Watercolor Silkscreen Techniques

It was one of those sticky hot Chicago days and I was sitting at the Cook County courthouse, waiting for my call to jury duty. That was when I came up with the hand sketch for Sigall and Greg's ketubah, for their Palm Springs wedding coming up this month. In case you wondered, I didn't get called for duty. 

Once the sketch was ready, I knew that I could then make a silkscreen stencil and use watercolor paint to achieve the watery wash effect the couple is looking for in the artwork. While it's still in the works, I've learned some things and I have a feeling this next print session I'll get the desired outcome. The great thing about watercolor is that you paint directly on the screen. Unlike usual screen printing, you don't have to make multiple layers to achieve different colors on the page. It can be done using one screen. You can also get a pretty gorgeous effect by printing with the same screen as much as possible to exhaust the watercolor paint you applied. The ghosts printed on their own can come out looking pretty great. I've definitely learned a few things through trial and error. I recommend the following when using watercolor to screen print:

1) Paint watercolor directly on the screen and use more pigment than you would if your were painting watercolor straight to paper.

2) Be sure the pigment dries all the way before you print.

3) After the watercolor dries, you can flood the screen with transparent base for watercolor. I really like the Speedball brand. 

4) Be sure you wait 5 minutes while the trans base wakes up the watercolor pigment, then you are ready to print (I forgot to wait when I printed this the other day, so that's why some of the colors are so light in these photos!)

5) Last tip: I find that soaking my paper in a water bath makes it much more absorbent to the ink.