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Drumming Up Business from Unexpected Sources

(August 2010) posted on Wed Aug 11, 2010

Screen printing the weird is a great activity


By Andy MacDougall

click an image below to view slideshow

Screen printing the weird is a great activity, as it puts us in contact with inventive people in our respective communities and offers the possibility of creating whole new revenue streams and opportunities should an idea take off. My client got a unique product that exceeded expectations, but she might be on to something that could potentially bring economy and jobs to remote native villages dotted along the jagged Pacific shoreline of Vancouver Island.

The challenge was to print a two-color logo onto deer hide. The skin had been scraped and was stretched and laced with rawhide over a traditional drum frame made out of wood, approximately 3 in. thick and roughly 15 in. in diameter. I say approximately and roughly because the 15 drums were all made mostly by hand. The trap on the print was about 1 pt. Not your normal job. Not your normal material.

I did some testing and found a water-based ink that worked fine on the skin. I separated the artwork, made films, and made stencils on 230-thread/in. mesh, which gave us a good edge and ensured enough ink laydown to cover any surface irregularities. I then set the job up on a small, table-mounted, manual press with height-adjustable hinges.

I usually work with a circular jig or two edge pads when I print round objects. The first color down is a small tick near the edge that’s used to align subsequent colors to the index mark on the jig. In this case, the image was way in the center, the drums were not perfect circles, and we didn’t want to run the risk of wrecking drums while setting up the second color. The client supplied just enough of the expensive drums for the print run, so there was no room for error.

Background material
A little background on my client and the drums: Kelly Poirier is a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, a group of 14 tribes whose traditional lands stretch up the west coast of Vancouver Island. Many of the villages are only accessible by boat or floatplane. Many people in those villages have struggled with economic hardship since mismanagement of salmon populations wiped out traditional fishing jobs.


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