Tag Archives: Screen printing

How To Screenprint in 10 Steps

MerryChristmasPrint

How many of you are still panicking about Christmas presents? I managed to send last of my presents (most of them handmade!) just today and I feel so relieved! I can finally start enjoying this season, maybe even make a gingerbread house! From ready-made dough. I want get to the decorating bit faster ;D

Even if you have only days left, it doesn’t mean you can’t make anything nice anymore. Just last week I made some Christmas themed shopping bags to sell at a boutique in Helsinki and believe it or not, it took only few hours. With some unprecedented forethought I took pictures of the printing process so I could share it here with you.

Materials needed:
Printing frame
Photoemulsion and flooding scoop (or whatever that thing is called)
Cardboard box + matt black fabric to cover it
Sheet of glass (mine is from an old picture frame)
Strong light source (I use construction light, 400w)
Printer
Transparent sheets (mine are by Crafter’s Companion)
Printing ink
Squeegee

Stage 1: Getting started!  I used my printing frame to test if it is the right size for the bag I wanted to print. I also measured the printable are, which in case was 26,5cm*37cm. It’s important that you do this, otherwise you might risk creating an image that you cannot actually print with your screen.

Stage 2: Flooding the frame! I took my frame and photoemulsion to the bathroom. Flooding the frame is easy peasy, tilt your scoop carefully, keep it in a small angle and let the emulsion flow on your screen. Basically what you want to do, since the scoop is usually smaller than your frame, is flood one section, then scrape excess off and then move on to the next section. Your goal is two thin layers of emulsion on each side. After you’re done, leave the frame to dry in a dark room. Extra tip: Don’t kick your open photoemulsion jar. That stuff can be price-y.

Stage 3: Transparent! Meanwhile your screen is drying, you can go back to your computer and finish off your design. Print your design TWICE on a transparent. You need the image you want to print to be blacker than black. The black will block the light from burning the light sensitive emulsion and that un-burned area is your printing area. Since my image was bigger than A4 I needed to use 4 sheets of transparent.

Stage 5: Burn the screen! Now your screen is dry and you should be ready to burn your it. First you need a matt black platform, which should have about the same surface area as your screen. You can make this, as I did, by covering a cardboard box with jersey. Then the order of items going on top of that is: screen, transparent (flipped over, if you have text it needs to read “wrong” and sheet of glass to weigh them all down. Then with some masterful balancing and aiming, try to have your light as close to 90 degree angle towards the screen. In this case I didn’t (usually I do) and it did work fine anyway. Now depending on your light source and how far it is from the screen you need to adjust the developing time. My distance was about 50cm and I left it on for an hour.

Stage 6. Clean the screen! Higher the water pressure, the better. I bought this handy dandy tiny shower head that adds water pressure AND makes the actual water flow sharp and pointy which makes the cleaning easy and quick but you don’t need it, regular shower will do. When all the excess emulsion is off your screen, leave it to dry.

Optional Stage 7: Making ink! Since you again have some free time in your hands because the screen is doing its drying thing, you can mix some printing ink. You can buy printing ink ready made too but I have printing emulsion and various pigments so I can mix my own colours. Usually the company who sells pigments also have recipes for different colours on their website to use for reference. For black, Emo-Tuotanto, gave a following recipe: 15 drops of pigment per 100ml of emulsion. I made a double batch. Not that I used all that but printing is easier if you have enough ink to spread on your screen.

Stage 8: Prepping Printing Surface! You have your ink and screen and you need a printing surface! I laid a vintage sheet (folded) on table, taped it on place and then laid a vinyl table-cloth on top of that and taped that in place too. You need something soft yet firm underneath your fabric when printing. At first I had a towel under the towel and as you can see from the test print, it affected the print quality. Lesson learned: the surface must be smooth.

Stage 9. Printing! Now your printing surface should be ok, but do one more test print just to be sure. You can see smudges on the test print here and that’s because I laid my screen down when I re-set the printing surface and the ink smeared. That is why you must keep you screen leaning upright between prints if you can’t do your printing serially but have to stop to make room for the next printable thing.

When doing the printing you can use your transparent or in this case the original photocopy to guide your screen. Put the copy on the fabric, hold your screen on top of it (matching the image), remove the copy and then lay the screen down. Voila, no guess work! When you’re done with printing, store your printing ink in an airtight container for future use. When your prints are dry, use the ink manufacturer’s directions on how to set the ink.

Stage 10: Enjoy your handiwork! Nothing more satisfying than seeing your own work finished! I made a small batch to sell at the boutique but if they won’t sell, I just give them next year as Christmas gifts :D It’s a win-win! If you are wondering the bag size, the bags in grocery stores are really that big in Finland ;D

Hope you find this helpful and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. You can use the image above to make some holiday gifts of your own, just click it to make it full size. Both the text and image are copyright free. I used the text from Just Something I Make’s Christmas Text Collage and the Santa, I think, is from Graphic’s Fairy.

Happy Holidays and Good Night from Thrifty Finn.