Now it’s time to think about imagery in repeat! This is the fun part. Screenprinting is our mode of transportation over here, and thinking about how this simple printmaking method shows up on the yardage table is part of the fun for me when designing a new print.
Screenprinting is named such because you’re literally pressing ink through a fine mesh screen with a squeegee. Parts of the screen that are blocked out with emulsion do not allow ink to pass through, while the open areas on the screen allow ink through- like a stencil.
Since any part of the screen can either be open or closed, gradients in your design are achieved using techniques like cross-hatching or half tones. Sometimes, I like to go along with this black-and-white stencil-like mode; other times it’s fun to see how the screen “interprets” freer expressions (like brush strokes).
I love the limitations of screenprinting and seeing the printing process within the print. Here's what I mean: in our Matilda design, you can see a tiny bit of ink overlap where the repeat meets itself during the print run.
Some of our designs are very fluid and seeing the repeat can be tricky, like with Ginkgo and Parsley below. In other designs, accenting the repeat is what makes the design more interesting (Cotton, at the bottom).
The repeat block is much more noticeable in methods like block printing. I love this skirt my mom gave me from po-em. The simple motif is printed over and over and sometimes it overlaps and makes a heavier ink line that the eye is drawn to. What I love most about hand-printed fabric is seeing the artists’ hand in a print.
OK, back to these new designs I’m working on...
As I said about my inspiration session last week, I fell in love with this design I printed a while ago, and I’ve decided to transform it into repeat yardage.
I want to keep the painterly, almost messy look of this test sample, so I decided to paint the motif using India ink on transparency (because screenprinting utilizes black opaque imagery). Once I made a painting I liked, I scanned it into the computer to even out all the faint gray areas and to make a repeat large enough to fit our screens.
For this pattern, I think it would be interesting to play with multiple patterns within the repeat. So I’m going to keep a bit of space between each block to make a simple grid-like pattern when the yardage is printed. Here's a mock-up of what I'm thinking the printed yardage will look like.
I was also inspired by this swatch of printed fabric on my inspiration board (the little dash print).
As a designer in home decor and apparel fabrics - an industry that is constantly producing more - the trick for me is figuring out how I can push a design to go beyond just another bolt of fabric. With something as simple as this little dash above, I ask myself, “how can I utilize my printing method in designing this print? And how can I see my hand in the design?"
When I think through my designs in this way, I feel like I can push them into something more.
We'll see what happens next week! :)