The first thing you need to know is that screen printing is really cool. You might know screen printing as “that thing you do when you want to put an image on a t-shirt.” But this past week we again visited Haylee Ebersole at Meshwork Press, this time to screen print the covers for the chapbook we are producing as a class, Why Poetry? by Joe O’Connor. (We’ll cover other parts of this process in the upcoming weeks.)
Luckily for us, Haylee had already prepared the screens before we got there, because we had many covers to print and little time to print them. But she still explained the process to us because she knows how curious we are. Using the cover designed by Micaela Kreuzwieser and her team, Haylee imprinted the image onto four screens using a photographic process. She spread a special substance across each screen, and the parts with images and text stayed soft, while the substance that was over the white parts hardened in a dark room (made out of black trash bags). When Haylee washed the soft parts of the substance away, she was left with a screen that would only allow ink through the parts with images and text, which included the cover image (a piece of art by Joe O’Connor’s college roommate, Jim Kozak), the title, the author’s name, the Eulalia Books logo, and the barcode. Haylee also prepared the registration, which is the placement of the paper under the screen, so that the image is on the right place on the cover.
Enter our class. Our job was to choose inks, spread them across the screens, and print the covers. The only guidelines were that we had to stay in the blue-green color family. Otherwise we could be as creative as we wanted. Taking a cue from Ms. Gil-Montero, who was inspired by a comment O’Connor made about the poetry collection Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, my group decided to make our cover blue at the top, blending into green for an ombré effect. To achieve this look, we put blue ink on about half of the short edge of the screen, and green ink on the other half. Then we used a squeegee (for screen printing, not for your shower) to spread the ink across the screen, in a process called “flooding the screen.” Finally, we put a paper under the screen and used the squeegee to run the ink across the screen again. This time, the ink went through the appropriate places in the screen, leaving the design on the paper. The result was a beautiful chapbook cover.