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My first screenprinting attempt…not too shabby!

11 Comments

Screen printing results | Thread Theory

As some of you have been wondering, the screenprinting evening last week went very well!  Three women came over to learn how to apply the emulsion to the screen.  We set up my tiny little bathroom as a dark room with trash bags over the window and the provided dark room light in the light fixture.  It wasn’t a 100% light safe environment so next time I think I will stock up on heavier trash bags (or wait until we move at the end of June and can create a more permanent dark room set up).

Of course, I forgot to take photos of the fun evening because we were all so focused on screenprinting (and chatting and drinking wine)!  Instead, I’ve taken photos of the actual printing process for you to look at instead :).

Screen printing set up | Thread Theory

 

The screen required four hours of drying time after applying the emulsion so everyone went home and I set the alarm for the wee hours of Saturday morning so I could wake up before it became light out to pack the dry screen away in it’s trash bag.

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Flooding the screen | Thread Theory

 

After getting the screen ready to expose, the next step in the printing process was to create a “positive” of the eventual print on clear transfer paper.  This held me up for a while because the transfer paper provided is for ink jet printers and we only have a laser printer in the Thread Theory studio.  My parents have an ink jet but I kept forgetting one element or another each time I went to their place to print the transfer!  I ended up just printing it on our laser printer which lead to okay results.  I think the text would have been darker (and would have exposed better on the screen) if I had used the correct printer.

Screen printing for the first time! | Thread Theory

Last night I exposed the screen which was actually one of the easiest steps.  I waited until it got dark and made my kitchen into a semi dark room by putting down all the blinds and installing the dark room light in here rather than the bathroom.  The kit comes with a 500W bulb that installs onto the press so that the screen can be placed directly under it to expose.  Easy peasy!  My text didn’t end up perfectly clear of emulsion but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out based on all the iffy circumstances the screen had to go through (thin trash bag protection from light, not-very-dark dark rooms, time between applying the emulsion and exposing it…etc.).

First Screen Print | Thread Theory

This morning I made my first prints with mixed success.  I’m glad that I didn’t invite the other ladies back for this first experience because, while my first print went wonderfully, my second and third became increasingly fuzzy.  I would hate for this to have happened on their t-shirts or bags!

Printing comparisons | Thread Theory

What ended up causing this fuzziness was that ink from the first application seeped through the clear text and onto the underside of the screen.

The first print (left) compared to the second (right):

Fuzzy text while screen printing | Thread Theory

The second print (left) compared to the third (right):

Super fuzzy text while screen printing | Thread Theory

Any idea what could have caused this to happen?  I think it could be due to several factors.  I may have used too much ink, I may have pushed down too hard with my squeegee, or I may have run my squeegee over the screen too many times during each printing session (I was nervous about my imperfectly exposed text and how much ink it would allow to pass through the screen).  I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this problem!

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11 thoughts on “My first screenprinting attempt…not too shabby!

  1. It’s a great start, Morgan! And the fact that you got one great print (the first one) tells you it is repeatable! Can’t wait to have another evening of printing stuff. 🙂

  2. Looks like there was a bit too much ink on the screen & also possibly the screen may have moved slightly while the ink was being applied. If you’re getting this effect the best thing is to wipe of the excess off & then start again. Looks great by the way.

  3. Looks great! Maybe try a little less ink and just one pull to prevent the fuzziness? Otherwise you are on the right track, enjoy the process!

  4. On the third it looks like your printing material may have shifted after you set the screen down but before actually pulling your print, but it’s been awhile since I’ve screen printed so I could be wrong. Have fun!

    • Thanks Mari – you’re probably right! I wonder if I didn’t quite press the screen down all the way for this third application since there is a bit of resistance to the press before it reaches the very lowest point.

  5. You should only flood and stroke once when using a transparent based ink no matter how poorly you think your screen exposed because they’re runnier, maaaaaybe stroke twice depending on the screen number. Pull your strokes with transparent ink (clear based colors), push your strokes with opaque ink (white based colors). Also you should use white masking tape instead of clear tape on your screens. I’m not entirely sure any of this will be of use to you because I don’t think I covered the actual process of printing, but just in case, I’ve basically already been through this entire process and learned the do’s and don’t’s. Also I can answer questions. http://www.sewwhatsherlock.com/category/tutorials/screenprinting/

    • Thank you for that info! I flooded the screen quite a few times so I think that was my main mistake (though it sounds like there are a number of other things that also contributed). Thanks for mentioning the tape! The kit actually came with the clear tape for this purpose – what is the advantage of white masking tape? Does the clear tape leave a residue on the screen? Your posts are really helpful – I wish I had seen your one on kits before deciding to purchase mine! I was just so overwhelmed by which supplies that I needed that I decided starting with a kit would be the only way to force myself to actually make a screen on my own. I hope I will be able to add some of the materials you recommend over time.

      • Yes over flooding with non-white ink is a huge problem so it sounds like that’s what did it. The clear tape can be difficult to remove and it’s not industry standard, I’m actually not sure why they included that tbh, Ryonet knows better. Also the Ryonet kits are good, don’t get me wrong (FAR better than the crappy speedball kits!!), it’s just that they’re only good for once off prints like panels or t-shirts. If you want to print fabric/repeats you need a table instead. I have often considered getting the same press you did actually so I can do shirts. You really need a press/platen for shirts to turn out well, but my primary goal was fabric/repeats so I haven’t splurged on the press yet.

    • Thank you so much for the link to your tutorial, Sarah! I had asked Morgan how hers went because I’m interested in screenprinting myself – but as you say, I want it for doing fabric/yardage rather than posters/t-shirts.

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