SO doing this! Thanks for blogging about it. I never would have found it. I love Etsy but I think they can do a lot more to help us find the right shops we need.

  7. That fabric is gorgeous. Print some more it's lovely...

  8. this is really cool. thanks for sharing the process - of course/as always!!! i've been thinking about sending a design to one of those thermofax people for awhile, to have them send me back a screen of my design. your post has inspired/motivated me to get it done!

  9. I have been using thermofax screens in my work for years now; I will try it on ceramic and let you know if I get good results and how. Welcome to the wonderful world of printing without a press!

  10. way cool fabric! ANd I think I have that same exact book on my nightstand!

  11. Rossie,
    Have you tried a mug with flat cylindrical sides? I've used the thermofax screens for a few years and love them. Also I have to reccomend a class given by Lyric Kinard on Quilt Univeristy. I just finished it in Oct on screen printing. It's a fab class.

  12. I totally see the little people reference! The gaps make the fabric, IMHO>


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