Keen to make your very first screen print at home? We’ve rounded up essential tips to help you get started, from choosing supplies to curing your cool new print.
CHOOSING YOUR SUPPLIES
You can go as DIY or as professional as you like when gathering your supplies, but ultimately, you’ll need the following elements:
- A screen. This could be a purchased screen or a simple DIY wooden frame with 100 polyester mesh stapled tightly across the top – just keep in mind that the screen mesh will need to sit flush against one side of the frame for a successful print.
- A squeegee to consistently slide and push ink through the screen.
- Quality screen printing ink in your preferred colours. Water-based screen-printing ink is a great choice, because it’s both easy to clean up and safer for you to use and for the environment.
- Some tape to attach your stencil design to the screen or to tape the outside edges of the screen so that the ink doesn’t go into the corners of the screen
- Paper, fabric or textiles to print onto. To start with you could use a pillow case, a calico tote bag, a blank tea towel or a plain white t-shirt.
Tip: The PERMASET complete screen printing kit is the perfect way to get started with textile printing, including a silk screen, squeegee, stencil paper sheets, masking tape, instructions and 6 PERMASET AQUA colours that mix together beautifully.
PREPARING YOUR SCREEN
You can create your design and prepare your screen in a number of ways, but here are the two most common options. Both create distinct sections where the ink can and cannot pass through the screen onto the printing surface.
- The first method, which is great for home beginners, is to create a physical stencil which can then be taped against the screen. You could simply print out a design and then use scissors to cut the shape or shapes out. This is a fantastic option if you want to reuse your screen for multiple designs or for printing different coloured inks in your design.Watch this video shows you how to screen print onto fabric using paper stencils by Handprinted UK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnuD8pbeOag
- The second method, typically used by professional screen printers, uses a light-sensitive photo emulsion to prepare the screen. You’ll need to coat the screen with a thin layer of emulsion and let it dry in a dark place. Print your design onto an acetate or transparent sheet, place it reversed onto the screen and expose it to a light source as instructed. Then, wash out the uncured emulsion with water and let the emulsion fully dry and harden. You should see your design clearly at this stage. Here is a link to a video showing an easy way to prepare a design for screen printing using emulsion.
Tip: Your design could be a minimalist one-colour print or use multiple layers to build a complex design with a number of colours – however it is best to start simple!
MAKING THE PRINT
Screen print time! Use some Table Adhesive to secure your paper or fabric to the table, then line up your screen so the design is positioned correctly with surfaces sitting flush. While professional screen printers use a screen printing press, at home you could use clamps to hold the screen in place. Place a decent amount of ink at the top of the screen. Using water-based inks it is a good idea to flood the screen with ink. Checkout this short video showing you how to flood the screen with ink. Draw the squeegee towards you without pressure to first flood the screen with a consistent amount of ink. Then, draw the squeegee towards you again with firm pressure at a 45-degree angle, which will squeeze the ink onto the layer below. It’s good to do two layers of ink, that is two pulls. Lift up your screen carefully and admire the results, before giving your screen and squeegee a thorough rinse with water. Water-based inks must be washed out of the screen with water quickly so as not to dry in the screen
Tip: If printing onto a T-shirt, be sure to slip a piece of cardboard inside first to avoid ink seeping through to the second layer.
CURING THE PRINT
You’ll want to let your design dry thoroughly and then cure it to avoid the design washing or rubbing off over time. Fortunately, with PERMASET water-based inks you can cure designs easily by applying a hot iron on the the cotton setting for 2-3 minutes, or by leaving the print in the heat of the sun for a few hours up to a full day. There are number of ways you can cure your print outlined here. Now you can sit back and bask in the knowledge you just aced your first screen print!
Checkout this video detailing how to screen print simply using PERMASET Inks.