Thermofax Screen Printing
A thermofax is a thermal copier, which used to be used to create a master for duplicating copies, before we all became lazy and used to the wonders of the photocopy. Anyone who was a teacher in the 60s will remember typing on a skin for a Gestetner machine so that copies for children to work on could be produced in numbers. Then came the photocopier and the machines gradually faded out of use.
You can order a screen here
Now, these machines have begun to be used to create wonderfully detailed screens for printing on textiles and paper, if you are lucky enough to be able to track one down. They are also used by tattoo artists to create stencils for their particular form of art.
The screen material is made of a polyester fabric. Bonded to plastic. This material is placed in a carrier, along with a photocopy from a machine, which uses toner, and passed through the Thermofax machine. The film on the screen material burns off as the carrier is passed through a quartz light inside the machine, creating an image on your screen.
These are the technical details, but they cannot begin to describe the delight at seeing your image in great detail after seconds, without any of the mess or difficult attached to any other method of creating a screen.
Photographic screens will give good detail, but they are difficult to prepare and not always successful, depending on the image with which you started. Paper cut -out screens are crude and cannot be used for any great length of time before they disintegrate. Screen filler and drawing fluid is laborious and needs huge amounts of patience
Not only can the Thermofax method deal with photocopies, which are carbon based, but direct methods such as drawing with carbon based Indian inks, black crayons and even newspaper images can be used to create the original, from which the screen will be produced.
The print here has been produced on paper from a photocopy of original artwork,printed with natural dye extracts thickened with gum tragacanth.The background blue is painted with the scum from a woad vat.
The picture below shows the artwork that was used to create a thermofax screen, later used to print on an antique French sheet. The original stylised drawing of Queen Anne’s lace was photocopied on a copier, which used toner, as opposed to a laser copier (always ask about this first in the copying shop, as it is the carbon in the toner ink which helps create the screen)
The resulting screen looks like this:
A well used screen and a little difficult to see, but the print below will make the design clearer. Again,printed with natural dye powders and gum tragacanth.
Screens can also be created successfully from black and white newspaper images, in the same way as a photocopy is used. The carbon in the black newspaper ink gives the same result as the toner from a photocopy, and very dramatic images of a topical nature can be very useful for mixed media textile work. The image below has been printed on paper using layers of acrylic paint-the first layer an emulsion paint from a sample pot of household paint, the second using a screen print colour.
The section of newspaper image used to create the screen appears below:
Images drawn with Indian ink can also be used to create a screen. The two below were traced onto heavy tracing paper using a fine brush. Obviously care does need to be taken with words, to ensure that they appear the right way round when printed!
The resulting print on paper and on calico appears below.
Ordering a thermofax screen
The process will produce very fine line and detail. You can create your original from a toner photocopy, an Indian ink line drawing or by copying a photograph with strong contrast on a toner-copying machine. Many post offices and petrol stations have these machines. If you have a laser printer attached to your computer, this will also give the right image for reproduction as a screen.
All images must be black and white.
Your image will fit into an A5 space in the frame.
Images may be sent either by post or e-mail. The latter should be sent as jpeg attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org.The postal address to send images is
Lyn Griffiths, Jacobean cottage, 1, Sherborne Terrace, Bourton on the Water, Glos, GL54 2DA.
Also, we will need your address for the return of the finished screen.
Click on the Pay pal button to pay now, or send a cheque, payable to Lyn Griffiths.As soon as we receive your payment, which should be £10.00 plus £1.50 p&p, your screen will be produced and returned to you.
All transactions are handled through the paypal system for complete peace of mind and you can pay either be paypal, credit or debit card.
Pressing a 'Buy Now' button does not commit you to buy but takes you to the beginning of the secure payment process.