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Screenprinting At Home

Brent Johnson
The Twin Cities Green Guide

Materials:

You can find most of these supplies at Northwest Graphic Supply, 612-729-7361 located at 4200 E. Lake St. in Minneapolis or check your local art store. Although many art stores have stopped selling these products, you can still order them from online companies. Check out Sax Art Supplies and Dick Blick, to name a few.

  • Frame and Screen
  • Light sensitive emulsion – "Speedball" is a brand name
  • Squeegee
  • Sheet of glass to fit into frame
  • Flood light bulb
  • Lamp – adjustable height
  • Inks for screen printing – I use the acyrlic kind, easier to clean up
  • Aluminum pie pan or tin foil
  • Images you wish to transfer, copied onto transparency paper

Instructions

IMPORTANT: The instructions are specific to a 12 x 18 frame and 150 watt bulb. Check instructions in the photo emulsion box if your frame size and bulb wattage are different.

  1. In a dark area, apply emulsion to screen, usually only a couple tablespoons, and spread thin (the thinner the better) over screen with squeegee. Let dry in a dark place (a closet) for a few hours or until dry. You can use a fan to get it to dry quicker.
  2. Meanwhile, set up light station: cover table with black sheet, unless table is already dark. Set lamp so it is directly over area where screen will be, centered and 18" above. Cut a hole in the middle of pie pan, just big enough so base of bulb can screw into lamp socket. See drawing.
  3. Once screen is dry, IN THE DARK, place screen under light station, with the lamp off. Arrange your transparency images on screen. No need to reverse them, they will appear as you see them. Place glass on top of them and turn the light on. It takes 1 Hour, 15 Minutes to transfer image.
  4. After 1 Hour, 15 Minutes, turn light off. Put screen under sink or tub and gently run cool water over it for a couple of minutes. With your hands, gently rub screen. Allow water to get warmer, still rubbing screen. The image should appear after about 5 minutes.

Printing Tips

Once you have the image transferred on to the screen, let dry and then start printing! Here are a few tips to make it easier:

  • Crop image using paper and tape so ink won’t get all over screen and through unused images on the screen
  • If printing on a t-shirt or cloth that is double-layered, stick a piece of paper between the layers to keep ink from bleeding though.
  • Elevate the piece you are printing on, for example: place a stack of paper or cardboard under t-shirt so there is better contact between t-shirt and screen.
  • When applying ink, move squeegy slow and forcefully over image. Generally if you make more than a couple passes with the squeegy, you risk the chance of blurring the image.

Clean Up

In a sink or bucket, mix a cup of bleach with enough water to cover screen. Let sit for half an hour, sometimes a couple of hours if image has been sitting on screen for a while. Then rinse and scrub emulsion off. If there are tiny spots that won’t come off, you can rub them with fingernail polish remover.See Also:Arts: Art Centers

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Screenprinting At Home

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