Screen-printed Memories from the Silkscreen Printing Workshop with Mr Ronnie Gupta

A sweaty Saturday morning,
we tumbled in one after another—
curious peeks, flared nostrils and excited screams
as we spotted the wooden object perched
amidst a tin of ink and glue.

Quick spirals into a throwback—
pinafores and knee-high socks
peeling dried Fevicol from our hands
“Oh this is going to be easy peasy—”
Shh . . . it’s time to begin.

We first came to know about Mr Ronnie as ‘the fixer’ through anecdotes woven by Sunandini and Naveen. Gathering around in a semicircle, we watched him pace around, juggling phone calls and setting up the workshop while going in and out of the backyard.

It started with a cloud of terms—mesh, photosensitive, chemicals, textile, paper, lithe, film, etc. We watched as Ronnie took us through the process of coating the screen with photosensitive emulsion, exposing the film to the sunlight and getting the screen, ink and squeegee ready for print. Stacks of different coloured pocket-sized notebooks sat on the table waiting to be screen-printed with our names.

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The set-up

One after another we lined up for a trial round of printing. Ritika Sherry wasn’t in class that day but was on the fortunate end of being remembered repeatedly as we printed her name on every visible white sheet in sight. Guiding us through the process of setting up the screen, placing the notebook and adding the ink, Ronnie explained the importance of the pressure applied on the squeegee. Slowly we realized that there was a lot more to screen-printing than appeared to the eye. It wasn’t as ‘easy-peasy’ as it looked.

Many questions, photograph flashes and trials later we were ready for the final screen-printing on our little books. This time Ronnie stepped back and watched as we attempted to confidently hold the squeegee and master the angle. Thanks to his patience and the faculty, us being enthu-cutlets about it tried again and again till we got it right. Zooming past names and sweating as the sun got higher, we happily captured each other screen-printing.

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 Screen-printing with ink and squeegee

What started as an excited cackle in design class when Sunandini showed us a screen-printed book and told us about the laborious yet beautiful process, turned into an afternoon full of learning with smudged ink. But it didn’t end there. Seeing the happy smiles make their way through the class, Ronnie ended the session telling us how to make our own screen-printing machine at home. Some of us huddled around making a list of materials required and quickly plotting ways to get them while others grabbed piping hot coffee and bombarded him with some more questions.

While the ‘editors’ were excited to get their hands messy after long days of sitting with punctuation marks and red pens, the ‘designers’ spent every moment breathing in ink and thinking of ways to use screen-printing in their next designs. Everyone left with their own books, screen-printing the day as a memory in their scrapbooks.

Thank you Sunandini and Ronnie, for roping us into the world of squeegees and screens.

Sonaksha Iyengar

 

 

 

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