Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Screen Printing on Glass -- Success and Failure!

I haven't posted in a while because it's been so busy around here. But with our present heat wave in Southern California, there's time to take it easy while staying indoors and trying to keep cool. My latest adventure has been screen printing on glass. A dear friend has been successfully screen printing for the past years, and it's taken me a long time to gather up courage to try. I wonder why we are like that?!

The first thing I had to do was make a stencil. With my Cameo Silhouette, I was finally able to cut a few stencils using the product "Mask-Ease". It's easily obtainable from Blick's or Amazon. I had my enamels from Fusion Headquarters and Kaiser, and the screen printing frames from Blick's. If you are interested in my exact brands and product information, let me know and I'll be happy to share. But for this post, I want to show you my results, successes and failures (sob).

The printing on glass itself has been a great success. No problem. It's the kiln firings that have caused the problems. I first did some smaller 5" square plates with a three feather design.

These came out well. But in the slump firing, one of the plates failed for unknown reasons. The bottom of the plate was not smooth, like it had had some trauma. I photographed it with another plate from a previous firing last year. They were both fired in a mold with a hole drilled in the center. There must have been air that had been trying to escape ... what else could it be?
Then I graduated to larger pieces of glass. And a different stencil with two feathers.

In the next photo, a real disaster happened in the firing. See the plate on the right side and how it is deformed? The one on the left is perfect! It was suggested that my kiln shelf was not level. I checked and it was a little off. But I can't believe it caused this problem since that shelf has been the same for a long time. Anyway, I did shim the shelf so now it is level. Looking at this photo now, it appears that the mold on the right is leaning to the right? It could be the camera angle or .....

Then I fired two more larger plates which I had printed at the same time as the last two.

In the slump firing, one of the plates fired perfectly, the other had an enormous bubble in the center!!!!! .... What next.

I thought about drilling a third center hole in this mold, because this problem was caused by air being trapped under the glass that couldn't escape. I goggled my question on a glass site, and sure enough, someone else had had the same problem, drilled another hole in the mold, and saved her plate. I did the same and got a good result! The sides are not perfectly straight, but it is a nice plate.

I could cold work the deformed plate and this one to straighten the edges, but the first one is "mine" to keep, a one-of-a-kind piece, and the second one I feel definitely went through enough trauma! I've got more stencils made and am looking forward to a cooler garage to continue experimenting.