3 and a half minutes

Yay for screen printing day! Today I FINALLY started the printing process after months of preparation. I'll be honest - I was pretty nervous. I've invested so much time and money into this, it was all coming down to today. Plus, it has been 5 months since my beginner screen printing class, so I felt that I was slowly forgetting everything I had learned with each passing day. Thankfully my teacher has been awesome about answering all my questions the last few weeks, so I was about as prepared as I could have been.

The big question remaining was how long it would take my light box to expose a screen properly. I decided to make a ghetto exposure guide, where I would expose a long print incrementally at 30 second intervals. Here is the long stencil I was going to burn:

The printing underneath has the minutes/seconds; plus I thought it was a good test for type. Then I had a complete fill, a checkerboard pattern, and an example of some of my illustrated linework, since that's what I'll primarily would be printing. I wanted to see just how detailed I could get.
The emulsion I purchased was different than what we used in class, so I decided to follow the directions on the bottle, and coated both sides of the screen (in class, we just coated the bottom side). Well, that was a bust. As you can see above, after exposing, it all washed out in a globby mess. Attempt #1 = FAIL.
My second attempt went a bit better. I only coated one side, but during the exposure process, when I was testing in 30 second increments, I did a bad job of keeping the screen in one place, so the image shifted a bit. Even though it wasn't a perfect exposure, I got enough information to narrow down my exposure time to the 3-4 minute range.
I decided to forgo the incremental test print and just expose the next attempt for 3.5 minutes. This one actually turned out pretty well.

It's still not perfect, but I am getting close. I think I'm going to try a 3:15 print and a 3:45 print and compare the three. I am so anxious to start printing "real" art, but I know this step of the process is key, and will be necessary to ensure quality prints from here on out. I just have to continue being patient, and it will all be worth it in the long run.

Stay tuned!