What is Screen Printing?
Screen printing is the act of registering one image onto another surface using a copy of an image, light-sensitive paint, a screen, and whatever surface you choose to copy your image on. In this case, we’ll say you’re using a T-shirt. This process is called T-shirt silk screening. Not only is it a fun art project, but it’s fairly affordable and could become a possible source of income if you wanted to sell your work.
Supplies You Will Need
• Screened frame
• Photo Emulsion
• High-watt light bulb
All of these supplies will cost you $50 or a little bit more or less. It just depends on how deal-savvy you are.
1st Step: Select an Image
Choose the image you want to print on your T-shirt. As a beginner, you don’t want to pick an image that’s too complicated. Try to pick something that’s solid, has one color, and doesn’t contain any thin lines. We will use a circle for an example. Think of just a black circle. Make sure that the copy of your image is dark. You don’t want any transparencies coming through the image. If you do, it will cause the image to not be printed well. Color the inside of the circle multiple times with a black permanent marker.
2nd Step: Screen and Emulsion
In this guide we will be using a screened frame that has already been made. This is for beginner purposes. You can make your own screened frame if you choose. In a dark room, cover your screen with emulsion liquid using a squeegee. If you’re not in a dark room this could ruin the quality of your print. Squeegee the entirety of the screen until you have a thick, even coat. Next, keep the screen in the dark room until it is completely dry, which can take anywhere from 1 to a few hours. Once dry, place something on top of the screen and bring it to your place of exposure.
3rd Step: Exposure
Following the instructions on your emulsion kit, set up your light bulb in a room that fills easily with light and is balanced. Place your screen on a dark surface, such as a canvas painted black, emulsion coated side facing you. Cut the copy of your image. The sharper the cut, the more professional your screen print will look. Take the cut-out of your image and place it backwards on your screen. Take a pane of glass, put it on top of the image, and then start the exposure by turning on the light bulb. Once the exposure time is completed, remove the glass and cut-out.
4th Step: Rinse and Print
Use some sort of high-pressure water tap on the luke-warm setting on your screen. Once you can clearly see the image, you are done rinsing. Put your silk screen on top of your T-shirt. Use the ink and squeegee you purchased, running an even layer of the ink on top of the screen. Be gentle, because too much pressure can cause the ink to overlap and ruin your print. When finished, hang your T-shirt up to dry. Congratulations! You just created your first screen print.