Screen printing : Birthday present + tutorial of sorts

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I’ve been making t-shirts and printing on fabrics for a while now, but it has been the freezer paper t-shirt making, that made me jump to screen printing.

Cutting out the image on freezer paper with x-acto knife for every t-shirt, takes time.  But really what I wanted to do was print letters.  Lots of words.  So I read, watched and re-read lots of posts and books. I’m telling you, lots of information out there.  Until I finally I decided to go for it.

I’ve thought about trying screen printing for a long time.  But this was the right time.  So I made my first screen printing for Siena’s birthday present.  We’ve been thinking of what would be a cool swim t-shirt and we made the perfect one for her.

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“I just can’t go slow.” –Siena (TM)

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A quote, a sentence, stories, we’ve said and heard and talked about since she was just few months old. Perfect for her little beautiful person now.  Perfect for a swim t-shirt (and sleeping shirt and undies… because once you print one, you just can’t stop either!)

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And since I loved making her birthday presents, I’m looking for new ideas to print. And so I made a few more this past week.

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Bees. Perfect too!  I watched this video to get me started.  It’s of great help and it’s funny.

I’ve only done this twice, but I’d like to keep a record of what I’ve done and what I’ve learned so far.  And for those wanting to start something, I’d recommend reading and doing online search.  There’s lots of information out there.  And it’s not that hard.  I think I’m learning as I go, and mostly, I’m having lots of fun.

I’m not sure I’m qualified to write a tutorial on screen printing, but mostly I’d like to share what I’ve done.  Here’s an almost step-by-step almost-tutorial of how I made my screen printed t-shirts and kitchen towels.

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1- After looking and deciding the art to use, you need to make a photocopy on a transparency.  I make two, because it never seems dark enough.  When you put them both together, then it makes it really dark black.  That seems to work for me.

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2- I tape both transparency copies.  I’ve bought the screens big enough to make two designs, so I’m  careful to leave enough space between them, when I’m going to print.  It works just fine if you are careful.

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3- Then I put painter’s tape all around the edges, on both sides, so the ink doesn’t get on the edge.  The paint seems to get under the tape anyways, so I’m not sure if it’s worth doing it.  I think, next time, I’ll skip this step and see what happens.

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4- I get my supplies ready.  This is the part that I’m learning more about.  You mix the photo emulsion with the sensitizer (a one time thing for the jar.)  You need to keep it in the dark, cooler place so you can use it for later on another screen.

5- You spread the photo emulsion on the screen.  In an even coat, not too thick.  I did it on one side only the last time, because I think I had a little too much anyways, because it had spread to the other side.   I don’t have a photo of this part because is light sensitive, though I think it’s suppose to be more so, once is dry.  But still.  I didn’t get a photo.  Let it dry.

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6- Then you put your drawing/art/words on top of the screen, that has the photo emulsion already dry.  If you are using words, like in my case, make sure you put them backwards, looking on it from the top of the screen.

Depending on the size of the screen, and I think the details of the drawing, you need to put a light source to let “the magic work.”  I used a 150W light from the top, for 65 minutes.  Last time, for Siena’s swimmer and her quote, I left it for 45 minutes.  This time wasn’t long enough, because after I washed the emulsion off, not much was showing up.  So I had to do it all over again.

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7- Once you are done with the light, you wash the screen off, with warm water. Slowly, slowly, your drawing will start to appear, more clear as you wash the emulsion off.

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8- You get your t-shirts ready (or fabric.)  I make sure they are ironed, with no creases.  I put a piece of cardboard underneath, in case the paint goes through.

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9- Then I put the screen with the drawing I want on the right spot.

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11- I put a thin strip of paint on top.  I hold the screen tight as I use the print making squeegee, going doing over the drawing.  I go twice, making sure the whole design has been covered evenly.

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12-  Then, carefully lift the screen off from the t-shirt (or whatever you are painting) and see the magic appear.  It is wonderful to see your t-shirt printed with what you’ve been working on.  I love it!

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And because you’v already done the hard part (making the screen), now you can go all the way and print everything you want with your new design.

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I had made this kitchen towel last year, with the bee ribbon on the bottom, but now I added another bee to it.  It looks cute, I think.

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And yes… we have lots of bees around the house now (besides the two hives.)  I do need to caution you, it is very addictive.  Now I’m looking for anything that doesn’t have any designs, and printing my three designs I have so far.

These are some of the sites I checked, in case you are looking for some.

I’d say, go for it!  It is so much fun.  Just know, you won’t be able to stop.

2 thoughts on “Screen printing : Birthday present + tutorial of sorts

  1. Kelly August 13, 2013 / 10:16 pm

    You are amazing! I love that you learn all these great skills and then have beautiful things as a result. And I adore the shirt and logo you made for Sienna. So fantastic!

    • NaturallyFunDays : Marcela August 13, 2013 / 10:25 pm

      Thank you Kelly, you are so nice. It has made us laugh so much this new project of mine. Especially Siena’s swimming shirts. From the day we came up with the idea of making her a t-shirt with her “motto” to her birthday when she opened every single item I had printed with it🙂 (undies included!) I’ve had so much fun.

      If you have anything you’d like me to print with any of these designs… drop it off and I’ll gladly do it.

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