One of the best parts about the fibers classes was learning how to screen print.
Even though you spend more time waiting for everything to get set up and dry, having a screen with an imaged etched in it is a grand feeling. Once you have an image set in a screen, it's there forever (unless you wash it out with special chemicals). I still have my screen from class 4 years ago.
The problem with screen printing is that it can cost a lot to get all the correct materials (if anyone's interested in what those are, let me know and I'll be happy to point you in the right direction), and since I'm poor, I had to figure out a way to do it on the cheap. After a lot of researching, trials, and errors, this is what I've come up with:
What you need
- Embroidery hoop
- Sheer curtain fabric - the thinner the weave, the finer the detail
- Something to print on
- Screen printing ink, but you could get away with acrylic paint if you're on a super budget
- Mod Podge or some other type of non water soluble glue (I splurged on this, and now I use it for everything)
- A small paint brush you wouldn't mind dedicating to glue
- An old credit/gift card
- Wax paper if you're printing on fabric (to put underneath the layer you're printing on)
- Sturdy pins (for fabric) or painters tape (for paper)
- An image to copy (solid colors are easiest to follow)
- A thin black marker
- Scrap fabric or paper bigger than your image
- Iron (for fabric)
Here's how you do it
1 Put the fabric in the embroidery hoop and pull it as taught as possible. Put the hoop (aka screen) fabric side down on top of your image, and trace it with the marker. Make sure there's at least an inch border of extra space around the image or the inside of the hoop.
2 Flip the screen over and paint everything you DON'T want to print with the glue. This part is all dependent on how well you paint and what size brushes you have. Let it dry, then do a second coat - trust me, there will be holes you missed. To check for holes, hold it up to a light and look very closely.
3 Let it dry completely (I usually wait overnight, but it probably only takes a couple hours), then stretch out the SCRAP FABRIC OR PAPER (with wax paper under the fabric so it doesn't soak through), pin or tape it down. Lay the screen on top, fabric side down.
4 Get a decent amount of screen printing ink (or paint) on the old credit card, and while holding the screen firmly in place, drag the ink at a 45 degree-ish angle across the screen where the image is to be printed. Re-dip as much as you need to get the space covered.
You're doing this on the scraps first because it is the best way to test for any holes you missed. Lift the screen up and check for any little random dots. While the scrap is drying, wash out the screen with water (if you don't wash it out, the paint will harden and thus you'll have a useless screen). When it's dry, fill in the holes with more glue, and let it dry.
You can do as many test runs as you like until you're satisfied with the outcome. When you feel like your screen is ready, print it on the actual object and away you go!
5 To finish it off, let the screen printed image dry completely (overnight is best). In the morning, the paper is good to go. If you're printing on fabric, turn the iron onto a medium-high heat, and iron the back side of the fabric first (you'll notice that the ink looks like it's seeping farther into the shirt) for a couple minutes. DON'T move the iron around much at first - the ink needs the heat to help it set. Then do the same to the front side and let it cool before wearing or washing.
I made a shirt to go see my favorite band, Ok Go (you know them, they're the treadmill guys)
Now get moving!
But first, tell me what you'd print, and what you'd print it on!
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