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Printing fine lines on glass

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Printing fine lines on glass

Postby Larry2 » Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:17 pm

I hope that this isn't too long. I read several web sites and searched the forum's archives, but I didn't see answers (or I didn't recognize them as answers).

I'm trying to see if a decorative glass project is feasible:

The first pieces would be no more than 1'x2'. I've not done any screen printing since the early 60s when I did one screen -- so I'm not experienced. But I've done a lot with tools in a number of fields (such as photography (including printing) and woodworking), so I'm expecting that I'll at least survive an attempt.

I'd expect to draw my originals on Mylar (reversed?).

A first screen would need to print line drawings onto a well-cleaned glass substrate; lines down to a Rapidograph 6x0 (.13mm) would be nice if possible, but a 4x0 (.18mm) would be acceptable. I've done this by hand with India ink; if I try screen printing, I'll need an ink that's light fast (light-resistant won't do). I'd have to have black; dark brown and medium brown would be nice to have. And the ink would need to survive over-painting with a solvent based enamel; India ink survived.

A second screen would need to print bolder shapes -- I'd estimate that the finest line would be at least a 1/16" -- but there might be sharp corners in the design. The "ink" would need to be a paint that would bond to glass; I used 1-Shot when I did this by hand.

When dry, the panel would get a hand applied, protective coat. I used 1-Shot for this also.

I'd wouldn't do more than 1-2 pieces a year and each would have very short runs: Likely 4 pieces; 10 would be wildly optimistic. I know it's a lot of work to invest, but I think that the time leverage would allow me to spend the time to get a higher quality original than I could invest in hand drawing even 2 pieces.

I'd not expect to re-print a piece, and, if I did, it would be years later. So I would expect to strip and reuse the screen and view any future re-printing as a new piece from the existing original.

So after that long lead in, my questions:

Is it feasible for a beginner to print those weight lines in ink and paint?
(If you laugh and say "Larry, I couldn't do that myself!", then I'll not bother. But if it's do-able, then I'll give it a try.)

If it's do-able, then what materials should I look at?

I'm assuming that I'd purchase static Aluminum frames with pre-stretched mesh (from MelRay?):
How many years might the mesh hold adequate tension at that use rate?
What size mesh would I need for the lines?
For the shapes?
Would there be an advantage (or disadvantage) to going to the next finer mesh?

Given a very low use rate, I'd not expect to retain much of what I learned from piece to piece:
Is there an easy to learn and easy to use emulsion that is capable of reproducing the finer lines?
Would that same emulsion be OK to use on the simpler, heavier patterns in the second screen?
Would a film system be easier?
Would it apply to both screens?
Or would I find an advantage in using different materials on the two different screens?

Is shelf life an issue on the emulsions or ink?

I pulled "Silk Screen Techniques" by Biegeleisen and Cohn off my shelf, but it's from 1942;
I checked my library; its books are newer, but they are still from the 70s:
Can you recommend a basic book (I won't need to learn commercial, high-volume practices) that discusses current techniques?
Would the material in a book on t-shirts apply?

Thank you for any suggestions that you can offer.

Very respectfully,
Just Browsing
Just Browsing
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Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 3:25 pm

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