For those of you that have screen printed before, you will more than likely love the entire process. The smell of the paper and ink, the rush you get the first time you lift up your screen to reveal that first print, its all so satisfying.
For those of you that have never screen-printed, then you’re missing out. We understand that you might not want to print, but still would like to know how the whole process works. Well, we will tell you.
We printed some children's t-shirts, with artwork that says, 'FEMINIST'. Below are some images from our couple of days screen printing.
The first step is to prepare your artwork. If your artwork contains 3 colours, then you will need to prepare 3 layers, and so on.
Each layer acts as a way to block out the other layers. No matter what colour your artwork is, you need to make sure you print in solid black. You need to ensure you don’t have any other colours in there.
You need to print onto either copy paper, or even better, acetate. Once you have done this, you need to coat your screen. We use a light-sensitive emulsion. You need to coat the screen under dark room conditions, so not to expose the screen to light by accident.
Once your screen has been coated, it’s time to expose the screen. This means getting your artwork onto screen. We use an exposure unit to do this. Our artwork is placed on the glass surface of the exposure unit, and the screen goes on top of the artwork. Pull down the top of the unit, fasten it shut, and turn on the vacuum. This sucks out all the air, to ensure your screen touches your artwork, and allows for a better exposure.
You then need to turn on the exposing light. Basically, what this is doing is making the emulsion on the screen harden. Any black sections of your art work, do not allow the light to expose the emulsion on the screen, thus, keeping the black sections of emulsions soft.
After your screen has finished exposing, you need to use a power washer to wash off the soft emulsion on your screen.
Once you have done this, allow the screen to dry. You can then start to print. Any black sections will now be clear on your screen, allowing ink to pass through, which will recreate your artwork.
You should try some practice runs on paper first, to make sure you don’t ruin your good paper or whatever else you’re printing on.
Once you have done some practice runs, you can begin to print. A vacuum print bed will ensure your paper doesn’t wiggle around. Depending on your facilities, you may have a frame that holds in your screen, to ensure it doesn’t move. You may also have an arm to attach your squeegee to. This ensures even pressure when creating multiples.
Put ink on your screen, and use your squeegee to pull the ink through the screen.
Be careful when lifting the screen, your paper or fabric could be stuck to the screen due to the ink.
You have successfully screen-printed! Always ensure you wash your screen and squeegee thoroughly! This will ensure ink doesn’t block your screen, and you don’t have any residue on your squeegee when you’re using a different colour.
Here are the finished children's T-shirts, aren't they great!?
They are available in age 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8, and can be bought HERE with £1 from each sale going to The Great Initiative, a fantastic charity that promotes gender equality (who I will tell you more about later).