ScreenPrint Ultimate Guide

August 5, 2017 | Author: vishwaupula | Category: Fluorescent Lamp, Printing, Exposure (Photography), Wood, Curtain
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screen printing on textiles...



by Michelle SaintOnge and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.




Welcome to printcutsew’s guide to “Screen Printing: The Cheap and Easy Way”. This guide is everything you need to know to get started screen printing without an expensive set-up and costly material investments. This is the guide I wished was around when I started my screen printing business seven years ago. It would have saved me thousands of dollars and gotten my business off the ground much faster. So, I decided to share everything I have learned about the screen printing business with you so you can learn this great craft and get started building your own income right now for less than $50.00!

Table of Contents 1. Introduction

Page 3

2. Getting Started

Page 4

3. The Printing Screen

Page 5

4. Making Your Own Screen

Page 6

5. Stencil Types and Techniques

Page 11

6. Making a Film Positive

Page 17

7. Shooting a Screen

Page 23

8. Washing Out A Screen

Page 27

9. How to Register a Print

Page 28

10. Printing Inks

Page 36

11. One and MultI Colour Printing

Page 40

12. Printing Paper

Page 41

13. Printing Fabric

Page 45

14. Printing T-Shirts

Page 49

15. CMYK Printing

Page 50

16. Heat Setting Your Work

Page 51

17. Reclaiming Your Screen

Page 52

18. Appendix A: terms and definitions Page 54 19. Appendix B: materials sourcing Page 54 and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



Introduction Silkscreening is a printing technique that’s hundreds of years old yet still mystifies lots of people. The truth is, with just a few simple rules, tools and some practice even the most novice of designers can be printing professional quality prints in no time. It’s arguably the most versatile of all printing processes. You can print onto almost any surface; fabric, paper, metal, ceramic, wood, leather, walls- you can let your imagination run wild. It’s really exciting to be a silkscreen printer and so I'm happy to share everything I know about it with you! It’s easy to get started printing; all you need is some basic equipment, a design, a few supplies and a bit of instruction. and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



Getting Started The first things you need to get are the supplies and equipment for printing. Don’t let this step intimidate you, the supplies are readily available and I’ll tell where and what to ask for when you have to source some of it outside your home. And I’ll show you how to make or build your own if it’s possible. For those of you who would like get all your supplies at once, Blick Art Materials makes a great screen printing kit if you want to order all your supplies at once. If you want to build your own screen print kit here’s what you’ll need: • A printing screen • A light source for exposing the screen (task light and a 150-250 watt photo flood bulb or the sun!) • A table to print on- the printing surface differs if you print onto fabric or onto paper. You'll need a flat smooth table for paper printing and one with some felt padding for fabric printing. • A piece of glass to fit the inside dimension of your screen less 1/2” or photo spray adhesive • A film positive (made from your artwork) • Silk screen inks (I recommend Permaset Fabric Inks) • Scoop coater • Rubber gloves • Dishwashing soap • Photo emulsion or other stencil system • A water source with a garden hose attachment or a sprayer attachment and a sink or tub large enough to wash out your screen • A rubber spatula • A squeegee • Black bristol board, or black cloth or black felt • A timer • Masking Tape Optional • fan (not heated) • photo emulsion remover (to clean your screen of an old stencil and start over) and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



The Printing Screen You need to have a screen printing frame. This is the foundation of all the work you will do in the future whether you use paper cut-out stencils, found objects, drawing fluids or photo-sensitive emulsion stencils- you still need to attach the stencil to a frame. The screen print frame allows you to apply ink or any other suitable liquid to the surface smoothly and evenly- that’s what makes it look so professional. You can buy a screen print frame often at a craft or art supply store or you can see if there is a sign and graphics supply store in your area; they will sell screen print frames as well. But you don’t have to buy a frame. You can make one yourself and it’s not that hard at all. I have built many frames using just curtain sheer fabric and old picture frames I’ve bought at a local Salvation Army. (I even showed Martha Stewart how to build one on her show). Or if you’re handy with a saw you can build one from wood with scratch. (Tutorials for both these options are in Chapter 3) Personally, I would buy one, they aren’t expensive ($25- 45$) and they’ll save you lots of time. Blick Art Materials has some screen print frames online you can buy and have delivered to your house! No matter where you buy your screen, online or at your local screen printing supply store or even at your local arts and craft store, there are a few things you need to look for when you are searching out a screen that will be right for the project you wish to undertake. The screen size: Likely you’ll start out with a small screen that is ideal for t-shirt making and other small projects, approximately 20”x24” (outside dimensions). If you’re going to buy a large screen (over 24”x24”) you’ll want to make sure the frame is at least 1.5”- 2” thick around otherwise it will warp too easily. The screen mesh: Different mesh sizes are used for different applications in the screen printing process. If you plan on printing on fabric I would recommend a 110 mesh count and if you are working with paper you could start with 160 mesh count. Try to buy a screen with white monofilament polyester mesh (this is generally standard with most pre-made screens). If you are going to make your own screen with curtain sheers the thread count should not be too low, in other words the weave of the sheer should be fairly tight. The Frame Type: You’ll want to purchase either a wood screen frame or an aluminum frame. I use aluminum frames which are more stable and won’t warp like wood frames- If you buy large frames they should be stored flat. Larger frames will not maintain their straight edges either if they are stored upright instead of horizontally. and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



Making Your Own Screen Option #1: Old Picture Frame + Curtain Sheers= Your Very Own Screen Print Frame! You can build your very own silkscreen printing frame with just a few simple items from your own home. I have built a lot of frames this way. It will cost you less than $5.00 for all your materials! Here's what you'll need to get started. 1. a picture frame with the glass and backing removed 2. old curtain sheers 3. utility duct tape or solvent resistant tape for silkscreening 4. acrylic varnish sealer and paint brush an electric staple gun Step 1- Find a picture frame It needs to be sturdy without any wobble to it. Step 2- Remove hardware from the back of the frame If there is any hardware on the back of the frame remove it now and sand off any raised or rough bits so that back of the frame sits nicely on a flat surface. Step 3- Cut Curtain Sheers Pick out an old pair of curtain sheers or buy a small bit of new sheers from the fabric store. You should make certain that the sheers do not have too much of an open weave. Then trim the sheer so that it is about 2-3 inches larger than the frameʼs outside dimensions. You can buy the curtain sheers at (up to 70% off retail.) and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



Step 4- Stapling the Fabric to the Screen You are going to want to use an electric staple gun or a power assist staple gun- a manual stapler is just too difficult to use while holding down your sheer fabric. And itʼs a good idea that you use one that has a safety built in so you donʼt accidentally staple your fingers! The size of staple that I use is 3/8”. I donʼt recommend anything longer than that because if you make a mistake they are too hard to get back out. You might even try a 1/4” staple. And for goodness sake donʼt forget to use safety goggles!

Step 5- How to properly staple your sheers to the frame Turn over your frame so the front is on a flat surface. I like to put down a non-slip mat too. Lay your sheer piece on top of it so it looks fairly square. Put in your first staple- it should be placed in the center of the frame bar and about 1/3” from the outside edge. (too close to the inside or the outside edge you risk stapling off a whole chunk of frame!) Your second staple should go directly across from your first and you should pull the sheer enough so that you canʼt pull it much more- but not so much that your sheer starts to rip on the other side. This step may take some practice- but I promise youʼll get better at knowing how much is too much or too little the more you do this. Essentially you are going to want a screen that is firm to the touch where you could rest something light on it without the sheer dipping. Follow the same steps until each of the four sides is completed. Make sure that you have kept the grain of the fabric fairly straight (I have only done a so-so job on that as you can see). The straighter the fabric the better your results in the end. and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



Now staple the corners. Again, keeping the fabric pulled tightly and in this case towards the corner. Do each subsequent corner- always stapling the opposite side from the staple you just finished. Make certain to keep the fabric from being pulled too much to one side or the other.  Now fill in between those staples, pulling the fabric tightly until the staples are only about 1/4” apart. The number of total staples will depend on the size of your frame. If you have some staples that are a bit raised from the frame itʼs a good idea to hammer then down gently to make them flush with the edge. and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



Step 6- Sealing the frame and sheers This great acrylic varnish sealer is sold at most craft and art stores. Weʼll use it to keep ink and water from getting under the staples when printing and washing. Paint it on and cover the entire edge of the frame. Be mindful not to get any onto the printing area of your screen- it will act as a resist for the inks and you may have to redo your screen. If you do get some on your printing area you can try to wash it off right away with some soap and water- since itʼs a water-based varnish. If that happens let you screen dry completely and then finish the sealing. Once you finish let the frame dry for at least 30 minutes.

Step 7- Taping off the frame Now you want to tape off the underside of the framewhich is often referred to as the substrate side. The tape will help to keep ink from squishing out onto your work as you print and will also act as a way of protecting your work from the staples and raw edges of the fabric which become hard with the sealant. I like to put the tape on so that the corners meet and I can trim the excess off and have a neat and tidy frame.  Step 8- LAST STEP! Wash the frame You are almost finished. You just need to wash the fabric of your screen. This will ensure that any sizing, detergents or fabric softener is washed away; they can really interfere with your printing projects. I just use dish soap. Once you are finished you can let your screen dry and then itʼs ready for your silkscreen printing projects! and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



Making Your Own Screen Option #2: Get Handy! Make you Own Screen Print Frame for $10.00. To make your own screen print frame from scratch you'll first need wood- hardwood is the best option. You should use wood at least 1 inch thick, and about 1 1/2 inches wide with no major knots and it should be very straight without warps or bows. Cut the pieces to the size of the frame you want to make. If you want a 22″ x 18″ frame, cut two pieces to 22″ long, and two pieces to 18″ long. Now you want to make the half-lap joints. Using a table saw or a router table, set the cutting height to half the thickness of the wood. If the wood is 1″ thick, set the cutting height to 1/2″. Now set the fence on your table saw to cut to the width of the wood. If the wood you are using 1 1/2″ wide, set the fence to 1 1/2″. Now lay one of the boards with the end against the fence. Make repeated cuts in the board until you have completely cut away the wood 1/2″ deep from 1 1/2″ in to to the end of the board. Flip the board around, and do the same thing on the other end of the board on the same side. Do this with all of the boards. Using a square, make sure the pieces are square. Clamp the pieces together using one or two c-clamps. Put together the rest of the the frame in the same way. Put the frame aside for the glue to cure. Later when the glue has cured, remove the clamps. Clean up the joints with some sandpaper if needed. Then follow steps 3-8 in “Making Your Own Screen” Option #1. You can use monofilament polyester mesh for screen print frames instead of the curtain sheers. That mesh can be bought at a sign and graphics supply store or you can buy the screen mesh online. and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



Stencil Types and Techniques In order to screen print your image onto anything you need to create a stencil of your image that will be affixed to your frame. You can make that stencil a lot of different ways. They all have their own benefits and advantages and Iʼll explain a few of them here from the most simple to the most advanced techniques. A short list of the kinds of screen print stencils might include: • Paper cut stencil • Found object stencil • Drawing fluid and block out emulsion • Direct stencil with photographic emulsion

Paper Cut Stencils This happens to be one of my favorite ways to make a stencil. Simply cutting paper into shapes and sticking the paper to the screen print frame couldnʼt be easier. It can as simple or as complicated as you wish. The thing to remember when you are making a paper stencil is that you ideally want the stencil to be one piece. Of course you can stick multiple pieces onto the screen with double sided tape but youʼll make your job harder and increase your ʻoops factorʼ with the number of pieces your stencil is in. *One of the best things you can do if you are interested in making paper stencils that you can reuse is to cut them out of map making paper. This paper allows you to wash and dry your stencil so you can use it over and over again. I cut mine from this paper and store my stencils in plastic sleeves to reuse them another time.*

My top three tips for making a successful paper cut stencil are: 1. Use tools like hole punches and stamp punches to create details that would otherwise be too hard to cut by hand. 2. Place scotch tape over small delicate sections of the stencil to add reinforcement. 3. Cut out all the small delicate parts of your stencil first then the larger pieces. and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



Hereʼs an example of a very simple paper stencil I made to make a broccolI shaped hangtag for a handbag I use to take to the market. Itʼs made with two over-lapping colours and I used a 1/16th hole punch and a 1/4 hole punch to create the top edge of the broccoli.

I have made other more complicated stencils. Like my stencil called “Do Not Disturb” that can be downloaded on my site for your personal use. Itʼs the stencil I used to create the tshirts for Martha Stewart's French bulldogs and as the silkscreen demo on her show. If you are going to cut out detailed stencils like this then I would definitely use a reusable paper such as National Geographic Adventure Paper. and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



Found Object Stencils Equally as fun as paper stencils and maybe even easier are ʻfound objectʼ stencils. Simply put, this technique involves taking objects and taping or spray adhering them to the screen and printing. The objects act as a resist to the ink and creates the pattern or shape. I often use doilies or lace as found objects and I have written a complete DIY tutorial on on the subject.

Tips for Great Found Object Printing Use objects that are relatively thin and flat, bulky objects wonʼt allow the ink to pass over smoothly. Layer objects with different patterns to produce unique results. If you want to reuse your object but it is very porous and would break down when washed then spray it first with a sealant or varnish to make it more water resistant. and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



Drawing Fluid Stencils with Screen Filler Drawing fluid is a 2 part process that doesnʼt involve any special equipment but still creates a semI permanent stencil that can used over and over again. You donʼt necessarily need to be a great painter but some skill here helps as you will be painting your image directly onto the screen with the fluid. Materials Needed: A silk screen Drawing Fluid Screen Filler Squeegee Thin Brush Gloves Newspaper or craft paper First thing youʼll do is paint the drawing fluid on all areas you want to print and let them dry completely. I have put a few pieces of cardboard under the corners of my screen so that it is elevated off the print surface. This gives me some room to place the image I want to silkscreen underneath. You can, of course, paint the fluid on free-hand but I would like to stay as close to my original drawing as possible. Since I am going to do a two colour print I will have to do two separate drawings with the fluid. Luckily, I have enough space on my screen to fit them both. and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



Once you finish your first drawing with the fluid you can slide the image underneath to the other area of the screen and then complete your second colour for the image.

Nice thing is if you donʼt like your design you can just wash it out and start again when your screen has dried. So thereʼs no pressure to get it right the first time. Youʼll then pour a bead of the filler across the top of the screen (which is still elevated off the print table) and with a squeegee youʼll pull the filler across the screen- that way itʼs an even and smooth application.

Youʼll want to wait until your screen filler has dried completely before you wash out the drawing fluid. and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



Once dry, spray cold water onto the top of the screen to wash out the areas covered by drawing fluid. Let the screen dry completely again and then hold it up to a window or light. This will allow you to check for any small holes that werenʼt covered with the filler. I simply paint on the filler with a small brush.

Once your touch-ups are dry you can tape off one of your drawings and get ready to print the other. and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



Direct Stencil Method Using Photosensitive Emulsion The direct stencil method is what most professional printers will use. Itʼs a semI permanent stencil that has very few limitations for the types of images it can reproduce as a stencil. Itʼs use of photosensitive emulsion allows even the smallest of dots to expose. With this type of stencil you can create an image that has large open ares of colour or small micro dots that give the illusion of shading and gradients. There are four main steps involved in making a stencil with this method. • Turning your artwork into the film positive • Coating Your Screen • Exposing your screen • Washing Out Your Screen

1. Artwork to Film Positive Your artwork needs to be transformed into a film positive which is used in the direct stencil method to re-create a replica of your artwork on the screen. The film positive represents one colour layer of your image and is usually on a piece of transparency film. Therefore, for each colour in your design, a separate positive will need to be made. You can create the positive by computer or by hand. and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



Making a Positive by Computer If you are designing your image on the computer then you should keep each colour you use on a separate layer. To print out a film positive, turn on the layer you wish to print and select all elements on that layer,  adjust the hue saturation values so that what you have selected is completely opaque and black. Now print that layer onto transparency paper for your printer type. Make certain to use a high quality setting so that the black prints out opaque. Continue this way with all subsequent layers of colours, if you have any. Itʼs a great idea to print registration marks with each page. It will help you greatly when it comes time to matching up the colours when printing.

Computer print-out positives on paper

Using opaque markers to draw a positive

Making a Positive by Hand You have a wide variety of options when you make your positive by hand. But the same rule remains; you need to produce a separate positive for each layer of colour in your print.  You can photocopy each colour layer onto transparency paper or draw each color onto transparency paper with an opaque black marker. Itʼs also possible to paint each colour layer with black acrylic ink, cut the image out of masking film, rub dry transfer lettering or even cut the image out of heavy card-stock or cardboard.  If you are making a multicolor print then itʼs a good idea to use a registration mark- either drawn by you or one that you purchase on each transparency to match up each of the layers. Regardless of what technique you use, your film positive should be on translucent or transparent paper/ film (vellum, mylar, transparency paper) and the image should be opaque. When you hold your film positive up to the light, the light should pass through (or mostly) the clear areas of the positive and none should pass through the black areas. When this image is used to expose your screen the black areas will absorb the light from your exposure unit and the clear areas will let the light pass through effectively hardening the photosensitive emulsion where it is clear. and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



2. Coating Your Screen The next step in the direct stencil method is coating your screen with the photosensitive emulsion. You need to properly do a few things here to make the rest of the process go smoothly. Troubleshooting Tip For Screen Coating: If you have a lot of pin-holes in your screen once itʼs been exposed- there may have been air bubbles in the emulsion when you coated it. Let your emulsion sit for two hours undisturbed with the lid on and then retry on a clean screen. Do not over mix the emulsion- just gently stir it before pouring.

Step 1 In a dark room mix the sensitizer into the emulsion as per the directions to activate it. Let it sit in a cool dark room for at least two hours with the lid closed. Youʼll want to use a dual cure emulsion which works well with both solvent inks and water-based inks. Also, mix this in a well ventilated area of your house. The safety instructions do no indicate you have to wear a vapor mask when using it but if you are sensitive to odors then I would advise you to wear one. Step 2 Set up your screen, make sure it's clean and completely dry. Lean your screen against a wall and put a piece of 2x4 behind it on the ground. this will keep the screen at an angle and it will keep it from moving as you press the scoop coater against it. and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



Step 3 Pour the emulsion into the scoop coater. Fill the scoop coater   3/4 full. If youʼre scoop coater has two different edges to it then use the side with the sharper edge. Your emulsion will go on thinner- which is better for most cases.

Step 4 Hold the scoop coater from the bottom centered, making sure that it is level so that the emulsion does not run out from the sides of each end. Firmly push into the screen and angle the scoop flat against the screen, press against the screen and pull upward to the top and end your stroke by quickly angling the scoop coater back to the centered position. Step 5 Turn the screen to the inside (where the ink goes) and turn it upside down. Repeat coating this side of the screen. (tip: If you coat your screens too thick they may not wash out. This can be tricky because it mimics over exposure, when in fact the emulsion is just too thick and is really under exposed, parts of the image may wash out and finer parts may not rinse out altogether. So, rule of thumb is one coat for each side.)  And often I will run the scoop coater over each side without angling it so it actually will skim off excess emulsion. and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



6. Lay your screen flat to dry with the ink side of the screen facing up. Put some sort of spacer under each of the corners of the screen to keep the bottom of the screen off the floor if you don't have a drying rack. (I use bottle caps or slim pieces of wood). Turn off the safety light and let your screen dry in complete darkness. It is important that it’s not hot in the room where you dry your screen- that can cause problems with exposing your screen later. You can use a fan to dry your screens more quickly but again use a fan without heat. 7. Your screen is dry when the emulsion is no longer tacky.

3. Exposing Your Screens There are a few different ways you can expose your direct emulsion stencil and they all have their benefits and drawbacks. You can build your own exposure unit or you can buy one. Each type involves varying levels of time and difficulty. Using sunshine costs nothing but is unreliable and buying one obviously requires money but can be more reliable and give you more flexibility. If you have time and less money you can make one for very little and in my experience have high quality stencils nonetheless. Owning both a $10,000.00 unit and a $30.00 homemade unit I can say that I am pleasantly surprised (and to my dismay) to see my homemade version expose screens just as well as my expensive larger unit. Of course my larger unit exposes my very large screens and can achieve a very high quality stencil with intricate images but it’s also so big it needs a room of it’s own and my $30.00 unit is portable and I can use it almost anywhere. Types of Exposure Light Sources Bottom Up Light Sources Top Down Light Sources • Outdoor Sun- The fastest and Easiest • Bank of UV Fluorescent lights • Task lamps- Cheap and Easy to Set-up • Single Point light Source and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



You also need to take care to attach your film positive properly to your screen. As a general rule you would want to make certain that your image is centered with 2-3 inches of space from the bottom of your image to the bottom inside edge of the screen. We call this area ʻthe well’. Use a clear tape to attach it- anything else will impede that area of exposing. If your exposure light source comes from the top then you’ll place the film positive on the print side of the screen. If the light comes from the bottom, place the film positive on the substrate side of the screen and place it on backwards. I also strongly advise you take the time to run a test for the right exposure time for your light source and your emulsion. Each one is different. Here’s a great way to test which time will work best for you. Print a transparency with numbers from 10 to 90 in increments of 5. With the light set up, place the screen under the light to be exposed. After 10 minutes, cover the 5 with an opaque piece of paper. After another 10 minutes passes, cover the 10. Do this until all of the numbers are covered. Then wash out the screen. The lowest numbers that are distinctly printed will give you your correct exposure time. If your image is not exposing properly here are some quick troubleshooting checks: Emulsion won’t wash out: • emulsion is too old • film positive was not opaque • screen was exposed to light before exposing • emulsion was too think Image washes away: • emulsion is underexposed • screen was not properly washed and dried prior to coating • image and screen are too far away from the light source Lines of the image are blurry: • contact between film positive and screen not sufficient • film positive not opaque enough and ©2009 Michelle SaintOnge This document and it’s contents are for personal use only, not for commercial use.



Top Down Light Sources Top down light source = black cloth
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