Posted by John on

One of the key parts of the screenprinting process is the paper tearing. But it's kind of invisible – once it's done, it's taken for granted. Except, get it wrong and all my efforts are for nothing – the image will not sit straight, and will look wonky in any frame.

So the discipline of tearing the paper carefully is one I've learned to pay a lot of attention to. The paper I buy is beautiful; it comes from a mill in Somerset (one of the very few papers still made in this country) and is made from cotton pulp. It's slightly textured and off-white, all choices made to make the final print seem as far as possible from the neat perfection of ink-jet prints (or giclée, as the intentionally baffling euphemism has it). As is the choice to tear rather than cut my paper.
But the point is that the paper come in 76cms x 56cms sheets, and this tears down to my standard format of 26cms x 19cms if I tear it three times horizontally and then vertically. There's a real art to tearing paper with precision. You have to hold it down firmly with (my favourite choice) a fat metal ruler and pull the paper tight against the edge, to make sure the tear is clean.
These photos show a recently torn batch of paper. The sheets are about to turn into screenprints of Desperate Dan, Roger the Dodger and the Bash Street Kids (see below).
I'm proud of how neat the stack is.