An Experiment in Screen Printing

My current plan for the Dreams of Amarna panels is to overlay the embroidered panels with gauze panels screen printed with the heads of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, and since the panels would be hard to store safely and out of the way while I do the embroidery I have always intended to do the screen printing last of all.

Preparing my screen printing tests

Preparing my screen printing tests

Then, as I mentioned when I was beginning on the Lotus Fragment, I had a Dreadful Thought. What if the gauze killed all the colour in the embroidery? Would it be possible simply to brighten the colours of the embroidery (which would also involve abandoning nearly everything I have done so far) or would I be able to find a suitable fabric? Obviously some early experimentation would be required… Fortunately, “Creative Stitches and Hobbycrafts” happened shortly after my Thought!

I found the stand for Thermofax Screens, and explained what I wanted to do. When I explained that the image I intended to print (in the end) would be of the style of an old-style newspaper print, the lady’s face cleared. Yes, she said, it would certainly be possible to print onto gauze, and when I eventually get to the appropriate stage, it would be possible for them to prepare screens for me based on images I provided. She also said that I should experiment with fabrics, but that synthetic gauzes were likely to prove more transparent than natural fibres. So I bought a starter kit and a screen that had some of the characteristics I expect my final images to have, and got ready to experiment.

Gazing Through Gauzes

Gazing Through Gauzes

The photo shows, from top left, clockwise: Silk organza, Silk Tissue, Synthetic Diamond Mesh Net, and a Synthetic gauze.

I’ve overlaid them over a strongly patterned upholstery fabric, and it’s clear that the bottom two are going to be better bets. The silk organza all but obliterates the upholstery material, so embroidery is going to stand no chance, and the silk tissue is only slightly more transparent.

Diamond Net and Silk Organza

Diamond Net and Silk Organza

This photo shows the contrast between the heaviest and lightest of the fabrics I have tested. The silk organza took up most of the ink that passed though the screen, and the design shows up clearly, but it reduces the fabric underneath it almost to a pattern of light and dark, with very little colour. By contrast, the diamond net has to be laid over the organza before the print shows up at all, as you will see if you look at the middle picture at full size.

To be absolutely certain, I will need to set up some of the embroidery as I intend to display it, and then hang the gauzes about an inch in front, but as an early indication, I think this gives me enough to go on that I can feel reassured. There are suitable fabrics for my purposes, and basic single colour printing is no harder than I remember from university.

I can set my worries aside and continue embroidering – just so long as I bear my ultimate plans in mind!


  1. Penny says:

    So wise of you to investigate possibilities before charging ahead — this process is going to give your final piece such a rich look. I can’t wait to see it all. Meanwhile I’ll think of you stitching away toward this final beauty.

  2. You are so organised going through all the processes – I tend to go for it and hope for the best!!

  3. Carolyn says:

    I like to audition how I am going to achieve the results I want, it just makes my mind clearer. And I agree with your choice of fabrics. Can’t wait to see the end result.

  4. Lady Fi says:

    Oh gosh – you’re very inventive and I love the way you explore to get different effects.

  5. karen says:

    a perfect illustration of the productiveness of sampling…love that you will also be printing.

  6. Jan says:

    You’ve really thought everything through carefully! Planning and trying things out ahead of time is a great idea. Hope it all works out as you imagined it.

  7. Susan says:

    I found it interesting that the synthetics are more transparent…hmmmm…..