President’s Research Fund Final Report

Assembled prints from President's Research Fund

Pres­i­den­t’s Research Fund prints assem­bled on table at 2018 ORU Research Symposium.

Part One: Introduction

In sum­mer of 2017, I received fund­ing from Oral Roberts Uni­ver­sity (ORU) President’s Research Fund to pur­sue prints using Bib­li­cal verses as the con­tent and con­tex­tual basis. As visual forms increase in fre­quency, yet decrease in lit­er­acy, a visu­ally dom­i­nant pre­sen­ta­tion of Scrip­ture is needed reen­gage present, and more impor­tantly future, view­ers with the sig­nif­i­cance of the Spirit-Empow­ered movement’s foun­da­tional verses. The cre­ation of this series of prints sought to glo­rify and mod­ern­ize the beauty of the lit­eral word of God as pre­sented in the Bible can address this cul­tural gap. The util­i­tar­ian nature of most bibles hides the ele­gance and grace of the aes­thetic minu­tiae of let­ters, words and pas­sages. The grant funded the cre­ation and pro­duc­tion of a series of visu­ally engag­ing prints dis­trib­uted in sup­port of the uni­ver­sity and the Spirit Empow­ered Movement.

The result was a series of prints, cre­ated by myself as the pri­mary inves­ti­ga­tor, but also designed by and pro­duced in lan­guages spo­ken by ORU stu­dents. The form of the prints began to explore the visual attrib­utes, print mate­ri­als, pro­duc­tion tech­niques and final scale of screen print and let­ter­press com­po­si­tions. Doc­u­men­ta­tion of the expe­ri­ence took sev­eral forms, includ­ing cam­pus pre­sen­ta­tions, exhi­bi­tions and a more thor­ough account pub­lished at here.

Part Two: Research and Needs Assessment

Screen Printing Exposure Unit

Cur­ing emul­sion via ultra­vi­o­let light using screen print­ing expo­sure unit

In the spring on 2017, I was asked to teach an ad hoc screen print course. With over 20 stu­dents reg­is­tered, I needed acces­si­ble, sim­ple and repeat­able solu­tions for the process. I was able to uti­lize some unused dark­room and graph­ics pro­duc­tion spaces from at least the late 1980’s at the uni­ver­sity to cre­ate a semi-dark room, washout area, dry­ing cab­i­net and light table. It was dur­ing this time, I began to think large, and planned for the future pos­si­bil­ity of print­ing up to a 48 x 36 in screen. For smaller stu­dents, the lever­age angles and forces needed to pro­duce an ade­quate large scale man­ual print were too great. Some of the observed qual­ity issues were due to screen size and poor expo­sure, but con­sis­tency of the print stroke was obvi­ous once other vari­ables were removed. In addi­tion pre­cise reg­is­tra­tion is dif­fi­cult as small adjust­ments become hard to man­age 3–4 feet from the pivot point of the screen and reg­is­tra­tion clamps.

The cost for pro­fes­sional indus­tri­ally man­u­fac­tured, large for­mat screen print­ing presses is quite large, in excess of $10,000. I did not feel I could jus­tify the expense with my or the schools› money for the peri­odic use in class and research. I inves­ti­gated a rea­son­able do-it-your­self solu­tion to pro­vide a higher level of print­ing than I had, but at a more rea­son­able cost. Using vis­i­ble infor­ma­tion of the TMI Jaguar press (http://​www​.tmis​creen​print​ing​.com/​p​r​o​d​u​c​t​s​/​t​m​i​-​j​a​g​u​a​r​-​o​n​e​-​a​rm/), Paul Cretin›s one arm press (http://​paul​.cretin​.net/​o​n​e​a​r​m​.​h​tml) and the Museum of Arts and Design’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with the UM Project (http://​www​.umpro​ject​.com/​p​r​o​j​e​c​t​s​/​#​/​t​h​e​-​p​r​i​n​t​-​s​h​op/) I set­tled on a plan for a man­ual press uti­liz­ing a lin­ear roller bear­ing track as the pri­mary print­ing mech­a­nism and clamshell motion to raise and lower the screen.

Part Three: Ideation and Planning

Brainstorming sketches and technical diagrams

Research, brain­storm­ing sketches and tech­ni­cal diagrams.

Given pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence build­ing presses for use in research and class, I used Andy MacDougal’s Rab­bit press (http://​www​.tmis​creen​print​ing​.com/​p​r​o​d​u​c​t​s​/​r​a​b​b​i​t​-​v​a​c​u​u​m​-​t​a​b​l​es/), also fea­tured in his book Screen Print­ing Today – The Basics, as a basis. These presses con­sist of ply­wood and lam­i­nate to form a vac­uum table to hold paper down, a hinge sys­tem to clamp the frames, and a counter bal­ance sys­tem to hold the screen in the appro­pri­ate place dur­ing the print cycle. The press is sim­ple and mod­u­lar, mak­ing it an excel­lent foun­da­tion. Cretin’s lin­ear rail sys­tem and the UM Project’s squeegee assem­bly pro­vided the nec­es­sary move­ment dur­ing the print stroke. I began to sketch and deter­mine spec­i­fi­ca­tions and ulti­mately started a pur­chase list of items I needed. A screw based sys­tem for reg­is­tra­tion was devel­oped to assist with align­ing the screens to each printed color, and inte­grated into the mod­i­fied base plans. Sup­plies were ordered, and some allowance was made of intan­gi­ble specifics and unknown vari­ables. 

Part Four: Prototyping and Testing

3D Printer and software

Print­ing pro­to­type parts using 3D printer and slic­ing software.

With the avail­abil­ity of dig­i­tal fab­ri­ca­tion tools, such as 3D print­ers and CNC routers, the fab­ri­ca­tion of the press would be some­what auto­mated. A com­par­a­tive process would uti­lize the best of each. I cre­ated a sim­i­lar object out of mul­ti­ple mate­ri­als or processes and used that as a com­par­i­son. It seemed that attach­ment and hold down knobs would be he best choice, with some based on hex and car­riage bolts, but oth­ers based on t‑nuts. The cre­ation of each pro­vided addi­tional skills and knowl­edge of the equip­ment. Deci­sions were made on the results. CNC parts were cre­ated using Easel (https://​www​.inventa​bles​.com/​t​e​c​h​n​o​l​o​g​i​e​s​/​e​a​sel) by Inventa­bles on a 1000 mm X‑Carve (‑carve) machine. Easel deter­mined com­puter aided machin­ing com­mands from imported SVG files, gen­er­ated from Adobe Illus­tra­tor (https://​www​.adobe​.com/​p​r​o​d​u​c​t​s​/​i​l​l​u​s​t​r​a​t​o​r​.​h​tml). 3D printed parts were cre­ated using para­met­ric mod­el­ing in Autodesk’s Fusion 360 (https://​www​.autodesk​.com/​p​r​o​d​u​c​t​s​/​f​u​s​i​o​n​-​3​6​0​/​o​v​e​r​v​iew). Model files were exported to Lulzbot’s ver­sion of Cura (https://​www​.lulzbot​.com/​c​ura), an open-source slic­ing and print­ing soft­ware spon­sored by Ulti­maker (https://​ulti​maker​.com/​e​n​/​p​r​o​d​u​c​t​s​/​u​l​t​i​m​a​k​e​r​-​c​u​r​a​-​s​o​f​t​w​are), for slic­ing and deter­min­ing the actions of the Taz 6 (‑6) 3D printer. The holes need for the vac­uum table were pro­gramed in Fusion 360 and tests were drilled using a mod­i­fied Dremel (https://​www​.dremel​.com/​e​n​_​US/) tool and Print­bot Crawl­bot (https://​print​r​bot​.com/​s​h​o​p​/​p​r​i​n​t​r​b​o​t​-​c​r​a​w​l​b​ot/) CNC machine.

Part Five: Press Construction

Vacuum table and press base construction

Vac­uum table and press base con­struc­tion prior to assembly.

Press con­struc­tion began with assem­bling as many mate­ri­als and equip­ment as was rea­son­able for the space. Ply­wood parts, such as the base, spac­ers and the sur­face top, were mea­sured and cut at a table saw. The lam­i­nate top sur­face was glued with con­tact cement and edged with flush trim­ming lam­i­nate bit. The approx­i­mately 1200 holes for the 36 x 48 in. vac­uum table were mechan­i­cally drilled. A putty knife and fine sand­pa­per refined some slight errors and melt­ing result­ing in a less than flat sur­face. The base edges and spaces for vac­uum noz­zles were posi­tioned, cut, glued and nailed. Seams were caulked, another layer of glue was applied and the press base was place upside down using ref­er­ence lines. Nails and screws held the base and spac­ers to the top. Once dry, a sup­port sys­tem was cre­ated to raise the base to make room for threaded rod needed for reg­is­tra­tion micro-adjust­ment. Holes were drilled, hard­ware assem­bled and the final ply­wood fas­tened to fin­ish the base. The reg­is­tra­tion base was mea­sured, cut and drilled. Holes fas­ten­ing screen print hinge bolts were mea­sured, drilled and used to install the hinges. All knobs for bolts and t‑nuts were 3D printed based on the Fusion 360 mod­els, with atten­tion to color, size and function.

Close up of squeegee assembly

Close up view squeegee assem­bly with mount­ing and adjust­ment mechanisms.

squeegee rotation close up

Close up view squeegee assem­bly axes of rota­tion, pivot points and swivel mechanisms.

The mechan­ics of the squeegee posi­tion required an abil­ity to adjust in two axes. A piece of strut chan­nel would accom­mo­date a num­ber of squeegee sizes. The mate­r­ial also pro­vided brack­ets and holes to make con­nec­tions to the piv­ot­ing mech­a­nism. Knobs and threaded holes allowed for easy removal of squeegee assem­bly for clean­ing and rein­stal­la­tion. Com­mon pres­sure treated 2 x 4 in. lum­ber pro­vided form in which multi-axis holes were drilled and hard­ware inserted. The squeegee needed rota­tion par­al­lel to the screen dur­ing the print and flood strokes. Two “L” brack­ets on each side set end posi­tions and used drilled and tapped through holes for bolts and knobs to fine-tune any dis­tances. Spac­ers, nuts and slight mod­i­fi­ca­tions cre­ated a strong and repeat­able movement.

Linear rail assembly.

Close up view of lin­ear rail assem­bly, used to adjust posi­tion of squeegee along y‑axis to accom­mo­date var­i­ous sized screens.

The abil­ity to adjust the loca­tion of the squeegee along the print arm’s y‑axis to accom­mo­date mul­ti­ple sizes screens was devel­oped dur­ing the plan­ning stages. The print arm con­sisted of 2 in. per­fo­rated square tube, often used for sup­port­ing traf­fic signs. Ply­wood scraps would serve as the faces, with t‑straps han­dling the nec­es­sary forces. Align­ment required drilling some coor­di­nat­ing holes and a series of car­riage bolts, nuts and t‑nuts allowed for adjust­ment with the dimen­sions. A final posi­tion is locked down using car­riage bolts, printed knobs and t‑nuts. The swivel mechanism’s posi­tion was based on holes in the straps, drilled, and assem­bled with a larger bolt and metal spacer wash­ers to pre­vent hole from wear­ing out. 

Once the heights of squeegee posi­tion and rota­tion were deter­mined, the lin­ear rail assem­bly and base was begun. A mount­ing board was cut using the X‑Carve out of scrap ¾ in ply­wood. The lin­ear rail bear­ings were secured with machine screws in drilled holes and pro­vided with some allowance to resolve any bind­ing. Con­sid­er­able time was spent decid­ing on the loca­tion and fas­ten­ing mech­a­nism for the rail. A sim­ple solu­tion of stacked scrap 2x dimen­sional lum­ber was used to gen­er­ate the nec­es­sary height. The func­tional sys­tem was secured to the wood with ¼ in. lag screws of var­i­ous lengths from top and coun­ter­sunk on bot­tom. The coun­ter­bal­ance sys­tem was assem­bled using com­mer­cial elec­tri­cal con­duit and com­po­nents, pul­leys, nylon para­chute cord and weighted, one-gal­lon containers.

Part Six: Testing and Improvements

With all mechan­i­cal sys­tems in place and basic func­tions tested, a fully func­tion­ing assess­ment of the press’ mechan­ics was needed. A screen was loaded and the coun­ter­bal­ance adjusted. Two vac­u­ums were attached and pro­vided suf­fi­cient suc­tion to hold the paper sub­strate to the sur­face. A blank screen was used to cre­ate a solid flat block of color to deter­mine any imper­fec­tions or vari­ances in pres­sure dur­ing the print cycle. With no blem­ishes obvi­ous, a sec­ond test using a pre­ex­ist­ing screen was made. A com­par­i­son with the hand printed and machine printed sam­ple art­work revealed no notice­able print qual­ity dif­fer­ences. The press was ready for use.

Part Seven: Print Content

Christy Kaneta Proofs Acts 2:3

Process proofs of Acts 2:3 by stu­dent Christy Kaneta.

Par­al­lel to the press plan­ning and con­struc­tion process, stu­dents and I began to develop con­tent for print­ing. Stu­dents were selected for par­tic­i­pa­tion based on design expe­ri­ence, screen print knowl­edge, cul­tural and lin­guis­tic back­ground. The goal of the project was to cre­ate con­tem­po­rary bib­li­cal verses that sup­port the his­tor­i­cal and found­ing influ­ences of the uni­ver­sity. A selec­tion of verses, mostly from Acts, was cho­sen, but stu­dents were also allowed to select any verse deemed appro­pri­ate to the project. Mul­ti­lin­gual stu­dents were also encour­aged to inte­grate col­ors, verses and type­faces into their solu­tion from their spe­cific background’s cul­tural tra­di­tions. A wide range of stu­dents was selected to serve as Stu­dent Research Assis­tants. Stu­dents dis­cussed ideas and sizes with me and art­work was dig­i­tally sub­mit­ted. Proofs were cre­ated to test color, review siz­ing and iden­tify areas of refine­ment. Changes were made and finalized.

Part Eight: Print Process

separations Acts 1:8

Dig­i­tal file prepa­ra­tion and color sep­a­ra­tion using Adobe Illus­tra­tor for Acts 1:8, cre­ated by stu­dent Amber Teague.

Final sep­a­ra­tion films for Acts 1:8 cre­ated using Adobe Illus­tra­tor, Acro­bat Dis­tiller and out­put on Epson Sty­lus Pro 9900.

Using Adobe Illus­tra­tor, mod­i­fi­ca­tions were made to pre­pare the artwork’s col­ors, dimen­sions and for­mat for print­ing. Films needed to cre­ate screen sten­cils were out­put using an Epson large for­mat printer and spe­cial trans­par­ent film media. A screen for each printed color was coated with pho­to­sen­si­tive emul­sion and dried in a light safe cab­i­net until set for expo­sure. The films were posi­tioned on the screen, and then placed on a ultra-vio­let light table for a spec­i­fied timed period. Once exposed, the uncured emul­sion was washed out to reveal a sten­cil for each color. Screens were then dried in prepa­ra­tion for printing.

Color samples

Final ink sam­ple com­par­i­son of CMYK proofs for Acts 20:24 by stu­dent Seon­gin Kim.

Col­ors were mixed using a Pan­tone sys­tem of ref­er­ence sam­ples and for­mu­las. Base ink col­ors were mea­sured in proper pro­por­tions using a scale. Ink sam­ples were made on test paper, and adjust­ments made to account for inac­cu­ra­cies or con­flicts. Dry screens were placed on the press bed, fixed with the hinge clamps and them reg­is­tered to the paper and the films. The screen was pre­pared for print­ing on the press and each color printed dur­ing the run. Prints were dried, and the process repeated between two and four times per print, based on the total num­ber of col­ors. Exist­ing small presses was used for small prints, and the grant-funded press was used for prints larger than 16 x 20 in.

Part Nine: Conclusion

Acts 2:3 drying

Final print color of Acts 2:3 dry­ing prior to sign­ing and editioning.

Once allowed suf­fi­cient time to dry, the fin­ished prints were col­lected and signed by the artist. Mats were cut based on size of print and final frame dimen­sions, mounted using archival mate­ri­als, and inserted into frames. Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion labels were dig­i­tally printed and affixed to a dust paper back­ing, which was applied to seal the print from fur­ther intru­sion. Posi­tions for hang­ing hard­ware were deter­mined, and fas­tened to the back of each frame. Ten prints are stored with the The­atre, Dance and Visual Arts Depart­ment, and ten iden­ti­cal prints are stored and framed ready for dis­play at the Provost’s space of the sixth floor of the Grad­u­ate Cen­ter, or at other loca­tions on cam­pus. The remain­ing 80 prints are stored unmat­ted and unframed in the The­atre, Dance and Visual Arts Depart­ment until dis­tri­b­u­tion is requested.

Over­all, the grant pro­vided mate­r­ial, equip­ment and stu­dent sup­port to pro­duce sev­eral note­wor­thy pieces. Many prints are in the process of being sub­mit­ted for pos­si­ble exhi­bi­tion, through var­i­ous venue’s open call for entries using a peer review process. The project was also pro­vided sup­port for appli­ca­tion to “Mat­ter and Spirit: A Sem­i­nar on Con­tem­po­rary Chi­nese Art and Soci­ety” hosted by Calvin Col­lege and “Expand­ing” hosted by 1920 Gallery and Indi­ana Wes­leyan, though unfor­tu­nately, both appli­ca­tions were unsuc­cess­ful in gain­ing acceptance.

The process of plan­ning and build­ing equip­ment for mak­ing art pro­vided nec­es­sary skills for future class­room instruc­tion and inter­dis­ci­pli­nary projects. Time lim­i­ta­tions pre­vented a greater num­ber of large for­mat prints from being pro­duced, as well as using dig­i­tally carved relief blocks, let­ter­press type­faces and relief presses to cre­ate sim­i­lar printed com­po­si­tions. The project pro­vided knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence for teach­ing the use of dig­i­tal fab­ri­ca­tion tools to stu­dents, who can then use the class­room activ­i­ties dur­ing their careers. The per­sonal and pro­fes­sion growth that was a result of this project was immense, and I am grate­ful of the oppor­tu­nity. It is with thanks to the appro­pri­ate admin­is­tra­tive and fund­ing par­ties that I will con­tinue to pur­sue this track of cre­ative research into the future.