Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Printing With Aquasoft Inks
For The First Time

    Aqusoftt is Tulco's slow-drying ink series that is water-based. They say it's a good alternative for plastisol inks which are is not water-soluble. I have been using Tulco products since day one of my screen-printing experience in 2011 and for 5 years I have gotten used to their Classic, Rubberized, and Athletic inks. But the prevailing weather here has become un-ideal for the opaque inks that I have been using. It gets really warm in the garage that I work in, even on a rainy day and my stencils end up clogged with dried ink and srubbing them off is hard on the fingers and absolutely time consuming.

     But I have Aquasoft inks now. I bought some a couple of weeks ago and from the store I learned there's another added effort if you use this type ink - you can only make your own opaque colors. Yup. The emerald green, golden yellow,  royal blue, and the other colors that are available on the Rubberized and Athletic series are not available in Aquasoft. So you will need to get Aquasol Matte (a flat opaque white base), and mix some Tulco pigments to achieve the colors you need. Good thing I have some pigments here at home. Mixing for your own colors is not that much of a fuss anyway. Actually it's fun hehe. I made khaki and turquoise for my first try on two shirts (for a friend who ordered them 6 months ago haha!)

    When I opened the container of the Aquasol Matt, I noticed that it has a thick consistency and it actually made me a bit nervous. Because with the previous inks that I use, a consistency like that is a sure clogger. When I added the pigments and stirred vigorously, the consistency became a bit workable but is still thick. I'm worried about adding diluted Binder to thin the ink a bit because it might affect its slow-drying properties.

    Surprisingly, when I slid the squeegee the ink went through the screen smoothly. The big design was printed completely without skips or blots. And the best part is that the screen was not clogged. I remember  that I get a clogged screen right after the first coat with previous inks.

    The screen of the dreamcatcher design is actually a fresh screen. (The old one was completely damaged by dried ink.) When I washed the new screen I was relieved to find no clogged areas where I have to scrub like hell. No ink stains either!

    The next day after printing I get to try my new heat-press machine. I think it took 4 minutes for the machine to get to the temperature of 140 degrees C. Then just 40 seconds to cure both shirts. Pretty quick huh? But I need to get used to the heat radiating from the top press while replacing shirts.

    Because my friend will not be able to pick up the shirts yet, I decided wash-test the prints. I was told that if the print is not properly cured, the color of the print will fade or worse, the print will wash off. Well I'm happy to announce that I hung a couple of shirts to dry with quality prints. ^_^

   So, I guess I'm ready to start with the second batch of El Nido shirts.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Finally, a Heat-Press Machine

    So this new machine heralds the beginning of my use of slow-drying inks that will prevent the screens from clogging, thus reducing the washing time. It also heralds the end of my use of a household flat iron for curing  prints and that will also save me a lot of time. This machine also is a step toward using metallic foil prints. Also vinyl prints if I get a cutter-plotter, and sublimation prints too if I get a digital printer for sublimation inks. But of course these other uses that requires more expensive machines are for the not-so-near future hehe.

    Actually I have not taken my new heat-press out of its box since the day it was brought here. It has been over 3 weeks now haha! Well obviously I'm taking my time with my break from printing and also trying to enjoy Summer. I have not been accepting orders of shirts since November last year. Because with the prevailing El Niño, printing shirts with my old fast-drying water-based inks will only damage my screens.

    So lately, I have only been doing digital graphic work. Mostly, the monogram orders for Madam Yssa of Customized Chic who actually gave me the money to buy this heat-press as a Christmas gift. She actually tricked me into telling her that I need this machine haha and then she had the money deposited in my bank. Amazing, isn't it? For someone to help you with your business like that. Just like my former employer Boss Vic who provided the wheels to bring this bulky 24kg machine from Makati to our house here in Alabang.

    Well summer is almost over and June is just hours away. I better buy aquasol inks soon because orders are waiting. Remember the El Nido shirts for Sea Cocoon Hotel I made last year? Well Boss Vic ordered for a second batch and I think they're over 70 or 80 pieces. He bought the blank shirts already, the same day when I bought the heat-press.

     Looks like I'll be back to being busy again. Yeah, that is a good thing.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

My Room Makeover:
Welcome to my Silid Bohemio

This project started in August 2013, beginning with the repainting of the walls and floors. It's only now, after more than 2 years, that I think it is ready to be presented to you my dear readers. ^_^

       This actually was my younger brother's room that I took for myself, four years after he got married and moved out. My original room, which is just next to this room on the second floor, is where I now keep my clothes and all my other stuff. I really think that without that extra room for storage, I couldn't possibly achieve a bedroom as neat at this.

      Realizing that I'll probably live in this house for the next 5 years or more, I might as well transform this 12 square meter space into that where a creative person like me would like to spend hours and hours in - doing work, sleeping, contemplating, daydreaming, creative procrastinating, etc...

     So now I call this room "Silid Bohemio" (silid means room in Filipino). What makes a room bohemian? The presence of art, eclecticism, or eccentricity really doesn't make it so. Actually, it's all of that minus the opulence. High on art and style, low on budget. ^_^

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Señor Angel y Señora Romana:
A Digital Restoration & Reproduction Project

   This project began last year and it was only completed last week. It really wasn't a very painstaking endeavor. It only took that long because it was often put aside LOL. But I'm glad that my client was patient about it.

   The two charcoal portraits are from an ancestral house in Batangas. They are husband and wife from the 1800's. But I'm not really sure if the original portraits were made in that era. It may have been done after the turn of the century.

   My client first gave me Señora Romana's portrait. You can see above how the artwork has deteriorated over the centuries. The wood oval frame is made of planks that are screwed together and the joints are already split. It has a nice bubble (convex) glass that is rarely produced today.

   If you think Señora Romana's portrait was badly damaged, Señor Angel's is even worse. It got ripped and they've tried to fix it with clear tape -  that turned brown after decades. His wooden frame is already broken but they were able to keep the  bubble glass. The two portraits, for some reason, were separated for many many years. Romana's stayed in the ancestral house while Angel's was brought to a house in Parañaque City.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Five Years of Bohemianism

    I just realize that, the blog and business, is already 5 years old. It was on the first day of March, 2011, that I decided to go freelancing as a graphic artist, created this blog, and started a small business of retailing printed t-shirts that I designed.

   Five years sounds like a long enough time to expect some improvement. So how's everything?

   Well I'm glad that I still find the time to write for my blog. I had envisioned that it will someday become a website where you will mostly read about the Filipino artistic culture. But today it remains a personal online journal where I share my journey to my creative and business goals. I'm pretty much cool about it, really.

   You know, the last time I printed shirts was November last year and I stopped accepting orders since then. Don't worry, my dear readers, I didn't quit. Let's just say I took a little break from printing. I plan to change the type of inks that I use. It's the type that doesn't dry easily and clog my screens. The El Niño phenomenon has been going on since last year, and I found myself scrubbing my screens longer that I should between prints. So switching to aquasol inks will solve that problem. But that requires me to purchase a heat press machine to cure the prints. Yeah, that means I'll be shelling out blue Peso bills again hehe. Anyway, as soon as I get a heat press machine and new set of inks, I'll be back to start printing stocks and maybe produce new designs on the side.

   My digital portraiture services still has no official website and I have not been marketing it. So that business is as stagnant as a puddle. There were no new clients. However, for a previous client, I have just completed a digital restoration and reproduction project of a pair of ancestral portraits from the 1800's. Will tell you more about it in another post. ^_^

    So lately I feel more like just another freelancing graphic artist than an "artrepreneur". I have a pending company profile folder for a printing business owned by a friend's family. Also I continuously work on monogrammed items for Customized Chic which has become the bread-and-butter for the past months. It really should be the other way around - I should work for Buhay Bohemio full time and everything else should be on the side.

    I have to admit that I'm a little lost. They say that it's okay to be lost sometimes as long as you know exactly where you want to go. How to get there has always been the question and it's a kind that has an entourage of subsequent questions.

   But I believe that things will fall into place. We gravitate towards what we really want the most, right? So I'm just gonna keep on moving... and learning! ^_^