We just got back from Design Ranch 2011 in Hunt, Texas where we were invited to come down and coordinate a screen printing workshop. Thing is, we had no idea how to predict the outcome of the workshop we had concocted. Basically, over the course of three days we ran three workshops where we tried to jury-rig every material in the screen printing process as much as possible. We’d previously done some ultra-ghetto printing with window screen and paper stencils on various occassions in the past so, equally inspired by the genius of this gigposters thread, we attempted to see just how far we could take it.


– Window screen mesh
– Used wood picture frames
– Bond paper stencils
– 18″ Floor squeegee
– Door hinges
– BBQ Sauce

And you know what? It “worked!” Worked as well as printing gallons of ink through a window screen with a floor squeegee can. The paper stencils fell apart on a few occasions, the door hinges kind of wiggled a lot, and the BBQ sauce printed somewhat glossy and transparent so we printed that last and mostly stuck with our standard Speedball inks (had to keep SOMETHING within our comfort zone.) The irony is that we proposed a workshop that would supposedly illustrate how easy it is to screen print but what we had actually done is conceived of an insanely hard screen printing workshop. But I don’t think anything noticed.

We were pretty preoccupied by trying to actually pull this trick off, so we didn’t get a lot of photos, but on the last day we were able to pop off a few, and there are a few more of us seeming to have everything under control on the Design Ranch flickr pool.

One of the poor, poor “picture window screen frames” from our last day.
It was auctioned off in a silent auction later that evening.

An ill-composed shot of all three prints. The skull on day one printed beautifully, but there were also no counter-forms to worry about. The house on fire on day two (a re-attempt at our original window screen print that inspired this idea) printed pretty well except for the counter-form in the eye. We had to re-cut that on the fly out of duct tape. The black on the house is part BBQ sauce, part ink. The middle “Sloppy Supply Co.” print was day three. Although the type was stencil-cut some fussy parts like “M”s and “A”s got pretty destroyed. Check out that mess by the “M” in ‘Mistake.’ It was kind of beautiful! This print wouldn’t have made any sense if it had worked perfectly. But that “tiny” type in the center held up fine through the whole run. Unbelievable.

Then the big surprise ending: we had talked a lot about Anthony Velonis and posters of the WPA throughout the workshop so we revealed to the workshop a copy of Velonis’ original screen printing instructional manual from 1939, “SILK SCREEN TECHNIQUE: Technical Problems of the Artist Series.”

Oh my, look. There are the door hinges!

And instructions on how to cut out your stencil!

Oh, and a one-handed squeegee!

Here’s a link to a PDF copy of the Velonis book for your own edification.

(Note: please let us know if you believe it to be a violation of copyright to distribute this document. It’s from the collection of the Library of Congress, so we’re under the assumption that it is acceptable.)

One comment on “DESIGN RANCH 2011
  1. Stu says:

    Argh! So mad I didn’t make it this year. Hope y’all enjoyed plenty of Lone Star, Big Red, and brisket!

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