Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Quilting Arts Article

For anyone interested in Thermofax silkscreens, there's a great article in the current issue of Quilting Arts by artist Lynn Krawczyk on masking your screens for different uses. Well laid out with great pictures if you haven't already seen it.

If you are yearning for more screens and can't get your hands on a machine, check out Lynn's Etsy store where she has a variety of premade screens and reasonable custom screen pricing. She will be added to our resource list here on this blog.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Here's a list of pens that have enough of a carbon content that they will react with Riso Film:

Black Sharpie
Pentel Color Pen
Tombow Brush Pen
Itoya Fine Point (non permanent)
Pigma Micron
Pitt Pen
Zig Calligraphy
Staedtler Pigment Liner
Rapidograph Ultradraw
Stabilo (all)
Ritmo Charcoal
China Marker
Staedtler 2b pencil
Sanford Uni-Ball
Black Crayon

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Making Multicolored Prints with a Thermofax Screen

One of the most interesting ways that I've found to use a thermofax screen is to make multicolored images using water-soluble crayons, such as Caran D'Ache. I find these colorful one-of-a-kind prints both versatile and appealing, whether used on their own or in combination with other screen-printed fabrics. The pomegranate above is a simple example of the technique -- with both the red fruit and the green leaves printed at the same time.

The process depends on using a polymer based medium to carry the water-soluble pigment onto the fabric and, in drying, to bind the image to the cloth surface -- after appropriate heat- or time-setting. I've used various kinds of polymer media with the process -- transparent fabric screen ink "extender," Golden® or other brands of gel medium, both glossy and matt, and the newer Golden® open medium, which does not dry as quickly in the screen as the straight acrylic mediums do.

Essentially, one colors the open areas of the thermofax (this works with traditional screens, as well) with the water soluble crayons, coat the screen with a generous portion of medium, letting it sit a SHORT time, then screen-printing as usual (a plastic scraper works better, I think, than a foam roller). The first print is often partial or broken in line, since the crayon can act as a partial resist in the screen, the second and third are usually quite interesting; the color starts to fade and blend with the subsequent prints. I often recolor the screen without cleaning it, working quickly to beat the drying process, and that can lead to interesting results, as well.

Because you are using a relatively heavy medium, this process is best for substantial fabrics and for usages where some change of hand won't be disturbing or distracting to your end result. It doesn't work well on silk scarves for example, but is great for art quilt and mixed media work.

Coming up this fall, I'll be teaching a full-day workshop on this technique at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Thursday, Oct. 15 in the Mixed Media classroom and I'll be demonstrating the process at one of the Mixed Media Miscellany samplers, Saturday, 10-noon. There will be lots of different polymer media to try out, some different kinds of crayons to test, hints for the best designs and lots of demo and hands-on explorations. For more information, see

Monday, August 24, 2009


The problem with having plastic not completely removed by toner can be caused by the toner
on the photocopy not being fused completely enough to the paper. The plastic bonds to the
toner but the plastic can pull the toner off onto the screen if there is too dark a copy or if the
paper is not dry enough. In the future, you may find you get better results making lighter
copies, although this seems counter intuitive. I found many posts about this on the print
gocco yahoo list, which uses the same process with flash bulbs and 100 mesh. There is
a Riso product called "clean up paper" that is recommended to solve this. (I have not seen
clean up paper in the Welsh catalog but perhaps they know about it. The info about it was
posted by Simon, a Riso distributor in AU)

It is even more important not to clog mesh and to cut a clean screen with the fine 100 mesh
print gocco screens. I found I got better results after I realized what was happening. I made
sure to dry the paper well with hairdryer or iron, and on very dark copies, I ironed them from
the back on another piece of bond to make sure any toner that was left was well bonded to
my copy I planned to run through the thermofax, leaving any excess toner on the blotter sheet.
Repeat with clean paper until your blotter sheet is clean.
(I replied to Caryl's inquiry on dyerslist but I hope others might find these tips useful here)

Enid Adams-Surface Design Studios


Before I owned a thermofax, I had purchased a box of 20 stencils, not fully realizing the equipment needed to develop them. They stayed in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator until I found out about mail order imaging services. While the stencils seemed OK at the time the screens were burned. Over time, I ended up with many sheets of thermofax stencil that had started to separate (some imaged, some not) and thought all was lost. Trying to reheat them with an iron proved disasterous, causing bubbles and distortion, even with a teflon pressing sheet. Still I am such a packrat I somehow didn't throw them all out.

After I finally obtained a thermofax at a government auction, I found I could run the stencils back through the machine without a photocopy, and refuse the plastic to the mesh. For those that had been burned, and their paper backing removed, I was able to sandwich them in a carrier and have them refuse relatively well without distortion. They did not become the long lasting stencils they might have been if they had been stored properly for not too long, but they were not a complete waste, and gave me tools to work with immediately. I used screen blockout on any edges that needed reinforcing.

I found I needed to complete the process of printing with these designs. Sometimes seizing the moment of inspiration and motivation is what is most important, and I had a chance to proof the design and make adjustments in the next one. I am also trying to use what I have. Now I am ready to move on to more evolved imagery for the next screens, being older and wiser, with a better understanding of what works both visually and technically.

Enid Adams-Surface Design Studios

Sunday, August 23, 2009

U.S. Suppliers and Services

Per the conversation on transparency machine repair, please note that the sources listed below have all been known to sell and repair transparency makers. The first company listed is Welsh Products, where Riso Film, Frames and Carbon pens can also be purchased.

If you are in the market for a machine, you may want to ask the seller the weight of the model for sale. They vary from 24 - 46 lbs. for the models that are not portable. Twenty pounds can make a big difference if you're moving it around.

Should you know of a reliable repair business, please let us know and we can add the names and info to this list.


CA: Welsh Products 800-745-3255

Machines, Riso Film, tape and spare parts

CA: Image Works 888-789-1917

Repair and spare parts

CA: Roy White 916-481-2450

Repair and spare parts

Gil White Repair and spare parts 909-790-9588

IL: Duplicators & Visuals John Messaris

Available April - October

Pick up only in Chicago 312-226-1331

Repair and spare parts 773-561-7330

NY: GC Service George Cromas 718-951-8293

COD shipping only Repair and spare parts

PA: Bob Haller Svc 412-364-4340

and Sales Repair and spare parts

TX: McIntosh AV 888-449-6893

Repair and spare parts

FL: Jim Leasure

Repair and spare parts