Design & Printing
Drawing is at the heart of my work. Each design starts as a pencil sketch and it’s than inked on a separate sheet of paper over the light box. This process ensures that the final lines are clean and eradicates use of eraser and smudging. The inked drawing is now ready to be scanned.
Another technique I frequently use in my design work is a linocut. It is a printmaking technique, a variant of woodcut, in which a sheet of linoleum (originally developed as a flooring material) is used as a relief surface. The design is handcut into the linoleum using a sharp V or U-shaped gouge. The remaining raised (uncarved) areas will reveal the image during the printing process. After carving is finished the lino block is inked using a roller and than an impression is made on the paper using a printing press. Due to the nature of block printing the print is the reverse (mirror) image of the block. Whenever I do not have an access to the printing press I would hand burnish my linocuts by placing a sheet of paper over the inked block and than rubbing the back of the paper with a large wooden spoon. This technique produces an interesting grunge effect.
After the images are scanned I add the blocks of colour on separate layers and do the final cleaning up in Photoshop. Each layer is than converted to black and printed on a polyester film. The design is ready to be transferred onto a screen.
All 10tacled clothing is screen printed by hand. No iron on transfers. No Digital Garment Printing (DTG). No Dye Sublimation.
With screen printing, a screen has to be created for every colour of each print. I use aluminium frames and polyester mesh. The mesh is coated with a UV-sensitive emulsion and left flat to dry in the dark. The previously prepared film with a design is then taped to the front of a screen, which is placed face-down onto a vacuum UV light box and exposed for a period of time. Where the UV light hits the screen, the emulsion changes its composition and becomes solid. The black design on the film prevents the UV light from penetrating the emulsion on the screen and these parts are left unexposed. After exposure the screen is washed with water and the non-exposed emulsion washes away, revealing a clear stencil of the design.
The screens are than attached to the arms of a printing carousel and garments are loaded onto printing boards underneath. A multicolour design requires a separate screen for each colour, but after careful registration, the different colour prints from these screens should fit together perfectly to reproduce the original design.
A rubber squeegee is then used to press ink through the mesh stencil onto the fabric. The garment must be heat cured to dry the ink on the fabric in between each colour application. After all the layers are printed the garment is then transferred into a tunnel dryer, which cures the print permanently, ensuring it will be washproof in the future.
WATER BASED INKS
10tacled clothing is printed exclusively with water based inks. No discharge printing, no transfers, no PVC or phthalates, and no solvents.
Why use water based inks?
Most commercial screen printers print garments using plastisol inks, which are easy to use and last well. However, most plastisol inks contain PVC and phthalates that are harmful to the environment and have been linked to numerous medical disorders. Plastisol inks also require the use of harmful solvents in the cleaning process.
Water based inks do not contain PVC or phthalates and you don’t need solvents to clean the screens down after they’ve been used – you can clean them with water.
I wanted to find a way to produce decorated clothing in an eco-friendly manner and after months of experimenting with different ink brands I finally came across Permaset Aqua range of inks. It was truly a eureka moment!
Permaset Aqua inks do not contain ozone-depleting chemicals such as CFC’s and HCFC’s, aromatic hydrocarbons or any volatile solvents. They don’t contain lead or any heavy metals. In fact, Permaset Aqua inks do not contain any toxic chemicals at all! Not even white spirits like other water based inks on the market. Their range of textile inks passed the Oekotex Class 1 standard (with 60% to spare!) and is safe to use on underwear, swimwear and even baby clothes.
Why doesn’t everyone use water based inks?
Good question. Water based inks can be difficult to use. They air dry and can clog up the screen during printing. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s worth it. Traditionally water based inks were not as hardwearing and durable as plastisol inks and weren’t as opaque, but things are different now.
Hardwearing, brilliant colours and high opacity
Permaset Aqua was developed with that in mind and is highly durable to wash, wear and even to dry clean. The garments are machine washable up to 40°C, but tumble drying is not recommend. If ironed, best to use low temperature iron on the reverse side of the decoration. The inks contain a superior pigment colour for brightness and opacity, which means that you can use water based inks on dark colours without having to resort to bleaching the fabric using harmful discharge printing. Water based inks have the added benefit of not having a rubbery feel like plastisol inks or transfer printing and they are softer to the touch.