Wednesday, 4 September 2013

PVA Glue and Screen Printing

I use quite a lot of PVA glue - and I guess many of us do.  It is cheap and easy to get hold of.  A quick trip to Hobbycraft or The Range and stocks are replenished.

However, I don't do that much sticking.  I do use it to bond tissue papers onto backing fabrics to make that 'backgound' paper that I use a lot, but I also use it as a resist to decorate fabric. 

I have had mixed success with this.  The first time I tried it the result was spectacular but it took so long to wash (indeed scrub) the glue out that I lost some of the colour.

The second time I used a different glue and it just let the paint seep everywhere - no resist at all!

But I read somewhere that you could use PVA glue to make screens for printing.  So I thought I would give it a go.



The glue I used was nothing special at all. But I did decant it into a craft bottle with a smaller hole to control the flow.

Then I took my screen and masked off the edges with parcel tape.  This is a commercial screen that came from a kit.  I have had it a few years and the whole kit was a present.


You apply the glue to the underside of the screen so that you don't scratch the design as you pull the ink across in the well.


Here is the design.  The glue is still wet so you can see it.

Now this process is not for the impatient (Hilary Beattie - are you reading this?)  You have to let the glue dry.  In my case I left it for a good couple of days.  You know when the glue is dry as it is clear and the design is much fainter.

Then I did the printing!

I printed on both fabric (scraps from a previous dyeing session) and paper.  

I used fabric printing ink - in has a good consistency.  Next time I will try acrylic paint with a retarder.







I did quite a few print runs (I won't bore you with them all).  I started with nice clear colours but ended with a muddy brown as I mixed the ink - perhaps on reflection the blue was a mistake so early on in the print run.

Anyway, you get the gist.

Now you can't wash and use the screen immediately because when you wash it you wet the glue again and it goes all white and sticky.  At the very end of my session I blasted the the screen with cold water through the 'well'.  The ink did wash away and the glue appears pretty much intact, so I will try a second batch (though I suspect there will have been some degradation of the design).

But a good technique I think - and one to try again.

15 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this idea - I'm really itching to have a go- Gilli @ Tasty Textiles

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    1. Do, and give us a link to photos of your results,

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  2. Great screen and really crisp results. If you use thickened dye you don't have to worry about having to wash the screen out so quickly. It will be interesting to see the effects as the design degrades.

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    1. Yes I could have used dye but I had the inks to hand. When I get back from holiday I might invest in a lot of plastic containers to make up a batch of dyes to use for printing.

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  3. Wow - that's pretty effective. And as Maggi says, it could be another method for deconstructed screen printing.

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    1. I might try another print run later to see how the screen has been effected by the washing. This process does have some potential I feel.

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  4. I think the degraded screen will be really exciting! This is a great idea for making individual designs. Must try it!

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  5. I love the design you made with your glue! You were able to get some beautiful definition with the smaller tipped bottle. GREAT idea! Have you printed again with the screen? Looking forward to seeing that one!

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    1. Hi Lisa - just back from a week in Spain so no more screen printing yet, but I will try to get round to it later this week.

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  6. That design is fantastic - were you able to completely remove the glue once you had finished the print run? I really want to try this but don't want to ruin my screens!

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  7. Can you use the screen again, e.g. with paper stencils, or does the PVA stick/damage the screen? In other words, I'd like to have a go at this, but would want to use the screen again for other types of printing.

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    1. My screen is a bit battered but with the glue I used it did wash off and is reusable. So I think it depends on the glue you use. Some are not so easy to wash off and they might damage the screen.

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