Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Actually Making Art

The last few Saturdays Mom and I have been doing a Creative Quilt workshop series. We first started out with screen-printing with newsprint and the second week we did Thermofax silk screening which is an easy way of making a silk screen of black and white drawings or photos. I decided to use one of the pictures that I had taken of Carter Smith's fabric to make a silk screen. Here is the photo:

This picture shows how I edited the photo with Adobe PhotoShop to make the image black and white and bring out the pattern with more contrast. This is the image that I used to make the Thermofax silk screen.
And now for one of the images that I printed with the Thermofax silk screen:
Now this fabric was printed first using cut-outs and ripped bits of newsprint to mask off patterns on a silk screen . The following Saturday, it was printed a second time with the light purple with my Thermofax silk screen of Carter's fabric. It came out pretty well. If you click on the picture you can see more detail.This is what I did last Saturday with a bit of fabric I was printing random test prints on. One part of the fabric had a nice composition with the Japanese lady in the center so I cut out that part and here it is. I'm making it into a journal quilt. Since this Saturday I will be going to Connecticut to Nick's parents' house, I will have to finish the quiltlet on my own instead of "in class."

Here is the fabric that Mom (Ann) printed in a similar manner as mine. (Notice the similar color choices) The blue and purple pattern was printed with the bits of newsprint masking areas of a silk screen and the leaf/paisley shapes are the Thermofax screen that Mom created. This is the journal quilt that Mom started last weekend with another piece of fabric that she printed with Thermofax silk screens. She chose a much more challenging composition to turn into a quilt as it is quite busy looking at the moment. Wait until you see what she has done with it . Today she was painting on it. I'm sure it will turn out amazingly in spite of the challenge of making all the shapes stop flying around like crazy.About Thermofaxes
If you haven't heard of Thermofax screens, they are rather amazing. The Thermofax refers to the name of the machine that is used to make the screens. The machine's long name is a Thermal Imager. The machines used to be used by offices to make overhead transparencies. It is not possible to make a Thermofax screen without a Thermofax machine. Welsh Products is the primary seller of new and used Thermofaxes. We have a reconditioned one at Friends Fabric Art.

The Thermofax screen that the Thermofax machine makes is just like a photo-silkscreen (except the process is much easier), if you are familiar with that screen printing technique. If not, the screens are like stencils except unlike the stencils you can get at the usual craft store, having a Thermofax machine allows you to make stencils or screens of any image you like such as family photos, doodles, text, or drawings. Any photo or drawing with high contrast will create the best Thermofax screen. The machine likes pure black not tones of grey like a stamp.

The machine works with images from a copier that has carbon in the toner or drawings created with a carbon pencil. In addition to the machine, you also need the special screening material which is a fine mesh fabric covered with a thin film of plastic. To make the Thermofax screen, the plastic film covered side of the screen material is put face down on the copier print. The Thermofax has a heat lamp so when the screen and paper sandwich is sent through the machine, the heat lamp etches the plastic away everywhere there is a dark enough coating of ink on the paper. As strange as the process is to describe, it only takes a few seconds to etch your image onto the screen material. Once this has been done, the screen material is often stretched flat in a plastic frame or given a tape border of Duct Tape or packing tape to ready the screen for easy printing.

If I have confused you or you have questions, drop me an e-mail:
If you are curious about how to use a Thermofax screen you can visit:

Mom and I can make Thermofaxes for you at Friends Fabric Art or check out Welsh Products or eBay to get your own if you think you'll get addicted. Another place to check out fabrics printed with Thermofax printing is Jane Dunnewold's website:

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