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  1. #1
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    screen printing / silk screening

    Hi folks,

    Ok I did a search for this on get crafty and not much turned up - I'm trying to understand how this process works, in general.

    I found this list of kits / supplies, but, like, I have no idea how this would work. Do I block off the screen somehow and then just squeeze ink through the screen onto my fabric with the squeegee thing? And do I need multiple screens for two-colour? I just cannot envision how this would work.

    If someone could help me out or direct me to a resource (google was not fruitful but I may have been searching for the wrong thing) I would really, really appreicate it. I really need a start-from-the-basics tutorial ...

    I should note that I hope to learn now to do this to aid in fund-raising for a local co-op book store ...

    thanks,

    del

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  3. #2
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    I think there are threads on Getcrafty explaining screenprinting, but I'm too lazy to search for them right now... :)

    I've worked in screenprinting shops and have done a little of it on my own too. Before I ever saw it done, I couldn't quite visualize the mechanics of it myself, but it really is a pretty simple process. It's great fun and very easy to do - but it's also messy and time-consuming.

    You start out with your design. Line drawings with clean hard edges will give you the best result. Yes, you need a separate screen for each color, so if your design is multiple colors, you'll need to do separations on it first.

    You print (or directly draw) each color of the design onto a transparency. There are special clear plastic transparency sheets you can buy for inkjet or laser printers, or translucent vellum paper works just as well. The most important thing here is that the black parts (the parts that you want to print - no matter what color they'll end up) have to be dark solid black - you shouldn't be able to see through them at all.

    Once you have your design on the transparency, you burn it onto the screen. The screen is covered with a light-sensitive emulsion - you'll have done this yourself beforehand. Coat the screen with this liquid (it's best to work in dim light, but it doesn't have to be totally dark) and let it dry completely. Keep the prepared screen out of the light as much as possible until you're ready to use it. To burn the screen, lay your transparency on the back surface of the screen, face down (it should appear backwards as you look at it right now). Putting a piece of glass on top of it helps it to lie flat. Shine a bright light onto the transparency - your kit should have directions for how long to do this. For multiple colors, try to position each one in approximately the same position on the screen, so they will line up correctly.

    The light hardens the emulsion on the screen. Wherever the screen was covered up by the black of your design, the emulsion stays un-cured, so you rinse it out with water (a high-pressure sprayer, like on a garden hose, is helpful for this). You'll probably have to hold the screen up to a light and manually paint over some little holes with screen filler - this really can't be avoided. Then put masking tape over the outer edges of the screen (around the inside of the frame) to keep ink from leaking through there.

    Now you're ready to start printing. There are various presses and setups that help get all the different color screens precisely registered, but I won't go into that. It's best to start with a one-color design, or two colors that don't have to line up perfectly with each other.

    Your screen should be on a board with hinges to keep it stable. Put your ink (it's very thick and gooey) onto the screen and pull the squeegee across it a few times to get it distributed evenly. Use a piece of paper, fabric, or a scrap t-shirt to test the design. Once you're satisfied with that, put your t-shirt or whatever onto the board (spraying the board with low-tack spray glue first helps keep it in place) and put the screen down on it. Pull the ink across with the squeegee. Wherever the screen is not blocked with emulsion, the ink will squish through and print your design. If you have more than one color, print the lighter colors first and the dark (outline) last.

    Textile screenprinting ink has to be heat-cured or else it will flake off and wash out. T-shirt shops use a big conveyor belt heat dryer (like a giant toaster oven). You can do it at home using an iron - put a piece of paper between it and the design, and of course no steam - or baking the shirts in the oven for a few minutes. Again, your screenprinting kit or ink should come with instructions for this. And there you have your printed t-shirts!

    See? Long and involved and time-consuming to explain and to do - but really pretty easy and fun once you get the hang of it.

  4. #3
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    WOW Katrin, thank you soooo much for writing out all of that! That was incredibly useful! Now I feel like I could actually buy a kit with confidence!

    I'm also thinking about block printing which has much lower-start-up costs, although obviously is less exact ... I'll let you know how it goes!!!

    del

  5. #4
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    Someone posted a link to an excellent photo tutorial on craftster. It's really nice to have visuals to help understand the process.

  6. #5
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    You can do silk screening with contact paper. Just cut away your design areas w/X-acto knife (leaving your background). Adhere to screen. Tilt screen a little; pour paint or ink into well, flatten screen onto fabric and draw paint across with squeegee. For details, photos, see Handpainting Fabric: Easy, Elegant Techniques by Michelle Newman and Margaret Allyson (me!).

  7. #6
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    another simple way i've seen it done was with a cardboard template and spraypaint. an old friend did them for a punk rock band and the image on the shirts held up remarkably well. and a very crafty punk rock method of doing it in the first place!

  8. #7
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    Schmatta - That contact paper technique sounds like it would work really well. The disadvantage would be having to cut out the design rather than draw it, but the advantage is it's a lot less messy than emulsion.

    Which side of the screen do you put the contact paper on, the top or the underside? Does it stay adhered as long as you need it to? Is it easy to remove when you're done?

  9. #8
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    Just realised I had this tutorial bookmarked:
    http://www.livejournal.com/community...l/3674467.html

    It's basically screenprinting using modge podge and an embroidery hoop rather than the whole emulsion thing. If you just want to see if you like the effect this might be a cheap way of testing it out.

    ps: I haven't actually used this method myself. So if any experienced people think its not a good way to go, speak up.

  10. #9
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    Another technique

    I also work in screen printing and screen print at home with my own equipment.

    Another technique involves screen filler. http://www.dickblick.com/zz433/06/ - and oil crayon (China marker, glass pen, etc). This technique is a little cheaper.

    You draw with the oil crayon directly onto the of the screen. The idea is to draw with enough pressure that the oil crayon blocks the screen where you draw. Make sure you lay the screen on a smooth surface so you don't put any holes or tears in the screen.

    Then using a scoop coater - http://www.dickblick.com/zz433/05/ - coat front of the screen with the screen filler. You can also use a piece of cardboard floded at a 90 degree angle if you don't want to get a coater. I've used mat remenants in a pinch, which work best because they have a beveled edged.

    Allow the filler to dry completely. It doesn't take too long if you use a fan.

    Once dried you can then wash out the oil crayon with water. The screen filler won't wash out with just water at normal pressure. The crayon comes out easily but you might have to rub on the back side of the screen with crayoned areas a little bit to push out any stubborn areas.

    Now you have a drawing you can screen with!

    Screen filler comes off with Grease Lightning and a pressure washer makes it easy, but isn't necessary.

    At any rate, eHow.com has some really great step-by-step tutorials for various aspects of screen printing (photo stencils, coating the screen, exposing with sun light . . .)

    http://www.google.com/custom?domains...D%3A1%3B&hl=en

  11. #10
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    Also, another way to make the transparencies for photo stencils is to make photocopies of what you want to print. One copy for each color, if it's a multi-color print.

    Next, rub the paper with BABY OIL! This makes the white paper translucent and light WILL PASS THROUGH and harden the screen in those areas. The black areas, of course stay soft and wash out.

    My professor taught us that technique and I run into other professionals at schools or printers who have never heard of this and are just floored that it works. It does and its super cheap (screen printing can get costly if you let it).



    From left to right pieces 1 and three were done using the photo stencil creation process I've mentioned.


 

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