First, I needed a gelatin surface. I rejected pie plates as too small and the sheet pan I wanted to buy from my local restaurant supply as too large (with the early spring, my "drive-in cooler" is way too warm to chill the gelatin) and settled on an old glass 8.5" by 13" dish. This dish can no longer be used for brownies now that it has found its way into the dye studio, but I really don't need those calories (and in a pinch, I can always purchase ready-made brownies).
I did a little research and discovered that one tablespoon of powdered gelatin to one cup of water is about right for optimum wiggle vs. solid. I filled the glass dish with water to determine the amount needed (8 cups) and poured a little less than half that of cold water into my studio mixing bowl (again, we don't want to mix up the studio stuff with the kitchen stuff). I sprinkled in the 8 tablespoons of gelatin. I mixed it with a whisk and let it soften while I boiled additional water. I then added the boiling water to the 8 cup line and stirred it with the whisk. While the gelatin cooled a bit, I sprayed the glass dish with Pam so that the gelatin would pop out easily.
I poured the gelatin into the glass dish, covered it with plastic wrap and let it refrigerate overnight. I didn't try to skim the bubbles or anything because I planned to use the other side for my prints.
The next morning it was set and and I inverted the dish on top of the plastic wrap so I could use the wrap to put it back into the dish when I was finished for the day. I did find that sometimes I had to help it out of the dish with a plastic fork, but generally it popped out easily -- especially after it had been used once or twice. When it started coming out of the dish in pieces, I just pushed them together and used it anyway, but replaced it soon after that.
|Blobby dyes -- okay, but not what I was looking for|
The measurements that I used were as follows: for one quart water, two teaspoons of thickener. Then add to that mixture one tablespoon dye powder for each cup of thickener.
I don't have a blender that I can donate to my studio right now (it's still needed for those pestos and certain summer drinks) so I found that if I sprinkle the thickener powder into the water while whisking, I can get a mostly lump-free liquid. Let it hang out in the fridge overnight and it's perfect. Just stir it up before measuring it out for the dye -- I use my trusty dye studio whisk.
After it's been used a bit, the gelatin takes on some nice color, but if it is wiped off, the color doesn't seem to transfer to subsequent prints.
I arranged some "stuff" on top of the thickened dye to act as a resist. I discovered that flatter is better for "stuff" because I like crisp edges. The plastic lid stuck up too high and I used a cutout circle of thin cardboard for later prints.
I laid a soda-soaked piece of fabric over and used the spongy brayer to smooth it down. I need to get another hard rubber one because the spongy one absorbed dye and left it in places where I didn't really want it, although it worked well to smooth the fabric over the less-flat "stuff." I soak my fabric in soda ash solution and spin the excess liquid out in my washer -- I did use some pieces that were still damp and it didn't seem to matter much.
After peeling the print off, I removed the resist "stuff," put down another piece of fabric and got some lovely negative prints. I laid the prints in a single layer on thin plastic garbage bags that I had cut open; then I folded them up and let them batch overnight.
Some of the negative prints were less interesting and I put them on a pile to "overprint" later. Below are more "finished" prints.
I plan to do more with this -- I'd like to experiment with warm colors. Also, I want to play around with acrylic paints and inks. But I'm really liking it so far...
Later this week, I'll post some photos of the deconstructed screen printing experiments.