SILK SCREEN PRINTING INSTRUCTIONS
(no name) ((no email))
Fri, 24 May 1991 12:35:00 MST
PLEASE NOTE: This is a long message containing instructions for
silk screen printing. If you are not interested in this, just
delete this message!
SILK SCREEN INSTRUCTIONS AND NOTES
I had several requests for the instructions on using silk screen
(Screen Printing, it does not really use silk material) for making
T-shirts, neckerchiefs, patches, or what ever you want to make.
Please note that the costs of all the equipment you need to get
started sounds expensive at first. If you are going to do this
once and then never touch it again, it is expensive. If you have
your paws in a lot of things like I do, then you will find that the
chemicals and ink, last quite a bit and that the screens (when
properly cared for) last a long time. If you are going to do this
for 200+ T-shirts for a Cub Scout Day Camp (my first exposure to
screen printing) it is worth the investment. The initial cost
becomes quite small when spread over time and projects. I also add
in a lot of my own notes on what you can do to avoid purchasing
some of the commercial stuff like the frame. Art stores, where you
can find most of what you need, tend to be expensive places to
T-Shirts may be purchases in bulk at good discounts. Most major
cities have a local wholesale company which will sell to you. I
buy from a company in Phoenix which I found out about by reading
the PHONE BOOK! They let me mix sizes and do not even demand I
buy even dozens. Here are some sample prices (these are about one
year old) Adult White T-shirts 50/50 blend 26.52/dozen, colored T-
shirts light colors 30.60/dozen and dark colors 32.40/dozen.
Children sizes are less. 100% cotton a little bit more. You can
get pocket T-Shirts and sweat shirts, pants all of which can be
screen printed. If someone wants the name of the company and phone
number let me know I will send it them directly.
To make your own Silk screen you will need:
1. SCREEN PRINTING PHOTO EMULSION AND SENSITIZER - In the USA
I purchased a HUNT SPEEDBALL SCREEN PRINTING PHOTO EMULSION
KIT some seven or eight years ago and I am still using it.
(I originally purchased this for doing patches for a district
Kite Fly.) I paid $12.00 and I think the price was up to
$15.00 last time I looked. You can find this in any good art
supply store. I use a plastic spoon for mixing the solution.
2. SCREEN MATERIAL - This seems like the most expensive part
(maybe because I buy it by the yard when I buy) but you do not
need a lot of it, unless you are going to make a lot of
screens. It too may be purchased at any good art supply
store. One note, the screen material is NOT SILK, it is
polyester or some other suitable synthetic fabric. The people
in the art store should know what you are talking about or
they are working in the wrong place. BE SURE YOU BUY A PIECE
WHICH IS LARGER THAN YOUR FRAME. It is also possible to re-
use the screen. I have never bothered, but if you are on a
real tight budget, this is an option.
3. FRAME - This is to place the material on. I have used and
prefer to use 2 by 2 boards which I cut to the size I need.
I just nail them together. You can also buy frames for silk
screen work in art stores. Whatever you use, be sure it is
sturdy. WHEN YOU MAKE THE FRAME, BE SURE IT IS LARGE ENOUGH
FOR YOUR SQUEEGEE. If it is not, you will have problems, to
the point of starting over. When doing patches or
neckerchiefs (small items) a hinge attaching the frame to a
piece of plywood helps, but when doing T-shirts or other big
items the hinge tends to get in the way. The hinge provides
a fixed positions for the screen to come down on and it looks
more like the expensive rigs you can buy, but I do not think
they are worth the extra funds. The hinge also provides you
with a resting position when taking out the just printed
material and putting in the next material. I have done
without the hinge most of the time, and this works fine for
me. When doing T-Shirts the hinge tends to get in the way
unless you mount it a little higher up than the surface of the
plywood. You have to experiment to find out how high, but not
much. It is also better mounted to the side for items like the
4. STAPLE GUN - If you make your frames like I do, a staple gun
works just fine for attaching the screen material to the
frame. There are other methods and the purchased frames work
like frames for window screens. Be sure the material is
smooth and tight when you put it in the frame.
5. MASKING TAPE - or other suitable tape. I use this AFTER I make
the positive. I put it on the outside on the bottom side of
the frame to cover the stables if they are on the bottom of
the frame. (I sometimes staple to the side of the frame to
keep a flat bottom on the frame.) I also put it on the inside
of the frame along the outside edge of the screen. This keeps
the ink from getting in-between the silk and the frame where
it gets lost forever (wasted) and can get messy (leak though).
6. SQUEEGEE - You can buy these designed for screen printing in
art stores, but I have found that the cheap 1.29 squeegees you
buy in auto part stores work well too. (Unless you are
working on a very large design.) I have used the one I keep
in my car a number of times (I just clean it when done).
7. TEXTILE SCREEN PRINTING INK - Back to the Art Stores for this
one. I paid $6.00 for eight fluid ounces about two years ago.
I have made about 50 T-Shirts with this Ink and still have 1/2
can left. Different materials will demand different amounts
of ink. Paper (yes you can screen print paper) uses very
little, Felt (which I have used for patches) uses a lot.
8. PHOTO FLOOD LIGHT OR 150 WATT BULB WITH REFLECTOR - I could
never bring myself to buy the photo flood light (it is faster
than the 150 Watt bulb, but both work). If you do not have
a reflector type lamp to put the bulb in they sell for about
$5 in hardware stores like the Home Depot. Be sure the one
you buy will work ok with a 150 watt bulb-some have warnings
about putting more than 60 watts in the reflector. Please
note, ignoring this warning is dangerous! You can also use
an aluminum pie tin for a reflector, just be careful how you
mount it behind the light bulb. Also be sure your lamp can
be mounted at different heights from the screen. The size of
the screen determines how close the light is set. I use a
ruler to get the correct height.
9. A DARK PIECE OF PAPER - Black is best, this is used while
exposing the screen.
10. A PIECE OF GLASS (LARGER THAN YOUR DESIGN, BUT SMALLER THAN
YOUR FRAME - This is placed over the positive while exposing
the screen. This is important to be sure good contact is made
between the positive and the screen. I have used glass from
picture frames. The glass needs to be clean and free of
scratches. The edges of the glass will often leave lines on
the screen as well. If I made the frame, screen and design
all the correct size, these lines are covered by the masking
tape. (The ink generally does not go through the masking
11. SPRAY BOTTLE - This is used to wash out the screen after
exposure. I use a window cleaner type bottle, or you can use
a squirt gun (this is harder on the finger). You can buy the
spray bottles for about $1.50 and you should get a good one.
This is most physical part of the process. After you have
washed several screens, you will know what I am talking about.
12. MISC - I use an old towel under the material to be printed
to insure good contact between the material and the screen.
You will also need a place to work where you can get dirty.
When I have done this at meeting places, I cover tables and
demand the youths involved wear old cloths. No mater how hard
you try to be neat, this is like painting the house, you are
going to ink on all kinds of things. Have some extra rags for
wiping ink off of things/people. A plastic spoon will work
for getting the ink from the can to the screen.
Cleanup is done with water, that is if it is done quick enough.
After you finish printing the material (assuming cloth of some
form) IRON it. THIS SETS THE INK AND HELPS IT LAST THROUGH MORE
MACHINE WASHINGS. If you do not iron the items and the material
is washed too soon, the design may all but disappear.
PREPARING THE POSITIVE:
A positive is any image (usually opaque) on a transparent or
translucent surface that will block out the ultraviolet portion of
a light source. You may make your own art with India Ink and an
artists' brush or pens, dry transfer or pressure sensitive letters
and symbols, cutout letters or figures, and natural items such as
leaves. These may be applied directly onto clear or translucent
sheets such as Bienfang Wet Media or tracing paper of good
transparency. (This is from the instructions.)
I have never tried tracing paper. Normally I get the design
on paper and then copy it on to acetate (clear plastic). Most any
copy machine can do this, but MOST COPY MACHINES MAKE HORRIBLE
COPIES! If you are doing something with letters, put the press on
letters directly on the acetate. If you make a copy of the design
on the copy machine like I do, then go over the design on the
acetate with a laundry marking pen or India Ink or something else
which is very dark and will block out the light. IF YOU DO NOT
MAKE A GOOD POSITIVE, THEN YOUR SCREEN WILL NOT BE THAT GOOD AND
THE INK WILL NOT FLOW THROUGH THE SCREEN AS WELL AS IT SHOULD.
Avoid small detail like items in your design. SOLID BOLD
LINES IN THE DRAWING AND LETTERS WORK BEST. Small detail items
tend to collect ink and clog up real fast. This means they no
longer show up on the material and become a wasted effort. Some
of the best work I have seen includes lines and letters which were
at a minimum 1/8 inch (3 cm) thick. For best results, try to stay
at least 1/16 inch thick. I have seen and used much smaller, but
the results (in particular when you are first trying this) are not
SPEEDBALL PHOTO EMULSION METHOD
PREPARING THE SCREEN:
Follow the instructions that come with the HUNT SPEEDBALL
Screen Printing Photo Emulsion Kit.
1. Mixing the solution
2. Applying the solution to the screen (Do this before you
apply the masking tape to the frame and the screen.)
3. Allowing the screen to dry in a dark location, in a
EXPOSURE AND WASH-OUT:
Follow the instructions that come with the HUNT SPEEDBALL
Screen Printing Photo Emulsion Kit. Again, do this before you
apply the masking tape to the frame and the screen.
1. Place screen, bottom side down on dark surface (paper)
2. Place positive readable side up on the screen
3. Place a clear glass on top of the positive to insure proper
4. Place the 150 Watt household bulb or photo flood lamp per
the instructions for the time indicated.
5. Using tepid water, spray the back side of the screen
5. Using tepid water, spray the inside of the screen to affect
6. Continue spraying until all unwanted Emulsion is gone.
7. Allow the screen to dry in horizontal position
8. Check the screen for pin holes which need to be covered
USING THE SCREEN:
1. When the screen is ready for use, apply the masking tape
to prevent ink leaks which can ruin your material.
2. Test the screen and ink on scrap material first.
3. Depending on the material you may need to make several
passes with the squeegee.
4. If you are making T-Shirts or some other item which is
doubled over, place something in-between to keep the ink
from bleeding all the way through both layers of material.
I have used plain old file folders for this purpose.
5. I usually wash the screen out immediately after I finish
in the nearest sink. Then I wash the sink out!
If anyone has any questions, you know where to reach me!
Once you get the hang of doing this, it is not all that difficult.
If you are doing something like T-Shirts for Cub Day Camp, it gives
the staff an opportunity to work together and socialize while
making the shirts. Allow one morning to do about 200 shirts (they
have to dry before you iron).
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City