Saturday, April 11, 2009


While I was in a cleaning-redoing mood yesterday, I decided to tackle re-meshing some screens that had been ruined or just plain worn out. They had been sitting around, useless, for longer than I want to admit. What you see is the end result. As you know, I normally do things the quick and dirty way and this was no exception. My friend Helene tapes screens so beautifully that even the frames are works of art. But I'm over being intimidated by neatness and thought I'd show you how I recycle my screens just in case you want to try it yourself...(the quick and dirty way). You will notice that the screen above is not duct-taped on the front. I have given up doing that in favor of leaving the wood exposed on a new screen. I have discovered, after years, that if you tape the whole frame, all the gunk and water gets trapped under the tape and the wood sort of rots underneath. (Of course, that does not deter me from reusing it). If you buy good screens (I'll give you some sources later) they come already polyurethane'd. If not, you can do it yourself or leave the frames naked. When I redo the screens that have already been taped on the front, I leave it there because it is more trouble than it is worth to remove it, and then there is the sticky residue from the duct tape. I believe this was the first screen I ever made, a decade ago: stretcher bars and a $5 polyester curtain. Worked fine. This is the back of the screen. Yesterday, after I pulled out some of the rusty staples, I stapled another piece of curtain to the back side of the frame, and re-taped it on the front to make it look sort of neat. Now it is ready to use. This next one was a sturdy commercial screen that had some holes in it. It had come with 110 monofilament mesh (or maybe 12xx polyfilament, which is comparable). I have regular silkscreen mesh around somewhere, but I couldn't put my hands on it and instead, grabbed the fine mesh sheer polyester curtain. With the kind of non-detailed screening that I do, the curtain is really ok...and a lot less expensive in this period of art supplies-on-a-budget. I removed the mesh and then cut the excess duct tape out with a box knife.
Sorry for the fuzzy picture - I was stapling with one hand and shooting with the other. I used a heavier-duty stapler than I really needed, but it's all I had: it's really industrial strength for stapling sheetrock and I needed to use two hands. It's better to use a medium-weight one but these days they are made you-know-where and my last one broke. This one came from my father's store and was made in U.S.A many decades ago. It is all metal.If you use a medium-weight one, you can staple with one hand while you pull the mesh taut with the other hand. You really need to get it tight. The art stores sell a gizmo that will tighten the mesh but I find it easier to use my hand. Another fuzzy picture shows the stretched curtain that has been taped over the staples. Always tape the back of the frame.
Stunning, it is not. But I don't care -- it will do the job I need it to do. Anyway, who looks at the back of a screen? The screen police don't come to my classes or my studio.
While I used to recommend Dick Blick as the least expensive/best value source for screens, their prices have doubled - to my great shock and dismay. So, I've been on the Internet looking for other sources. Pocono Screens makes an excellent product - well finished..but heavy. If you want screens 20x24 and up, they are a good source. Victory is another source with a good reputation and good prices; I'm going to use them next time I order. Last night I was up late doing my screening/steaming routine and I went back into some I thought could use some more work. This one is unrecognizeable from what it was - and much more interesting. Thiox through a deconstructed screen and then layers of other screens. Ditto here: originally soy wax resist, then printed and discharged. Now I need to go back to packing and if I have time, I may print a few more scarves while I am in the mood.


Eva said...

Thanks for this very instructive glance into your studio! And for the latest comments you wrote.

Elizabeth said...

Waht a wonderful tutorial about creating screens Rayna!! i ahve always been intimidated by this but you have gotten me over that!! Thank you sooo much!! your fabric treats at the end of the post are just lucious!!

Gail P said...

Thanks for this seeing how it's exactly what I've done with my screens and thought that the screen police might stop by! Dye constantly got under the tape and made a mess on the screens, how many times can a person wash a screen before that stops? I'm all for making things easy. And as usual you continue to inspire me with your work and spirit. Hugs!

Judy said...

Where in the world do you get all of that energy? I'm exhausted just reading your post! LOL
Yes, and thanks for the tutorial on making the screens!


Russ Little said...

Well I'm glad I'm not the only one who hates stretching and taping. I built a big screen frame a couple of months back and it's still sitting in my studio sans screen. I was feeling inexplicably prosperous the other day and bought 2 pre-stretched 110 aluminum screens from Pocono. I'm hoping they're as light and worry-free as they sound. And you're right--suddenly Dick Blick costs more than a commercial screen manufacturer. What happened?

woodie said...

hah. never thought of using curtain for screen. Good tip for anything I might not need much detail on. Thanks for the detailed posts!

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