Adventures of DIY Screen Printing

By January 6, 2016 Blog No Comments

Have you ever seen someone wearing a t-shirt with an unusual graphic and longed to have one like that for yourself? Not a big deal. You can get that too!! What if we say you can design your own t-shirts or bags from the comforts of your home only? No special courses, no need to be an artist or expert painter. This is just a matter of screen printing. Sounds technical? May be, but you too can screen print in your home by yourself with the help of some materials available at any local art store.

Screen PrintingAdventure does not just mean jumping from the cliff or chasing wild hogs, you can have your own adventure by creating amazing art onto your t-shirt, bags and jeans and flaunt them to the world. We are here to help you experience that not so expensive and not so dangerous adventure of DIY screen printing.

Now many of you may think that screen printing is hideous task that can be done only by the hippies or in a trance of marijuana. Well, at times it might get real hard, but we’ll just show you a way to screen print that which anyone can do with stuff mostly around your house.

At first you need to have your supplies ready to start printing your stuff. Here’s a list that you’ll need for your venture.

  • Screen
  • Frame
  • Photo emulsion and sensitizer
  • A 250 watt bulb
  • Latex gloves
  • A pitch black room ( a closet will work fine)
  • Squeegee
  • Silk screen fabric ink
  • Small piece of cardboard to fit inside your t-shirt
  • A t-shirt or bag to print on
  • Black tape
  • Stapler and staple pins.

Now decide on an image you want to print. A tip for beginners: don’t do anything with very fine lines. Start with simple designs like letterings or simple tree. You can cut that design out or can print that onto transparency paper. Remember the image should be dark enough. Hold your image up to light, if light comes through it then it needs to be darker. You can print another copy and double them up or color your paper with a black marker.

Now take your frame and fix polyester silk onto the frame with staples. You should pull the silk outside so that it gets fixed tightly with your frame. Secure it by fixing it with tape from the back of the frame.

You will be using photo emulsion. This stuff reacts to light so remember to store it in a dark place- completely black, we mean. The photo emulsion is applied with squeegee. In a dark room run a bead of emulsion across the top of the screen. With your squeegee, draw the emulsion down over the entire screen. Apply the thinnest coat possible. Place it to dry in a dark place. Depending upon the thickness of your coat drying will take 1-3 hours.

Now set up your exposure area. Best way to expose the screen is with a 150 watt light bulb. You also need something matte black to put your screen on for the exposure. A cardboard or Bristol board would work well. Cut out your image once you’ve set up your exposure area.

Now when your screen is dry cover it with a towel to prevent light from hitting it. Next place the screen on your black matte background. The back of the emulsion applied screen will be facing up.

Place your image on the screen in reverse.

Place a clean piece of glass over the image to hold against the screen.

Now turn your light on, set your timer and leave the image alone. Don’t prod, push or bother.

Once the time’s up, remove the glass and transparency paper cutout. You can see a faint image right away.

Spray the image with luke warm water, not hot, not cold. Keep spraying and eventually the image will start appear as the emulsion washes away.

In your work area, lay your t-shirt or bag. Lay your newly created silk screen over the t-shirt or bag. The screen should be placed touching the work area and the recess will be facing up.

Run a glug of fabric paint across the top of your screen. You should apply a darker shade. Drag the paint over your image with squeegee without applying pressure. Now keep on dragging the paint over and over applying light pressure each time.

Now hang the t-shirt or bag to dry. Once it’s dry you need to set the image by ironing. That’s it.

The more the amount of energy you put in this, the more fun you will get!!!


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