A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Multicolour prints with thermofax screens by Beata

My title might sound restricting and indeed this technique is not exclusively for thermofax screens. I will only demonstrate it with one, because this is the type of screen I use most - apart empty ones.
Many of you must be familiar with multicolor printing, using different colours of print paste side by side. 

This kind of multicoloured prints are rather difficult to control, so I would like to introduce a less known technique which I much prefer. 
The materials I used are, thermofax screens (personally I like to work with positive and negative screens, so I can colour the background as well), water soluble wax crayons and a transparent base extender. 

One good transparent base extender widely available in the US is Golden soft gel medium matte. In Europe I like to use Printperfekt 226 EC from Colormatch System (The one on the photo has the old name of this product on it). Both are transparent, acrylic base extenders for textile printing. They fix the colour pigments of the wax crayons to the textile surface. As I mentioned, this is very important, that the wax crayons are water soluble.
I colour the screens with wax crayons - I'm not working too exact, the transition from one colour to another will not happen sharp but rather "blurred", so it doesn't bring much to work exactly.

I cover all the openings with colour pigments from the wax crayons and print it with the transparent base extender. It is a kind of "breakdown printing": the base extender has to wet the pigments first and deconstruct them on the textile surface. This means pulling down the squeegee 10 to 20 (!) times, depending on how forceful the vax crayons were used. (More pressure by drawing means more times pulling down the squeegee on the screen.)
Here is a grey/brownish/black background and the print it gives:

Combining the a positive and a negative screen together results in a multicolour print with just in two printing processes - one for the reds and one for the grey/blue ones.
 The same two screens with grey/black background and blue foreground.

There is never a 100% coverage of the positive and the negative prints, the basic colour of the fabric shines through this imprecision and at the same time it adds depth to the whole picture, so sometimes I even exaggerate the imprecision, like with the red/grey print.

Instead of vax crayons you can also use water soluble colour pencils. Be aware, that they have substantially less colour pigments, so the resulting print is much more delicate. On the other hand they suit better to emphasize fine and fragile details.
Here is a print made with colour pencils:

And finally, instead of using exposed screens, you can draw on empty screens and print it on a dyed fabric:
Deep blue
Red horizon
Winter sun
Summer heat
Or draw multicoloured pictures and print them on a white background:

Cityscapes Nr.6
Cityscapes nr.6 - detail


  1. How enlightening. very cool! thanks

  2. I LOVE this post!!! Thank you so much!!

  3. Great stuff!! I'm really enjoying your blog, you have such a creative, problem solving approach! I will be following you with great pleasure

  4. Never seen, never heard of, great result, will definetely give this a try soon, thanks for sharing!!

  5. I love thermofax screens and am getting ready to order some new ones so I am very excited to give this is a try. Thanks!!!

  6. Do you draw on the top or bottom of the screen?

  7. Kay, I draw on the top, so is wetting the pigments better as drawing on the bottom. Also the backside of the thermofax screens are more delicate, so I don't want to "scratch" it.

  8. Thanks for the information. I will try this.

  9. I absolutely love the multicolor print--city scape. Beautiful. Do you need to heat set any or all of these?

  10. Beth, yes, the transparent base extenders are acrylic pastes so they have to be heat set. Sorry, I forgot to mention it.

  11. This is so cool -- I'm going to have to get out my screens!

  12. ohhh I love this! I'm so glad you shared the technique! I would like to invite you to link this post to our Off the Wall Friday art quilt link up on my blog - open through the weekend. I'm sure everyone else would like to read it too!


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