No messy ink-.99 cent paint & .99 cent hair conditioner. I call it "Screen-Painting". I printed a photo-finish on my decoys made of 4mm corrugated plastic (CoroplastTM) but any substrate paint will stick to will work. I know nothing about screen-painting and have never tried anything like this before I made these decoys. I did buy a cheap book that described the process for beginners. Highly recommend one of these books for "Dummies".
Step 1: Materials Needed
You can see there is not a lot of tools required. Simple handtools, Hunts speed ballTM screen developer and sensitizer, stapler, cheap dacron (wedding veil)type fabric from the fabric store, pine boards for a screen and a substrate (something to print your decoys on), spray paint, hair conditioner and a squeegee from the dollar store.
Step 2: Positive Vs. Negative
I accidently developed my first screen using a negative image rather than a positive on the body. This made the dark areas light and visa versa. It left a lot of white from the plastic showing...not what I was looking for. It would have had a lot more feather detail using a positive image to develop the screen. I used flat black paint only but several colors would make for more realistic image.
Step 3: Artwork
First you find artwork or pictures you like. Cut and paste these pictures with a program like microsoft Paint or something similar till you have what you like. Add extra feather detail, shadows...enlarge that glint spot on the eyeballs or add a second head with a different pose to make one screen that will print 2 different decoy poses.Whatever you like. Cut the picture up into 8.5" x 11" or smaller pieces like a puzzle and print off the black and white images onto paper.
Step 4: Transparencies From Kinkos or Office Max
Take these black and white paper "puzzle pieces" and have them printed onto clear transparency plastic sheets.
Cut these transparencies and tape together with clear packaging tape to form the image you want to print. It is alright if the sheets overlap as long as they still match up after taping. You can see the difference between a positive image on top and a negative image on bottom. Typically a negative image would be used if you were using screenprinting ink.
Step 5: The Screen
Next we need to make a screen. 1"x3/4" boards work for the smaller size prints. For larger prints you may need thicker wider boards to keep your screen tight.
I get my fabric for making screens at a remnants fabric store for 1.99 a yard. You could use real silk but it's expensive and harder to find than synthetic. Any synthetic silky like fabric will work. The stuff I use is a wedding dress like fabric. Some sort of super thin rayon or dacron or nylon...some sort of "on".
Stretch this fabric tight. Wet it down first. When it dries it seems tighter. Start in the middle of each side with one staple and then staple each four corners. Keep pulling tight and adding staples across from each other in an alternating fashion. Trim the excess.
Step 6: Sealing the Edges
I applied a polyurethane coating to seal around the edges and right up to the edges of the image I want to print. This is a permanent method and you must not get any on the area where your image will be "stenciled". I could have just used the same photo-reactive paint that I will use to make the stencil of the image I want to print to seal the areas outside the print area...Either way.
Step 7: Photo Reactive Emulsion and Sensitizer
After the polyurethane or lacquer is dry you must scrub the stencil area with an abrasive powder like comet to allow the photo-reactive paint to stick.Make sure the powder is all washed out after scrubbing. Dry the screen. Mix and semi-quickly apply The Hunts SpeedballTM photo-reactive paint..You have awhile...It's not that fast...but don't dilly-dally. After applying let it dry with a fan on in near darkness. Apply another coat and do the same several times. This makes a thicker more durable stencil.
Step 8: Develop the Stencil
Lay your transperency image onto the prepared screen. A piece of glass will hold your image closer to the screen and make for clean developed edges. Suspend a light above the screen to develop it. Everywhere the light can reach the screen it will set up. Everywhere the image blocks the light the developer will not cure and can be washed out later. This makes a stencil for you to squegee the hair conditioner onto your plastic or wood silhouettes
Step 9: Washing Out the Stencil
You will see a color difference between the set-up developer and the areas not set up. The image wil be a two-tone green apparition on your screen. Next wash this screen with luke-warm water. A brush and light strokes helps. Wash too much and your image disappears or lacks detail. Don't scrub enough and your image will not have any detail...It takes practise.
Step 10: The Hair Conditioner Image
After washing out the screen, let it dry.Now were ready to print...almost. It helps to hinge the screen frame to a table or board for loading and removing the substrate under it. Load the substrate and glop some conditioner on the screen and squeegee It across the screen. The sides of the frame act as a reservoir to keep the conditioner on the screen. The flat side of the screen goes towards the substrate. There should be approx. an 1/8" gap between screen and substrate. It will take some adjustment to figure the best distance ,but as you pass the squeegee over the screen you push downward and it should just touch the substrate. As you pass over the screen it should lift off. This makes a clean "Hair conditioner Image"
Step 11: Spray Paint and Wash Off the Conditioner
Now spray paint over the wet hair conditioner. Let dry about 30 -45 seconds and wash off with a hose or dip in a water bath and lightly wipe the hair conditioner off.You will see every where the hair conditioner was, the paint will not stick and your image will appear. If you don't achieve the image you like, Tweak your screen-stencil, The height of the screen to the plastic or wood substrate, or the time you let the spray paint dry before you wash the conditioner off.
Step 12: Thats All
Other than the reverse image on the body of the large decoys, I was happy with the result. This method would probably work for making signs or t-shirts too. If I make more I think I'll use multiple colors of spray-paint for a better image. Overall I think this method is fairley inexpensive and cleaner than messy Oil-based Screeprinting Inks.