One of the easiest ways to put prints on your shirt or other fabric materials is through screen printing. The ancient Chinese have been using screen printing tools since they discovered this art of printing on fabric, and not much has changed since then. If you want to know how to make screen prints at home, first you need to know about the tools you will be using.
Basic Screen Printing Tools
Here are the basic screen printing tools and what you’re going to use them for:
- Silk screen – This is the frame which has a sheet of thin fabric spread from one edge to the other. It will be where the design is to be transferred. Depending on the size of your design, you may need a bigger screen.
- Blocking agent – The blocking agent is what will be used to transfer the design. Some use a layer of acetate cut out in the form of the design but this only works for those with solid shapes. Others choose waterproof glue which they manually trace out on the negative space or the areas where no ink should pass, and others use the light-sensitive emulsion for a faster design transfer.
- Design tools – Depending on the blocking agent you will be using, you will need different tools for transferring your design. Acetate sheets would require a sharp cutter, pencils and paintbrushes for the waterproof glue, and a sheet of paper with your design for light-sensitive emulsions.
- Squeegee – The squeegee will be used for pushing ink through the silk screen. This can be purchased from craft stores and usually come in sizes which match the width of the silk screen.
- Paint – Acrylic paint and other textile paints can be used for screen printing. Something which has a thick and somewhat gooey consistency helps achieve better prints.
Basic Steps: How to Make Screen Prints at Home
- Decide on a simple design. Silk screen printing at home works great for simple designs such as letters or basic shapes and figures—those that don’t have too much detail.
- Work on transferring your design to the screen.
- You can use acetate as the blocking agent and when doing so, cut your design on the acetate sheet. You will then place the acetate in between the shirt and the screen when you’re done cutting.
- For the glue method, sketch your design onto the sheet and paint on a layer of glue on the areas which should not be inked. Allow it to dry thoroughly before using the screen.
- For the light-sensitive emulsion, place a thin layer of the emulsion on the screen, cover it with the negative image of your design, and expose it to a strong source of light. The negative image will leave the areas that need to be inked blank and when exposed to the light, the light sensitive emulsion will clear where light hits it.
- Spread ink on one side of the design, preferably the side far from you.
- Take your squeegee and pull it towards you while pressing the ink down. Make sure the ink goes through, and you’re done!
These are the basic steps and tools for screen printing at home. Have you tried anything like this before? Leave a comment below!